Thursday, September 15, 2016

City Approves Plans For Massive South Bronx Housing Project

A project that will bring nearly 1,000 new apartments to the Bronx got approval from the City Council Wednesday. The La Central development in Melrose is set to include five buildings with 992 apartments — all of them designated as affordable housing — as well as a new YMCA, skate park and observatory for The Bronx High School of Science. 

From East 149th Street and Brook Avenue all the way north to East 153rd Street remains the largest track of city-owned land in the South Bronx.

Located in Melrose, adjacent to the Hub, will rise a massive 992 unit housing complex the likes of which the Bronx has never seen. La Central, as the massive development project will be called, will be constructed by BRP Development and The Hudson Companies.

The five-building complex will also include a new YMCA, recording studio, an astronomy lab and observatory, plus retail space and supportive housing for veterans.

La Central will be comprised of 5 buildings with 992 units of mixed-income housing and will offer a plethora of amenities, including a 48,000 square foot YMCA, 43,000 square feet of retail space, 5,000 square foot community space and a recording studio.

The complex will be topped off with the Bronx Astronomy Tower and Lab, which will include a rooftop observatory and telescope, plus a rooftop farm. 

The project comes on the heels of the construction of the income-regulated Via Verde complex, which opened two years ago.

Construction consists of two-phases on approximately 185,000 square feet of city-owned land and has a projected price tag of $345 million.

The new development is expected to break ground early next year, officials said.

The development will also include a diabetes prevention program, operated by Bronx medical giant Montefiore Medical Center, and 96 units will be set aside for formerly homeless veterans and New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS, to be operated by health and housing service provider Comunilife.

Project Details:

    Building A:
211 affordable apartments; 48,000 square foot YMCA-community facility; a diabetes prevention program operated by Montefiore Medical Center; rooftop farm; approximately 19,000 square feet of new retail space.

    Building B:
279 affordable apartments; 24,000 square feet of retail space, including restaurant space; cellar level garage with approximately 138 parking spaces.

    Building C:
144 affordable apartments; 5,000 square feet of community space consisting of a recording studio and curate workshops and open the recording studio to projects for and by the community.

    Building D:
160 affordable apartments plus a 10,000 square foot mental health clinic operated by Comunilife that will work with veterans living within the development and individuals within the community.

    Building E:
198 affordable apartments, plus the Bronx Astronomy Tower and Lab – a rooftop telescope to be used by the Bronx High School of Science, and a daycare facility
click to enlarge

The approximately 7,000 square-foot triangular vacant lot at the intersection of Brook and Bergen Avenues will be developed as open space, accessible to the general public.

La Central is geared toward families: nearly 50 percent of the affordable units will have at least two bedrooms.

But unlike Via Verde, all of the nearly 1,000 affordable apartments are slated to be rentals.

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Monday, September 12, 2016

AECOM Proposes Building 45,000 Apts on Red Hook Waterfront

Multinational engineering firm AECOM has put forth a plan to build as many as 45,000 units of new housing on underutilized Brooklyn sites owned by the Port Authority. 

The firm plans to transform a huge swath of the Red Hook waterfront into a residential neighborhood with a new subway connection, acres of parkland and protect the low-lying neighborhood from storms and future sea-level rise.

AECOM envisions building as many as 45,000 units of housing, much of it in new residential towers that would rise on underutilized Brooklyn sites owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the city.

Under the preliminary plan, proceeds from the sale or long-term lease of the land to developers, as well as other funds generated from revenue streams such as real estate taxes, would go toward upgrading the neighborhood's infrastructure, which includes extending the No. 1 train from lower Manhattan via a new tunnel under the harbor to the Brooklyn area.

AECOM's plan also involves creating three new subway stations, one at Atlantic Basin next to the container terminal, another at the Red Hook Houses, one of Brooklyn's largest public-housing complexes, and a No. 1 train station that would connect to the F and G subway lines at Fourth Avenue.

"We have to recognize that growth is necessary to create a waterfront that people can use, affordable housing and a mass-transit connection to a neighborhood where one doesn't exist," said Chris Ward, a senior vice president at AECOM and a former top executive at the Port Authority, who helped craft the plan.

If the project comes to fruition, a new residential neighborhood almost double the size of Battery Park City and several times as large as Hudson Yards on Manhattan's far West Side—the biggest development project currently underway in the city—would be created.

The plan calls for constructing more than a dozen towers that would contain as many as 45,000 apartments, a quarter of which would be set aside for affordable housing.

The new towers would sit on multiple sites: two adjacent waterfront compounds, the 80-acre Red Hook Container Terminal owned by the Port Authority, an adjacent parcel of city-owned waterfront along Columbia Street, the southern edge of the neighborhood overlooking the Gowanus Bay and unused land at Red Hook Houses.

Development at the public-housing complex could fund improvements to Red Hook Houses, AECOM said, but it is also likely to be controversial.

AECOM acknowledges that its plan lacks key details, including how much the development and infrastructure would cost; how much revenue it would generate and how to coordinate a neighborhood-wide redevelopment on land parcels that are controlled by several different stakeholders with potentially varying objectives.

But the company outlined three different scenarios for the Red Hook project. Two of the cases would provide funding for a subway extension to varying degrees; however, AECOM acknowledged that other funding sources would be necessary.

The firm predicted that the creation of 25 million square feet of new residential space would be enough to fund 2.5 miles of waterfront protection measures, 6,250 affordable housing units, and generate $50 million of annual tax revenue for the city, but not enough to pay for a subway-line extension.

A 35 million-square-foot residential development would finance 4.5 miles of coastal protection - enough to protect the entire Red Hook waterfront, 3 miles of streetscape improvements, and 50 acres of new park space and create 8,750 affordable housing units.

A project of that size would generate $90 million of revenue for the city and would partially pay for a subway extension. While a 45 million-square-foot project would create 11,250 units of affordable housing and the same level of coastal protection and fund 5.7 miles of streetscape improvements, 100 acres of new park space and would fund the bulk of a subway extension. This scenario would generate $130 million in annual revenue for the city.

"This is meant to be a starting point for a conversation," Ward said, who estimated the cost of a No.1 train station extension at about $3 billion.

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Thursday, September 8, 2016

City Moving Forward With Application for 1,000-foot Brooklyn Tower

Brooklyn will soon be getting a residential skyscraper 1,066 feet - almost twice as tall as anything else in the neighborhood. The Department of City Planning is moving forward with an application from JDS Development to build the new 1,000-foot tall tower. In April, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a plan for the 73-story apartment building to rise next year on Flatbush Avenue next door to Junior’s Restaurant.

JDS Development and real estate developer Chetrit Group struck a deal to acquire the former Dime Savings Bank of New York, located adjacent to the famed Junior's restaurant in downtown Brooklyn, last year for $90 million.

The developers also acquired air rights in the deal enabling them to build a building on an adjoining lot taller than the Empire State Building.

The bank at 9 DeKalb Avenue is a 150-year-old landmarked building with a domed roof and an ornate interior.

But more important than the building, which might be re-purposed as an event space or high-end retail outlet, are the development rights that come with it: roughly 300,000 square feet.

That’s all the partners need to build a super skyscraper on the site they own next door at 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension. Combined with existing air rights, the nearly 600,000-square-foot tower will rise nearly 1,100 feet there.

Towers that tall are hard to come by even in Manhattan, and there aren’t any plans to build anything that large in any other borough yet. No building has ever eclipsed 1,000 feet in any of the boroughs outside Manhattan and only a handful of towers have crossed that mark in Manhattan, though that list is growing.

But there’s plenty of demand for a super-tall residential tower in Brooklyn—and now, one of the developers who has nurtured Manhattan’s Billionaire’s Row has the air rights to build something as tall as the Empire State Building in downtown Brooklyn.

A source familiar with the project said that JDS had originally planned to build a tower higher than the Empire State Building, whose spire stands at 1,454 feet. Only one residential building in the city is expected to rise above that height, the 1,775-foot-tall Central Park Tower, which is currently under construction at 227 West 57th Street, known as Billionaires' Row.

The skyscraper that will soon begin rising in downtown Brooklyn will be, far and away, the tallest building in the borough – and one of the tallest buildings in New York City. Presently, the tallest tower in Brooklyn is 388 Bridge Street at 590 feet, followed by The Brooklyner, at 514 feet tall – half the size of what Stern has planned for his site.

JDS Development is currently building a super-skinny 1,400 foot tower at 111 West 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan.

That project, which is currently underway, incorporates an existing landmark at its base - the former Steinway & Sons piano showroom and hall. The downtown Brooklyn tower will absorb the classical bank structure at 9 DeKalb Avenue in the same way.

Chetrit and JDS purchased the triangular site at 340 Flatbush Avenue in June of 2014 for $43 million. The developers had originally planned to construct a 775-foot tower on the parcel, but cancelled the project after they were turned down by the family that owns Junior's Most Fabulous Cheesecake and Deserts, who briefly put their Flatbush Avenue storefront on the market before deciding on tradition.

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Monday, September 5, 2016

Devil of a Tower to Rise on Manhattan’s Upper West Side

The Upper West Side is about to get its tallest tower yet, and it’s a real devil. The new building planned for 200 Amsterdam Avenue at 69th street will soar 666 feet into the air, just south of where Broadway meets Amsterdam Avenue, topping out at 55 stories.

But even if the height is equivalent to the number of the beast, the design is more like a stairway to heaven — at least for those who can afford it.

The building’s 400,000 square feet and 55 floors will have 112 luxury condominium residences averaging over 3,000 square feet apiece.

The site, which originally held a synagogue, sits on the west side of Amsterdam Avenue between West 69th and West 70th streets, on the Upper West Side. It was acquired by SJP Properties for $275 million in 2015.

The development is being constructed “as of right”, meaning there will be no public review process or input from the community on the design and construction of the building.

Elkus Manfredi is designing the building’s exterior, while CetraRuddy is designing the interior spaces.

The design is highly contextual with the architecture of the Upper West Side, and the property boasts protected views of Central Park.

The tower’s stepped setbacks are reminiscent of the skyscrapers built during the early days of New York City’s zoning code, whose light and air mandates prompted skyscrapers to step demurely back from the street. Like those 1920s towers, this one tapers at the top and sports a multi-pronged crown.

Although the new building will top out at 666 feet, it would be almost invisible in either the Midtown or Downtown skylines.

Just down the block, 150 Amsterdam Avenue stands a solid 470 feet, while the old-New-York San Remo, on Central Park West between West 74th and 75th streets, stands 400 feet tall, and newly-built 160 West 62nd Street rises to 598 feet.

Manhattan–based SJP Properties has developed over 25 million square feet of office and residential space since 1981.

Mitsui Fudosan America, the U.S. investment arm of Japanese development firm Mitsui Fudosan, paid more than $250 million in December for a large stake in Related Cos. 55 Hudson Yards. The firm’s other holdings in the city include 1251 Sixth Avenue at Rockefeller Center and 160 Madison Avenue.

Demolition of the defunct Lincoln Square Synagogue on the site is presently underway.

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