Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Penn Station’s $2 Billion Overhaul is 'Going to Happen'

New York City's Penn Station is a transit nightmare. It's crowded, confusing to navigate, and frequently smells like a mix of Auntie Anne's pretzels and body odor. Traveling through Penn is a bit of a necessary evil that commuters just deal with. It's an incredibly busy transportation hub, where roughly 650,000 people and 1,200 trains pass through each day.

Fortunately for commuters, Penn Station's long-overdue overhaul is finally in sight.

Governor Andrew Cuomo plans to convert the spacious post office building across Eighth Avenue into a grand waiting room for Amtrak and Long Island Rail Road passengers while also widening the existing station's catacomb-like concourses underneath Madison Square Garden.

Similar proposals have been batted about for at least 20 years, but Cuomo insisted the new Penn Station at long last is nigh.

"This is not a plan," he told business leaders. "This is what's going to happen."

In January, New York City Governor Andrew Cuomo announced the Penn Station overhaul, which was projected at the time cost $3.6 billion. The new Penn Station, set to be completed in 2020, is now estimated to cost $1.9 billion.

The governor said all necessary funding and approvals have been secured to turn the James A. Farley Post Office Building into a grand train hall by December 2020 and three firms have been hired to oversee the $1.6 billion renovation: the Related Cos., Vornado Realty and Skanska. The developers have agreed to pay $600 million for the rights to build 700,000 square feet worth of commercial and retail space on the west side of the Farley building, next door to Hudson Yards.

The Cuomo administration's Empire State Development Corp. will contribute $570 million, with Amtrak, the LIRR, Port Authority and federal sources picking up the rest.

The Amtrak waiting area, currently on the first floor near the Eighth Avenue entrance, will be moved to the historic James A. Farley Post Office building across the street, Cuomo says.

The new Farley Post Office will measure 250,000 square feet (larger than Grand Central Terminal), and will be renamed the Moynihan Train Hall.

Amtrak and the Long Island Railroad (LIRR) will service passengers there ...


... who can also shop and mingle in its forthcoming 700,000 square feet of retail and office space.

A dramatic skylight harkens back to the old Penn Station, which was demolished and rebuilt in the 1960s.

The LIRR concourses will be redeveloped by the MTA, which will triple the width of the 33rd Street Corridor — one of the busiest sections of Penn Station.

The plan also calls for upgraded ticket stations, Wi-Fi, new escalators, signs that are easier to understand, and larger windows for more natural light.

This is not the first attempt to revive Penn Station. Cuomo's father, Mario Cuomo, proposed a similar plan in the 1980s, but funding fell through. The late Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan later tried to rebuild the station, but Amtrak withdrew from the plan in 2001.

It's a long-overdue overhaul.

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Monday, October 24, 2016

5-Story Hampton Inn Hotel to Rise on Steinway Street

The site of the shuttered Western Beef Supermarket at 36-20 Steinway Street in Astoria will soon be redeveloped in to a 210-room hotel.

The old supermarket building will be demolished and a 5-story Hampton Inn will be constructed on the site, according to the developer, JMH Development.

The company is known for building residential buildings in the trendy neighborhoods of Williamsburg and Cobble Hill in Brooklyn.

The new hotel will contain 210 rooms over 119,722 square feet of space, with 14 hotel rooms on the cellar level, 28 hotel rooms on the first floor, and between 49 and 67 hotel rooms each on the second through fifth floors.

It will have 18,000-square-feet of retail space, a fitness center, meeting rooms, a lobby bar, a breakfast area and 77 underground parking spaces.

The hotel is being designed by Gene Kaufman, an architect based near Union Square in Manhattan.

The new hotel will be located just a few blocks from Kaufmann Astoria Studios and the Museum of the Moving Image, along with a plethora of retailers along the Steinway Street shopping corridor.

The industrial neighborhood has become a hot spot for budget-friendly hotels built in the last decade.

The site is just blocks from an existing hotel, the Paper Factory at 36th Street and 37th Avenue, and will be served by the E, M and R trains at the 36th Street station.

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Saturday, October 22, 2016

25-Story Condo Tower to Rise by Holland Tunnel

Bizzi & Partners and developer Michael Shvo are planning a 25-story residential building across from the Holland Tunnel entrance plaza in Soho. 
The building, which will occupy the vacant lot at 100 Varick Street, between Broome and Watts, will feature 115 luxury units, 17,000 square feet of retail space on the first and second floors and a 750 square feet community facility.

The development is the largest ground-up project in Soho, and is expected to be complete by 2018.

The development team has raised $455 million for the 290-foot tall building, including a $320 million construction loan from Bank of China and a $135 million stake in the project purchased by Cindat (the U.S. branch of Beijing-based China Cinda Asset Management). 

The 320,000-square-foot, Renzo Piano-designed condominium, will house eight apartments on each of the third and fifth through 10th floors, while the fourth floor will have 10 apartments. Four duplex units will be spread across the 11th and 12th floors, while the 13th through 22nd floors will get four apartments each.

The 23rd and 24th floors of the project will house two apartments each, while two penthouses with roof access and a single apartment will top off the 25th floor. Building amenities will include a swimming pool, an exercise room and a 39-car garage.

The tower, which will have two spires, will overlook the Holland Tunnel entrance plaza just north of Canal Street, and will have views to the Hudson River, Empire State Building  and the 435-foot-tall Trump Soho at Spring Street, just two blocks away.

Renzo Piano is the architect who designed the new Whitney Museum in the meatpacking district.

The development site spans eight parcels, consisting of townhouses and vacant land along Varick Street from Broome to Watts streets.

The partners acquired Hudson Square parcel through a joint venture for $145 million in January 2014. The purchase included the main site – also known as 565 Broome Street – along with four residential buildings at 58-64 Watts Street and 94,000 square feet in air rights from 555 Broome Street. Demolition plans for the site were filed last June.

Bizzi teamed with Shvo last year on the acquisition and residential development of 125 Greenwich Street in the Financial District.

Last month, SVHO leased 12,000 square feet at One World Trade Center, with plans to use it as a sales office for the firm’s planned condo building at 125 Greenwich Street.

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Friday, October 21, 2016

Tishman Speyer to Build Twin 27-Story Towers in Queens Plaza

Tishman Speyer has secured a loan from Bank of the Ozarks and anchor tenants, including WeWork, to construct a pair of new office towers in Long Island City. The 1.1 million-square-foot, $700 million office project will break ground early next year.

The 27-story buildings, which will sit atop a four-story retail base, will rise at 28-10 Queens Plaza South, adjacent to a 700,000-square-foot office building that Tishman Speyer built in 2011.

They will be located across the street from three large residential spires that the firm is in the process of erecting.

In the early 2000s, Tishman Speyer won a bid to acquire the city-owned sites where the new office tower, the recently-built office tower and the residential buildings are located.

As part of that deal, the developer received tax breaks for the projects.

The developer will save nearly $65 million on 28-10 Queens Plaza South—that includes an exemption of roughly $4.5 million in mortgage recording taxes, which would normally be assessed during Tishman's purchase of the site, and nearly $4 million in sales taxes for construction materials for the development. It also got more than $56 million in property-tax discounts for 30 years. 

"Thanks to the city of New York's investment in the area's infrastructure, enlightened policy decisions and the active support of the New York City Economic Development Corp., the local community and its elected officials, Long Island City has become a model for 21st-century urban development," said Rob Speyer.

"Tishman Speyer is proud to continue our role in unlocking the area's full potential as one of the most dynamic, live-work-play neighborhoods, not just in Queens but in all of New York City."

Tishman Speyer is seeking $145 million in EB-5 funding for the new twin-spire office property. That controversial program allows developers to tap foreign investors in exchange for allowing them to apply for green cards.

The developer has partnered with a Qatar-based investment firm, Qatari Diar, to construct the project.

Additionally, WeWork will be one of the project's anchor tenants and will take about 250,000 square feet. The developer said that 800,000 square feet of the two towers' 1.1 million square feet has already been spoken for.

"This will be a fantastic space for us to bring our community of creators to this thriving and dynamic neighborhood,"  WeWork co-founder Adam Neumann said in a statement.

Tishman Speyer built the neighboring office tower after it secured a deal for the city's Department of Health to take the entirety of that building's space. The three residential towers, which together will hold 1,900 rental apartments, received 421-a benefits before the tax-abatement program expired at the beginning of the year.

However, because of loopholes in the 421-a program, none of the towers' units are required to be affordable in return for the tax breaks.

The buildings at 28-10 Queens Plaza South, designed by architect Raul De Armas of MdeAS Architect, are expected to be finished in 2019.

The properties will be connected by 40,000 square feet of retail at the base, which will feature a food hall, space for a major restaurant and shops, and a parking garage.

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Thursday, October 20, 2016

Developer Breaks Ground on Mega-Tower by Grand Central

SL Green, New York City's largest office landlord, broke ground this week on one of Manhattan's most ambitious new developments - a 1,514 foot tall mega-tower next to Grand Central Terminal.

The giant skyscraper, which will be called One Vanderbilt, will rise on a full city block just west of the terminal where SL Green Realty has spent months demolishing existing properties to make way for the $3 billion-plus project, which will be finished in 2020.

The 1.6-million-square-foot tower, which will be more than 450 feet taller than the nearby Chrysler Building, will occupy the entire block bound by 42nd and 43rd Streets between Vanderbilt and Madison Avenues, and would be the corporate home for TD Bank.

Last year, the City Planning Commission unanimously approved SL Green's plans for the 1,514-foot-tall One Vanderbilt and a rezoning of the Vanderbilt Avenue corridor.

The new zoning only regulate density and square footage on new construction projects, with no restrictions on building height.

One Vanderbilt will be the first tower to rise as part of the Vanderbilt Avenue corridor re-zoning.

When completed in 2020, the skyscraper's roof will reach 1,401 feet -- with its spire extending to 1,514 feet -- making it the city's third-tallest building, after One World Trade Center and the soon to be built Nordstrom Tower.

The project would transform the block between East 42nd and 43rd streets into a pedestrian plaza and create an underground connection between the new skyscraper and Grand Central.

The plan includes a public waiting room in the lobby of the tower for commuters, which would serve as a street level extension of the terminal, with its own train board.

The tower is part of a plan by Mayor Bill de Blasio to allow for new, taller office towers in one of New York’s premier office districts, while addressing the need for better transportation around Grand Central.

“We are going to keep New York City competitive, and do it through strategic investments and ground-up planning,” Mr. de Blasio said.

“These are the kind of policies that won’t just pay off today, but will lay the groundwork to keep districts like East Midtown thriving and attracting new business for decades to come.”

The initiative is designed to ensure that property owners provide for much-needed improvements at Grand Central Terminal to relieve subway station bottlenecks and create new public open space sought by local stakeholders.

SL Green will spend $210 million on transit infrastructure, which would help alleviate congestion in an area mainly served by the overburdened 4/5/6 line.

The city’s proposal revives a plan by Mayor Michael Bloomberg to rezone a 73-block area surrounding Grand Central.

During his election campaign, Mr. de Blasio promised to have his own plan and address community concerns.

As part of the first stage, city planners last year approved a zoning change for what is called the Vanderbilt corridor, from 42nd to 47th Streets along Vanderbilt Avenue.

Developers would be allowed to build taller and larger buildings than currently permitted in exchange for substantive transportation improvements.

SL Green, the city’s largest commercial landlord, dusted off its plan to build a 65-story tower on the 42nd Street block it owns, which had been a part of the Bloomberg proposal.

Developers could buy air rights from two landmark properties, Grand Central Terminal and the former Bowery Savings Bank building at 110 East 42nd Street.
In exchange for its package of transit improvements, the city is granting SL Green 535,644 square feet of extra development rights. The company also intends to transfer the air rights above the Bowery Savings Bank building, which it owns, to construction of One Vanderbilt.

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Wednesday, October 12, 2016

1,115-Foot Residential Tower Planned for Financial District

A long-vacant lot in the heart of the Financial District at 45 Broad Street will soon be redeveloped into an 86-story residential skyscraper. 

The tower at 45 Broad Street will stretch 1,115 feet into the sky, putting it among the ranks of New York’s super-tall buildings.

The building’s 206 residential units will feature studio to four-bedroom condominiums ranging in size from 600 to 3,066 square feet that will cater to entry- and mid-level buyers.

Luxury amenities will include a 60-foot indoor swimming pool, an outdoor garden, a library, a fitness center, two lounges, a game room and media and entertainment areas located on the ninth, tenth and eleventh floors.

Although the building is being marketed as 86 stories, it will only have 66 actually floors.

CetraRuddy is designing the building, which will be a towering, gold-framed colossus with a slim midsection and a hulking top.

CetraRuddy is the design firm behind One Madison and Walker Tower.

45 Broad Street will be crowned by a distinctive pitched roof and an angling cantilever located 400 feet above street level.

As a result, a substantial number of 45 Broad’s units will possess incomparable views of the harbor and skyline.

Residential super-towers that flare outward as they rise or cantilever over their neighbors have grown more common in the city as development sites have grown tighter and developers aim to maximize the amount of square footage placed in valuable, view-capturing upper stories.

Prices will be relatively low compared to recent projects, with average asking prices below $2,000 per square foot.

Pizzarotti’s website states that units “will be priced to sell to young singles and family buyers at very affordable prices in today’s market.”

The average asking price for units will be $2.7 million.

By contrast, the average price for units at nearby 50 West Street is nearly $4 million. Sales of units at 45 Broad Street are expected to raise $560 million.

To finance the project, the developers are seeking to raise $75 million from Chinese investors, who will contribute money through the EB-5 visa program.

Madison Equities and Pizzaroti Group, which purchased the 12,603 square foot site last fall for $86 million, expect to break ground in late 2016.

When completed in 2019, 45 Broad Street will be the city's sixth tallest building - and the highest condo in Downtown Manhattan - towering over its neighbors at 40 Wall Street and One Wall Street.

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Friday, October 7, 2016

Another Towering Building is Planned for Long Island City

The skyscraper boom in Court Square continues. The glassy ghetto known as Long Island City is sprouting a small city worth of skyscrapers, ushering in thousands of new residents.

Stawski Partners is planning to build a 66-story, 703 foot tall apartment tower on 24th Street off 44th Road - the latest of several high-rise projects slated for the area.

The 840,000 square foot building at 43-30 24th Street will fill the entire block and include 921 rental apartments, an indoor swimming pool and other amenities for residents.

The new building will also have 17,500 square feet of street level retail space. In addition to the retail stores, the first floor will include a storage room for 223 bikes, a library, an office, and outdoor space.

A public parking garage will offer 209 spaces on the second floor, with offices, a gym, recreation rooms, a terrace, and a pool on the third and fourth floors. Additional parking and bicycle storage spaces will be created on the building’s lower level.

Although resident parking isn’t required for projects in Long Island City, the building has the benefit of being a mere block from the subway, which will be plenty attractive to prospective residents. The elevated #7 train runs along the west side of the property.

The property at 43-30 24th Street and adjacent lot at 23-10 43rd Avenue is currently home to a low rise warehouse and office building, previously used by retailer Bergdorf Goodman.

Stawski Partners owns half a dozen office buildings in Manhattan, including 360 Madison Avenue and the Broad Financial Center at 33 Whitehall Street. Goldstein, Hill & West Architects is designing the building and is the architect of record.

The new tower is one of several very tall buildings in the works near Court Square and Queens Plaza.

Another developer, United Construction and Development Group, is planning a 78-story, 964-foot tower at 23-15 44th Drive, just a block away. Once completed, it would be the tallest building in Queens, surpassing the 49-story Citigroup building which currently holds that title.

A short distance away in Queens Plaza, Property Markets Group plans to build a tower standing more than 70 stories high and with more than 900 apartments.

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Saturday, October 1, 2016

Downtown's Tallest Apartment Tower to Rise on Greenwich

A 1,200-foot-tall tower of condos will soon begin to rise in the Financial District. The structure at 125 Greenwich Street will be downtown's tallest residential building, surpassing both 56 Leonard and 30 Park Place. The site, formerly known as 22 Thames Street, has no height restrictions—an attractive feature for developers who want to build huge luxury condominium towers.

Developers SHVO New York and Bizzi & Partners  are preparing to construct a 71-story ultra luxury tower, which is set to become Manhattan’s tallest residential building south of 57th Street..

The height of the new building was originally planned at 1,356 feet, but has since been scaled back.

Nonetheless, 125 Greenwich Street will still claim the title of second tallest building in Lower Manhattan.

The designer of the original tower planned for 22 Thames Street, Rafael Vinoly, has been retained as the project’s architect.

The developers have secured $240 million in construction financing for the 453,630 square foot building.

The ceilings heights will be 13 feet up to the 38th floor, 16 feet high on floors 40 through 65, and an enormous 24 feet high on floors 61 through 71.

The 128 ultra-luxury residences will be separated by mechanical rooms on the 39th and 55th floors.

On the lower levels of the tower, 24 maid’s rooms will be located on floors 8 through 10, just above the building’s lavish amenities and 25,000 square feet of retail space.

Floors 61 through 71 will house 10 enormous penthouses measuring 5,300 square feet each, with sweeping views of New York harbor, Brooklyn and New Jersey.

The building will be topped by a 10,600 square foot duplex penthouse apartment which is rumored to list at nearly $100 million, making it one of Lower Manhattan’s most expensive residences.

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