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Old June 11th, 2006, 10:05 PM   #201
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Originally Posted by krull
It has a good design and the white cladding will cause impact in the vicinities.
I hope the 3 buildings to be replaced are not of architectural value.
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Old June 12th, 2006, 02:13 AM   #202
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625 West 42nd Street (June 10th, 2006)
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Old June 12th, 2006, 02:57 AM   #203
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http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/11/ny...ty/11bank.html
For Brooklyn's Beacon, the Luxe Life

By JEFF VANDAM
Published: June 11, 2006


"FRED'S VIEW" One of about 50 images of the old Williamsburgh Savings Bank painted by Robert Goldstrom.

IT'S all gone: every diamond ring, every stack of bills and birth certificate. Today, the safe deposit boxes in the subterranean vault of what used to be the Williamsburgh Savings Bank lie empty in haphazard piles on the dusty floor. The massive vault doors, several feet thick, stand open. No calls will ever go out to Mrs. Helen Massone, whose number is still listed on the wall in case of emergency.

The 512-foot tower of the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, at the intersection of Hanson Place and Ashland Place, has, since its completion 77 years ago, been by far the borough's tallest building. It was the flagship of Brooklyn's leading financial institution, one of the nation's largest banks. For many Brooklynites, it was also the place to go to get your teeth fixed — home to legions of dentists, orthodontists and periodontists.

Now, after months of publicity, the tower is poised to begin a new life. Workers are already transforming the space into luxury condominiums, which go on sale starting Tuesday, carrying price tags from $350,000 to $3 million. The building's name now is just One Hanson Place, although it has been given a marketing slogan: "Own a piece of history."

What all this means to the people of Brooklyn is hard to assess. A fortunate few will buy new homes in the old bank, with splendid views. Others have objected, contending that no one who needs affordable housing will be able to live in this architectural icon.

To most Brooklynites, it is surely the building's exterior, especially the four illuminated clock faces below the dome, that matters most. But there is some question about how visible these images will be in the future. A 22-acre plot of land around the corner is the site of the proposed Atlantic Yards development, including a basketball arena and more than a dozen new towers, which some critics of the Atlantic Yards proposal say could obscure the bank building's pride of place as the grandest light on the borough's skyline. After three-quarters of a century, they fear, the classic skyscraper that has been Brooklyn's beacon could disappear from view.

When Adam Pacelli was growing up in Park Slope in the late 1970's and early 80's, he was one of those youngsters who as they fell asleep looked out bedroom windows at the four faces of the clock tower. But the young Adam didn't just use the building as his second wristwatch; he created a comic-book superhero who lived inside it.

"He would stand out under the arches, under the dome — his living room was in the dome before I realized how small the dome was," said Mr. Pacelli, an animated man of 35 who can still see the building at night, now from his house in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn. "He'd go into the arches down below and survey the city." The hero was named Dig, adopted from the bellow ("Caaaaan yooouuu dig it?") of the character Cyrus in the 1979 film "The Warriors."

Dig's enemy, Mr. Big, lived behind the clock on top of 1 Main Street in Dumbo, which has since been turned into the Clocktower condominiums. Dig led a band of underground musicians who battled the minions of Mr. Big, the corporate ruler of the record industry.

"Everyone knew it existed," Mr. Pacelli said of the dome atop the tower, "but no one knew what went on up there." The space hung, like fate, over the lives of countless Brooklyn children with cavities when they were taken for drilling. In Mr. Pacelli's comic universe, the hero Dig went to see a dentist in the building one day and managed to sneak upstairs.

Today, Mr. Pacelli is a vice president at the Corcoran Group, the firm marketing the building, and part of his job is to lead tours of One Hanson Place. But he also seems to enjoy having the chance to explore every nook and cranny of the building that so dominated his childhood imagination.

On a recent afternoon, Mr. Pacelli, looking dapper in a pink shirt and a pink-and-black-striped tie, took a few visitors from the dank vault up to the airy interior of the dome. While no masked guitarists lurked in the shadows, Mr. Pacelli invited his guests to climb onto a catwalk and stick their heads out between the steel slats that make up the face of the dome, just below its apex. The whole of Brooklyn stretched out below.

The small dome space will not become a living room for a tenant, superhero or otherwise. And so far the 10th floor, which will house the sales office and model units, is the only one where renovations are nearly complete. The space, once divided into dental and medical offices, has been gutted to create an expansive, high-ceilinged interior, flooded by the light poring in from the large windows. The rest of the apartments in the building, which will have 189 units in all, are scheduled to be completed in a year. But the task of taking a tall, somewhat narrow 1920's office building and carving apartments out of its innards will not be easy.

"It's sort of like a giant jigsaw puzzle," said Andrew Macarthur, a principal of the Dermot Company, which bought the building last year with Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds, a development group whose managing director is the former basketball star Magic Johnson. "As you wend your way through this old structure, you have to figure out how to remold the interior into something totally new and different while retaining all the features that make it a unique building."

On the tour, Mr. Pacelli also took visitors to the great banking hall, which the Landmarks Preservation Commission has described as a "cathedral of thrift." The building's owners hope to rent the landmark-designated space to Borders, the book-selling chain, but on this day the teller windows stood empty and a few crumpled deposit slips littered the banking tables. A tile mosaic depicting the sun of commerce, shining its rays down on the original Dutch towns that joined to form Brooklyn, loomed over the empty scene below. "It smells like a church," one visitor said.

'A Cursed Little Part of Brooklyn'

Exactly what stood at One Hanson Place before the tower began rising on the site in 1927 is not certain. There may have been a church there, and before that, a doctor's office. (Historical records mention a Dr. Maddren, who in 1879 treated a family on Atlantic Avenue for trichinosis.) What is clear is that the neighborhood around Hanson Place was never a hot spot for business, though the Long Island Rail Road terminal was nearby, along with several subway stops.

"It's almost like a cursed little part of Brooklyn," said Francis Morrone, a historian who is the author of "An Architectural Guidebook to Brooklyn." "It's been a big transit hub forever, and for some reason it has never attracted the development everybody assumed it would."

The overwhelming stench of the old Fort Greene Meat Market probably didn't help matters. In any case, most of the borough's business was concentrated about a mile away, in the area around Borough Hall.

Yet in the years after World War I, the Williamsburgh Savings Bank, which had outgrown the building in north Brooklyn it had occupied since 1875, saw an opportunity at One Hanson Place. In 1926, the bank's managers commissioned the firm of Halsey, McCormack & Helmer, architects of the grand Beaux-Arts building of the Dime Savings Bank on nearby DeKalb Avenue, to design a modern office tower for the site. As the building went up and the Roaring Twenties careened forward, it was widely assumed that a new Brooklyn skyline would rise with the bank tower, whose marble base and carved stone pelicans, beehives and owls at eye level were impressive images even before the building was finished.

The tower opened on April 1, 1929; the hands of its clocks, at the time the country's largest, were illuminated by red electric lights, and the dome was lit against the Brooklyn sky. But the dream of a new skyline died with the stock market crash, which occurred just seven months later.

Where Old Fish Stowed His Money

Unlike similar institutions, Williamsburgh Savings prospered during the Depression, and the tower became the symbol of its success. By 1936, images of what was praised as "Brooklyn's Best Known Building" dominated its advertisements.

On Christmas Eve of that year, a man known as Old Fish died of pneumonia at Cumberland Hospital in Fort Greene, Brooklyn. People didn't know much about him, according to an article published five days later in The New York Times, except that he lived in a small attic on Cumberland Street, peddled fruit, vegetables and fish, and was cheap. (When his landlady proposed that he buy a $1 chicken, he suggested she buy the chicken and he would pay 10 cents for every bowl of broth it produced.)

Old Fish, too, could be seen as a symbol of the bank's success. He died because he wouldn't pay the $3 it cost to see a doctor, but he did entrust Williamsburgh Savings with his money. Among his things, police detectives found a key to a safe deposit box, which led to the bank's vault, seven blocks from his home. The box contained bankbooks and mortgage documents showing that Old Fish was worth more than $80,000, a fortune during those Depression years.

Old Fish was hardly the only one who saw the bank as a safe place for his money. By 1940, Williamsburgh Savings was the country's fourth largest bank, with a staff of 230 and assets of $263 million. But the building was destined to receive further notice for another sort of tenant.

The dentists for whom the tower became known arrived as a likely result of a marketing effort by the bank, Mr. Morrone said. By the 1960's, almost every floor not dedicated to banking was occupied by offices of more than 100 dental practitioners. Some boosters claimed the building was the world's largest dental center.

Among the early dental occupants was Joseph Franzetti, who started a practice in the building in 1960, according to his son, Louis, a periodontist and dental implant surgeon who still occupies the space his father first rented — Suites 1209 and 1210, both of which have sweeping views of New York Harbor. "He went to St John's Men's College nearby, which no longer exists," Dr. Franzetti said of his father. "He thought this was a very special building. For him, it was the best of the best that was in Brooklyn at the time."

As it turned out, the dentists outlived the bank, which began to suffer financial troubles in the 1970's. In 1986, it was sold, and the company that bought it was itself bought in 1999 by HSBC, an international financial services organization. HSBC operated a bank branch in the building for a time, but put the tower on the market in 2004. The next year, the Dermot Company and Canyon-Johnson bought the building and announced its conversion to condominiums.

Many of the dentists will lose their offices in the conversion (Dr. Franzetti is among only 16 who will stay on), but they weren't the only ones unhappy with the building's new role. In April, nearly 100 protesters gathered outside the tower to demand low-income housing in return for the city tax breaks for which the development, as a rehabilitation project, will be eligible.

"When they invited me to their grand opening, I told them I am not going," said City Councilwoman Letitia James, who participated in the protest and whose district office occupies a storefront just down Hanson Place from the tower. "Downtown Brooklyn is becoming very homogeneous. We need to preserve the diversity of downtown Brooklyn. We need to advance it."

In response, Mr. Macarthur of the Dermot Company said it would not be financially feasible for his company to include subsidized housing in the building.

Meanwhile, the latest renderings for Atlantic Yards, the arena and towers project proposed by Bruce Ratner of Forest City Ratner, show the bank tower next to several taller new office and residential towers, leading some residents to wonder just how visible the tower will be once it is joined by the new high-rises.

"It would be obliterated in its current form from many views in many neighborhoods," said Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for the group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn. (The architect for Atlantic Yards is Frank Gehry; Forest City Ratner is the development partner of The New York Times Company in building its new headquarters on Eighth Avenue.)

"Could you imagine if somebody proposed to block or obliterate most views of the Empire State Building?" added Mr. Goldstein, whose group opposes Mr. Ratner's plans. "Can you imagine the uproar?"

A rendering on www.atlanticyards.com, a Web site run by Forest City Ratner, shows what several of the new buildings would look like from Flatbush Avenue at Prospect Place, but the bank tower is not visible. In a current photo taken from the same location on the Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn Web site (www.developdontdestroy.org), the tower stands alone. And today, from Bay Ridge to Brooklyn Heights, from Borough Park to Boerum Hill, the dome and the clock of the old bank still dominate the sky, just as in the days of Old Fish.
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Old June 12th, 2006, 05:10 AM   #204
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^ It looks like our new developer Magic Johnson wants to built a new tower next to the Williamsburgh Saving Bank Tower (or the 1 Hanson Place Tower.)


Getting into B'klyn housing game
Group led by `Magic' Johnson converts Williamsburgh tower, offers Park Place units



By Erik Engquist
Published on June 12, 2006

Basketball star-turned-developer Earvin "Magic" Johnson's first forays into the city's sizzling housing market are ready to bear fruit--and the hoops idol is coming to Brooklyn to celebrate.

He will attend a gala and model-unit unveiling Tuesday at 1 Hanson Place--the former Williamsburgh Savings Bank building, which is being converted to condominiums, medical offices and a Borders bookstore.

Half a mile southeast, at the edge of Park Slope, 47 condo apartments went on the market this month at 145 Park Place. Corcoran Development Group is selling the units for Canyon-Johnson Urban Funds--Mr. Johnson's investment group--and Anderson Associates, the New York developer that built them. They range from a 1,060-square-foot one-bedroom for $645,000 to a 1,825-square-foot three-bedroom with a terrace for $1.536 million.

The Park Place development would be unremarkable if not for Mr. Johnson's celebrity. Not so the $200 million 1 Hanson Place project, which is transforming the interior of Brooklyn's tallest and most iconic building.

The 34-story Williamsburgh tower was built in 1929 and designated a landmark in 1978. In recent decades, it became a kind of mall for dental offices. Canyon-Johnson and Manhattan-based builder The Dermot Co. bought it from HSBC Bank in May 2005 for $71 million.


Views of Manhattan


Most of the 189 new condo units--especially the 2,400-square-foot duplex on the 26th floor, priced at $3.5 million--will have sweeping views of Manhattan and New York Harbor. Some, however, will face the site where Forest City Ratner Cos. and architect Frank Gehry are trying to build a basketball arena and 16 residential and office towers, many taller than the bank building.

One of Canyon-Johnson's stated missions is to boost the "underserved residents of the urban neighborhoods in which it invests." Mr. Johnson's partner, Los Angeles businessman Bobby Turner, concedes that downtown Brooklyn and Park Slope are not exactly blighted areas. But he says that the two projects address a pent-up demand for housing.

Besides, he adds, redeveloping areas that other builders neglect is only a secondary goal of his fund, after making money. "We are opportunistic, for-profit investors," Mr. Turner says. Mr. Johnson was unavailable for comment last week.

While the building will include no affordable housing, an adjacent parking lot might. Under current zoning, Canyon-Johnson could build 40,000 square feet of apartments on the lot. But Mr. Turner says he and Mr. Johnson will consider offering some units at below-market rates in exchange for permission to construct a bigger building than existing zoning allows. Talks with the Bloomberg administration and local City Councilwoman Letitia James are expected in the next three months.


Lobby remains


Meanwhile, renovation of the former bank building continues, with occupancy slated for spring 2007. Its grand lobby was saved, as required by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, but the rest of the edifice was gutted. In place of cramped dental offices will go luxurious dwellings with 11-foot ceilings, gourmet kitchens, mosaic stone-decorated bathrooms and Brazilian teak floors.

Building amenities will include a gym, business center, children's playroom, library and sky lounge. Finally, the building's dental tradition won't be completely lost. Above the bookstore will be 24,000 square feet of medical offices. At the same time, Mr. Turner says, his group will scour the city, looking for more cavities to fill.



©2006 Crain Communications Inc.
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Old June 12th, 2006, 05:12 AM   #205
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625 West 42nd Street (June 10th, 2006)

Great shot!!, Looks almost like a rendering!
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Old June 12th, 2006, 06:09 AM   #206
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Thanks! Interestingly, I didn't use my tripod for that particular shot.
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Old June 12th, 2006, 07:11 AM   #207
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Manhattan Hotel Deals, With Foreign Accents


By ALISON GREGOR
June 11, 2006

THE New York City hotel market, which struggled after the dot-com bust and then after 9/11, has been steadily rebounding: occupancy rates now hover around 80 percent, compared with 67 percent just three years ago. And the shift has not gone unnoticed by foreign investors, who see the market as crucial to their international hotel operations, as well as a haven for their money.

"I think all the stars are aligned for foreign investors to be investing in hotels in the United States and, in particular, New York City," said Daniel H. Lesser, a senior managing director who leads the hospitality group at CB Richard Ellis, explaining how hotels were once considered somewhat risky, specialized investments, but are now more mainstream.

In New York, the most recent transaction involving foreign investors was announced just last weekend, when Istithmar Hotels, which is controlled by the royal family of Dubai, said it had agreed to buy the former Knickerbocker Hotel in Times Square, at Broadway and 42nd Street, for around $300 million. Although the 16-story red brick building had been turned into office and retail space and includes a Gap store, Istithmar says that it plans to convert it back to a luxury hotel.

Joe Sita, the chief executive of Istithmar Hotels, called the Times Square district "extremely buoyant."

Last October, Prince Alwaleed bin Talal of the Saudi royal family bought back a stake in the Plaza Hotel, which he had sold in 2004 with his partner at the time, Millennium & Copthorne Hotels of London, for $675 million to El-Ad Properties, which has its offices in New York and is backed by an Israeli investor. The Plaza, at Fifth Avenue and Central Park South, is being redeveloped into condominiums, hotel rooms and condo hotel rooms, and the prince will focus on the hotel part.

Another big transaction was the purchase last fall of the Essex House, at 160 Central Park South, by Sheik Mohammed bin Rashid al-Maktoum, now the ruler of Dubai, for around $440 million. It was one of the most expensive hotel deals in the nation last year, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, the accounting and consulting firm. The hotel will be the first of his Jumeirah chain in North America.

Last July, Taj Hotels Resorts and Palaces of India assumed management of the Pierre Hotel, at Fifth Avenue and 61st Street, from Four Seasons Hotels. Taj Hotels agreed to pay an annual lease of $5 million to the co-op owners of the property and to spend around $40 million on hotel renovations. The hotel has been renamed the Taj Pierre.

"It is a very strong market now, so certain people are presumably taking advantage of this cycle and selling into the strength of the market," said Bruce Blum, an executive vice president and principal of the Oxford Lodging Advisory and Investment Group, which advised Sheik Mohammed on the Essex House deal. Mr. Blum said that it was unusual for these opportunities to become available all at once.

Taj Hotels had been looking to enter the luxury market in New York City for several years, having made unsuccessful bids for the Carlyle and the Ritz-Carlton New York, Central Park, according to Raymond Bickson, the company's chief executive and managing director.

"If you're not in New York or London in some way, shape or form, you're really not on that global platform," Mr. Bickson said. "We look to the key gateway cities, which are our main feeder markets. You need to have a presence in New York if you want to have brand cognizance of any hotel chain."

Other deals involving foreign investors are advancing. Mark Gordon, principal and managing director of the lodging group at the investment banking firm Sonnenblick-Goldman, which put together the Essex House deal, said his team was preparing the sale of two New York City hotels to a new European hotel investment fund, which does not yet have a name. Mr. Gordon would not reveal which two hotels were being sold.

"They have a nonrefundable deposit to acquire two hotels," he said. "They were so excited by this opportunity, they actually pursued these assets before they even had time to finish creating their vehicle, which is an interesting commentary on market demand."

When a hotel management contract becomes available, fierce competition often ensues. "There were over 15 or 16 hotel companies that were considered for the Pierre," Mr. Bickson said, "so we're obviously pleased that we're able to enter the New York market."

The competition has helped to drive up prices for the hotels. Kirk Reed, a manager of the hospitality and leisure practice at PricewaterhouseCoopers, said: "If it's an international brand wanting to come to New York, they might take terms or buy in at a price that would be less desirable than a regular hotel investor might take, in the interest of getting brand presence in the States." After the deals are completed, international chains are likely to make significant renovations along with other changes, said Jose C. Alvarez, a senior vice president who leads the hotel group of the Trammell Crow Company.

"They may increase service levels, as many of them are luxury operators, which are trying to distinguish themselves in the very competitive New York City market," he said.

So what does that mean for domestic hotel operators in New York City? Art Adler, a managing director of the hotels division of Jones Lang LaSalle, the commercial real estate services firm, says the market is so underserved with hotel rooms that it probably won't have a huge effect.

WITH about 3,700 hotel rooms lost to condo conversions since 1999, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers, New York City actually runs the risk of having a shortage of rooms to meet demand. That demand has already driven up room rates, to $211.80 a night, on average, in the first quarter this year, compared with $189.41 a year ago.

"When the city's busy, you get a room wherever you can get a room," Mr. Adler said. "It's very tight in New York right now."

Few new hotels are being built, especially in the luxury category. The high price of land, climbing construction costs and a robust condo market have discouraged hotel development in general.

"There's plenty of international money, but the basic economics in New York City, even with a lack of supply that is not getting better, still make it difficult to get the economics pointing in the right direction for development," said Richard Bassuk, president of the Singer & Bassuk Organization, which arranged financing for a W Hotel currently under development in Lower Manhattan.

But Mr. Gordon of Sonnenblick-Goldman says he thinks that the opportunity is there for foreign hotel developers. "The deals may have a residential component, just because the economics are so favorable," he said, "but I think there will be some meaningful luxury hotel development in the city in the next three years."


Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
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Old June 13th, 2006, 01:53 AM   #208
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The site in Yorkville where Extell Developement will build a luxury apartment is now being demolished.



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Old June 13th, 2006, 02:07 AM   #209
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How could they knock down something so beatifull
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Old June 13th, 2006, 05:38 AM   #210
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I like the circular balconies on the high rise behind the demolition site. Not something you see very often.
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Old June 13th, 2006, 05:47 AM   #211
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the process NYC goes through everyday today. how many other cities have to demolish as much as we do?
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Old June 14th, 2006, 02:00 AM   #212
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Here is a rendering of one of those new buildings.

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Old June 14th, 2006, 05:44 AM   #213
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the process NYC goes through everyday today. how many other cities have to demolish as much as we do?

Yeah, we took out Radio Row for the WTC, and we'll never stop! I just love it when crappy, small buildings get destroyed for better, taller ones.
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Old June 14th, 2006, 10:47 PM   #214
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Liberty Bonds approved for three WTC towers


by Catherine Tymkiw
June 14, 2006

The Liberty Development Corp. gave preliminary approval for $1.67 billion in Liberty Bonds to help build three of the five towers at Ground Zero.

The City is expected to give preliminary approval for an additional $921 million in Liberty Bonds for the towers next month.

“We expect that this [approval] will not only help leaseholder Larry Silverstein finalize the balance of his financing, but will facilitate the expenditure of funds at the World Trade Center site and accelerate real progress of construction,” said Empire State Development Corp. Chairman Charles Gargano in a statement.

The site’s owner, The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, and Mr. Silverstein originally entered into a 99-year ground lease for the site in the summer of 2001, shortly before the destruction of the original World Trade Center. A revised ground lease is in the process of being negotiated.

The two sides butted heads earlier this year over who would have control over rebuilding efforts. Gov. George Pataki had made the release of the bonds contingent upon an agreement between the Port Authority and Mr. Silverstein.

They came to an agreement in April, with Mr. Silverstein giving up development of the Freedom Tower in exchange for these three towers. Port Authority agreed to occupy space in one of the towers and to secure leases for 1 million square feet at the Freedom Tower.

Construction of Towers Two, Three and Four, which will comprise 6.2 million square feet of space, is slated to start later this year. The whole project is estimated to cost $4.38 billion.


©2006 Crain Communications Inc.
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Old June 14th, 2006, 11:14 PM   #215
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Milstein Properties to build last two Battery Park City apartment towers


14-JUN-06

The board of directors of the Hugh L. Carey Battery Park City Authority announced today that it had designated Milstein Properties as the developer for two “green” resident towers on the authority’s last remaining undeveloped residential site.

The towers will have a total of 421 condominium apartments and a 50,000-square foot community center with a swimming pool, gym, class rooms, kitchen and auditorium. The community center that will extend through both towers.

The site is on North End Avenue between Warren and Murray Streets and west of the authority’s ballfields.

“This project, which achieves a gold LEED standard, is one of the last steps we will take towards achieving our goal of 4.5 million square feet of sustainable development in Battery Park city, making us the largest ‘green’ neighborhood in the world,” declared James Gill, the authority’s chairman.

One of the towers will be 230 feet high and the other 320. Construction is scheduled to begin next spring with completion anticipated for the fall of 2008. The community center is expected to open in the spring of 2009. The average size of the new apartments is 1,142 square feet. The buildings will have garages.

The Battery Park City Authority was created in 1968 to develop a 92-acre site on landfill created by excavations for the nearby World Trade Center. Battery Park City contains 9.3 million square feet of commercial space, 7.2 million square feet of residential space, 9,000 residents, 52 shops, 35 acres of parks, 20 works of public art, three public schools, two hotels, a marine, the Irish Hunger Memorial, the Museum of Jewish Heritage, the New York City Police Memorial, the Skyscraper Museum and a 1.2-mile esplanade along the Hudson River.

Milstein Properties has erected several other residential buildings at Battery Park City including Liberty Court at 200 Rector Place, Liberty House at 377 Rector Place, Liberty Terrace at 380 Rector Place, and Liberty View at 99 Battery Place.

No renderings were made available.


Copyright © 1994-2006 CITY REALTY.COM INC.
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Old June 16th, 2006, 02:50 PM   #216
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NYC approves $179M for affordable housing


by David Jones
June 15, 2006

More than 5,000 apartments in the South Bronx, upper Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens well be renovated or developed with the help of $179 million in financing from the city's Housing Development Corp.

The HDC will provide $70.5 million to gut eight vacant buildings in Mott Haven that were previously owned by the city's Housing Authority, as well as to build five new buildings in the South Bronx.

In Harlem, HDC approved $63.1 million to help build a new mixed-income rental development, called Beacon Park, along with two other new buildings. Some of the Harlem funding will help rehabilitiate three vacant buildings and one five-story senior's building.
The Selfhelp Houses, a senior apartment building in Bayside, will be rehabilitated for $9.1 million.

About $36 million will be used to preserve 4,226 apartments in 18 Mitchell-Lama buildings in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Queens.

"As concerns about affordable housing continue to mount across the city, HDC is responding by issuing record amounts of financing for affordable housing," said HDC President Emily Youssouf.

About $156 million will be in the form of taxable and tax-exempt bonds, with the remainder coming directly from the agency budget. The Mitchell-Lama renovations will be in the form of repair loans or mortgage refinancing.


©2006 Crain Communications Inc.
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Old June 16th, 2006, 05:58 PM   #217
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B.P.C.A. looks to expand east


By Josh Rogers
Volume 19 • Issue 5 | June 16 - 22, 2006

On the day the Battery Park City Authority designated its last two development sites, its chairperson told Downtown Express the agency wants to take over the financially-stalled Greenwich Street South project to add parks and better walkways just to the east.

Jim Gill, the authority’s chairperson, said the agency has air rights to sell, bonding authority and the wherewithal to make the plan happen. The project in Lower Manhattan’s southwest corner includes building a platform over the entrance to the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, adding park space, building five residential buildings, an east-west walkway and parking garage for commuter buses. The area is hard for pedestrians to navigate because of the tunnel, Route 9A and a large parking garage.

“We could get as much as we need for the platform, the infrastructure and the park,” Gill said in a telephone interview Wednesday. He said he had not talked to any of the agencies and officials that would have to agree to the deal yet, but he planned to begin making the rounds.

Gov. George Pataki, who controls the B.P.C.A., last year set aside $80 million toward the project — $40 million from the Lower Manhattan Development Corp. and $40 million from federal 9/11 transportation funds. The money was to help pay for the bus garage, which was estimated to cost $125 million. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority owns several of the devlopment sites and they would have to agree to sell the sites to someone before the plan could proceed.

Madelyn Wils, a director of the L.M.D.C., said the Battery Park City Authority was a “logical” group to do Greenwich Street South and the idea was discussed briefly a few years ago.

“I’m a fan of the idea of bridging over the highway [tunnel entrance] and making Battery Park City and the Financial District accessible,” Wils said. She said the bus garage was desperately needed with 350 commuter buses expected to come Downtown every day.

Mayor Mike Bloomberg first suggested the Greenwich St. idea at the end of 2002 in a speech outlining his vision for Lower Manhattan and the city would have to agree with Gill before the plan could proceed.

“They have to be a full partner on this,” Wils said.

A Bloomberg spokesperson did not return a call for comment.

“It’s a big vision but it is something that could be done,” Wils said.


© 2006 Community Media, LLC
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Old June 16th, 2006, 07:54 PM   #218
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god, i would love to get rid of or at least completley redo that parking garage. what an eyesore
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Old June 18th, 2006, 03:51 AM   #219
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http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/15/ny...=1&oref=slogin
Developer of Atlantic Yards Is Cited for Failing to Stop Demolition Work

By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
Published: June 15, 2006

The city's Buildings Department issued a violation yesterday to Forest City Ratner Companies, the developer of the proposed Atlantic Yards project near Downtown Brooklyn, on the ground it did not obey an order to stop demolition work on a building on the project site.

The stop-work order was issued on Saturday, after inspectors responding to a complaint about the demolition work found several building code violations, including a defective safety fence at the demolition site, formerly home to small auto garages at 622 and 620 Pacific Street.

Though Forest City Ratner contractors fixed the fence after getting the stop-work order and resolved other problems, they did not seek a required reinspection to lift the order, said Jennifer Givner, a Department of Buildings spokeswoman.

The violation issued yesterday — fines run from zero to $2,500, as determined by an administrative judge — was the latest step in a running battle between Forest City and the residents of 624 Pacific, a building adjacent to the demolition site and also owned by the developer.

Forest City Ratner is the development partner in building a new Midtown headquarters for The New York Times Company.

Opponents of the Atlantic Yards project, an 8.7-million-square-foot residential, office, and arena development, have been stymied in their attempts to stop the demolition of the Pacific Street properties and and several others. A resident of 624 Pacific, Leigh Anderson, was among the plaintiffs in that lawsuit, and is also a member of Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, a group opposed to the project.

Contractors began tearing down the vacant Pacific Street buildings with hand tools — as required by the Buildings Department — on May 30. A backhoe was brought to the site on June 7 to help clear debris and level the ground, company officials said.

But Ms. Anderson and other residents say the backhoe was also used to demolish the exterior walls of the two lots, violating the building code and endangering residents living in 624 Pacific. They filed complaints last week with the city and took pictures of the backhoe at work.

Their tenant lawyer, George Locker, complained to officials at Forest City Ratner and at the Empire State Development Corporation, which is reviewing the project's environmental impact and approved the demolitions late last year.

"My clients are being assaulted by a huge piece of mechanical equipment," Mr. Locker said on Tuesday, adding that Ms. Anderson and others had refused earlier settlements offered by Forest City in exchange for moving out of 624 Pacific. He said the demolition work was intended to intimidate them.

No one was injured by the demolitions. Forest City officials said that the infractions cited by the Buildings Department were minor and that 624 Pacific, which the company owns, suffered no structural damage.

Norman Oder, the author of a blog devoted to the Atlantic Yards, posted some of the pictures on Tuesday, along with a report on the demolition.

The pictures taken by Ms. Anderson and another resident, David Gochfeld, appeared to show the backhoe pulling down first-story sections of the buildings' exterior walls. But Ms. Givner said that inspectors visiting the site on several occasions did not see the backhoe being used unlawfully.

In a letter sent to the Empire State Development Corporation in response to Mr. Locker's complaints, Jeffrey L. Braun, a Forest City lawyer, said the company was looking into whether contractors had disregarded instructions not to use the backhoe to demolish walls. If that was done, he said, the company would "take appropriate action."
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Old June 18th, 2006, 03:52 AM   #220
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http://www.nytimes.com/2006/06/16/nyregion/16yards.html
Group Calls for Major Changes in Atlantic Yards Plan

By NICHOLAS CONFESSORE
Published: June 16, 2006

A leading architectural and design association called yesterday for significant changes to the proposed Atlantic Yards project near Downtown Brooklyn, saying that the current plan would overwhelm the surrounding neighborhoods and burden the area with more traffic.

Members of the Municipal Art Society, an association of architects, designers and planners founded in 1893, leveled the criticisms during a presentation last night at a church in Fort Greene, not far from where the developer Forest City Ratner Companies wants to build an 8.7 million-square-foot residential, arena, and office project.

"Does this project work for Brooklyn?" asked Kent Barwick, the society's president. "As it currently stands, we don't think it does."

Mr. Barwick laid out five principles for improving the plan, including changes to avoid eliminating city streets — which the current plan would do — and making the development's park space more accessible and inviting to residents of adjacent neighborhoods.

James P. Stuckey, the Forest City executive in charge of Atlantic Yards, was lukewarm on the presentation, saying that it was "a nice thing to say that we're going to come up with five design principles but ignore the fact that there's a billion dollars of cost in infrastructure and land acquisition" associated with the project.

Forest City Ratner is the development partner of The New York Times Company in its new headquarters building on Eighth Avenue in Manhattan, and the developer has made charitable donations to the art society in the past.

The presentation, which drew about 300 people, focused strictly on design and planning, and Mr. Barwick acknowledged that there were "other issues" in play. He also conceded that the society had not considered how changing the project's design might affect its costs.

Because Forest City has not yet released financial projections for Atlantic Yards, however, only the company itself knows precisely how the project's costs are driving its scale.

The society often convenes panels of architects and planners to review significant development proposals in the city. Last night's presentation came after weeks of negotiations between the society and about a dozen local politicians and neighborhood associations, which agreed to sponsor it.

But the sponsors were careful not to endorse the society's principles, which conspicuously eschewed any discussion of eminent domain or housing, two issues that have driven debate over the project in the past. Several of the sponsoring organizations and individuals, including the Fort Greene Association and the Park Slope Civic Council, are also aligned with Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, an umbrella organization that has taken a much harder line against the project.

Mr. Barwick said that the sponsors had had some influence on the society's decision to steer clear of issues beyond design and planning. "The community groups felt there had been enough discussion of those issues, and they wanted to have a mature discussion on the design issues," he said.

Details of the presentation had apparently circulated among members of the umbrella group in recent weeks. On Sunday, the group sent an e-mail message to supporters charging that the arts society planned to endorse the arena, the use of eminent domain and a 20 percent reduction in the project's size, positions the e-mail message described as "unacceptable." (No such endorsements were included in last night's presentation, however.) The e-mail message urged members to turn out and provided a script of questions to ask after the presentation.

In a statement issued yesterday, the Brooklyn group said it hoped the society would "respect" a more stringent and far-reaching set of development principles, including opposition to eminent domain, negotiated among a number of neighborhood groups last year.

Daniel Goldstein, the group's spokesman, said yesterday, "We don't think that because Forest City has proposed something that that should be the framework for starting a conversation about what's best for the area as far as development."
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