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Old August 20th, 2006, 06:04 PM   #401
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Some fab buildings.
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Old August 20th, 2006, 10:54 PM   #402
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ah well, more proof emporis isnt as up to date as they claim.
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Old August 21st, 2006, 10:36 PM   #403
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Tracking Progress in Lower Manhattan

By Tom Sosnowski
August 21, 2006

NEW YORK CITY-As we approach the fifth anniversary of 9/11, The Alliance for Downtown New York has identified several indicators of the significant progress made in Lower Manhattan over the past five years, including the revitalized office market, the growing residential community, the expanding retail and tourist activities and the improved quality of life. While much work remains, the recovery achieved thus far has been remarkable.

* Business and Office Market Indicators

After struggling in the wake of the devastation of 9/11/01, the Lower Manhattan office market is undergoing a steady recovery. Office leasing activity has gathered strength in Lower Manhattan since the post-9/11 slowdown, and leasing in 2006 continues this positive momentum with 1.34 million sf signed as of the second quarter. Strong leasing activity has led to increases in absorption every year for the past five years, including more than a million sf of positive net absorption in 2005.

* Office Vacancy Rate

After shooting up 7.3 percentage points to a high of 13.7%, the vacancy rate among office properties in Lower Manhattan began a slow, steady decline. As of 2Q 2006, the vacancy rate has fallen to 11.2%, a decline of 2.5 percentage points from the post-9/11 peak. This trend is due in part to firms taking space off the market for their own use. According to CB Richard Ellis, since the beginning of 2006 more than 1.2 million sf of space has been withdrawn from the market by JP Morgan Chase, General Electric, Merrill Lynch, Guardian Life Insurance, TD Waterhouse and others.

* Office Rents

After 9/11, average rents in Lower Manhattan declined steadily until early 2005. The entry of 7 WTC into the market in February 2005 caused Downtown rental rates to increase $4.55 per sf. Since that time, strong demand has led to a steady upward climb in rental rates, which increased every month from November 2005 to July 2006 to reach $38.57 per sf the highest average pricing since May 2002.

* Employee Perception in Lower Manhattan

Employees are expressing positive views of progress in Lower Manhattan. A recent Downtown Alliance snap poll of more than 1,700 area workers revealed that more than 60% of those surveyed feel that Lower Manhattan is a better place to work than it was three years ago, and 91% are optimistic about Lower Manhattan’s future. Additionally, 65% of respondents indicated that they have noticed an improvement in the shopping and dining options Downtown in recent years, and 39% stated that they would consider living in Lower Manhattan in the future.

* Business relocations to Lower Manhattan

Since the beginning of 2005, at least 72 companies have committed to relocate their businesses from Midtown, Midtown South and elsewhere in the metropolitan region to Lower Manhattan. Together, these businesses account for more than 1.5 million sf of new leases south of Murray Street. * Academic Institutions in Lower Manhattan

Since 9/11, three new institutions of higher learning—NYU School of Continuing Education, the CCNY Center for Worker Education, and Berkeley College—have opened in Lower Manhattan, with a combined enrollment of 12,400 as of 2005. These additions raise the number of Downtown’s colleges and universities to a total of six and increased the number of students attending class in Lower Manhattan by 37%.

* Residential Market Indicators

In recent years, Lower Manhattan has become the fastest growing residential neighborhood in New York City. In the years since 9/11, the housing stock in Lower Manhattan has grown by 5,804 units—a 38% increase. This translates into approximately 10,200 additional residents over the past 5 years.

At least six new residential buildings are slated to open in the next several months. When the 4,700 units currently under construction are completed, they will attract approximately 8,200 additional residents to the Lower Manhattan community.

Also, Lower Manhattan residents have long been underserved in terms of schools. However, since 9/11, two new schools have opened in Lower Manhattan—the New York City Millennium High School and the private Claremont Preparatory. * Retail

Closing temporarily after 9/11, Downtown’s two destination retailers—Century 21 and J&R Music & Computer World—have not only reopened for business, but have expanded in size and capacity. Retailers displaced by the collapse of the WTC towers have relocated elsewhere in Lower Manhattan and enjoy strong sales in their new locations. Borders Books and Music, Nine West and Papyrus have relocated from the WTC to 100 Broadway, 179 Broadway, and 233 Broadway, respectively. The Amish Market, formerly at 130 Cedar Street, has opened two new locations at 17 Battery Pl. and 53 Park Pl..

The recovering office market and surging residential growth have attracted new luxury retailers to Lower Manhattan, including Hickey Freeman and BMW. Leases signed in the past few months will bring Hermes, Tiffany & Co. and Whole Foods to Lower Manhattan in 2007. Quality retailers such as Christopher Norman Chocolates, Sephora, and Equinox have also opened locations in Lower Manhattan over the past several years.

* Restaurants

Since 9/11, 31 new sit-down restaurants have opened in Lower Manhattan, most recently Bobby Van’s Steakhouse, Trinity Place and PJ Clarke’s. Zen Palette, the upscale vegetarian restaurant in Union Square, is under construction and will open on John St. next year .Once a collection of derelict storefronts, historic Stone St. has been transformed into Lower Manhattan’s very own restaurant row. After a dramatic revitalization over the past several years, the area is now known for its numerous restaurants and cafes with outdoor seating. Harry’s Steak, Adrienne’s Pizza Bar and Brouwer’s are just a few of the successful new offerings on Stone Street.

* Tourism

Tourism in Lower Manhattan was down in the years following 9/11/01, but has rebounded with positive growth in 2004, 2005, and YTD 2006. In 2005, attendance at selected Lower Manhattan attractions reached 4.5 million, the highest level since 9/11/01.

* Transportation

Transportation infrastructure and use have improved greatly since the destruction suffered on 9/11. In the last five years the temporary PATH station opened, easing the commute of some 45,300 riders between New Jersey and Lower Manhattan every day. Construction has begun on the Fulton Transit Center and the new underground connector, which will improve the connections and circulation of more than 300,000 daily subway riders on 12 subway lines.

The Staten Island Ferry Terminal has undergone a $130 million renovation, enhancing the trip of 65,000 daily commuters. The ferry terminal at the World Financial Center is also currently under renovation. Subway ridership in Lower Manhattan has continued to climb since 9/11. After holding steady between 2002 and 2003, the number of daily subway riders Downtown has increased 6% to reach 296,000 in 2005.

The Downtown Connection bus, a free service sponsored by the Downtown Alliance, connects Lower Manhattan’s key business, cultural and retail locations. The bus service has carried more than 1 million riders since its inception in the spring of 2003. As of June 2006, the Downtown Connection has grown to a monthly average of over 63,000 riders.

* Declining Crime

The rate of crime in Lower Manhattan continued to decline after 9/11. Crimes against persons decreased sharply between 2002 and 2003 and have continued to fall steadily since 2003. Crimes against property have also decreased in the past five years, with a sharp drop-off between 2001 and 2002 and a steady decline through 2005. In the past five years, the Downtown Alliance has improved at least 11 blocks of Broadway and Park Row as part of a streetscape improvement program. The enhancements include the installation of the Canyon of Heroes outdoor museum, which features 200 granite markers along Lower Broadway commemorating Downtown’s ticker-tape parades. The addition of trash baskets, bollards, and more than 100 street lamps have also greatly enhanced the appearance and security of Downtown’s streets.

Copyright © 2006 ALM Properties, Inc.
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Old August 22nd, 2006, 05:54 AM   #404
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by the way Krull, thank you for keeping this thread going and all the news you bring us. Very appreciated
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Old August 22nd, 2006, 07:46 AM   #405
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Originally Posted by Spooky873
(emporis) buildings proposed/approved over 500ft:

NYC - 23
Chicago - 23
Shanghai - 13
Dubai - 12
Hong Kong - 5
I'm very skeptical of the Dubai figure. I think it's misleading as most approved buildings don't yet have a known height in Dubai. If you counted approved buildings over 40 floors the figure would be over 50. As well, there are 60 or 70 u/c with known heights over 500 ft.
(These figures are just out of my own head so don't quote me. I am estimating on the conservitive side however.)
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Old August 22nd, 2006, 07:50 AM   #406
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no other city beats NYC!!!!
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Old August 22nd, 2006, 07:59 AM   #407
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Originally Posted by TowerPower
I'm very skeptical of the Dubai figure. I think it's misleading as most approved buildings don't yet have a known height in Dubai. If you counted approved buildings over 40 floors the figure would be over 50. As well, there are 60 or 70 u/c with known heights over 500 ft.
(These figures are just out of my own head so don't quote me. I am estimating on the conservitive side however.)
i just counted and relayed it. if you wanna know for yourself go there.
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Old August 22nd, 2006, 09:31 PM   #408
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Yes, I checked and the figure is indeed 12 approved over 500 ft. for Dubai. I still find it misleading though ( possibly for the other cities as well ). I checked on emporis and 7 of the 12 buildings are 320m +. As well I found an additional 39 approved buildings that are 45 floors or more with unknown height.

To clarify my earlier u/c figures for Dubai, there were 57 over 500 ft/153 m u/c, and 40 with unknown height and 45+ floors u/c.
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Old August 22nd, 2006, 09:47 PM   #409
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Yeah Emporis isnt completely up to date. Theres some new WTC stuff missing on there, etc.
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Old August 23rd, 2006, 11:50 PM   #410
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It’s Alex Garvin’s Town; You’ll Never Live In It

By: Matthew Schuerman
Date: 8/23/2006

Alex Garvin has been Dan Doctoroff’s favorite urban planner for about seven years now, ever since the deputy mayor came across Mr. Garvin’s book, The American City: What Works, What Doesn’t, in a Barnes & Noble.

His brand of urbanism with a free-market conscience appealed to Mr. Doctoroff, who was then just another investment manager with an Olympic dream. The two got together and worked out a way to bring the games to New York.

First it was NYC2012. Now it’s NYC2025.

With the Olympic bid by the wayside, Mr. Garvin has been working on a report on housing and infrastructure investments for the Strategic Land Use Plan, a nearly covert effort by the Bloomberg administration on what should be done to accommodate the nine million New Yorkers of the future (up from 8.1 million today). It is believed to be just one of a handful of reports that various consultants are preparing for the strategic plan, and was secret until Aug. 16, when Aaron Naparstek, a writer, posted it on StreetsBlog, a transportation Web site. Mr. Naparstek, whose own book, Honku: The Zen Antidote to Road Rage, may at one time or another may also have been found in Barnes & Noble, said that he had obtained the finished report in June from “a City Hall insider.”

Some of the ideas included in the report were mentioned in an Aug. 21 Observer article on the strategic plan, but the 87-page document delves into copious detail. The introduction cites “opportunities to build between 160,000 and 325,000 housing units, with virtually no residential displacement, and to dramatically improve city’s public realm through strategic capital investment.” Chief among them is a platform over Sunnyside Yards, the 166-acre commuter and passenger train yard in Queens, which would, when built out over three phases, provide space for up to 35,300 apartments. A more controversial idea that The Observer said is under consideration--congestion pricing, or charging cars for entering lower Manhattan and midtown weekdays--is not mentioned in the report.

“If housing production does not accelerate to match the growing population, housing prices will climb still higher,” the report states. “Such an expensive housing market will make it difficult for New York to attract the world’s top companies and employees, to retain an economically and culturally diverse population, and to continue expanding opportunities for every New Yorker.”

Of course, Mr. Garvin could have put his pen down right there. How much of an overpopulation problem would we have if no one wanted to live here?

But it becomes clear that Mr. Garvin wants the city to grow: increasing housing, he writes, “absorbs the city’s growth,” while improving the “public realm … helps ensure that growth occurs in the first place.”

And so, while the first part of the report is about creating housing, the report is illustrated with charming photos of tree-lined streets in Paris, bicycle lanes in Vienna and trolleys in Minneapolis, giving the impression that Mr. Garvin actually believes that just a little more urban planning will make New York City a civilized place to live!

“Alex is one of the pros in the business, and he’s raised a lot of interesting ideas about development potential,” said Robert Yaro, the president of the Regional Plan Association, a nonprofit planning group. “It’s particularly useful if it’s going to be a catalyst for public discussion, and I think that’s the key, that it needs to be seen as a beginning for dialog.”

It is unclear just what Mayor Bloomberg thinks of the report and how much of it will end up in his final plan, but outside consultants typically submit numerous drafts, get feedback, and shape their final versions to make them more or less acceptable to their clients. Mr. Garvin, a Yale professor as well as head of his own planning firm in New York, referred questions about the report to the Mayor’s office, which refused to comment. Mr. Doctoroff, reached separately, said he was tied up in meetings, but previously he has promised that the public would have a chance to provide input during the creation of the plan.

The idea of building platforms is nothing new for New York: Park Avenue was created over the New York Central rails; the Bloomberg administration is trying to build a deck on the West Side; and developer Bruce Ratner is proposing to cover Long Island Rail Road tracks in Brooklyn. Developers have likewise eyed the Sunnyside Yards for a long time, but no one has jumped.

“We’ve been looking at these sorts of opportunities, but as a private developer, it is very hard to figure out how to get involved,” said Jon McMillan, the planning director for Rockrose Development Corp., which is developing part of Queens West nearby. “There are several layers of ownership: the city, the M.T.A., and there’s even a private owner that has an option on part of it. Opportunities like this really have to be competitively bid.”

The trick to making it work economically is to figure out how many apartments developers are allowed to build on top of the platform in order to pay for the cost of the platform. At some point, Mr. McMillan said, “you turn the dial” and find the density that is at once acceptable to the community and also profitable for developers.

“If it’s not there already, it is almost there,” he said.

Another experienced developer in the outer boroughs, though, doubted it could be done without government subsidizing the cost of the platform.

“The concept is an excellent concept, the concept of building housing wherever it may be built,” he told The Observer. “The problem is that the infrastructure costs of a site like that are so enormous.”

Mr. Garvin estimates that maybe R8 zoning (roughly eight- to 10-story buildings, depending on its footprint) and definitely R9 zoning (roughly 12- to 18-story buildings) would be sufficient to make the platform worthwhile, but he does not spell out the specifics.

“Sunnyside Yards probably has more potential than any area in New York,” said Councilman Eric Gioia, who represents the area. “Platforming would give us an opportunity to build schools, homes that the middle class can afford, and create a vibrant new neighborhood.”

The idea of building over the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway in Cobble Hill appears to be more controversial, however. The local congresswoman, Representative Nydia Velázquez, recently secured more than $300,000 to study how to cover the expressway, which runs in a ditch along the neighborhood’s western edge. But community members are leaning in favor of cantilevering a broad sidewalk over either side of the ditch, narrowing the gap but leaving a slit through which car exhaust could escape.

“I don’t understand how putting housing over the highway will still let the highway breathe,” said Murray Adams, president of the Cobble Hill Association. “What that does is put all of the burden on either end of the platform instead of dissipating fumes throughout.”

Mr. Garvin’s ideas may run into other difficulties as well: He recommends rezoning 21 blocks of Sunset Park for housing while the Bloomberg administration set them aside earlier this year as part of an “Industrial Business Zone,” a designation meant to keep manufacturing companies from getting pushed out of New York City because of rising real-estate prices. “For housing to be built in these areas, the city must make a policy decision--as recommended by this report--that each site holds greater benefit to the city as a residential or mixed-use community than under its current uses,” the Garvin report states.

Other ideas are innocuous by comparison, and Mr. Garvin argues that they are relatively cheap. Planting trees along streets, for example, can be accomplished for the bargain-basement price of $650,000 a mile. (Keeping them alive is another issue.)

Mr. Garvin also suggests closing more major streets on Sundays as now is the practice in Central and Prospect Parks, and “pedestrian reclamations,” which means getting rid of parked cars along one side of the street, and broadening the sidewalk to create a sort of mall, with trees and benches along the side. In general, cars, especially parked cars, do not come off very well.

copyright © 2005 the new york observer, L.P.
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Old August 24th, 2006, 08:47 AM   #411
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Under-Construction Update:


1095 Avenue Of The Americas (Redevelopment): 630 ft - 40 floors

Chelsea Gran West I: 297 ft - 33 floors

Chelsea Gran West II: 297 ft - 33 floors

200 West End Avenue: 28 floors

The Caledonia (450 West 17th Street): 250 ft - 24 floors

11 Central Park North: 19 floors

426 West 58th Street: 11 floors

163 Charles Street: 8 floors

475 Greenwich Avenue: 7 floors

Lenox Grand (381 Lenox Avenue): 7 floors

La Casa Brava (232 East 118th Street): 7 floors

Lincoln Center West 65th Street (Redevelopment):


The Edge I: 40 floors
The Edge II: 30 floors

The Edge III: 15 floors

Oceana At Brighton: 12 floors

Park Slope Tower (343-53 & 4th Avenue): 12 floors

The Green Huron: 7 floors

North 10th Street Building: 7 floors

Medgar Evers College (New Academic Building): 6 floors

174 Vanderbilt Avenue (Building 1): 6 floors

174 Vanderbilt Avenue (Building 2): 6 floors

The Edge Housing I: 6 floors
The Edge Housing II: 6 floors
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Old August 28th, 2006, 07:49 PM   #412
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Nice buildings, but I don't really care for the Chelsea Gran buildings, especially the Gran 1.
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Old September 1st, 2006, 02:39 AM   #413
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Building downturn
City issues fewer housing permits; developers cut back

By Tom Fredrickson
Published on August 28, 2006

Residential construction in New York City is headed for its first annual decline in more than a decade.

In the first seven months of the year, the city has issued permits to developers to build 3% fewer residential units than in the same period of 2005, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

While the number of units in Brooklyn and Queens continued to rise--although at a fraction of last year's pace--the other boroughs all recorded dips. In Manhattan, the numbers slumped 13% for the period to a total of 4,986, which translates to 12 fewer buildings going up.

Many observers say the latest numbers mark a major turning point after years of robust growth in residential construction in the city. The rising cost of land, materials and construction has made many large construction projects uneconomical--especially in the face of a softening in sale prices.

"The supply of condos over the next several years is going to be a lot less than people thought six months ago," says Gary Barnett, president of Extell Development Corp., one of the city's largest residential developers.

Not since Bill Clinton

Forecasting company McGraw-Hill Construction anticipates that the value of large apartment building construction in the New York City area will rise this year by 4%, down steeply from last year's 23% jump. The company predicts a 7% fall in the total value for next year.

The last time the city saw a decline in the number of permits issued for residential units was in 1994, early in Bill Clinton's first term of office. By last year, the totals had increased by a factor of seven.

"I think we are seeing a natural slowdown in construction because there is less land available, and the land that is out there continues to rise in price," says Stephen Kliegerman, executive director of development and marketing at Halstead Property.

Many developers are looking at pieces of property and deciding against building on them because the numbers no longer make sense in a market where developers cannot count on further steep rises in sales prices. A Halstead client Mr. Kliegerman declined to identify recently passed on developing a 20-unit condo building in the West Village. The units would have to sell at $2,000 a square foot, reflecting a high-watermark price that may not hold.

"It wouldn't be impossible to attain those numbers, but no reasonable investor would bank on it," Mr. Kliegerman says.

Construction costs have only exacerbated developers' woes. In the last three years, construction costs, including labor, have risen about 35% in New York City. An index based on the cost for three key building materials--Portland cement, 2-by-4 lumber and structural steel--has increased 9% in the city in the last 12 months alone, according to Engineering News-Record.

"Construction costs have exploded," Mr. Barnett says.

©2006 Crain Communications Inc.
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Old September 1st, 2006, 02:40 AM   #414
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GREEN QUEEN: Proposed park would see Greenpoint
live up to its name.

August 27, 2006

The scenes seem more Greenwich than Greenpoint: pedestrians strolling along a shorefront esplanade, kayakers paddling through placid waters, people gathering at an outdoor performance shell.

But if city park planners have their way, it will come true.

As part of a $100 million refurbishment of the Greenpoint waterfront, planners are proposing soccer and softball fields, a visitors center, a boathouse, a beach and a boardwalk for the 25-acre Bushwick Inlet Park.

Also planned is a museum and memorial plaza dedicated to the USS Monitor, the first ironclad ship commissioned by the U.S. Navy, built and launched in Greenpoint during the Civil War.

There will also be a community center, a performance space in the footprint of the soon-to-be-removed Bayside fuel tanks and a floating movie screen on the inlet.

The Parks Department's preliminary and still-evolving designs were unveiled last week at Community Board 1, where reactions were mixed.

While most seem pleased with the design, some complained that planners are simply thinking too big.

Others were angry that the Monitor museum's proposed location has been moved to Kent Avenue, the northernmost part of the park.

The museum, which is now a traveling exhibit, was given land for a permanent home on the inlet's waterfront in 2003. It used a $50,000 state grant to clean the site, which will now be used for other park uses.

"No one's against the park," said Janice Weinmann of the museum. "We just want the museum prominently displayed on the waterfront where the ship was actually launched."

The city is still in the process of acquiring the Bushwick Inlet from five private developers.

Copyright 2006 NYP Holdings, Inc.
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Old September 1st, 2006, 02:41 AM   #415
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The Staten Island NASCAR stadium
would be similar in scope to the
Richmond International Speedway
in Virginia.


August 28, 2006

Facing a road filled with potholes, the developer seeking to build an 82,500-seat NASCAR raceway on Staten Island is revising plans in a bid to limit traffic impact on the borough's already jammed highways.

Michael Printup, project manager of the Daytona, Fla.-based International Speedway Corp., said the company "would love" to reduce the number of parking spots for raceway events from the proposed 8,400 to 1,000 and is "confident" it could get it at least below 5,000.

"Our goal is to get as many people coming here by bus and ferry as possible," Printup told The Post, adding that the delayed $600 million project won't be completed until at least 2011.

Copyright 2006 NYP Holdings, Inc.
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Old September 1st, 2006, 02:42 AM   #416
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Smokestacks’ Demolition Will Mean New B’klyn Skyline
But Don’t Expect a Big, Dramatic Implosion Here

You’ll still see “smoke on the water,”
but it will only come through one of
these four 350-foot smokestacks.
The other three atop Con Edison’s
Vinegar Hill plant are scheduled to
be demolished by the end of the year.

By Raanan Geberer
Brooklyn Daily Eagle
published 08-26-2006

BROOKLYN — Residents of Vinegar Hill and nearby areas are hoping that the dismantling of three of the huge smokestacks atop the Con Edison plant there will be done in a safe way.

At any rate, the stacks will go down with a whimper, not with a bang.

Don’t look for these smokestacks to be imploded dramatically, the way the old KeySpan gas tanks in Williamsburg were blown up a few years ago, to the delight of photographers. Instead, they’ll be taken apart little by little.

“Demolition should begin soon — we are just waiting for final permits,” said Joe Petta, a spokesperson for Con Edison. “As soon as we get those, the work will begin. They should probably come down by late fall.”

At the heart of the demolition of three of the building’s four smokestacks are ongoing changes in technology and in the way Con Edison works.

The building dates back to 1932, and at one time, there were 32 boilers going night and day, necessitating four stacks on top of the building, with an extra stack nearby. Today, says Petta, the plant no longer generates electricity, just steam for the Manhattan steam loop.

Only four boilers still operate, and the inactive stacks cost a lot to maintain. Thus, their destruction makes sense from an economic point of view.

Many real estate observers, such as the writers of the well-known blog Brownstoner, have said that the giant Con Ed plant remains a barrier to more development in the neighborhood.

Tucker Reed, executive of the Dumbo Improvement Association representing the area next door to Vinegar Hill, said, “The creation of more open space because the plant is not being utilized is a welcome step.”

“As far as Vinegar Hill is concerned, this is nothing but an aesthetic change,” said Nicholas Evans-Cato, vice president of the Vinegar Hill Association.

As far as the Con Ed plant is concerned, he said, “They’ve been good neighbors,” but added that “the remaining boilers are the dirtiest power plant in New York City. Still, he said, “This is a good example of Con Ed doing its maintenance before the fact. Better these stacks be taken down than fall down.”

Deborah Masters, a Williamsburg/Vinegar Hill environmentalist, said, “I discussed this plan for two years with Con Edison, and I’m glad they’re going to do it.

“Every time you start dismantling something that has heavy metals and PCBs on the inside, it’s good they’re taking them down. I’m pretty confident in Con Ed’s department that takes care of environmental toxins.”

The alteration of the power plant’s industrial skyline will also have implications for nearby Brooklyn Bridge Park, but officials from the Brooklyn Bridge Park Conservancy did not return phone calls to this newspaper by press time. Several officials who were called for this article did not return phone calls, probably because of yesterday’s meeting on the Atlantic Yards project.

As for the steam, it travels through a tunnel under the East River and then into two “loops” in Manhattan, where it heats, and sometimes cools, office and residential buildings, thus saving them the expense of having their own boilers.

© Brooklyn Daily Eagle 2006
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Old September 1st, 2006, 02:43 AM   #417
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Pressure Mounts to Curb the Size of Atlantic Yards

By DAVID LOMBINO - Staff Reporter of the Sun
August 29, 2006

The developer of the $4.2 billion Atlantic Yards project is coming under pressure to downsize, The New York Sun has learned.

State officials have discussed with the developer, Forest City Ratner, a reduction in the size of the project, a source said. The officials have said the downsizing should come in the next few weeks, before September 22, the end of the public comment period regarding the draft environmental impact statement, the source said. As proposed, Atlantic Yards would be the largest development project in Brooklyn's history and create the densest census tract in America.

Forest City Ratner is seeking to build a basketball arena and 16 towers containing 6,860 apartments on 22 acres in Prospect Heights, Brooklyn, but the project has come under fire from some members of the community who say the project is too dense, will destroy the low-rise neighborhood, and further ensnarl the borough in traffic.

Many supporters of Atlantic Yards hail the project's affordable housing component. The developer has promised that half of the project's rental units, about 2,250 apartments, will be made available to low- and middle-income families.

The support of the Pataki administration and its leading development agency, the Empire State Development Corporation, is critical to the project's success.The proposal is being shepherded through the approval process by the ESDC, whose board must approve the plans before they head for final approval from the Public Authorities Control Board.

City officials said yesterday that the Department of City Planning is drafting written testimony that it will submit to the ESDC that will include comments about the proposed height and how the project fits in the context of the low-rise neighborhood.

Previously, the Bloomberg administration has supported the plan without reservation based on its job creation and affordable housing components. City Hall does not have an official vote on the matter, because the proposal circumvents the city's uniform land use review process.

Last Wednesday, hundreds of supporters and opponents clashed verbally during and outside a public hearing over the developer's draft environmental impact statement. At the hearing, the president of Brooklyn, Marty Markowitz, tweaked his previously robust support for the project to include some new demands. He asked the state and developer to reduce the project's scale, build a school, add a police substation, improve potential traffic problems and parking, and make sure that the project's open space is public and accessible.

A spokesman for Forest City Ratner told the New York Post last week that it would consider the suggestions by Mr. Markowitz. The developer would not comment yesterday.

If the developer reduces the project's size, it should not expect instant community approval of the new plan. A spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, an umbrella organization of opposition groups, Daniel Goldstein, said a size reduction would not halt a legal challenge over the proposed use of eminent domain.

Mr. Goldstein said the organization would oppose the project until the developer changes the 22-acre project footprint, considers not building the basketball arena, and takes eminent domain off the table. He said he expected a size reduction as part of the developer's strategy to seek approval.

"They shoot for the sun so they can get the moon. When they get the moon, they act like they have listened to the criticism and responded," Mr. Goldstein said.

Mr. Goldstein said the latest proposal is about 700,000 square feet bigger than the 8 million square feet that was originally proposed in December 2003. Opponents contend that the developer increased the total square footage to about 9.1 million square feet last September, and then in March scaled back plans by about 5%, or 475,000 square feet, to its current total size of about 8.7 million square feet.

The developer has said that the size of the project, and its thousands of market rate housing units, is necessary to subsidize the affordable units. Forest City Ratner has not said how much it stands to profit from the project.

If the developer downsizes, as expected, any decrease in the number of affordable housing units could threaten a main source of support, which includes the housing activist Bertha Lewis. A well-timed size reduction could, however, placate some politicians whose support has been conditional on changes to the current plan.

A spokesman for City Council Member David Yassky, Evan Thies, said a decrease in size would be a significant development. Mr. Yassky supports the project, but has called for a size reduction and traffic improvements.

"Finally, someone seem to be listening on the other side," Mr. Thies said. "This is a real opportunity for the developer and the ESDC to prove to the community that they are listening to their concerns."

Several elected officials have asked that the size and density of the project be reduced. In May, a bill introduced by Assemblyman James Brennan, a Democrat of Brooklyn, would have forced the developer to reduce the amount of square footage by about one-third. The state, in return for a reduction, would give more money to subsidize the project's affordable housing units and for land acquisition costs. Five members of the Assembly from Brooklyn supported the bill.

Yesterday, the Empire State Development Corporation scheduled an additional public community forum for September 18. A forum is also scheduled for September 12.

If minor changes are made to the current plan, the developer would not necessarily have to submit a new supplemental environmental impact statement and the state could give its final approval soon after the public comment period concludes.

© 2006 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC.
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Old September 1st, 2006, 02:44 AM   #418
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110-Building Site in New York City Goes on Market

The sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, shown in
1947, would transform a complex build for World War II veterans.

August 30, 2006

Metropolitan Life is putting a stretch of 110 apartment buildings along the East River in Manhattan on the auction block.

With a target price of nearly $5 billion, the sale of the developments, Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village, would be the biggest deal for a single American property in modern times. It would undoubtedly transform an affordable redoubt for generations of Manhattan’s middle class: teachers and nurses, firefighters and police officers, office clerks and construction workers.

MetLife, one of the largest life insurers in North America, said in July that it might sell the two complexes, which it built nearly 60 years ago with government help. It has hired a broker, who started registering bidders last week for the 80-acre property along First Avenue between 14th and 23rd Streets.

Behind the scenes, the sale has already drawn interest from dozens of prospective buyers, including New York’s top real estate families, pension funds, international investment banks and investors from Dubai, according to real estate executives, even though the marketing book will not be released to bidders until next week.

The deal is likely to lead to profound changes for many of the 25,000 residents of the two complexes, where two-thirds of the apartments have regulated rents at roughly half the market rate. Any new owner paying the equivalent of $450,000 per apartment is going to be eager to create a money-making luxury enclave, real estate executives say.

The sale would only add to the seismic cultural shifts already under way in New York City and especially in Manhattan, where soaring housing costs have made the borough increasingly inhospitable to working class and middle class residents. It would be another challenge to Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s effort to stabilize and expand the number of affordable apartments in the city.

“It’s really sad,” said Suzanne Wasserman, a historian and filmmaker who has lived in Stuyvesant Town since 1989. “New York has always attracted people who aren’t just interested in money — people interested in culture and poetry and music and dance and those young people who are the creative capital of the city. They aren’t going to have a place here and probably really don’t already. I think it affects everything about city life.”

Rumors of an impending sale began circulating among residents several years ago when MetLife was in the midst of a $300 million in upgrades that included new landscaping and playgrounds, spruced-up fountains, new wiring, air conditioning, carpeting and lights. Rose Associates took over management three years ago.

At the same time, MetLife sought to oust tenants not listed on leases. And rents for more apartments hit the legal threshold of $2,000 a month, MetLife has been able to charge new tenants market rates for those apartments when they become vacant. Under that threshold, the rent stabilization law limits increases to a fixed percentage each year for about a million apartments. About 27 percent of the tenants at Peter Cooper and Stuyvesant Town are now exempt from it and pay market rents.

But most, like Marilyn Phillips, 52, a nurse who has lived in Stuyvesant Town for 14 years, are under the threshold. She and her husband, a social worker, pay $1,700 a month for a two-bedroom apartment. News of the sale worried her. “It may mean we may no longer be able to live here,” she said. “The management is intent on making this luxury apartments and driving the working class out.”

MetLife and real estate investors view the sale far differently.

“It’ll be the largest sale of a single property in U.S. history,” said Dan Fasulo of Real Capital Analytics, a real estate research and consulting firm. “No doubt in my mind. It’s truly an unprecedented offering and an irreplaceable property. It would be impossible today to get a property of that scale in an urban location. And that neighborhood has become so desirable.”

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village together are nearly as large as the biggest single residential development in the country: Co-Op City in the Bronx, which has 15,372 units in 35 towers and 236 two-family houses. The land itself is about one-tenth the size of Central Park.

To market the properties, MetLife has hired Darcy Stacom, a broker at CB Richard Ellis. According to real estate executives, the company began registering potential bidders last week, telling them that MetLife hoped to select a winner by November.

The company reserves the right not to sell if the offers fall short, but Robert Merck, who oversees real estate investments for MetLife, said, “We think the current market conditions are very favorable.”

Already there are signs that bidding will be feverish. As one executive involved in the sale put it, “This is the ego dream of the world: 80 acres, 110 buildings, 11,000 apartments, covering 10 city blocks in Manhattan.”

According to several bidders, the list of buyers who have signed up includes the most active developer in New York City, The Related Companies; one of the largest landlords, Glenwood Management; Tishman Speyer, which controls Rockefeller Center; two publicly traded real estate companies, Archstone and Vornado; the international bank UBS; the Blackstone investment firm, as well as the Rudin, Durst and LeFrak real estate families.

Given the enormousness of the deal, buyers are expected to team up.” You’ll see some interesting people stepping up to the plate for this one,” said William Rudin, whose family owns about 2,000 apartments in New York.

This is the latest big transaction for MetLife. Last year the insurer sold its landmark tower at 1 Madison Avenue and the skyscraper at 200 Park Avenue, the former Pan Am building, for more than $2.6 billion. But it is not getting out of the real estate business. It has a $40 billion portfolio of properties around the globe. But its presence in New York City is far smaller today than when its headquarters, with its signature clock tower, lorded over Madison Avenue.

The company played a major civic role in the last century, building and running vast housing complexes like Parkchester in the Bronx and Riverton in Harlem, as well as Peter Cooper and Stuyvesant Town. Parkchester and Riverton were sold long ago. Last year, the company sold its landmark tower at 1 Madison Avenue and the skyscraper at 200 Park Avenue, the former Pan Am Building, for more than $2.6 billion.

At the urging of the public works czar Robert Moses, MetLife built Stuyvesant Town and its slightly more affluent sister, Peter Cooper Village, in 1947, as housing for returning veterans where the city’s Gashouse District once stood. The company excluded blacks and unmarried people at first, until protests and lawsuits in the 1950’s and 1960’s forced it to drop the barriers.

The city acquired some of the land for the project through eminent domain and gave MetLife all the streets in the 18-block area. The city also froze property taxes for 25 years at the value of the land before redevelopment, according to Samuel Zipp, a historian who wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on urban renewal in New York City.

Mr. Zipp, a visiting assistant professor of history at the University of California at Irvine, said that Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village served as a kind of urban Levittown, an early model for a new sort of city landscape that inspired later efforts in the 1950’s and 1960’s aimed at keeping city life affordable to the middle class. Among them was Lefrak City, a complex of 20 18-story buildings on 40 acres in Corona, Queens.

Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper are already undergoing great changes. Older residents are dying off. Young well-heeled professionals are willing to pay the higher rents. There are students from New York University — here one year, gone the next. There are fewer families and more single people, some of them subdividing one-bedroom apartments with partitions. A seven-story banner hanging down the side of a building on 14th Street announces, “Luxury rentals.”

Old traditions are also disappearing. The corny Christmas music and antiquated ornaments are gone, said Ms. Wasserman, the filmmaker who moved into Stuyvesant Town with her husband and son. Gone, too, is what she used to call the “friendly fascism” of the place: rules against playing on the grass, against sunbathing, against eating in the playgrounds, against running through sprinklers without shoes.

“It’s becoming two different communities here — those that have the rent stabilization and those that don’t,” said David Weiss, a 34-year-old writer who lives in a rent-stabilized one-bedroom apartment with his wife and young son. The turnover among new arrivals is so high, he said, “My wife and I kind of joke that when we make friends with people we’ll ask if they’re in a rent-stabilized apartment.”

Still, about 8,000 apartments remain under the city’s rent stabilization system. Even three-bedroom apartments remain in the hands of longtime residents still paying well under $2,000 a month.

Investors will want a return. “They have to raise the rents or convert it to a condo,” said Leonard Grunstein, a lawyer who specializes in deals involving multifamily affordable housing. “Either event removes this as affordable housing stock. If this were removed, there are probably 22,000 workers who live there, most are two-family incomes, probably 15,000 employees are there. Where are they going to go?”

Real estate executives are already poring over demographic information about the current tenants and considering long-term strategies, such as turning Peter Cooper Village into a condominium complex. That development sits on a rectangular piece of land bisected by a private road and the 3,000 apartments there tend to be larger, with more than one bathroom.

In interviews yesterday, some older tenants living in rent-stabilized apartments said they were not worried about being priced out of their homes right away. “I’m not really that concerned about it,” said Elliott Landen, 77, who said he pays slightly over $1,000 a month for a one-bedroom apartment. “I don’t think they’ll throw me out.”

But many said the people who will suffer most will be younger tenants holding out hope of raising children in Manhattan. One man, a 42-year-old computer programmer, said he and his wife had given up their rent stabilized one-bedroom unit in Stuyvesant Town when their daughter was born and had moved into a market-rate two-bedroom. He said he figured that in about two years his family would “wind up in the suburbs.”

“We’re at about $1,400 now,” said a woman who named Evelyn, who declined to give her last name but described herself as a 77-year-old retired teacher who has lived with her husband in a three-bedroom apartment in Stuyvesant Town for 43 years. “If we die, whoever comes in will pay $3,500 or $4,000. This used to be a nice middle-income place. It’s no longer that.”

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
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Old September 1st, 2006, 06:18 AM   #419
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Appraisal Puts West Side Railyards’ Value at 3 Times the City’s Offer

September 1, 2006

The Bloomberg administration’s plan to buy the development rights to the 26-acre railyards on the Far West Side of Manhattan has hit another snag: money.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns the railyards on both sides of 11th Avenue between 30th and 33rd Streets, received an appraisal this week that pegged the value at $1.5 billion, according to authority board members and city officials.

That is three times the $500 million offered by the Bloomberg administration in a surprise bid in July. The appraisal further complicates a deal that the administration had hoped to wrap up quickly. The city’s offer has already come under fire from Attorney General Eliot Spitzer, who is running for governor, as “grossly under market value.”

City officials said the gap between the city’s offer and the new appraisal was not as large as it seemed, but it also appeared that the Bloomberg administration would almost certainly have to sweeten its offer.

“Clearly, this is a new wrinkle in the deal,” said Peter S. Kalikow, chairman of the transportation authority. He said that board members would begin evaluating the document after the Labor Day weekend.

Mr. Kalikow expressed support for the city’s proposal last month, though he said he wanted a new appraisal.

Tom Kelly, a spokesman for the authority, confirmed that the appraisal was complete, but declined comment.

According to officials who have been briefed on the appraisal by Jerome Haims Realty, it sets the value of the development rights for the railyard on the west side of 11th Avenue at more than $1.2 billion, based on the ability to develop a large residential and commercial complex. A smaller block of development rights on the east side of 11th Avenue is worth about $300 million, the officials said.

Even if the authority subtracted the estimated $400 million cost of building a platform over the western railyard, the appraised value would still be more than twice the city’s offer.

“We continue to negotiate with the M.T.A.,” said Stu Loeser, a spokesman for Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. “We think our offer is fair. We’re not looking to make a profit here.” Back in July, Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff said the city hoped to use the offer to catalyze development in this neighborhood of factories, warehouses and parking lots. Buying the development rights, he said, would ensure that any development would be consistent with a comprehensive zoning plan adopted last year by the city.

The city is also selling development rights under its rezoning plan and did not want to compete with the transportation authority.

The Bloomberg administration had discounted its offer based on the cost of building a platform over the railyards and on a provision for subsidized housing, which is required in the surrounding neighborhood.

Still, Mr. Spitzer said yesterday, there is a substantial gap between the city’s offer and the appraisal.

“If this report is accurate, it suggests that the value of the Hudson Yards, even after making deductions for the cost of a platform and adjustments for affordable housing and other amenities, is significantly greater than the price the city has offered,” he said in a statement released yesterday.

Mr. Spitzer has suggested that the development rights should be put up for auction, or the city could give the authority most of the profit it makes on any resale to developers, and that the proceeds, in turn, should go into the authority’s capital budget.

The appraisal highlights the difficulty of evaluating a property, like the railyards, that offers waterfront views of the Hudson River but requires an elaborate and costly platform before any buildings can be erected. The city’s offer is also based on a different set of assumptions from those used in the Haims appraisal.

The Jets, who had sought unsuccessfully to build a stadium over the western railyard last year, estimated the cost of a platform at $357.1 million. With construction costs rising quickly in New York, the Bloomberg administration now puts the cost at $400 million.

But architects and engineers say that building a platform for high-rise towers, as opposed to a stadium, will be more expensive and more of a logistical challenge. The taller buildings would be buffeted by river winds, requiring a more substantial platform and thicker stanchions to hold it up.

Most developers say they would subtract the cost of a platform from the value of the development rights. But the Haims appraisal does not assess the cost of a platform, one of the reasons city officials say the gap is not so large.

Given the current zoning at the railyards, very little could be built there. The Haims appraisal assumes a major rezoning that would allow for 7.87 million square feet of residential and commercial buildings. It is based on the same kind of zoning the city recently approved for an adjacent parcel.

But the city’s offer envisions a project that is 20 percent smaller, at 6.2 million square feet, although it also assumes a mix of residential and commercial towers.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
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Old September 1st, 2006, 11:13 AM   #420
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Wow, in spite of the market downturn, NY property looks hot. Of course these are once in a lifetime opportunities. Man I wonder what the terms of the stuvesant/cooper deal will be , how extensive the changes and densities allowed.
towards a livable city...
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