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Old November 14th, 2006, 11:06 PM   #541
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http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/12/re...ate&oref=login
New Condos Inspired by Africa

By DAVID SCHARFENBERG
Published: November 12, 2006


AFROCENTRIC DESIGN A rendering of the Kalahari condo complex, which is set to open in December 2007.

TUCKED between a rickety African market and a gleaming new luxury apartment building, the construction site on West 116th Street that will eventually be the Kalahari condominium complex is a kind of symbol for the social and economic forces shaping Harlem.

The building, set to open in December 2007, signals encroaching gentrification: bamboo flooring, glass-enclosed showers and an on-site gym will separate the building from the Martin Luther King Jr. Towers, a public housing project across the street.

But for all its bourgeois touches, the Kalahari also makes serious gestures toward an older Harlem.

Nearly half of the 249 condos planned for the $119 million building have been set aside for moderate-income buyers. A family of four with a household income of $63,800 to $131,165 would qualify for one of the subsidized units. StreetSquash, a nonprofit organization that provides Harlem children with academic tutoring and squash instruction, is to spend $9 million on a community center in the rear of the building. And an independent film center at the site, to be called My Image, will focus on Latino and African diaspora movies.

The developers — Full Spectrum of NY in Harlem, and L & M Equity Participants in Larchmont, N.Y. — have emphasized African-themed design for the structure, named after the desert in southern Africa.

The facade will be covered in decorations inspired by South African Ndebele tribal designs. Adinkra symbols, West African icons representing concepts like wisdom, unity and perseverance, will adorn the columns. And a sculpture by El Anatsui, a Ghanaian artist, is to hang in the lobby.

Carlton Brown, chief operating officer for Full Spectrum, said culturally appropriate design is important in a place like Harlem, which he calls the “intellectual center” of black America. “A lot of what has been built in what is sometimes called the Second Harlem Renaissance has not addressed the cultural elements,” he said.

Jack Travis, a cultural design consultant who worked with Fred Schwartz, the lead architect, on the African decorative flourishes, sees them as part of a search for an “Afrocentric” design.

“It is an environment,” he said. “It is a small urban plan. And it is in a black community, which begs, desperately, for a cultural identity of buildings and spaces that reflect the notions and intentions of the people in the community.”

But for all his enthusiasm, Mr. Travis acknowledges a certain irony in the appearance of Afrocentric design on a luxury condominium that represents, at least in part, a neighborhood’s gravitation beyond the means of blue-collar African-Americans.

The irony is not lost on the locals, either. John Nelson, 54, an unemployed construction worker walking past the building recently, said he had little use for the Kalahari and its African stylings. “They going to do that for what?” he asked. “To get black people to come in the apartments?”

“People in our category,” he said, “we can’t afford that.”
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Old November 15th, 2006, 10:33 PM   #542
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http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/15/ny...l?ref=nyregion
2 Former Stables on the Upper West Side Get Opposite Verdicts on Landmark Status

By THOMAS J. LUECK
Published: November 15, 2006


James Estrin/The New York Times

Landmark status was denied to the old Dakota Stable, left, at Amsterdam Avenue and 77th Street, but was extended to the New York Cab Company building at Amsterdam and 75th.


In a case watched closely by New York City builders and preservationists, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted yesterday not to extend landmark status to a late-19th-century stable building on the Upper West Side from which the architectural detail has been removed. The building is to be demolished for condominiums.

In an 8-to-2 vote that followed contentious debate, the commission acknowledged that the owners of the former Dakota Stable, at Amsterdam Avenue and 77th Street, had obtained the necessary building permits to alter the building. The Related Companies, a large development concern, has a contract to buy the building from an investment group and plans to demolish it by the end of the year.

But several members of the commission said they were angered that the alterations had been made while the building was under consideration as a landmark. They said the case underscored the ability of some builders to remove what is most valued from historic buildings to avoid landmark designations.

Robert B. Tierney, the commission chairman, said the work taking place on the former stable was “very disappointing” and “pre-empts fuller consideration” of preserving it as a landmark. But he said the commission had no legal recourse, and he rejected calls by other members to declare the former stable a landmark even as it is being prepared for demolition. Such a decision, they said, would put other builders in the city on notice not to speed up their construction schedules to sidestep landmarks consideration.

“We need to draw a line in the sand here,” said Christopher Moore, a commission member who said he wanted the landmark designation approved.

The decision about the former stable building, a five-story Romanesque Revival-style structure that for most of its history has been used as a parking garage, came as the commission voted unanimously to extend landmark status to another former stable two blocks away, the New York Cab Company, at 75th Street and Amsterdam Avenue.

Both buildings were constructed in the 1890s as part of “Stable Row” on Amsterdam Avenue, which provided horses and carriages for hire to residents of the brownstones and apartment buildings that were springing up on the Upper West Side.

The Dakota Stable was a candidate for landmark designation in the 1980s, but was rejected because its ground floor had been altered. Bryan Cho, a vice president of the Related Companies, said the past rejection had given the building’s current owners, Sylgar Properties, confidence that the site could be developed.

Mr. Cho said the Related Companies, which has retained the architect Robert A. M. Stern to design a 14-story condominium on the site, would take title from Sylgar and demolish what remains of the former stable before the end of the year.

Mr. Tierney said he had urged the Related Companies to incorporate part or all of the former stable into the design of its condominium, even though he described what remained as “a stucco box.” He said Mr. Stern, who is widely regarded for his work in historic preservation, should be called on for “creative architecture.”

But Mr. Cho said yesterday that the Related Companies had explored the possibility suggested by Mr. Tierney and found it implausible. He said Sylgar had obtained its permits to alter the exterior of the building months before the commission signaled its intention in September to reconsider a landmark designation by putting the matter on its public calendar.

Members of the commission said city laws give priority to valid building permits over proposals for landmark designation, but the case of the former Dakota Stable reflects a longstanding problem. Once a proposal is placed on its calendar, they said, it can take months or years before a landmark vote is taken, and during that time builders can speed up their construction schedules.

Mr. Tierney said he was in “active discussions” with the Department of Buildings, urging it to develop a system that would delay rulings on building permit applications for buildings that are historic, but not designated as landmarks, allowing the commission time to consider stepping in.

Jennifer Givner, a spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings, said late yesterday that Patricia J. Lancaster, the buildings commissioner, was involved in the discussions with the landmarks officials. But she said it was unclear if a new policy would be developed.
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Old November 15th, 2006, 10:34 PM   #543
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http://www.nydailynews.com/news/loca...p-396731c.html
Diamond tower tax deal getting an icy reception

The city and state handed out nearly $50 million in tax breaks yesterday to ensure that the Diamond District is forever - but not everyone is happy about it.

The big bucks benefit is going to Extell Corp., which plans to break ground next year on a new 50-story tower on 47th St., to open in 2010.

City officials say the incentives were needed to make sure the Extell Diamond Tower is devoted to the gem business, but other landlords along the fabled strip worry they'll lose tenants.

"The real danger of giving incentives to Extell is that they will be used to poach tenants from existing buildings along 47th St., not bring in new jobs and businesses," the Coalition to Save the Diamond District wrote Mayor Bloomberg.

The full incentives only kick in if Extell leases most of the $434 million building to gem businesses and a portion of those businesses must be new to the city.

"Our goal is to preserve and expand the district, which faces increasing national and international competition," said Interim Industrial Development Agency Chair Joshua Sirefman.

Greg Wilson

Originally published on November 15, 2006
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Old November 15th, 2006, 11:36 PM   #544
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Plans to convert 15 Union Square West





15-NOV-06

Brack Capital Real Estate USA has acquired the six-story, 80,000-square foot Amalgamated Bank Building at 15 Union Square West on the southwest corner at 15th Street for $80 million and reportedly plans to erect a residential condominium building on the site.

Bill Shanahan of CB Richard Ellis was the broker in the transaction.

According to an article in today’s edition of The New York Post by Lois Weiss, “Perkins Eastman Architects have been hired to handle the architecture while Vicente Wolf will work on the modern interior flairs.”

The article included a statement from Brack Capital that the building “will be woven into the urban tapestry of Union Square Park, evoking its colorful lie and history.” A call to Brack Capital seeking further details today was not returned.

The bank is relocating and the building can be demolished or expanded by 20,000 square feet under existing zoning.

In an article in the July 2, 2006 edition of The New York Times, Christopher Gray wrote that “the politest thing to say about the blocky white blob of a building at the south corner of 15th Street and Union Square West is that it’s homely,” adding that “buried beneath the 1953 façade is the 1870 building of Tiffany & Company,” a cast-iron building designed by John Kellum. Tiffany moved from this location in 1903 to 401 Fifth Avenue at 37th Street and is now at 57th Street and Fifth Avenue.

Perkins Eastman’s other New York projects have included 455 Central Park West.

Brack Capital Real Estate’s other New York projects have included the Element, the Olcott on West 72nd Street, 90 West Street and 230 Riverside Drive.


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Old November 15th, 2006, 11:42 PM   #545
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Manhattan Tunnel Structure Is Built for the Long Term



Tunnel being built now may someday replace
viaduct but it will be years.



By Aileen Cho
11/13/06

Wedged up against high-end, unfinished buildings on New York City’s west side, crews are building the northern half of a “tunnel to nowhere.” But private advocates are betting that by building the 0.8- mile-long box structure now, the city will benefit in the long run.

The goal of this tunnel, which represents the 15-year-old efforts of the Riverside South Planning Corp., is to someday replace the Miller Highway viaduct along the Hudson River. Along this stretch of waterfront, private developers Extell Development Co. and the Carlyle Group are constructing a 77-acre complex of office buildings and condominiums. They acquired the land from Donald Trump and his Hong Kong partners last year. Two buildings are under construction and eight are completed.

Because of RSPC’s successful arguments, the city asked Extell in 2004 to take advantage of existing excavation for tower foundations to build the tunnel structure’s northbound half. The original plan had been to build a support structure for a future 28-acre park and new Riverside Boulevard. But by building the box structure instead, builders won’t have to rip up the park atop it later in order to relocate the highway. Michael Bradley, RSPC’s executive director, says this will save at least $25 million. The viaduct would have had to be rehabilitated again someday, but by building the tunnel box now, the city can reroute traffic to it when that day comes, he points out.

Highway relocation had not been a top priority for the developer or city. The city spent $89 million in the early 1990s to rehabilitate the viaduct. “It was an example of making an investment without foresight,” says Alex Garvin, former New York City Planning Commissioner. “If in the future, money is available to rebuild the highway, it can go underground and the money will have been spent well. The quality of life will be enormously improved.”

Samson Construction Co., Hicksville, N.Y., is working on the $12-million first phase of the northbound box structure, about 250 ft long, 45 ft wide and with a 30-ft elevation.

Samson will complete the job by spring 2007, says Joe Montano, Extell’s director of construction. It required steel piles to be driven as deep as 60 ft into bedrock, says Montano. The concrete walls, up to 3 ft thick, were built to two-thirds the total elevation. Samson now is building customized formwork to pour the top third of the walls and the ceiling monolithically, says Joe Cursio, Samson’s chief operating officer.

Crews have only 20 ft between the tunnel wall and new buildings to work with as they relocate scores of utilities, including a 20-in. water main, a 48-in. storm sewer and future conduits for future buildings. Because of work done to build tower foundations, Samson only had to excavate about 10 ft for the box.

Before the end of this year, Extell will begin soliciting bids for the rest of the northbound tunnel, to be done in phases. One block-long segment will be done in late 2007, the next by late 2008 and the last in 2009. The total cost of the northbound half is estimated at $30 million.

The state Dept. of Transportation, using $15 million in federal earmarks, will build the southbound half once Extell is done. However, it is still awaiting federal approval of the financial plan and does not know when that will occur, due to the possible reactivation of a 2002 lawsuit contesting the environmental impact statement for the tunnel project, says a state DOT spokesperson.




Advocates hope viaduct along Hudosn will be replaced by tunnel built underneath park.


© 2005 The McGraw-Hill Companies, Inc.
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Old November 16th, 2006, 12:39 AM   #546
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MetLife real estate deal could be derailed
The $5.5 billion sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village could be derailed by a provision that limits owner MetLife to make no more than a 6% annual profit on the deal.


By: Anne Michaud
Published: November 15, 2006

The $5.4 billion sale of Stuyvesant Town and Peter Cooper Village could be derailed by a little-known provision that limits owner MetLife Inc. to make no more than a 6% annual profit on the vast Manhattan apartment complex.

Trautman Sanders, a law firm representing the tenant group that lost its bid to purchase the complex, discovered the condition in a 1942 agreement with New York City. According to the agreement, Met Life said it would keep its rents low, earning no more than 6%, in exchange for a 25-year city tax break.

City Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who opposed the sale of the complex to developer Tishman Speyer, has sent a letter to city Comptroller William Thompson, asking him to investigate. Mr. Thompson's office is reviewing the letter.

"We received the councilmember's letter and are taking a hard look at it," said a spokesman for Mr. Thompson. "As you know, in recent months the comptroller has expressed serious concerns about the future of Stuyvesant Town."

John Calagna, a MetLife spokesman, says that Mr. Garodnick's allegations have no merit. "What this is is a last-minute, desperate attempt to interfere with a legitimate sale."

The sale, which is the largest real estate deal in American history, was scheduled to close later this week. A tenants' group had organized to try to buy the 110-tower complex along the East River, in the hope of keeping rents affordable. Residents expect Tishman Speyer to deregulate as many apartments as possible.

Tishman Speyer could not be reached for comment.

Mr. Garodnick says in his letter that MetLife must, by law, dissolve its subsidiary development company that built the apartment complex before it can sell. No dissolution is on record with the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the letter says.

Until the agreement is dissolved, Mr. Garodnick writes, any excess profit would belong to the City of New York.


Entire contents © 2006 Crain Communications, Inc.
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Old November 16th, 2006, 12:46 AM   #547
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Quote:
Originally Posted by TalB View Post
New Condos Inspired by Africa


October 27, 2006:

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Old November 16th, 2006, 01:09 AM   #548
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Macklowe changes plans for 20 East 53rd Street to offices


15-NOV-06

Macklowe Properties has changed its plans for the development of its site at the southwest corner of 53rd Street and Madison Avenue from a hotel and residential condominium tower to an office building, according to an article by Lois Weiss in today’s edition of The New York Post.

A call from CityRealty.com to Macklowe Properties this afternoon was not returned.

CityRealty.com recently reported that Macklowe had filed plans with the city October 24 for a 648-foot-high, 50-story building with hotel suites on floors 3 through 6 and 107 apartments on higher floors.

The Post article indicated that Moed De Armas & Shannon will be “collaborating on the design with Harry Macklowe, just as they did at 540 Madison Avenue,” adding that the new boutique building will house about 350,000 square feet of office space.”

In the plans filed with the city last month, Peter Claman of SLCE, was listed as the architect and his firm had designed the 716-foot-high Metropolitan Tower at 136 West 57th Street and 145 East 76th Street for Macklowe Properties, which also recently acquired the Drake Hotel on the northwest corner of Park Avenue and 56th Street, where scaffolding has recently begun to be erected.

Macklowe Properties also owns the GM Building on Madison Avenue between 58th and 59th Streets.

In recent months, a few new residential condominium projects have also changed their plans reflecting rapidly changing apartment, hotel and office markets. The latter two have seen vacancy rates shrink dramatically while the inventory of new residential condominium apartments has been rising.


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Old November 16th, 2006, 11:24 PM   #549
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City reported ready to give permits for Trump hotel in SoHo


16-NOV-06

The Department of Buildings is planning to issue a permit to Bayrock/Sapir LLC, a partnership of the Bayrock Group, Tamir Sapir and Donald Trump for a 45-story “condo hotel” at 246 Spring Street, according to Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

Mr. Berman’s organization has been campaigning against the 400-unit project on the grounds that the city’s zoning permits a “transient” hotel at the location, but not a “condo hotel.”

Mr. Berman said he learned of the pending decision by the Department of Buildings from locally elected officials who have been in discussions with the department and involved in negotiations over a “restrictive covenant” for the property that would require the developers to agree that owners would stay in their “condo hotel units” for 100 to 150 days a year.

Mr. Berman said that the convenant is “just a fig leaf to cover-up the decision” that he said does not translate to transient hotel “on its face.” He indicated that his organization “is looking at all options, including legal.”

The partnership contends that the development of the project, which will be known as Trump International Hotel and Tower SoHo, is “as-of-right,” that is, that it conforms to existing building and zoning regulations.

The Zoning and Housing Committee of Community Board 2 voted unanimously last July to urge the city not to issue permits for the project.

The project’s site is zoning for manufacturing, which permits “transient” hotels, but not “residential” hotels.

At the July meeting, Mr. Berman described the project as a “Trojan horse” and circulated a city map with manufacturing zones similar to the one in which the project is located.

If built, the tower would be the tallest between Lower Manhattan and Madison Square Park.

Julius R. Schwarz, executive vice president of the Bayrock Group, has told CityRealty.Com previously that the green-glass tower will rise on a low-rise base with a five-sided, wedge plan. It will have an outdoor swimming pool on the 5th floor, a Cornelia Spa, a restaurant and full-floor catering facility, he said, adding that it should be completed within 18 months of the start of construction.

The project is using air-rights transferred from 145 Sixth Avenue, which it adjoins, a condominium building that is headed by Peter Moore.

The project has frontage on Spring, Varick and Dominick Streets and is not far from the Holland Tunnel and the Hudson River Park.

Sarah Crean, executive director of the Garment Industry Development Corporation, wrote a letter to several city officials July 13, 2006 stating that allowing the Spring Street project to “progress would send a signal that residential uses are acceptable in manufacturing districts in spite of the zoning,” adding that “This could be disastrous for the Garment District.”

Mr. Berman issued a statement today that declared that “The City has bent over backwards to accommodate one of the richest developers in the world at the expense of blue-collar jobs and businesses in New York City and their promises to protect the character of our neighborhoods.” “This is a terrible decision. The city is changing zoning rules to suit Trump’s need with this closed-door decision,” he continued, adding that the decision would “encourage luxury high-rise development in formerly low-scale neighborhoods which currently have little new development.

The proposed project is close to several new residential condominium projects to the west on Spring Street.

A phone call from CityRealty.com to Jennifer Givner, the head of the press office of the Department of Buildings, was not returned this afternoon.


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Old November 16th, 2006, 11:28 PM   #550
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nice project, looking good
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Old November 17th, 2006, 06:14 AM   #551
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trump

trump is such a prick. all of his buildings look the same and he ruins the communities where his towers go up.
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Old November 17th, 2006, 06:29 AM   #552
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Sore losers.

I love skyscrapers!

Build more!

Oh, can you imagine Manhattan with skyscraper density stretching from Downtown to Harlem?
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Old November 18th, 2006, 02:36 AM   #553
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Sleepy Hudson plans 21-story condo building in TriBeCa


17-NOV-06

Sleepy Hudson LLC has gotten a $28.3 million senior bridge loan to acquire two adjacent parcels of land on Broadway between White and Franklin Streets and Franklin Place in TriBeCa where it plans to erect a 21-story residential condominium building.

The financing was provided by Canyon Capital Realty Advisors and Pantheon Financial.

Sleepy Hudson LLC is the developer of Highline 519, a residential condominium development adjacent to the High Line at 519 West 23rd Street. That project had been designed by Lindy Roy and is distinguished by its cloud-like scrims on its balconies. Alexander Campagno is now the architect for that project, which has added one floor to its height and recently has been topped out and is scheduled for occupancy in the first quarter of next year, according to Paul Bonnar of Sleepy Hudson.

Dave Kislin and Leo Tsimmer are the principals of Sleepy Hudson LLC.

Details about the number of apartments planned for the building and which architect is designing it have not been finalized, according to Mr. Bonnar, who added that the number of apartments will probably be in the range of 65 to 70.

The building is an "as-of-right" project, according to Mr. Bonnar, meaning that it will be erected within existing zoning and building department regulations and not require public review.

The new project will probably have its residential entrance on Franklin Place and retail frontage of Broadway. It is a mid-block project and does not have frontages on White and Frankln Street.

Franklin Place runs one block from White and to Franklin Street.

The site is one block south of the proposed conversion into 90 residential condominium apartments of the 29-story office tower at 401 Broadway on the northwest corner of Walker Street.

The site is convenient to SoHo and Chinatown and there is good public transportation in this area.


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Old November 18th, 2006, 07:08 AM   #554
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And it’s all legal!
Myrtle tower tops out above limits



By Ariella Cohen
November 18, 2006

A glitzy tower now in the works for Downtown Brooklyn will be even larger than its 400-foot-tall neighbors, thanks to a city subsidy to builders of affordable housing.

Developer Donald Capoccia, of BFC Partners, unveiled plans this week to build 48 units of affordable housing on the eastern edge of Fort Greene in exchange for a zoning bonus that will allow him to build bigger than would be permitted otherwise on the Downtown site at Myrtle Avenue near Prince Street and Flatbush Avenue Extension.

His Flatbush Avenue tower, one block south of the Manhattan Bridge, will soar 40 stories and include 240 condos, 48 of which will be reserved for moderate-income residents.

Affordable housing advocates have said that this inclusionary bonus promotes class segregation by allowing developers to receive valuable air rights at a luxury site while building the affordable housing elsewhere within the Community Board.

In this case, the developer will build the affordable units nearly two miles away, on Quincy Street at the intersection of Classon Avenue and Downing Street at Community Board 2’s easternmost boundary near Bedford-Stuyvesant. The Pratt Area Community Council [PACC] will manage the six-story building.

PACC executive director Deb Howard said that she and the developer both regretted the need to build the affordable housing off-site.

“But this particular developer made every effort to have the inclusionary housing right on site,” she said. “He could not, so we had to go looking for sites farther afield in the Community Board.”

According to PACC, the developer had tried to negotiate to buy an adjacent lot but lost the parcel to another developer who is now building a mixed-income building on the site.

A spokesman for the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership, which is spearheading the implementation of the city’s Downtown Brooklyn Plan, dismissed the notion that off-site affordable housing promoted segregation.

“This development is creating more housing for all levels of income,” said spokesman Shane Kavanagh.

The Quincy Street units will be rentals. Thirty-eight of the 48 will be available for people with incomes under $35,450 — the area’s median income. Nine units will be reserved for residents with incomes that fall below $21,270, or 30 percent of the AMI, and the final apartment will be reserved for a super.

The developer will also receive state and federal low-income tax credits for creating the 96 affordable units as well as lucrative transferable air rights building certificates — which will allow him or other developers to build outside of zoning rules.

Capoccia plans to sell the certificates that he didn’t already put towards his Myrtle Avenue project to another developer, according to Gary Rodney, a spokesman for BFC.


@ Brooklyn Papers
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Old November 18th, 2006, 06:53 PM   #555
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taller than it should be
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Old November 18th, 2006, 08:33 PM   #556
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Quote:
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taller than it should be

I was in the area yesterday and I already saw activity on the site. I think they were still doing some demolishing.
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Old November 19th, 2006, 06:52 AM   #557
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Changing Course to Avert a Glut





By CHRISTINE HAUGHNEY
Published: November 19, 2006

IN the last few years, renowned architects and enterprising developers have rushed to put their stamp on Manhattan with contemporary condominium buildings that have seemed far more inventive than the staid old co-ops of the Upper East Side. But now, they are looking at the horizon and fearing that there will soon be a glut. They are trying to figure out how to avoid flooding the market they once fought to build in.

There are currently 28,258 new condominium units either under construction or being planned in Manhattan, according to Cushman & Wakefield, the commercial real estate brokerage.

Of these, 14,430 units are in buildings that have already broken ground, and 13,928 units are in buildings that are being planned. If they are all built, the total will approach the borough’s current stock of 36,000 condo units and will be equivalent to a fifth of Manhattan’s 138,000 co-op units, according to census data supplied by the Real Estate Board of New York.

But with a softer real estate market in New York and a growing inventory of co-ops, condos and houses in the region, real estate experts do not believe that all of these projects will be built, or at least built as condos.

In some cases, developers are trying to sell their lots before they start construction. “I’m getting five calls a week from people who own sites and want to sell them,” says Michael Forrest, a senior associate who works in the New York office of Marcus & Millichap, a real estate investment brokerage based in Encino, Calif. “I’m surprised at how many developers are running for the hills.”

Many other developers are saying that they will go forward with buildings only in the parts of Manhattan that they see as fail-safe, like certain blocks in Midtown and on the Upper East Side and Upper West Side, and at the highest end of the market.

Real estate brokers are advising developers to turn some of these projects into anything other than condominiums: rental apartments, hotels or office buildings. And some major banks that lend to condo developers are cutting back on loans for proposed projects or for land that developers want to buy. Before granting loans, they are requiring developers to put more of their own money into their projects, to lower their prices or to sell more units in advance.

Some condominium projects already on the market have been shifted to other uses. The developers of a condo conversion project at 485 Fifth Avenue (41st Street) returned deposits to prospective buyers and sold the project to the Global Hyatt Corporation, which will convert the office building into a hotel. The Related Companies has turned seven apartments in its new 39-unit building called Astor Place into rental apartments — partly because of a complicated tax structure and not just the state of the condo market.

Still, the inventory of unsold Manhattan condos has jumped by more than 70 percent in the last year. As of Oct. 31, Manhattan had 4,115 condos available for sale, compared with 2,381 a year earlier, according to data from the Miller Samuel appraisal company.

Jonathan J. Miller, its president, pointed out that in many cases these numbers were conservative because developers often release apartments gradually onto the market to limit the perception of oversupply.

“There are more units that could hit the market,” Mr. Miller said, “but they will be brought in at a pace that won’t flood the market because it’s not in the developer’s best interest.

National housing and finance experts say while an oversupply of apartments may be good news for condo buyers, they do not believe the oversupply will grow so large that it could actually drag down the overall housing market in New York City. Stephen Blank, a senior fellow at the Urban Land Institute, a nonprofit planning and research group in Washington and a specialist in real estate capital markets, said that while he thinks there may be some overbuilding in Manhattan, it may not be excessive because banks won’t lend to developers the way they did a year ago.

“While prices may flatten or even decline slightly, there are other markets that the real estate community thinks are at greater risk for larger price declines,” Mr. Blank said. “Many people point to Miami, Las Vegas and San Diego, where there has been a lot of speculative buying.”

Mr. Blank said that in New York, he wasn’t “worried about planned condominiums because it’s going to become increasingly more difficult to finance new construction.”

Academics tracking the national markets don’t think that the Manhattan market will ever have the inventory problems that Miami and Las Vegas are currently facing.

Las Vegas has 83,400 condos that are under construction or proposed, and plans for building 12,200 more have been canceled or suspended, according to data collected by Applied Analysis, a Las Vegas research group.

The Miami market now has 82,486 condo units under construction or planned, and plans for 3,246 have been canceled, according to data from the city’s Planning Department.

John McIlwain, a senior fellow for housing at the Urban Land Institute, predicts that there may be some deals for buyers in the boroughs outside Manhattan and in Manhattan neighborhoods where banks and developers are pulling back — Harlem or the financial district, for example.

“If you wanted to move into Manhattan, this is probably a good time to buy in a second-tier neighborhood,” he said. “They may not be the top performers. But they are the entry points for a lot of people who want to get into Manhattan or who simply want a bigger space.”

Miki Naftali, the chief executive of El Ad Properties, encourages buyers to jump on deals in these parts of the market now, so they won’t have to compete with Wall Street bankers and their annual bonuses early next year.

For projects that will not be completed for several years, developers say they are becoming much more selective about what and where they will build.

Gary Barnett, the chairman of the Extell Development Company, said that for some of his projects, he was still figuring out how many units he might turn into hotel rooms or rental apartments.

One building that he is planning to construct on Riverside Boulevard between West 62nd and 63rd Streets may have some rental apartments. He is planning to turn the lower half of his project at 135 West 45th Street into a hotel, and part of his project at 151 East 85th Street into rentals.

Jules Demchick, the chairman of the J. D. Carlisle Development Company, who is building 290 apartments at 23rd Street and Third Avenue, said he would decide within the next month what the breakdown would be between rentals and condominiums.

Converting projects to rental apartments is starting to make more sense because this sector has strengthened. The vacancy rate for rental apartments in Manhattan is a very low 0.8 percent, according to Citi Habitats, a Manhattan real estate brokerage. The borough hasn’t had such a small percentage of rental vacancies since before Sept. 11, according to Gordon Golub, Citi Habitats’ senior managing director of Citi Habitats.

But some developers are also persevering with their condo plans.

Earlier this year, Veronica Hackett, the managing partner in the Clarett Group, bought the lot where a supermarket once stood at West End Avenue and 70th Street. Clarett is building nearly 200 condo units there now.

Ms. Hackett said that the deal seemed right because she paid an affordable price — less than $300 a square foot for the land — in a location where buyers will be willing to pay a premium.

The Hypo Real Estate Capital Corporation, which has avoided projects in the financial district, wrote the loan for Ms. Hackett’s deal because it had confidence in the site.

“We liked the family location,” said Evan Denner, Hypo’s deputy chief executive. “We liked that it had a long history of being a stable neighborhood. We’ve done no residential development in the financial district. We were concerned because of the lack of services down there. We have not been able to get comfortable that that could be a sustainable market.”

For the most part, Ms. Hackett said, she says no to the weekly calls and e-mails she gets from other developers trying to sell her their problematic condominium projects.

“I think today people are having enormous difficulty getting their costs in line,” she said.

One important factor is the price of land.

The record number of new condos planned in Manhattan is making developers far more cautious about buying any new parcels for projects that won’t be finished until 2009. While they will pay record amounts for prime locations, developers are paying 5 percent to 20 percent less than they did a year ago for any land that is not in a prime location, said Robert Knakal, the chairman of Massey Knakal Realty Services Inc.

He defines prime as “on the park, the waterfront, West Broadway in SoHo, Midtown, on one of the major avenues.”

Developers are considering other sites only if they can profitably use them for something other than condominiums, Mr. Knakal said. As he put it: “Some developers are not willing to build condos anymore unless they really get a great deal on the land.”

Still, there are developers who are continuing to build for the highest end of the market, which they say buyers will always covet. In many cases, developers are paying more than ever just for the land in the most desirable locations.

Data collected by Real Capital Analytics Inc., a real estate research company, shows that developers paid an average of $428 a square foot for sites to build on in Manhattan, far higher than the average of $297 a square foot they paid in 2005 or $260 a square foot in 2004. That means developers are going to have to add these high prices to increasing construction costs, making new projects much costlier over all.

In one case, Macklowe Properties paid $655 a square foot for the site of a combination hotel and condominium project at 53rd Street and Madison Avenue. That price doesn’t include construction costs or any other expenses associated with building. Now the developer has decided to put up an office tower instead.

High-end developers are betting that the current streak of job growth, record Wall Street bonuses and high hedge-fund performance will continue well into 2009. If Wall Street runs into any problems in the next few years, Mr. Barnett of Extell predicts that retirees and foreign buyers will have enough money to make up the difference.

“It’s not just Wall Street,” he said. “There’s a tremendous pool of buyers from the business world, the financial world and empty nesters.”

Mr. Naftali of El Ad Properties, which is redeveloping the Plaza Hotel into 182 condominiums and 125 condo-hotel units, is now betting only on the most expensive condos, with prices starting at $1.5 million for a one-bedroom.

He says that the roughly 125 condominiums that have been sold at the Plaza are commanding $3,500 to $6,000 a square foot, and many buyers have paid cash.

But he said that it had been harder to sell one-bedroom condos at $800,000 to $1 million because there is far more inventory. Based on that experience, Mr. Naftali paid $142 million for 250 West Street in TriBeCa, a price that translates to $355 a square foot.

He plans to turn the office building there into condominiums that cater to buyers who will pay for Hudson River views. The project won’t be completed until 2009.

“The top end of the market is extremely, extremely strong,” Mr. Naftali said. “You clearly see a slowdown in properties that are in the lesser locations.”

Banks are now more inclined to use their leverage when it comes to what gets built.

Credit Suisse First Boston has become so cautious that it is generally not lending to developers who want to build condos on midblock sites in Manhattan or on sites that do not have a supermarket or dry cleaner within three blocks. The loans it makes are typically on projects that have already been submitted to the attorney general’s office, and when the developers have already assembled a construction budget and sold a significant percentage of apartments.

“We’ve turned down several projects based on their location, whether it’s a certain part of town or a certain location on the street,” said Robert Brennan, a managing director.

Some real estate brokers are encouraging uneasy building owners to abandon the condominium market entirely.

Mr. Forrest of Marcus & Millichap was hired last month to advise the seller of a 20-story office building five blocks north of Madison Square Park who was considering selling the building and marketing it for potential condominiums. But Mr. Forrest quickly saw that there was too much competition from other projects: developers are building nearly 4,000 condo units within a three-block radius of Madison Square Park, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

“I’m telling him to sell it as an office,” Mr. Forrest said.

In the financial district, Mr. Forrest finds few buyers for building sites. One of his clients — a developer who was buying a five-story office building on Stone Street — wanted to sell it before he even closed on it. After six months of shopping the location for $16.5 million and not getting offers he liked, the owner decided to convert it to condos himself, although he’s entering a neighborhood heavy with inventory.

“He paid a price that won’t allow him to keep it simply as a five-story commercial building,” Mr. Forrest said. “He will lose money if he doesn’t build.”







Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
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Old November 19th, 2006, 06:53 AM   #558
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Anyway NYC is having a new construction boom....



The new building boom
Manhattan's tight commercial market and renewed focus on outer boroughs spawns office, retail projects



By Tom Acitelli
November 2006

The list could go on and on in New York City right now... Yankee Stadium. Mets stadium. Freedom Tower. Goldman Sachs headquarters. One Bryant Park. Silvercup West. Gateway Center at Bronx Terminal Market. Shops at Atlas Park.

The commercial development market is in the midst of a certified boom, as projects big and bigger redefine the city's skyline while non-residential development reaches areas once unthinkable as major building sites.

At the current pace, more commercial square feet will have been built -- or construction on more started -- in 2006 in Manhattan alone than in any other year but one going back to the late 1980s, according to data from brokerage Colliers ABR. Also, developers this year have announced plans for several million more commercial square feet in Manhattan, with construction and completion in the near future.

But, beyond the square footage, the sheer number of commercial projects reinforces the scope and scale of this boom.

The Real Deal collected data on commercial projects started since the beginning of 2005, as well on projects that were announced but on which construction has yet to start, such as the Freedom Tower. The collection did not include mixed-use projects that were mostly residential nor hotels, hotel-condos or dormitories.

It did include the more than 80 commercial developments -- malls, stadiums, skyscrapers, and a myriad of smaller projects -- that freshly dot Gotham's commercial development landscape or hover just over its horizon.


Growth, obsolescence spur demand


Daniel Doctoroff, the deputy mayor for economic development and rebuilding in the Bloomberg administration, says strong job growth spurs the demand for new commercial space. The city's unemployment rate dipped to 4.5 percent in September, an 18-year low. New York, unlike many major cities, keeps adding residents.

And the resulting demand for employee space has given developers the confidence to move forward with major projects. The Manhattan office vacancy rate, according to brokerage Cushman & Wakefield, reached a five-year low of 7 percent in the third quarter.

"We're an increasingly office-based economy, which requires additional commercial space," Doctoroff said. "And the demand's coming from all different sectors -- it's finance, it's service, it's education, it's not-for-profits."

Also, swathes of commercial space were converted (at least 12 million square feet in Downtown alone from 1995 through 2005) into residential space. In addition, lots of current commercial space simply doesn't meet corporate needs for top-flight Class A space. Think of the iconic, yet aged Empire State Building.

"I don't think there's a growing demand, but the existing buildings are becoming obsolete," said Douglas Durst, whose firm is developing One Bryant Park in Midtown, a 54-story tower with Bank of America as the anchor tenant.


Towers for recovering Downtown


Some of the biggest commercial development is happening in Downtown Manhattan, an area barely five years removed from September 11.

As many as four towers totaling 8.9 million square feet are planned at the World Trade Center site, with completion of all slated by 2013. The biggest of these skyscrapers is the 2.6-million-square-foot Freedom Tower. Across from the site, investment behemoth Goldman Sachs plans a 1.9-million-square-foot new headquarters to be completed by early 2009. The 1.7-million-square-foot 7 World Trade Center, also across from the trade center site, opened in February and is already more than half-leased.

But, beyond Ground Zero, commercial development thrives Downtown. Smaller projects are under way across the submarket, where the office vacancy rate in the third quarter dipped below 10 percent, its lowest level since September 11, according to Cushman & Wakefield.

Time Equities this year developed a 350,000-square-foot commercial condo at 125 Maiden Lane, one of the few such hybrids in the city. Also, the City University of New York plans a 400,000-square-foot building for 74 classrooms and laboratories and a student lounge at 30 West Broadway.


Tighter Midtown dominates


There's not much space to build new commercial projects in Midtown, one of the most built-up business districts on earth. But SJP Properties found space for a speculative office tower, buying an empty site -- some called it a gaping hole -- at 11 Times Square on the southeast corner of 42nd Street and Eighth Avenue.

There, the New Jersey-based firm plans to build a 1.1-million-square-foot tower even though it has no tenants lined up first, a sign of confidence in the New York commercial market. The tower's construction is set to start in 2007.

"For an owner and a lender to make that kind of commitment on a speculative basis, that tells me the environment is ripe for construction," said Gus Field, an executive vice president at Cushman & Wakefield who specializes in Midtown.

Eleven Times Square is far from the only upscale tower slated for Midtown, where the vacancy rate for Class A space was 6.2 percent in the third quarter, its lowest since 2001.

The 1.6-million-square-foot New York Times headquarters at 620 Eighth Avenue, developed by Forest City Ratner and to be half occupied by the newspaper, is slated for completion in April 2007. More than three long blocks away, the 2.1-million-square-foot One Bryant Park, overlooking what was only 10 years ago a crime-ridden park, should open in early 2008.

The Hearst Corporation headquarters on West 57th Street, developed by Tishman Speyer, opened in late summer, bringing 856,000 square feet of fully leased space into the Midtown submarket. Also, the 300,000-square-foot 505 Fifth Avenue, with financial firm CIT as anchor tenant, opened last April.


"Ahead of the curve"


The commercial development boom in New York echoes across the city, including the outer boroughs. In fact, market realities should make development beyond Downtown and Midtown a must for the future.

"We have looked ahead 25 years and see a need for roughly 75 million square feet of space, only a minority of which we can accommodate with an existing capacity," Doctoroff said. "As a result, we're furiously trying to get ahead of the curve."

Doctoroff said the lack of space for new commercial development in parts of Manhattan helped spur zoning changes to create more commercial space in areas like Long Island City, the Hudson Yards on the far West Side, and downtown Brooklyn.

Trinity Real Estate, which owns nearly 6 million square feet of commercial space in Hudson Square in Manhattan, is considering new projects at 4, 6 and 7 Hudson Square that could bring nearly 2 million square feet to the long-struggling area. Hudson Square has had some of the highest vacancy rates of any Manhattan submarket this decade but a rising market has lifted the square's boat.

Its third-quarter vacancy rate was 22.9 percent, according to Colliers ABR, about identical as the same time in 2005. Asking rents, however, have shot upward in Hudson Square. "Two years ago, we'd be lucky to get mid-high $20s [per square foot]," said Jason Pizer, Trinity's leasing director. "Now, we're doing deals in the low $40s."

Hudson Square falls in a larger Midtown South submarket that hasn't been the site of any major new commercial development completed in 2006. But the potential's there for the future: The Real Deal's survey counted at least nine sites that brokerages like Colliers ABR and CB Richard Ellis have touted as potential development sites. The nine could host as much as 6.7 million feet of fresh commercial space.

"We never really had the demand for them," Pizer said of the three Hudson Square development sites. "Now, we're getting serious looks from people -- just a lot of different choices, because of the hot market, that were never available to us."


Bed, bath & beyond Manhattan


Commercial projects spill into outer boroughs as developers move past the familiar

Think of the South Bronx. Do you think of Bed Bath & Beyond? Soon, you may.

Bed Bath & Beyond will take space in a 1-million-square-foot mall on the South Bronx waterfront developed by the Related Companies called Gateway Center at Bronx Terminal Market. The mall, to be completed in the fall of 2009, will unfold over a formerly blighted stretch of dilapidated warehouses, a transformation indicative of the creep of commercial development into areas of the city once overlooked by developers.

A survey last month by The Real Deal found that in the outer boroughs, at least 20 primarily commercial projects are now under way, planned or have been completed this year.

The four other major commercial projects now under construction in the Bronx besides the Gateway Center are also in the borough's southern half. These include the 170,000-square-foot Hub and Retail Office Center between 153rd and 156th streets on Third Avenue, also a Related Companies project; and the new 51,800-seat Yankee Stadium nearby. Two more commercial spreads are planned, among them a 100,000-square-foot building at 854 Westchester Avenue.

In Brooklyn, much of the new commercial development clusters around downtown. A recent rezoning opened up developable space for at least 4.5 million square feet of Class A office space and 900,000 square feet of retail. Much of this surrounds the newer Willoughby Square, a 1.5-acre park between downtown and Fort Greene.

And, if the Atlantic Yards project does move forward, it would cover 16 acres southeast of downtown Brooklyn. The $4.2 billion project, backed by developer Forest City Ratner, would include more than 600,000 square feet of office space and nearly 250,000 square feet of retail as well as a new basketball arena for the New Jersey Nets.

The New York Mets are working on a 45,000-seat stadium on a parking lot next to Shea Stadium in Flushing, Queens. Like the new Yankee Stadium, the team should take to its new diamond by the summer of 2009. Elsewhere in Flushing, TDC Development International completed this year a mixed-use commercial project with more than 190,000 square feet of office space and 80 commercial condos. And Muss Development, partnering with Onex Real Estate, plans 800,000 square feet of retail in its new Flushing Town Center, with occupancy by 2009.

Several projects are planned in Queens, including the 2.5 million square feet of commercial space slated as part of the Queens West development on the East River waterfront.

Fresh space is slated for Staten Island as well. As much as 1.5 million square feet of retail space is under construction on the borough's South Shore, with two malls scheduled for completion in the next two years. Also, Chicago-based General Growth Partners, owner of the Staten Island Mall, plans to add 110,000 square feet to the indoor shopping center.


Go to chart: Commercial development in New York City
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Old November 19th, 2006, 07:05 AM   #559
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Nonprofits Not Shy About Cashing In on Real Estate Gems


BY MICHAEL STOLER
November 16, 2006

Christmas is arriving early for nonprofit organizations that are seizing the opportunity of cashing in on the sale of real estate assets.

"With the extraordinary run up in values we've experienced over the past couple of years all non-profits and religious organizations are, by necessity, carefully examining their portfolios to cash in on unprecedented profit opportunities," the executive vice president and global head of valuation services at Cushman & Wakefield, Brian Corcoran, said."Downsizing, relocating to less expensive locations, the sale of air rights, and other strategies are all being considered by nonprofit directors and oversight boards to take advantage of the perfect storm to sell well-located New York real estate."

As reported in the Sun last month, the New York Genealogical and Biographical Society is planning to sell its headquarters building at 122 E. 58th St. for $24 million. The purchaser is New York Synagogue, an affiliate of the Hampton Synagogue. That's just part of the trend.

The First Baptist Church moved to 265 W. 79th St. on the northwest corner at Broadway, from Park Avenue, in 1891. The trustees are evaluating whether to remain at the site or explore the redevelopment of the site. This magnificent edifice can be demolished because it is not an official New York City landmark.

Seven blocks north of the church is the West Park Presbyterian Church on the northeast corner of 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. The church moved to its present location in 1890. It is in negotiations with Richman Housing Services for a redevelopment of the site that would preserve the main sanctuary and tower and erect a mid-block 21-story apartment building with 70 affordable rental and condominium apartments.

Perhaps the highest price ever recorded for the sale of developable land in the city may be realized by the New-York Historical Society for the land and air rights at an adjacent lot at 7-13 W. 76th St.

According to the trade, a developer might be able to build a residential tower with community facility space for the Historical Society. Trade reports indicate that 140,000 square feet of developable space might be available and could fetch a price of $800 to $900 a developable foot, providing the institution in excess of $120 million.

Touro College has been an owner of real estate on the West Side. The 40,000-square-foot, five-level facilIty for Lander College for Women of Touro College opened this fall at the base of the Hudson Condominium, located at 255 W. 60th St.

Last month Touro College purchased a one-story garage at 250 W. 61st St. On the site it can build a 75,000-squarefoot building. It paid approximately $18 million for the site. Touro plans to open a medical and pharmacy school on West 125th Street in Harlem. The Upper Manhattan Empowerment Zone has executed a $4.7 million deal to develop a college campus for Touro.

One major beneficiary of the increase in values in Harlem is the local churches. A new residential condominium is expected to be completed on the former site of the Gospel Temple Church of God in Christ at 2056 Fifth Ave., which is being converted to Riverbridge Court.

Now the adjacent Mount Moriah Baptist Church is currently looking for a joint venture partner to build a mixed-use development that would have a church and condominium tower, and utilize existing air rights. The Second Tabernacle Baptist Church decided to sell in order to minimize its operations and moved its operations to Brooklyn. The Association to Benefit Children recently sold its premises at 206 E. 124th St.

"Nonprofit institutions that own real estate are now taking advantage of the liquidity in the market by selling real estate and relocating to less expensive neighborhoods," a partner at Massey Knakal Realty Services, Shimon Shkury, said.

"Investors and developers, even those who were historically not sellers, have taken advantage of the market to sell their assets rather than refinance or allow cash flow to accumulate," the president of Adellco, Matthew Adell, said. "Nonprofits have followed suit, many feeling that the value of some longstanding locations are replaceable by other locations combined with consolidation of services and residences is a positive arbitrage that results in a stronger balance sheet."

In 2004, Beth Israel Medical Center sold the 14-story Beth Israel Hospital Singer Division building at 170 East End Ave. and two adjacent apartment buildings to Skyline Developers, an affiliate of Garden Homes Development. The price was about $700 a square foot, one of the highest on record for a residential project. Earlier this month, the Continuum Health Partners, parent of Beth Israel Medical Center, sold the 32-story, 166-unit residential rental apartment building in the heart of Gramercy Park on the west side of Third Avenue between 22nd and 23rd streets.

Also in Gramercy Park is the Parkside Evangeline Residence for Young Women, owned by the Salvation Army. The nonprofit has retained a sales broker to sell the 83,000-squarefoot building at 18 Gramercy Park South.

Industry leaders expect the property to fetch close to $100 million, where a new owner might renovate the tower or demolish to make way for a residential condominium. The Salvation Army purchased the former Parkside Hotel in October 1961 for $1.1 million and spent approximately $600,000 to renovate the 17-story building into housing for women.

New York Downtown Hospital sold its parking lot adjacent to the hospital in Lower Manhattan for $84 million. The hospital has retained an investment banker to sell the 12-story, mixeduse residential building at 318 E. 15th St. The 104,000-square-foot building, erected in 1965, is expected to fetch in excess of $500 a square foot.

St. Vincent's Medical Center last year closed three hospitals, including St. Mary's Hospital in central Brooklyn. The site has been sold to a developer who might build residential or a mixed use development. Early next year, St. Vincent's Midtown (formerly St. Claire's Hospital and Health Center) is expected to put up for sale some of its valuable real estate on West 51st Street.

Collegiate Asset Management Corp. has assembled and is marketing a development site on West 30th Street that will accommodate a 277,000-squarefoot hotel and timeshare development. It recently sold an office building at 45 John St. as well as a development site on West 67th Street.

Last month, the St. David's School sold a parcel of land it owned at 212-214 East 95th St. for $10.75 million. In Brooklyn, the Jehovah's Witnesses' Watchtower Bible & Tract Co. of New York sold a building at 89 Hicks St. to Brooklyn Law School. A few months ago it sold a 48-unit elevator apartment building for $14 million.

"Nonprofits are usually users for their space, so rarely have they been sellers," the director of Eastern Consolidated Properties, Alan Miller, said. "This unprecedented sellers market which we are in the midst of has accelerated some nonprofits plans and the pricing that they can achieve for their underutilized real estate has promoted them to dispose of their assets and find alternative locations which better serve them."

I have to concur with Mr. Miller when he said, "Many nonprofits are not aware of the incredible pricing achievable in today's marketplace. In some cases hidden value can be achieved that can be explained to them will behoove the non profit to sell and redeploy their funds in a more efficient manner."


© 2006 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC.
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Old November 20th, 2006, 08:52 AM   #560
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In West Harlem Land Dispute, It’s Columbia vs. Residents



Columbia University is planning to expand its campus on 17 acres of land along the Hudson River, from
125th Street to 133rd Street.



By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS
November 20, 2006

When Columbia University announced plans three years ago to expand by building on 17 acres in West Harlem, the university stressed that it would work with its neighbors rather than risk stirring up long-held animosities.

But before the release of an environmental report for the $7 billion project, opponents say Columbia has antagonized Harlem residents by insisting that it has the right to seek eminent domain to force property owners out.

“On a scale of 1 to 10, Columbia is a minus 5 in terms of trust,” said Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, chairman of the local community board. “I honestly believe that Columbia has made a tremendous effort to overcome its history, but in the process, they’ve made so many snafus that it hasn’t really helped them.”

In recent months, the misunderstandings have only intensified.

Last week, for example, as Columbia and the city Department of Education worked to complete plans for a new public school in the neighborhood with an emphasis on math and science, parents held a demonstration, saying that the school’s proposed temporary location at an existing public school would be disruptive. Columbia is helping the school establish a curriculum, and the final home of the school will be on Columbia-owned property.

Columbia, however, said it had nothing to do with choosing the temporary site.

And during the past several weeks, some residents have become incensed as inspectors hired by the state have surveyed the neighborhood as part of a study to determine if the area should be considered blighted, a finding that could allow the state to use eminent domain to acquire property for the expansion.

With big demographic and economic changes occurring in Harlem as a backdrop, each side sees the expansion as critical to its future. For Columbia, it would allow an elite but cramped university to build additional academic and residential buildings, including new facilities for its arts and business schools and dozens of modern science research labs it needs to keep pace with other Ivy League universities.

Harvard University, for example, is seeking a new campus on 200 acres in Boston, and the University of Pennsylvania plans to expand on 40 acres in Philadelphia.

But for residents of West Harlem, Columbia’s expansion threatens the survival of their neighborhood. Columbia has already bought 65 percent of the properties in the area, and if the project is approved, all but three buildings in the 17-acre tract would be razed.

The low-rise neighborhood of apartment buildings, warehouses and auto-repair shops would be replaced by a cityscape designed by Renzo Piano and Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, in which glass-walled buildings would rise as high as 25 stories. (Mr. Piano also designed a new headquarters for The New York Times.) Because of the project’s potential to drive up nearby property values, many in the neighborhood say they fear widespread displacement if the necessary rezoning for the campus is approved, which could happen as early as next summer.

While university officials play down the simmering tension, longtime residents say the relationship between campus and community is at its most fraught since 1968.

That year, violent protests erupted after the university proposed building a university gymnasium in Morningside Park with separate entrances for students and residents of the predominantly poor, African-American neighborhood.

The two sides are at such odds that they cannot even agree on a name for the area: The university calls it Manhattanville, while most residents refer to it as West Harlem.

“I was real hopeful at the beginning of the process, but over the last few years things have really broken down,” said the Rev. Earl Kooperkamp, rector at St. Mary’s Episcopal Church.

Lee C. Bollinger, president of Columbia, and a law school student there in 1968, said the university had come a long way since the 1960s. The new campus, he said, would benefit both the university and the neighborhood.

“Everybody who lives there will be better off,” he said last summer. “Everyone is pleased with the way Columbia has dealt with them.”

The new campus, which would be built over 25 years on a narrow strip of land parallel to the Hudson River, from 125th Street to 133rd Street, would be among the largest developments in recent city history. It would also be Columbia’s largest expansion since it moved from Midtown Manhattan to Morningside Heights in 1897.

The first of two construction phases for the campus would be completed by 2015 and include the new science, arts and business buildings.

Plans for the second stage are less clear, but could include new dormitories and academic buildings, as well as swimming and diving pools. In all, the campus would have 17 new buildings.


West Harlem residents say they are not opposed to Columbia’s expansion, but have a competing plan that emphasizes building more affordable housing and retaining the area’s light industry.

Columbia’s proposal does not include affordable housing and would eliminate all of the light industry.

Since the Industrial Revolution, the area has been dominated by industry — in the mid-19th century it had a mill and a brewery, and later, the neighborhood contained dairy and automobile plants, including an old Studebaker factory, which Columbia plans to preserve.

Currently, meat packing plants, car repair shops, moving and storage warehouses, and a Metropolitan Transportation Authority bus depot are on the site. About 400 people also live in apartment buildings there.

Columbia has said it intends to pay their relocation costs if the area is rezoned and it is allowed to start its expansion project.

Though the university has been buying property in the area for years, several large commercial landowners have refused to sell. In response, Columbia has said it might seek to have eminent domain invoked.

That prospect has caused alarm in the area, where opposition to eminent domain runs deep among many African-Americans because it was used for urban renewal projects in the 1960s that demolished entire neighborhoods and replaced them with public housing towers.

“Any neighborhood wants to see improvements, but not at the risk of people being driven out,” said Nellie Bailey, executive director of the Harlem Tenants Council.

But Mr. Bollinger said the issue is not negotiable.

“I would be irresponsible as president of Columbia to give up eminent domain,” he said. “We have done nothing to initiate eminent domain, and I hope not to have to use eminent domain.”

However, he added, “We should be prepared to use it.”

To that end, in a 2004 letter to the Empire State Development Corporation, Columbia asked the state agency to “consider the condemnation of portions of the property not under Columbia control.”

The community board has signaled its discontent by voting unanimously to oppose the use of eminent domain, and several members have said they will oppose the project unless Columbia pledges not to seek those powers.

While the board’s role is only advisory, the expansion’s rejection by the panel would probably weigh heavily on the City Planning Commission and the City Council, which must approve the project.

Anne Z. Whitman, the owner of Hudson Moving and Storage, said Columbia had offered $4 million for her six-story, 35,000-square-foot building — though she has repeatedly told the university she has no plans to move.

Ms. Whitman believes the university will eventually try to condemn her building through eminent domain.

In a 2004 letter to Ms. Whitman, the university said it would be “impossible” for her business to remain, given Columbia’s expansion plans.

“No way Columbia is going to steal this property right out from underneath me,” she said. “Remember that man who stood in front of the tank at Tiananmen Square? That’s me.”

Nicholas Sprayregen, president of Tuck-It-Away Self-Storage, is the largest property owner in the area with five buildings and almost 300,000 square feet of space. He said he has spent several hundred thousand dollars fighting Columbia and is willing to spend more.

He has hired Norman Siegel, a civil rights lawyer, and has pledged to take the case to the United States Supreme Court if Columbia seeks to use eminent domain.

“No one is saying to Columbia, ‘You can’t have a campus here,’ ” he said. “They say they have to have everything and they won’t give a reason why — because there is no reason.”

Mr. Bollinger said the university is seeking ownership of the entire 17 acres because it wants a contiguous campus.

Other university officials said that once they sign a community benefits agreement with West Harlem, much of the opposition will dissipate.

This fall, the community board organized a local development corporation to conduct negotiations with Columbia for a benefits package.

The eventual agreement could include items like establishing a fund to prevent displacement because of rising rents or building an asthma clinic.

But opponents said a benefits package would not resolve several points of disagreement with Columbia, including the possibility of hazardous chemical and biological research and animal testing at the proposed science laboratories.

While Columbia has said the expansion would create 7,000 jobs, Mr. Reyes-Montblanc, the chairman of the community board, said he was skeptical about the sort of employment that would be offered.

“Most of the people in our community do not come close to the requirements for lab jobs,” he said. “What’s left are less desirable types of work, like janitorial jobs.”

Columbia officials said that the university would do what it could to help meet West Harlem’s needs, but said that there were limits to what it could do.

“We’ve got to make sure we do the right thing,” said Robert Kasdin, a senior executive vice president at the university, who is overseeing the expansion. “And whatever we do, we will be subject to criticism because we can’t fix the underlying problems.”





Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
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