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Old January 4th, 2008, 12:15 AM   #1261
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US Bank to finance Ofek Int'l NY project

Ofek International is planning a hotel in the financial district.

Yael Gruntman 2 Jan 08 16:24

Ofek International Real Estate Ltd. (TASE: OFRS) has signed a term sheet with US Bank to finance the company's hotel project at 133 Greenwich St. in the financial district in Manhattan. US Bank will provide 70-75% of the financing for the $180 million project.

Ofek International, controlled by Elie Berdugo, plans to build a 15,000-square meter business and tourist hotel on the site, which is close to Ground Zero where a 260,000-square meter office complex and memorial to the victims of the World Trade Center attack on September 11, 2001, is planned. Five million visitors a year are expected to visit the memorial.

Construction of the hotel is due to begin in the third quarter of 2008 and take 24 months.

Bardugo owns and is president of EB Developers, a Florida-based real estate development company. The company has built projects worth $2 billion to date, and is currently involved in 16 hotel, commercial, and residential projects worth $5 billion.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on January 2, 2008

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2008
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Old January 5th, 2008, 01:09 AM   #1262
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January 4, 2008 -- Just $661,000 can net you this two-bedroom, third-floor apartment in the newly constructed Bridgeview Towers at 189 Bridge Street in DUMBO/Vinegar Hill.

The 793-square-foot condo is listed by Heidi Young of the Corcoran Group.
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Old January 7th, 2008, 04:01 AM   #1263
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Harry Macklowe’s $6.4 Billion Bill

Published: January 6, 2008

Illustration by The New York Times

Robert Caplin for The New York Times

As owner of the General Motors building, Harry Macklowe improved the retail space, creating an underground Apple store.

Fred R. Conrad/The New York Times

William Macklowe, who runs Macklowe Properties with his father, attributed the company’s ills to a “capital markets crisis.”

IN August 2003, Harry B. Macklowe raced from lender to lender to round up a record-breaking $1.4 billion to buy the General Motors Building, the 50-story commercial skyscraper in Midtown Manhattan that is one of New York’s trophy properties.

Then 66, he gambled mightily to outmaneuver rival bidders and to vault back into the top ranks of New York developers. He went so far as to put down a nonrefundable $50 million deposit and sell many of his residential buildings to raise cash. Some bankers and real estate executives scoffed at the deal, privately suggesting that Mr. Macklowe had overpaid and would drown in an undertow of debt.

Not for the first time, Mr. Macklowe, an acknowledged master of winner-take-all real estate poker, proved his skeptics wrong. He expanded and enhanced the valuable retail space of the G.M. Building — on Fifth Avenue at 59th Street — by creating a glass cube for an Apple store that has become a popular tourist destination. As the market soared, Macklowe Properties refinanced the tower twice, most recently in a deal that values it at about $2.7 billion.

But these days Mr. Macklowe is scrambling for financing yet again. He has a $6.4 billion debt payment coming due next month in connection with his purchase of seven other Midtown Manhattan office buildings a year ago. When he bought those buildings from Equity Office Properties, he more than doubled the size of his real estate portfolio and used only $50 million of his own money to do so; he borrowed $7 billion to finance the rest of the purchase.

As often happens in real estate, a once-frothy national cycle is losing steam and the market has turned against many buyers. Mr. Macklowe, with his empire of 15 prime office towers and two development sites in one of the world’s best business districts, is awash in expensive, short-term debt at the very moment that financial backing for megadeals has all but shut down. One of his loans is backed by a $1 billion personal guarantee, and he is already in default on $510 million in development loans for a Park Avenue project.

Mr. Macklowe’s predicament marks the denouement of an unprecedented four-year period in which developers threw gobs of money at real estate as prices for office towers, especially in Manhattan, doubled and tripled almost as fast as sales could be recorded. Investment banks avidly underwrote the binge, often basing loans not on existing rents but on projections of rental income well into the future.

All of this worked swimmingly so long as the economy hummed along and banks could pool the loans and sell them to investors. Now, the economy is showing signs of stress, and Wall Street’s repackaging machine is sputtering.

“In hindsight, everybody should have been more cautious,” said Robert Bach, the chief economist at Grubb & Ellis, the national real estate brokerage firm. “We all knew this wasn’t going to last, but we hoped it would end with a whimper, not a bang.”

Analysts, bankers and developers are not predicting the imminent collapse of the commercial real estate market, a reprise of the early 1990s, when property values dropped by half, vacancies soared and banks were crushed under the weight of soured real estate loans. But developers who jumped in at the top of this market are likely to feel some pain because purchases were built on the assumption that rents would keep escalating and that the value of buildings would keep appreciating.

With building owners no longer able to refinance their properties and pull out cash, Mr. Macklowe and his son, William S. Macklowe, have only a month to repay $7 billion, work out a new deal with their bankers or risk the breakup of their empire. There is widespread speculation in the real estate industry that the Macklowes may be forced to unload some of their properties at a discount to creditors — including a sizable stake in the G.M. Building. At worst, they could be forced to shed much of their portfolio.

“This is very high-stakes poker,” said Scott A. Singer, the executive vice president of the Singer & Bassuk Organization, a real estate finance and brokerage company in New York. “To owe more than $5 billion in this environment is tremendously risky. There are a very, very limited number of lenders who can make multibillion-dollar loans now.”

For his part, Mr. Macklowe — a fierce competitor who still races his custom 112-foot yacht in regattas off the coast of Sardinia — coolly plays down the crisis. He went sailing in the Caribbean three days before Christmas while his son stayed home negotiating with the family’s bankers.

“Our lenders have supported us in the past to an extraordinary degree,” Mr. Macklowe said in an interview in his stark white offices on the 21st floor of the G.M. Building, the evening before he flew south. “We’re pretty confident that, going forward, we’ll be able to achieve accommodations and extensions from our group of lenders.”

THE Macklowes aren’t the only real estate barons in a tight spot. The Kushner Companies, also family owned, plunged into the Manhattan real estate market in 2006, paying $1.8 billion for 666 Fifth Avenue, at 53rd Street. The cash flow from 666 Fifth represents only about two-thirds of the amount needed to service the debt on the building — a shortfall of about $5 million a month — according to Real Capital Analytics, a research company in New York.

In Los Angeles, the developer Robert F. Maguire III may be forced to sell his publicly traded company, Maguire Properties, after buying a portfolio of buildings from the Blackstone Group just before the subprime credit crisis sent many of his tenants into bankruptcy. An Australian company, the Centro Properties Group, is putting itself up for sale after failing to refinance billions of dollars of short-term debt stemming in part from its acquisition of an American shopping center company.

To be sure, some bright spots remain. Though vacancy rates are up nationally, the Manhattan market remains healthy, with the vacancy rate in Midtown, the most desirable business district, just 5.5 percent. Because relatively little new space is coming on line in Manhattan in the next few years, the New York market appears to be relatively solid.

But fewer deals are being made and rent increases have slowed, if not stopped. If financial institutions continue cutting payrolls, much vacant space could come back on the market and drag down rents, even in Manhattan.

Despite the problems hanging over Mr. Macklowe’s holdings, some analysts say that it would be a mistake to count him out. This is the third time Mr. Macklowe has stumbled since he started in the real estate business about 48 years ago, and each time he has come roaring back. He has a knack for enhancing the look and cash flow of his buildings, and he is regarded as a shrewd, brass-knuckled negotiator in a rough-and-tumble industry.

A senior member at a major real estate investment firm, who described Mr. Macklowe as a friend and asked not to be identified so as not to jeopardize their relationship, said the developer has “assets with enough value to pay off his bridge loans.” But, this person asked, can Mr. Macklowe “do it with everybody smelling blood in the water and looking to buy a bargain?”

Some of the wiliest players in the real estate business have already been circling Mr. Macklowe.

This past fall, Vornado Realty Trust, of which Steven Roth is chairman, bought a stake in loans collateralized by four of Mr. Macklowe’s buildings on an apparent bet it might snare some great real estate on the cheap, bankers and real estate executives said.

For the last month, Stephen M. Ross, the chairman of the real estate company Related, has been talking to Mr. Macklowe about a deal for Macklowe Properties’ coveted Drake Hotel site, at Park Avenue and 56th Street, an executive involved in the talks said. Real estate executives say another rival developer, Sheldon H. Solow, may buy some of Mr. Macklowe’s debt in a bid to gain control of the G.M. Building, although a spokesman for Mr. Solow said Mr. Solow was not trying to acquire any of the debt.

THE Macklowes readily acknowledge that they are looking for equity partners. Mr. Macklowe’s son, William, emphasizes the quality of the buildings in his family’s Manhattan portfolio, which includes 2 Grand Central Tower, Park Avenue Tower and Worldwide Plaza. He points out that the buildings are also largely full.

“It’s not a real estate crisis but a capital markets crisis,” the younger Mr. Macklowe said. “Our legacy and acquired portfolios are renting at market rates or better. In August, when the world took a 180-degree turn, we and others got caught up in it.”

As it now stands, the Macklowes say they owe Deutsche Bank a $5.2 billion payment in February, in connection with the Equity Office transaction. They owe the Fortress Investment Group, a leading private equity and hedge fund firm, $1.2 billion for a bridge loan backed by a limited partnership interest in the G.M. Building, stakes in 11 other Macklowe buildings and a personal guarantee from the Macklowes for $1 billion.

The Macklowes are in default on a $510 million loan connected with a project planned for the Drake site. Although the Macklowes have a nonbinding agreement with an anchor tenant, a Nordstrom department store, they have not acquired all the land for the project. A spokesman for Nordstrom said the company was also talking to other developers.

At the same time, the family is trying to obtain a new construction loan for a 30-story office building being built at 510 Madison Avenue, at 53rd Street.

Even during this tense period, Mr. Macklowe often interrupts an interview with jokes. And those who know him say that he can be both endearing and notoriously tough. He has tangled with lenders, regulators, city officials, tenants and even his former East Hampton neighbor, Martha Stewart.

“Dealing with Harry can be a charming experience, and it can be like a trip to the dentist without anesthesia,” said Peter Hauspurg, chairman of the real estate investment services firm Eastern Consolidated. “At the end of the day, Harry’s operative phrase is: It’s just business.”

DESPITE Mr. Macklowe’s hard-edged business reputation, friends say he also devotes considerable time to his grandchildren, his collection of modern art, golf at the Atlantic Golf Club in Bridgehampton and, of course, sailing.

The son of a Westchester County garment executive, Mr. Macklowe was a college dropout when he started as a low-level real estate broker in 1960. Three years later, he and his supervisor formed their own company, Wolf & Macklowe. By the 1980s, he was building a succession of towers, including the angular black-glass Metropolitan Tower, on 57th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues; 2 Grand Central Tower; and the residential building RiverTower, on the East Side, where he and his wife, Linda, have a duplex.

Mr. Macklowe would like to be known for his building designs, or his art collection. But what many New Yorkers recall is that in 1985, Mr. Macklowe’s company was involved in the illegal, nocturnal demolition of two single-room-occupancy hotels near Times Square, only hours before a law went into effect protecting the buildings. He was not indicted in the incident, but one of his executives pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor charge of reckless endangerment. Five years later, he opened the Hotel Macklowe on the site.

As his purchase of the G.M. Building demonstrated, Mr. Macklowe often gets the timing right. On the day the stock market crashed in October 1987, he sold a package of 15 buildings to Joseph Neumann for $350 million, or $120 million more than Mr. Macklowe and his partners paid for them 10 months earlier. Mr. Neumann’s empire subsequently collapsed.

Like many other developers in the early 1990s, Mr. Macklowe took a beating during a severe real estate recession, ultimately returning both the Riverbank West tower on 42nd Street and the Hotel Macklowe, now known as the Millennium Broadway Hotel, to the lenders.

Rather than disappear, Mr. Macklowe did a series of smaller projects in the mid- to late 1990s, building less-glamorous apartment houses or renovating office buildings on Madison Avenue. In 2003, he bought the G.M. Building, a move that left many of his peers describing him as a real estate genius. The building was built for General Motors in 1968 and now houses tenants like hedge funds, the investor Carl C. Icahn and the law firm Weil, Gotshal & Manges. Mr. Macklowe suggests that the building is worth $3.5 billion or even $4 billion, though it may be hard to find a lender or investor who agrees.

By the fall of 2006, Mr. Macklowe was sitting pretty, primarily because the value of the G.M. Building had jumped so handsomely. He was putting together a premier development centered on what was once the site of the Drake Hotel, which he bought in 2006 for $418.3 million. He and his son were also building a hotel and apartment house at Madison and 53rd Street. After the residential market appeared to slow, they nimbly converted it into an office building for hedge funds, complete with a swimming pool and a luxurious health club.

Earlier this year, Mr. Macklowe decided to try his luck again. After the Blackstone Group, a private equity powerhouse, beat back Vornado to take over Equity Office with a $39 billion bid, Blackstone quickly decided to sell most of Equity Office’s Midtown Manhattan buildings without taking possession of all of them. During 10 days of whirlwind deal-making, Mr. Macklowe secured financing and stepped in to buy seven of the buildings for $7 billion.

The timing looked propitious. Credit was so readily available that Mr. Macklowe needed to put down only $50 million. He borrowed the rest in short-term loans from Deutsche Bank and Fortress. But that left him in the dicey position of having to find new sources of permanent financing or equity to pay off the short-term debt.

“He went from utter comfort to being on the precipice again,” said one real estate executive who has worked with Mr. Macklowe and asked not to be identified to retain a relationship with the developer.

The annual rent for the seven Midtown buildings was generally $55 to $59 a square foot, according to William Macklowe, but Deutsche Bank and Fortress underwrote the deal on the assumption that rents would soon rise to $100 a square foot.

After all, the commercial real estate market was higher than ever. The vacancy rate had fallen to record lows, while high construction costs made new buildings prohibitive. Landlords at prime office buildings were getting more than $100 a square foot annually, while the average rents for first-class Midtown buildings rose to $73.31 by the first quarter of 2007 from $55.21 in the first quarter of 2005, according to Reis Inc., a New York office research company.

At the same time, average prices for large office buildings in Midtown more than doubled, to $745 a square foot from $357, according to Real Capital Analytics. Investment banks and foreign companies began pouring capital into real estate. Lenders, in turn, took more risks, often providing financing for 90 to even 100 percent of a building’s price. Investors became ever more willing to accept a lower initial rate of return, known as the capitalization rate.

As with the residential market, the money flowed easily because lenders did not keep these risky loans on their balance sheets — as the commercial banks and savings-and-loan associations did to their peril in the early 1990s. Instead, Wall Street repackaged hundreds of billions of dollars of loans as commercial-mortgage-backed securities and sold them to investors.

“Loans with more aggressive terms that weren’t available in ’03 and ’04 became the norm in ’06, when suddenly lenders became very accommodating,” said Mike Kirby, a principal of Green Street Advisors, a research company in Newport Beach, Calif., that specializes in real estate investment trusts. “The attitude was, ‘Gee, we’re not going to own this stuff; we get terrific fees for underwriting these loans, and we can blow it out in a C.M.B.S. deal in three months.’”

EARLIER this year, however, the real estate winds shifted. In April, just two months after Mr. Macklowe bought the Equity Office properties, Moody’s Investors Services, the bond rating agency, said it planned to readjust how it rated commercial-mortgage-backed bonds to better reflect their risk. The agency complained that lenders were making overly optimistic projections about rent growth.

By last summer, as the subprime mortgage crisis hit residential lending and credit markets tightened, opportunities evaporated for developers like Mr. Macklowe to refinance expensive short-term debt.

Perhaps slow to realize the severity of the credit problem, Mr. Macklowe paid nearly $60 million in June for virtually the entire seventh floor of the Plaza Hotel, the Manhattan landmark that has been converted into condominiums. He hired the architect Charles Gwathmey to design a 13,000-square-foot apartment, which offers a view across Fifth Avenue to the G.M. Building.

But in September, the Macklowes hired the investment banking guru Joseph R. Perella to help them find new equity partners. They flew to the Middle East to visit what cash-starved developers call “the Big Four” — Kuwait, Qatar, Abu Dhabi and Dubai — in an unsuccessful hunt for fresh capital.

“We knew we could get higher value” for the Equity Office buildings, “but it wasn’t going to come in years two, three or four,” William Macklowe says. “We had a plan for a permanent capital solution. The events of the late summer slowed that down.”

The Macklowes say they also spent more than $150 million paying off short-term lenders at the Drake Hotel site and received an extension on their senior debt, which has since expired. But the Macklowes still have to contend with a $510 million note backed by the site.

“There are people out there who are very eager to acquire it if Macklowe decides not to build, or something untoward happens,” Harry Macklowe said. “We’re talking to several of our peers who’ve asked to join us in that development. We’re evaluating.”

There is increasing pressure, meanwhile, to persuade Deutsche Bank and Fortress to extend their deadline beyond Feb. 8 for at least $6.4 billion in debt, allowing the Macklowes more time to find new equity partners.

Bankers and real estate executives are divided over whether the Macklowes will be forced to sell some properties — maybe even some of the most valuable assets. Some also argue that layoffs in the financial industry this year will almost certainly depress the market and the value of commercial property.

Others, like Scott Latham, a broker at Cushman & Wakefield, contend that the vacancy rate is so low that it would take tens of thousands of layoffs to turn Midtown into a tenants’ market. Rents will not go up as fast as they have in the past 12 months, he said, but almost no one is predicting that rents will fall.

Mr. Macklowe “may shed some assets, just because it allows him to control whatever he holds onto,” Mr. Latham said. But there are still enough foreign investors interested in the Manhattan market, he said, “that Mr. Macklowe may not have to sell his core properties.”

A friend of Mr. Macklowe, who asked not to be identified to preserve a business relationship with him, put it another way. “Somehow he always manages to pull it off,” the friend said. “But he won’t do anything until the bitter end. He will play it out all the way.”
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Old January 7th, 2008, 04:04 AM   #1264
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An Ever-Evolving Site on Madison Avenue

Published: January 6, 2008

Museum of the City of New York, left; Annie Tritt for The New York Times

PIECEMEAL CHANGE In 1910s, after Temple B’nai Jeshurun moved, Rouse & Goldstone reused the shell of the synagogue but designed a new four-story section in front, left.

The building is now only two stories tall.

Rendering by 3D Media Group, Arup.

The building will be 14 stories if the plan proposed by its current owners is realized.

A MODEST but elegantly detailed two-story Georgian-style building between 64th and 65th Streets is just the kind of oddity that makes Madison Avenue fun.

Its official year of birth is 1938, but it is actually much older. It started as a Moorish-style synagogue in the 1880s, emerging in 1918 as an odd-looking four-story school, and then it was cut in half two decades later. Now its owner hopes to write a fourth chapter.

Temple B’nai Jeshurun put up the first building, a Byzantine-Moorish-style synagogue, in 1885; it was designed by Rafael Guastavino and Schwarzmann & Buchman. The front was an intricate mix of interwoven arches and a high picturesque tower, with a half-dozen ornamental columns, what appears to be polished granite or marble, supporting a portico.

The architect incorporated parts of the congregation’s old synagogue on 34th Street near Sixth Avenue, and the 1,000-seat interior was modeled after one in Toledo, Spain.

In 1894, John Jacob Astor, who was then building a huge house at 65th Street and Fifth Avenue, filed plans to build a stable on the corner lot, adjacent to B’nai Jeshurun. Synagogue officials, displeased with the prospect of stable sounds and smells intruding on services, joined a dozen area residents in protesting, and Astor backed down. A lawyer, Frederic Betts, built the town house that is now on the site.

By the 1910s, B’nai Jeshurun was considering another move, and built its next temple at 257 West 88th Street within the decade. An investor, William H. Chesebrough, took over the Madison Avenue property and hired the architectural firm of Rouse & Goldstone, which reused the shell of the synagogue but put a new four-story section in front.

The architects worked in a delicate neo-Federal style to remake the first floor into a two-story colonnade with an intricately patterned frieze and a central doorway with a broken pediment. On the third floor were windows set into brick arches, and at the roof three dormers gave the overall suggestion of an early 19th-century town hall or civic building.

Floor plans show that the second-floor rooms backed up to a giant double-height hall at the rear of the lot — the old sanctuary of Temple B’nai Jeshurun — and that the third floor was divided into two apartments with attached studios.

Judging from an early photograph, the central doorway carried a medallion with a dancer, along with a painted sign reading Temple of the Helen Moller School. Miss Moller was using the rear hall as a dance studio and school. An article in The New York Times in 1918 reported that she and “50 lithe young girls and little children” appeared at the Metropolitan Opera, performing dance interpretations of the 1812 Overture and other musical works.

There was applause but also some hisses, perhaps because the female form was amply displayed, although a Times reporter said none of the dancers appeared “more than casually or instantaneously nude.”

They got a standing ovation for their final work, “The Star-Spangled Banner,” but the Society of the Prevention of Cruelty to Children was still moved to file a complaint. Miss Moller said there was nothing salacious about the performance — “there is nothing ‘nude’ in the nude,” she told The Times. The outcome of the case is unknown.

Another tenant was Anna Chaires, whose Out Door School taught boys and girls from 3 to 10. Tenants in the 1920s and 1930s included a lighting shop, a lingerie store and a restaurant.

In 1937, any remaining traces of the synagogue surely vanished, as the two top floors of the building were sliced off, leaving the elegant little two-story structure as it now stands.

In the 1940s, the Navy League of the United States took over the upper floor as a workroom where women sewed clothes for the children of enlisted Navy men. The league’s wartime Kitchen Cupboard Shop tried to popularize dehydrated tomato paste, ersatz mustard and a coffee substitute.

The little building was included in the Upper East Side Historic District in 1981, and now the owner, Friedland Properties, has proposed that it grow by 12 stories, designed by the architect Page Ayres Cowley.

The new 14-story structure would consist of 12 condominiums, with the first 4 stories connecting to commercial space in the corner town house, which Friedland also owns. In fact, the entrance to the apartments will be on 65th Street, right through the town house.

Ms. Cowley said the storefront, which was changed in the 1938 alteration, would be restored.

Her urbane design has a few whimsical touches, like circular windows at the 11th floor, but otherwise the renderings suggest a vision that is scrupulously historicist. “It’s context first,” she said, adding that she was trying to avoid the “I’m the special building” quality of many Madison Avenue in-fill designs.

E-mail: [email protected]
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Old January 10th, 2008, 09:06 AM   #1265
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The Bromptom is extremely tastefully finished thus far. Great stuff...
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Old January 10th, 2008, 10:52 AM   #1266
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lots of construction goin up there.. cheers to nueva york!

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Kahit kanino Di kami natinag.
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Old January 13th, 2008, 04:52 AM   #1267
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No go for new condominium complex near Brooklyn House of Detention


Friday, January 11th 2008, 4:00 AM


Brooklyn House of Detention

So much for downtown Brooklyn's newest "con-dos."

An eyebrow-raising plan to build luxury apartments, office space or even a hotel alongside the unpopular Brooklyn House of Detention to make it blend in better with the trendy neighborhood has been scrapped for lack of interest.

The city floated the novel idea this spring as a way to tamp down widespread community outrage over plans to reopen and expand the jail, which has been shuttered since 2003.

But this month, city officials acknowledged the ambitious plan died because developers just didn't bite.

"We're disappointed, but we're not surprised," said Angela Ferrante, the head of a coalition of local groups fighting the jail reopening. Ferrante attended a Jan. 2 briefing on responses to the city's Request for Expressions of Interest issued in May.

"It always seemed like a long shot that a developer would want to built right next to a prison," she added, though luxury condos already have gone up across the street.

Correction Commissioner Martin Horn told advocates at the meeting there was only one response - from a developer who wanted to tear down the existing jail, which wasn't part of the plan.

Correction officials yesterday said they would still be open to development if a viable proposal was made, but said they are moving ahead with plans to reopen the jail and add a $240 million addition to double its capacity from 749 inmates to 1,469.

"The city has made a really strong, good-faith effort to respond to neighborhood concerns," said spokesman Stephen Morello. "Whether that effort succeeds or fails, we still have the same objective - to expand and reopen the Brooklyn House."

Morello said officials are still open to including retail space in the plan as the community has wanted.

The expanded jail is slated to open in 2012.

Community leaders said they still opposed plans to expand the jail, but said it was too soon to discuss their next steps.

The city closed the jail four years ago to save money by consolidating inmates at Rikers Island.

The Correction Department now wants to reopen and enlarge the site as part of a citywide plan to reduce crowding at aging Rikers facilities and create decentralized prisons in each borough, closer to courts, social services and prisoners' families.

Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz said yesterday he is working to find "creative ideas for the site" that also "meet the legitimate needs of the Department of Correction."

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Old January 13th, 2008, 07:41 PM   #1268
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Another Atlantic Yards Lawsuit Dismissed

Friday, January 11, 2008, by Robert

PROSPECT HEIGHTS—A late day decision has been handed down dismissing the lawsuit challenging the environmental review process for Atlantic Yards. The case was filed last April. The decision in the suit filed by 26 community groups was issued by New York State Supreme Court Judge Joan Madden. No details were immediately available, but Develop Don’t Destroy Brooklyn (DDDB) said it planned an appeal. The group tried to put a positive spin on the latest legal setback, headlining the release conveying the news: "NY State Supreme Court Rules for ESDC in Atlantic Yards Lawsuit. Project Cannot Move Forward While Federal Eminent Domain Case Is Pending." The Federal case was also dismissed, but has been appealed. DDDB's Daniel Goldstein said in the release: "We expect to prevail in that lawsuit, as well as on the appeal of today’s decision."
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Old January 15th, 2008, 12:51 AM   #1269
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January 14, 2008, 11:19 am

Open a New Window: A Tower With a View

By David W. Dunlap

The view from the roof of the Verizon building at 375 Pearl Street includes the Manhattan and Brooklyn Bridges. Walls obscure most of the river view on lower floors.
(Photos: David W. Dunlap/The New York Times)

[i]375 Pearl Street, as seen from the Brooklyn Bridge. The Municipal Building is at center.
(Photo: David W. Dunlap/The New York Times)

The view from the rooftop of 375 Pearl Street takes in the Woolworth Building, City Hall and, in the distance, the Goldman Sachs headquarters under construction in Battery Park City. (Photo: David W. Dunlap/The New York Times)

The only thing standing between the occupants of 375 Pearl Street and some of the most commanding views in Lower Manhattan is three inches of limestone.

Though the 32-story telephone company tower is not truly windowless, it might as well be. There are three-foot-wide slits running up and down the structure, some with glass in them. But, like the windows of the World Trade Center, these do little more than offer a tantalizingly small slice of what could have been an extraordinary panorama.

Conceived as a giant switching station for the New York Telephone Company, 375 Pearl Street is still occupied by the company’s corporate successor, Verizon, which has equipment and offices there. As it neared completion in 1975, Paul Goldberger, then the architecture critic of The Times, said the building was the “most disturbing” of the phone company’s new switching centers because it “overwhelms the Brooklyn Bridge towers, thrusts a residential neighborhood into shadow and sets a tone of utter banality” in the Civic Center.

So it is important news that Verizon has sold a condominium interest in 29 of the 32 floors to Taconic Investment Partners and Square Mile Capital. They plan to open up the facade with a new curtain wall, designed by Cook + Fox. (Verizon will own and remain on three floors.)

The project will effectively create one million square feet of new office space and could — if done well — refresh the Civic Center skyline, too.

Paul E. Pariser, co-chief executive of Taconic, said a reporter had told him: “‘Mr. Pariser, you have a challenge cut out for you — turning a G.E. dishwasher into an office building.’ I like that challenge.”

He said he had instructed the designers to be “as creative as you wish.” He expects to unveil the design for the refurbished building in March.

Cook + Fox seems to understand the showcase possibilities. “It’s the chance to give this building a brand new face while fulfilling the mayor’s vision for a greener, more sustainable city,” the company said in a statement. “Whether you’re on the Brooklyn Bridge, the F.D.R. or the steps of City Hall, the building will make a statement on the skyline.”

Meanwhile, Mr. Pariser allowed City Room a glimpse into the usually fathomless interiors of a telco building. A trip to the rooftop underscored the opportunity for 360-degree views that New York Telephone had missed in building a structure mainly to house equipment. A stop on the 26th floor showed how miserly the results were.

Besides trying to gain tenants with views and 39,000-square-foot floors and all-new mechanical systems, Mr. Pariser is dangling another enticement: that sign position at the gateway to Lower Manhattan. It began as a Bell logo and now features Verizon’s V.

“The Verizon sign is seen in any movie of New York City,” Mr. Pariser said. “Some prospective tenant would like that very much.”

Maybe G.E.?
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Old January 15th, 2008, 01:04 AM   #1270
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Good News!
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Old January 15th, 2008, 04:30 PM   #1271
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another facade would be great for this tower
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Old January 16th, 2008, 08:54 PM   #1272
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This is honestly one of NY's most unattractive towers. And it's location makes it stick out that much more. Can't wait to see renderings with the new cladding!
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Old January 19th, 2008, 12:58 AM   #1273
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Williamsburgh clock tower ticks again


Thursday, January 17th 2008, 4:00 AM

Adams IV for News

Famed clock tower atop Williamsburgh Savings Bank finally tells the correct time after more than a year.

It's about time.

After more than a year of taking a licking, the fabled four-faced clock atop the Williamsburgh Savings Bank started ticking - and kept going throughout the day.

At noon Wednesday, all but one of the four famed clocks began telling correct time for the first time since August 2006, when renovations began on the 80-year-old tower.

"There's been a lot of buzz about the clock, people reminding us it doesn't keep the right time," said Alex Krukis, a project manager for the Dermot Co., which bought the landmark building in 2005. "But we've spent a lot of time working on them, and we turned them on at noon."

Since September 2006, the tower had been enshrouded in protective mesh, which was lifted in October - in advance of new residential tenants, the first of whom moved in yesterday. But until now, the clocks remained frozen in time - annoying, perplexing and frustrating residents who came to love having the historic timepiece in their backyards.

Wednesday, however, residents did something else: rejoice.

"That's terrific," beamed Prospect Heights resident Walter McCree, 78, who said he uses the 512-foot tower as a guide while traveling in Brooklyn.

"When I see the clock, it's like a directional for me. It's truly been missed."
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Old January 20th, 2008, 03:07 AM   #1274
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Outside the Box

Published: January 20, 2008

25 Bond Street

MOST developers aim to sell out their condominiums from the bottom up, starting with the bread-and-butter apartments on the lower floors. Then, when everything is nearly sold out, they market the grand penthouses with those king-of-the-universe views.

Tony Goldman, a developer and pioneer in SoHo and in South Beach in Miami, tries to think outside the box. At 25 Bond Street, a new eight-story loft-style building with a glass and stone front in NoHo, Mr. Goldman said he first put together “a group of people all wishing to aspire to dream houses” and then began a search for a site, perhaps a historic building, to put them.

Eventually, he said, he decided on a new building. He found the site of a 100-foot-wide garage on cobblestoned Bond Street and bought out another developer for $26 million who, he said, wanted to build 48 apartments on the site. The number of units was quickly pared down. It went from 23 apartments, according to an old filing in the Department of Buildings records, to 12, and finally to 9 huge apartments, including a triplex and a duplex, each with a private rooftop pool.

The marketing campaign was understated: the building’s minimalist Web site showed only a rapidly flickering series of small images in a black box, ending with a message inviting those with “discreet inquiries” to leave their names. The building, therefore, attracted little notice, especially compared with the splashy launching of Ian Schrager’s 40 Bond Street, with its greenish-glass facade down, the street.

Mr. Goldman appeared to quietly compete with his nouveau neighbor, creating a hand-chiseled Egyptian limestone facade protruding in front of a bronze and glass window wall. He commissioned the Japanese sculptor, Ken Hiratsuka, to create a work on the granite sidewalk in front of the building (with the permission of the New York City Arts Commission) and to create a sculpture for the lobby.

But now, Mr. Goldman said, with all the other units long since sold, he is putting the two lowliest apartments in the building on the market for the first time, for just under $9 million each. The listing for one of the second-floor units with Lauren Muss of the Corcoran Group, shows that it is a three-bedroom with 3,722 square feet of space with a huge loftlike living room, a kitchen finished in aluminum and walnut, and two parking spaces.

Mr. Goldman said he didn’t want to put these lower-floor units on the market until the building was finished and buyers could actually walk through them. Was that because the second floor apartments were so close to the noisy streets? On the contrary, he said, it was so buyers could see how close they were to the stone-walled communal garden out back.

E-mail: [email protected]
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Old January 23rd, 2008, 11:57 PM   #1275
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They Didn’t Use a Shoehorn

Published: January 20, 2008

Kutnicki Bernstein Architects

WRAPAROUND CONSTRUCTION A rendering of 160 East 22nd Street shows how the developer of a 21-story condo will adapt to longtime residents who refuse to go away.

NEW YORK land is pricey — now about $450 a square foot in prime Manhattan neighborhoods — and so are the steel, lumber and concrete needed to put up something new. In order to turn the kinds of profits that make such costly construction worth their while, developers are masterly at squeezing a lot of building into a little space.

But what happens when the neighbors don’t play along and the blueprints need tweaking? The 21-story condominium planned for 160 East 22nd Street, at Third Avenue near Gramercy Park, shows how resourceful a developer can be.

Lenny Taub, a partner in the New York-based firm of Kaish & Taub, owns much of the block; the resistant building was 274 Third Avenue, a three-story yellow stucco structure whose ground floor contains a bar and a fortune teller.

Unable to strike a deal to buy the building, which would sit flush against his own, Mr. Taub abandoned the idea of a single condo tower filling the entire space. Instead he hatched a plan for a tower on one side of No. 274 and, eventually, a small six-unit structure on the other.

To create the tower, he plans to build over the top of No. 274, extending a 3,000-square-foot deck from the condo’s sixth floor. That surface will include a fitness center with an outdoor pool.

Upstairs, there will be 71 one-, two- and three-bedrooms, ranging from 800 to 1,500 square feet in size, and although Mr. Taub’s offering plan awaits state approval, he expects the units to be priced at $1.2 million to $2.25 million. Demolition to make way for the $100 million building begins in two weeks, he said.

Not all holdouts need to be skirted; some can actually be incorporated. That’s the approach being taken by the 21-story 145-room Cooper Square Hotel at East Fifth Street. A four-story brick tenement adjacent to the hotel — unlike three other buildings on the lot — is not being razed, because its tenants wouldn’t relocate.

Those longtime residents will remain on the building’s top two floors, said Matthew Moss, a principal of the New York-based Peck Moss Hotel Group, the developer. But hotel offices will occupy its second floor and basement, while a library complete with fireplace will take up the 775-square-foot ground-floor space. Hotel guests will be able to reach it via the lobby.

Mr. Moss says he considers it an asset that guests in the $100 million hotel, which opens this summer, may peer down on a tenement roof where laundry is being hung out to dry.

“That’s the kind of thing people want to see,” he said.

Piggybacking new high-rises on top of older structures can sometimes produce a lopsided effect. One example of that is Graceline Court, a 16-story concrete-and-aluminum condo rising at 106 West 116th Street, off Malcolm X Boulevard, in West Harlem. Its bottom five stories are 40 feet wide. But at the sixth story, it drastically widens, bumping out 20 feet over the roof of the mosque next door. Its final 11 stories, at 60 feet wide, might be viewed by some as top-heavy.

Because of the cantilever, the Graceline can add 11,900 square feet to what would otherwise have been just 38,000. That is a significant amount of extra space, said Peter Murray, a principal with Loewen Development, based in Larchmont, N.Y.

Mr. Murray wouldn’t disclose the condo’s development costs, but its 32 apartments, from 630-square-foot one-bedrooms to 1,700-square-foot three-bedrooms, are priced at $500,000 to $1.5 million. And over the last eight months, 50 percent have sold, a pace that Mr. Murray ascribes in part to the condo’s shoehorn-dependent design.

“Curb appeal is important,” he said, “people say that this is a very cool building.”
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Old January 24th, 2008, 12:00 AM   #1276
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A City That Needs More Places to Sleep

Published: January 20, 2008

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

About two dozen hotels are expected to open in Manhattan this year, including the Greenwich Hotel, left, and the Thompson LES, right.

Suzanne DeChillo/The New York Times

The Vu Hotel is being built in a former printing plant.

David Phelps

Rates for rooms will start at $400 a night.

NEW hotel developments could add nearly 3,000 rooms to the Manhattan market in 2008, a supply increase that might siphon travelers away from existing properties just as economists are forecasting an economic slowdown, or even a recession.

But hotel owners, developers, brokers and consultants are almost uniformly shrugging off any doom-and-gloom ideas about the year ahead. The market, they agree, remains underserved, with hundreds of hotel rooms lost to recent condominium conversions in recent years.

“It’s a nice place to live, but it’s a lousy place to visit,” said Thomas McConnell, a senior managing director at Cushman & Wakefield, the real estate services firm, referring to Manhattan’s number of hotel rooms. Even 10,000 new rooms “wouldn’t wreck things,” he added. “It would normalize them,” he said, “because we’re undersupplied.”

According to industrywide estimates, Manhattan room rates are expected to rise by an average of 8 percent over last year, to around $320 a night, while per-room revenue is expected to grow 7 percent, on average. (In 2007, revenue jumped by a record 15 percent, according to PKF Consulting.)

Industry analysts say demand for the hotels opening this year will continue to come from European travelers who are taking advantage of favorable currency exchange rates. At the same time, analysts are also expecting that more American tourists will choose New York over European destinations like Paris, also because of the weak dollar.

Many of the nearly two dozen expected hotels in Manhattan — some new construction, some the renovation of existing buildings — will abut residential neighborhoods, while others will be in areas that historically have had few available accommodations.

Some of these areas, freshly scrubbed and revitalized, are emerging as trendy, like the Bowery, where the new 21-story Cooper Square Hotel is expected to open this summer. The $100 million project will include three bars, a restaurant and a small park. There will be 145 rooms, with 315 to 700 square feet each, according to Matthew Moss, a principal of the Peck Moss Hotel Group, its New York-based developer. Room rates have not been set, he said.

A few blocks to the southeast, on Allen Street on the Lower East Side, comes another gleaming high-rise hotel, Thompson LES. The $80 million, 21-story tower is expected to open in March, according to Michael Pomeranc, the developer. Its 170 rooms, measuring 350 to 1,700 square feet, will start at $300 a night, he said.

In TriBeCa, the Greenwich Hotel, from the actor Robert De Niro, will offer 88 rooms in a brick-faced building at North Moore and Greenwich Streets.

Midtown Manhattan will have several hotels coming on line as well. In August, there will be three from McSam Hotel LLC on West 39th Street: a Holiday Inn Express, with 210 rooms; a Candlewood Suites, with 188 rooms; and a Hampton Inn, with 186 rooms, according to Beth Loetterle, a spokeswoman for McSam Hotel, which is based in Great Neck on Long Island. The company is also developing a 113-room Wyndham Garden hotel, at 20 Maiden Lane in Lower Manhattan that is scheduled to open by April, she said.

Also this year, the refurbished Plaza Hotel near Central Park is set to open. Although most of its 460 rooms will be sold as apartments, this 19-story structure will also offer 130 traditional hotel suites, to be run by Fairmont Hotels and Resorts.

And in October, Hyatt Hotels will introduce its Andaz line at 75 Wall Street in the financial district, offering 250 rooms in a converted office tower, according to Ben Hakminian, a principal of the Hakminian Organization, its developer.

Taken together, these properties will add only about 3,000 rooms — a drop in the bucket in terms of supply in Manhattan, which has about 65,000 rooms, said John A. Fox, a senior vice president at PKF Consulting, whose clients include developers.

Overall occupancy rates have hovered around 85 percent for the last few years, versus around 65 percent nationwide, Mr. Fox said; the high rate suggests that many guests are often turned away. He added that it would take about 10,000 additional rooms in a short period to balance the supply-and-demand equation. (About 46 million people visited New York City last year, about 6 percent more than in 2006, according to the city’s tourism agency.)

It typically takes about three and a half years for a new hotel to move from conception to ribbon-cutting, and hotel developers can be known for changing their minds about how to most profitably use a property.

“A lot of hotels are announced and not all are built,” Mr. Fox said. “Many are gleams in the eyes of developers.”

But then again, the pendulum could swing the other way. In the late 1980s, for example, Times Square sites that now house the Doubletree Guest Suites, the Crowne Plaza and the Renaissance New York were initially considered for offices, according to Mr. McConnell at Cushman & Wakefield.

What also fluctuates is the availability of financing; in the early part of this decade, hotel developers “were at the bottom of the food chain,” Mr. Fox said. He said that banks had considered hotels to be too risky, preferring instead to lend money for residential developments, which have long-term leases.

ALTHOUGH the current credit crisis has dealt a blow to some developers, analysts said they knew of no hotel projects in New York City that have been scuttled outright. Still, locking in loans for future projects has become trickier, said Michael Yanko, the chief executive of Horizen Global, a developer based in New York.

His Zuri, a 178-room hotel that is expected to break ground this spring on West 23rd Street in the Flatiron District, had to turn to European banks to underwrite the $135 million project after many American investors balked, Mr. Yanko said. To be designed by the architect Carlos Zapata, who also designed the Cooper Square Hotel, the 24-story structure will have a 40-foot-long glass-bottomed Jacuzzi cantilevered over the sidewalk, he added.

In the meantime, Horizen is focused on completing its Vu Hotel, inside a 17-story converted former printing plant at 11th Avenue and West 48th Street, to be run by the Kimpton hotel chain with rates starting at $400 a night, Mr. Yanko said. The $140 million project is to open in June.

Mr. Yanko dismisses any concerns about a recession this year, thanks to the steady influx of foreign visitors. “The whole world will be able to afford to come here then,” he said.
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Old January 24th, 2008, 12:02 AM   #1277
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A Neighbor Joins the Revival of Jamaica Avenue

Published: January 23, 2008

Phil Marino for The New York Times

Two blocks from Jamaica Avenue, above, the Queens Family Court building, top, is being redeveloped.

The Dermot Company, a real estate developer in Manhattan, often invests in historic buildings and emerging neighborhoods. Three years ago, it took on both challenges when its development proposal to remake the old Queens Family Court building in downtown Jamaica was accepted by the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

There, the company had to deal with an empty 75,000-square-foot four-story municipal building, with an ornate Italian Renaissance-style facade the development corporation wanted to keep intact, but which was sloppily renovated inside and paired with a nondescript annex building in 1966.

Along with a parking lot, the two buildings sat on a two-acre site at Parsons Boulevard and 89th Avenue, two blocks from Jamaica Avenue.

In 2005, a long-unfolding revival was already under way on Jamaica Avenue, but the street, a busy shopping district, was still home to a large number of discount stores and fast-food chains.

Dermot planned to keep the front of the courthouse and its facade, demolish the annex building and turn the rest of the site into a large mixed-use project that would be attractive to higher-quality retailers and offer low- and middle-income and market-rate housing. The company now plans to offer 346 units of housing.

At the time of its bid, market-rate housing was still rare in Jamaica, but the company was banking on the success of the Opal, an upscale housing project it had recently completed in Kew Gardens Hills, about a mile and a half away.

Jamaica is a busy transportation hub and a major center for government buildings, and now the courthouse project looks especially timely.

Local officials say residential development in the area began picking up after a terminal for the AirTrain to Kennedy International Airport opened in 2003, making the area more attractive to airport workers and travelers. The interest rose even more after the 2005 opening, a few blocks from the courthouse project, of Yorkside Towers on 161st Street, which was the first market-rate rental housing to come to the area in 30 years.

Last fall, the City Council approved a huge rezoning plan that limited development in certain areas of Jamaica but encouraged higher and denser development in others, like the area around the AirTrain transit hub.

On Jamaica Avenue, change is continuing as well. The street is scheduled to become home to a 400-seat performing arts center in the spring, and lately a growing number of banks and drugstores have joined the ranks of the mostly local businesses, which sell items like African clothing and beauty supplies.

In 2002, a large retail center, Jamaica Center, brought a 15-screen multiplex to the avenue, as well as stores like Gap and Old Navy. Last year, meanwhile, there was the much-heralded arrival of a 47,000-square-foot Marshalls store and a Home Depot.

Still, local officials say downtown Jamaica can still use higher-quality retailers, as well as a supermarket, sit-down restaurants, a large electronics retailer and perhaps even a small department store.

“There are national retailers here, but not enough,” said F. Carlisle Towery, president of the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, a local nonprofit group. “We have plenty of moms-and-pops, but we really need quality retail chains.”

Dermot hopes its courthouse project, where development is already under way and where the costs are expected to reach $194 million, will offer the large modern retail space that many national retailers find hard to come by locally. It would also provide a more affordable home for retailers that want to be on a major road that leads to the downtown area but cannot afford Jamaica Avenue, where some rents lately have reached $150 a square foot. The company plans to ask for rents of $40 to $100 a square foot.

Plans call for adding a 12-story residential tower to the back of the courthouse building, with an entrance along 89th Avenue.

Shoppers, meanwhile, would enter the building through the current courthouse entrance, where a large plaza inside would be flanked by community space, as well as two large retail “boxes” on both sides of the plaza. The building would offer 55,000 square feet of retail space on three floors.

Alex Adams, the Dermot executive who is overseeing the project, said his company would like a mix of local and national retailers at the site, as well as two sit-down restaurants, which might inject more life into downtown Jamaica at night. “We think the area is underserved in certain key areas,” he said.

The project is also expected eventually to offer, in an underground garage, some 500 parking spots, “a rarity in Jamaica,” said Kenneth Hochhauser, a senior managing director at Newmark Knight Frank Retail, the real estate company that is marketing retail space at the site.

“The parking here will allow us to draw regional tenants like a Trader Joe’s, Food Emporium, Red Lobster or Outback Steakhouse,” he said, citing those companies as examples.

Real estate professionals say the downtown area is already reaping benefits from the new Home Depot and Marshalls. Both, they say, are in an area that used to have much less retail activity and are within 10 blocks of the courthouse project.

“This is a solid eastern bookend to the downtown area that was not there before,” said Frank Zuckerbrot, a partner at Sholom & Zuckerbrot Realty in Long Island City.

Howard Dolch, an executive vice president at the Lansco Corporation, which is marketing 28,500 square feet of retail space next to the new Marshalls store, said: “This street is changing. We think we now have a much broader audience of tenants to choose from.”

Still, efforts are continuing to draw even more retailers. Last fall, the city’s economic development corporation began looking for a buyer for an old garage on 168th Street off Jamaica Avenue. The agency would like to see it remade into a mixed-use project combining housing with at least 35,000 square feet of retail space, which would also include space for a sit-down restaurant.
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Old January 24th, 2008, 09:46 PM   #1278
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Wow, that building build over a house is so cool! Shows the crazyness of NYC.
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Old January 24th, 2008, 10:12 PM   #1279
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Yeah here is that building.

Building will rise over 3-story structure at 274 Third Avenue


Kaish & Taub Development Group Corporation has redesigned its planned, 21-story, residential condominium building at 160 East 22nd Street to build around and on top of a three-story building it was unable to purchase.
An early design by Kitnicki Bernstein called for 110 to 120 apartments in a light-colored building. Last fall, the design was changed to a blue-glass with slanting setbacks.

The new design changes the facade color to green and replaces with the slanting setbacks with stepped ones at the southeast and northwest corners of the tower.

The design wraps tightly around the smaller building at 274 Third Avenue but gives it some breathing room at the top. The new building occupies the southwest corner at Third Avenue and also has a 280 Third Avenue address.

The building will have a 24-hour concierge, a screening room, a "zen garden," some balconies, and private storage areas. Completion is anticipated at the end of next year.

The developer's website states that "Total buildable is now 120,000 square feet consisting of a 104,000 s.f. tower and a one-of-a-kind 'floating' deck over the stores on Third Avenue on which a pool and club house will be built."

"With offers of additional air rights and inclusionary housing certificates," the website continued, "we are studying the possibilities of bringing the total buildable to approximately 150,000 s.f."

Kutnicki Bernstein also designed 154 Attorney Street on the Lower East Side for Kaish & Taub.

Norman Kaish and Leonard Taub are the developers.

An article by C. J. Hughes in the January 20, 2008 edition of The New York Times said that the project, which is close to Gramercy Park, will now have 71 apartments ranging in size from 800 to 1,500 square feet and said that Mr. Taub expects to apartments to range in price from about $1.2 milllion to $2.25 million.

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Old January 24th, 2008, 10:28 PM   #1280
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i love it when they're building one highrise over another small building
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