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Old May 10th, 2006, 03:09 PM   #121
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More on Queens development...

Patchwork City
The future skyline of Queens bears a superficial resemblance to Jersey City:

Issue 05_03.22.2006

More than a dozen tall buildings are planned to rise along the Queens Waterfront and, as a result of Special District zoning, many others are in the works in Long Island City and Hunters Point. As D. Grahame Shane reports, the Department of City Planning’s surgical approach to zoning is stimulating strategic development throughout the borough, promising a series of dynamic urban patches— as well as some awkward seams.

While New Yorkers witnessed an epic battle for the top-down control of the World Trade Center site, replete with power players channeling Robert Moses, the New York Department of City Planning (DCP) has been quietly leading an urban planning revolution with a small-scale, bottom-up approach throughout the boroughs. The unveiling last month of Richard Rogers Partnership’s design of a massive mixed-use project on the Queens waterfront for Silvercup Studios portends a dense, monumental future for the low-scale, still-industrial area. But various rezonings throughout Queens—including Long Island City, Hunters Point, and a dozen other neighborhoods—are in fact setting the framework for more incremental development in the borough, encouraging a unique fabric of mixed uses, spaces, scales, densities, and textures.

From its colonial beginning New York was part of an archipelago, a network of small patches of European settlements connected by boats, New Amsterdam, Brooklyn, Hoboken, and Harlem. The large open spaces of Queens have always attracted those unable to find accommodation in Manhattan, from the farmers and fishermen of the colonial period to the industrialists of the 19th and 20th centuries who deposited their ports, factories, warehouses, oil refineries, cement plants, and more in the marshy headland bound by the East River and Newtown Creek. With its evolving transportation links—bridges, tunnels, ferries, and rail—heavy industry thrived in the area. The huge spaces that were carved out by industrial uses have taken on new meaning today, with Manhattan’s squeezed housing market and changed attitudes about commuting. Suddenly, the rust-belt patches around Long Island City are attractive real estate.

In 2001, the Museum of Modern Art’s temporary move to LIC highlighted the area’s nascence as a cultural district. The same year, the Group of 35, a panel created by Senator Charles Schumer representing public and private interests, issued a report calling for the creation of a new business district in LIC, suggesting 15 million square feet of office space and citing the benefits of a planned—though sadly now defunct—“word-class intermodal transit station” at Sunnyside Yards. (The yard has a small LIRR stop and a ferry terminal nearby; the plan for the hub would have folded in stops for Amtrak, NJ Transit, and the MTA, whose routes all cross there.)

The intensification of development in Queens has actually been in process for some time. In 1984, the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey (PA) took over a large portion of the Queens docklands and, together with the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC), created a 74-acre development patch under the auspices of the Queens West Development Corporation (QWDC). QWDC follows the Battery Park City model of development (also created by the ESDC), with phased parcels bid to separate developers. Two buildings have been completed (one by Cesar Pelli, 1998, and another by Perkins Eastman, 2001), and more than a dozen more are planned. Though far from complete, Queens West already appears to be isolated and out of scale with its surroundings, despite well-intentioned efforts to create open spaces and waterfront views.

By contrast, the DCP has adopted a more targeted approach to the rest of Queens, with timely responses to particular urban actors in particular locations. The DCP is actually building on an approach that was pioneered in the 1960s by Mayor John Lindsay’s Urban Design Group (members included Jonathan Barnett, Alexander Cooper, Jaquelin Robertson, Richard Weinstein, and Richard Dattner), which abandoned masterplanning on a city-wide, regional scale and introduced Special District zoning. Based on a 1916 zoning ordinance addressing skyscrapers downtown, Special Districts under the Urban Design Group began as relatively simple mechanisms to protect small residential communities like Little Italy and Chinatown from large-scale development. Later, the concept was applied to create a Theater Special District, to protect Broadway theaters and allow the transfer of their valuable air rights to neighboring sites. This system of controlled zoning patches evolved into a complex, three-dimensional, multifunctional, incentive-based design methodology that paved the way for Cooper and Eckstut’s 1978 masterplan of Battery Park City.

Under Amanda Burden, who has been planning commissioner and director of the DCP since 2002, Special Districts zoning has evolved further still, to encompass micro-patches of upzoning, downzoning, mixed-use, and historic and industrial preservation. Her LIC Mixed-Use Special District was in fact her first exercise, and presaged similar strategies in Greenpoint-Williamsburg, East Harlem, and Chelsea.

This finely calibrated approach to zoning can be seen in three of current “hot patches” of development in Queens:

Queens Plaza Special Improvement District

Mayor Rudy Giuliani’s Adult Entertainment Zoning of the late 1990s exiled some of Times Square’s porn shops, strip clubs, and prostitution to this long-neglected industrial gateway. Few paid attention to the area, until 2000 when Michael Bailkin and Paul Travis of the Arete Group tried to buy two large sites, including a large city-owned garage, at the junction of Queens Plaza and Jackson Avenue. The same developers bought the air rights to part of Sunnyside Yards. Their moves prompted the DCP (then directed by Joseph Rose) to devise the Queens Plaza Special District (approved in 2001) that featured incentive bonuses and Urban Design Guidelines that called for broad setbacks, new parks, and ground-floor retail to enliven the street. The lots that Arete sought (which have since gone to Tishman Speyer) were upzoned to Floor Area Ratio (FAR) 12, signaling a dense future for LIC.

The city has also responded to pressure from public interest groups, like the Municipal Arts Society, the Regional Plan Association, and the Van Alen Institute. The latter organized the Queens Plaza competition in 2001–2002, which addressed the need to do something about the gloomy stretch of roadway beneath the noisy Queensborough Bridge. In 2002, the city selected Margie Ruddick as a lead consultant (on a team that initially included Michael Sorkin and Michael Singer) to develop a landscape design that would improve the public spaces, lighting, traffic flow, and general streetscape of Queens Plaza. Ruddick, who is now collaborating with Marpillero/Pollak, described her intention to make “the left-over spaces legible as a landscape that helps you get from one place to another, making connections across the space under the bridge.” Her scheme emphasizes improved circulation; bicycle and pedestrian paths and crossings abound. Near the waterfront section, she has planned a cathedral-like space under the bridge, which will act as a seam between the planned Silvercup West project and the Queensbridge Houses, a massive housing project built by the New York City Housing Authority in 1941. The plan is currently under review by the Fine Arts Commission.

Long Island City Mixed-Use Special District (2004)

Compared to the crude zoning of Queens Plaza, the LIC Mixed-Use Special District is more finely textured and varied. The DCP divided the area into three sub-districts, which form a triangle around a gritty industrial core that will be preserved: The Long Island City Core Sub-District is a small enclave driven by developers and already contains Citigroup’s skyscraper at Court Square, the borough’s first tall building. This very compact, high-density patch (zoned at FAR 12) has many tax incentives and has already attracted a second Citigroup tower and United Nations Federal Credit Union building, both under construction. The 1989 Citigroup tower, with its interior cafeteria and attached car park, never sponsored street life. Under the revised Urban Design Guidelines, both the new buildings will have street level retail to foster pedestrian activity and new plantings, furniture, and parks. The neighboring Jackson Avenue Mixed-Use Sub-District (approved 2004) borders the Sunnyside Yards. Here, warehouses and factories, like the 254-unit Arris Building, are being converted to residential lofts and offices. The upzoning to FAR 7 and Urban Design Guidelines under study by the Volmer Group are aimed at remaking Jackson Avenue into a densely built commercial boulevard, containing 3 million square feet of offices stretching from Court Square to Queens Plaza’s subway node. “The aim is to create a vibrant street life, with cafes, restaurants, and stores,” said Burden. The plan calls for widened sidewalks, tree planting, kiosks, seating, and night lighting.

The density on Jackson Avenue decreases in the Hunters Point Mixed-Use Rezoning Sub-District (approved in 2004). Individual urban actors predominate in this area, with small-scale housing, auto-body shops, galleries, and artists’ studios. Burden saw this area as containing the “soul” of LIC. Fearing the large scale of development on the nearby waterfront, residents have been organizing themselves into groups, like the 49th Street Block Association and the Hunters Point Community Organization. The city downzoned this patch within a general FAR 5 intended to protect the arts area around the P.S.1 cultural center.

Queens Waterfront (1980s to present)

The small-scale flexibility of LIC’s new mixed-use subdistricts is nonexistent on the waterfront. As a state agency, the ESDC formulated Queens West with almost no community input, though pressure from Hunters Point residents did ensure that a continuous landscaped riverfront would be publicly accessible.

The completion of the 42-story City Lights tower by Cesar Pelli for Manhattan Overlook Associates (1998) and 32-floor tower by Perkins Eastman for Avalon Bay (2001) have skyscraper-shocked local residents into paying attention to what is happening to the rest of the waterfront. Local groups are starting to pressure the QWDC to break down Queens West’s 1980s masterplan and work at a smaller scale. To deflect criticism, in 2004 the ESDC revised Phase II of the 1980s masterplan, which includes seven buildings by Rockrose, with designs by Arquitectonica and Handel Architects. Last year, State Assemblywoman Catherine Nolan was quoted in the Queens Chronicle as saying, “I think it is appropriate and past due time for Governor Pataki and Mayor Bloomberg to review the plan for Queens West and begin a dialogue with the community as to the importance of affordable housing for the work soon to be scheduled on the southern portion of the site.” The southern portion, known as Queens West South (Phase III), was most recently publicized as the site of the proposed Olympic Village, with a winning masterplan by Morphosis. Though New York lost its Olympic bid, the exercise offered a vision of the area as a new vibrant neighborhood.

Burden is currently negotiating with Frances Huppert, the design director of the ESDC, to get the corporation to break down the scale of their development into more manageable patches, including mixed-income housing, which could link to the surrounding Hunters Point Special District. Burden also hopes that a pedestrian bridge across Newtown Creek can someday connect the Queens West esplanade to the waterfront planned for Greenpoint-Williamsburg.

North of Queens West lie two of the hottest patches in Long Island City. The first project is River East, a scenographic, set-piece street of mixed-use townhouses and lofts with two glass-skinned 30-story towers at the riverside, designed by Jay Valgora and developed by Vernon Realty. The buildings bracket a street that frames a view of the United Nations. Beyond River East lies an empty Con Edison site, and next to that is Silvercup West, the expansion of Stuart and Alan Suna’s film and production studios. The Sunas took advantage of an extension of the upzoning of the Queensborough Bridge Plaza Special District to create a 2-million-square-foot, hyper-dense, mixed-use matrix of film studios, roof gardens, office and residential towers spread over 6 acres, unveiled by the Richard Rogers Partnership last month after the plan received its Uniform Land Use and Regional Planning Review (ULURP) letter of certification. The scheme offers a 40-foot-wide riverfront esplanade designed by the Laurie Olin Partnership that will link to Margie Ruddick’s Queens Plaza landscape scheme.

Queens waterfront demonstrates the limits of the patchwork approach, where heterogeneous patches are connected by a weak link, the waterfront.

The advantage of a patch-by-patch approach is its specificity and its ability to capture the dynamic of relationships between various actors in various patches. The complex narratives of LIC actors and their efforts to shape their sites shows that there are multiple ways to develop a patch, ranging from top-down utopian masterplan that is fixed and inflexible to the bottom-up approach where every actor has a distinctive voice in the polyphonic dialogue. Long Island City shows this range, and it is to the DCP’s credit that it has tried to deal with each situation individually. Eventually, an emergent system of urban design will be able to provide the means of balancing and managing the flows between the fragments. Until then we will have to rely on our intuition to sense the flows between the patches in the emergent ecology of the urban archipelagos that constitute our cities.

Copyright © 2005 The Architect's Newspaper, LLC
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Old May 10th, 2006, 03:10 PM   #122
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Development Descends on Queens


1 Silvercup West
Owned by Alan and Stuart Match Suna and designed by Richard Rogers Partnership, Silvercup West is a $1 billion mixed-use project spread over 6 acres, and includes residential, commercial, cultural, and civic spaces, in addition to 1 million square feet of film-production studios.

2 River East
44–02 Vernon Blvd.
Developed by Vernon Realty and sited on 6 acres just south of Silvercup West, River East will contain 1.2 million square feet of residential and commercial space. Rows of townhouses will lead to two 30-story towers on the river and a newly landscaped esplanade. The WalkerGroup of New York and its in-house V Studio, led by architect Jay Valgora, are masterplanning the site and designing the buildings.

3 Queens West
The Queens West Development Corporation (QWDC), a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation, has divided their large waterfront site into four development phases.

Phase II, contracted to Rockrose Development Corporation will contain seven buildings with 3,000 residential units and 20,000 square feet of commercial space. The first two buildings have been designed by Arquitectonica; one will be completed in May, and the other broke ground this month. Handel Architects have designed a third building, with construction to begin late 2006. Arquitectonica will design at least one more building, and the other two are as-yet uncommissioned.

Avalon Bay Communities is developing phase I, just south of Rockrose’s. Its first residential tower was completed in 2001 and the second broke ground early this year, and will be completed by May of 2007. Both were designed by Perkins Eastman. A third lot on Avalon Bay’s site will likely serve as either a public park or a branch of Queens’ Public Library.

Phases III and IV, located partially on the Olympic Village site, have no developers attached, but will likely see the type of mixed-use projects as the first two phases. The QWDC is considering keeping parts of the Olympic site plans.

4 Power House
50–09 Second St.
Cheskel Schwimmer and CGS developers will add 100,000 square feet to the former Pennsylvania Railroad Power House’s existing 150,000, converting the structure into a residential complex. The new building, designed by Karl Fischer Architect, will contain 190 condominiums.

5, 6 The Gantry
5–15 49th Ave. and 48–21 5th St.
The Milestone Group, based in New York City, will develop an existing warehouse into 64 condos, designed by local firm Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel Architects. The Gantry will be ready for occupancy early this summer.

7 50th Ave. and 5th St.
Developers Joseph Escarfullery and Joseph Palumbo are planning an 11-unit, high-end co-op on the site of a current parking lot.

8 5–49 Borden Ave.
535 Borden LLC has been working with New York architect Juan Alayo to develop a 12-story, 132-unit residential building. The project’s backers are presently closing on the sale of the lot to another developer. The sale includes the architectural plans, which, as of now, will remain unchanged.

9 East View Condos
10–40 46th Rd.
The East View Condos are in development by owner Henry Khanali and the New York architecture firm Bricolage Designs. The ground-up construction will be five stories, with an as-yet undetermined number of units, and should be completed by the summer of 2007.

10 41–43 47th Ave.
No information available.

11 Vantage Jackson
10–50 Jackson Ave.
This 13-story building is being developed by the Lions Group with Emmy Homes, and will contain 35 to 40 units.

12 10–63 Jackson Ave.
MKF Realty is planning a 40-unit building just west of the Polaski Bridge. Completion expected in early 2007.

13 Badge Building
10–55 47th Ave.
Bricolage Designs is designing an eight-story ground-up building that will be attached to an exisiting and soon-to-be-refurbished four-story factory, which once manufactured medallions and badges. The building complex will contain 44 condos; interiors will be designed by Front Studio. Badge Building Development LLC is a group of independent investors led by the building’s current owner, who has been sitting on the property for the last ten years.

14 12–01 Jackson Ave.
Hentze-Dor Real Estate is developing a 35-unit rental on an irregularly shaped lot on Jackson Avenue.

15 Echaelon Condominiums
13–11 Jackson Ave.
Ron Hershco of Jackson Realty LLC is planning a 52-unit condominium designed by ****** Design Group of Cold Spring Hill, New York. Occupancy is scheduled for late spring of 2006.

16 Venus Site
Queens Plaza North and 24th St.
Developer Moshe Feller is reportedly working on a condo building that will house 320 units.

17 24–15 Queens Plaza North
Karl Fischer Architect is planning alterations to an existing 50,000-square-foot office building for an unnamed developer.

18 42–37 Crescent St.
Owner Ruben Elberg of Royal One Real Estate and Karl Fischer Architect are planning a 16-unit condominium building with two ground-floor commercial spaces. Completion is expected mid-2007.

19 42–59 Crescent St.
Adjacent to 42–37 Crescent Street, the same developer-architect team will build another residential project with retail space. 42–59 Crescent will be slightly bigger, at 24 units, and completed by early 2007.

20 45–56 Pearson St.
Rosma Development of New York is set to build a 20-story project on a 30,000 square-foot site, creating 120 condos that should be ready by 2007.

21 Arris Condominiums
27–28 Thompson Ave.
The Andalex Group is planning an $80 million conversion of a 1920s warehouse into a mix of 237 lofts and 17 studios. Costas Kondylis and Partners is completing the design, which will involve a total overhaul of the interiors as well as exterior restoration.

22 Vantage Purves
44–27 Purves St.
Another development in the area by the Lions Group and Emma Homes Partnership, the Vantage Purves will have 57 units.

23 42–51 Hunter St.
A small group of investors under the name 42–51 Hunter Street LLC is developing a seven-story condo building with Manhattan firm Israel Peles Architects.

24 41–23 Crescent Street
No information available.

25 The Queens Plaza
41–26 27th St.
The Developers Group of New York is planning a 10-story, 66-unit condo building just north of the Queens Plaza Improvement Project.

26 27–14 41st Ave.
41st Avenue Property LLC, with Queens-based architect Surja Widjaja of Maison Design, is planning a 24-unit, 8-story residential building.

27 Gaseteria Site
Northern Blvd. and Queens Blvd.
Oil company Gaseteria has partnered with Lowe Enterprises Real Estate to develop a site bordering Long Island City’s Sunnyside Yards into a mixed-use complex with a projected 400 housing units, in addition to office and retail space.


1 Silvercup West
(See above.)

2 United Nations Federal
Credit Union
24th St. and 45th Dr.
With a tentative completion date of this September, the $65 million United Nations Federal Credit Union building, designed by HLW international, will be the second all-commercial highrise in Long Island City, after the 1.4-million-square-foot Skidmore, Owings and Merrill– designed Citigroup tower, completed in 1989.

3 Citigroup, Phase II
Citigroup is several months into the construction of its second office buidling in the neighborhood, next door to its 48-floor tower, the tallest building in the boroughs. Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, the second building will be significantly smaller, at 475,000 square feet and 14 floors. An estimated 1,800 Citibank employees will be housed in the new building, which will be completed in 2007.

4 Queens Plaza Municipal Garage
Tishman Speyer recently signed a 99-year lease for the city-owned parking lot, and plans to raze the lot to build an office building with underground parking. Recently upzoned to 12 FAR, the site could accept 1.5 million square feet of development.

5 QP Site
Tishman Speyer is razing several low-scale commercial buildings and a parking lot, the former site of the QP flea market, and likely building office space in addition to that across the street at the Queens Plaza Municipal Garage. The lot is owned by businessman Bill Modell.

6 Gaseteria Site
(See above.)


Queens Plaza Improvement Project
In 2001 the Department of City Planning began implementing a plan to improve Queens Plaza, the boulevard that runs from Sunnyside Yards to the Queensborough Bridge. The plan includes extensive infrastructural improvements, including new roadways and subway station renovations, as well as an extensive landscape scheme by Philadelphia-based Margie Ruddick, which would extend a lush, pedestrian-friendly esplanade to the East River waterfront.

Copyright © 2005 The Architect's Newspaper, LLC
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Old May 10th, 2006, 05:48 PM   #123
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Long-Delayed Projects To Get A Pataki Push

The future Javits Center, if Pataki
and others have their way

May 10, 2006

Governor Pataki will use the last six months of his term to push for expanding the Javits Convention Center and turning the Farley Post Office into Moynihan Station, $2.5 billion worth of long-delayed development projects on the West Side of Manhattan.

"We want to begin this year," the state's leading development official, Charles Gargano, told The New York Sun.

Delays for both projects have been measured in years rather than months, but both plans are scheduled for final public hearings in the next three weeks.

Although financing is already in place, the projects require approval from the Public Authorities Control Board - which includes representatives of the Governor Pataki, the Assembly speaker, Sheldon Silver, and the State Senate majority leader, Joseph Bruno. The legislative leaders used their positions on the board to block last year's plans for a West Side stadium.

Spokesmen for both Mr. Silver and Mr. Bruno yesterday expressed support for expanding the convention center, but said the Moynihan Station plan was still being reviewed.

The $1.7 billion expansion of the Javits center would make New York's convention center the fifth biggest in the country - up from the 19th spot - and has the support of Mayor Bloomberg, the City Council speaker, Christine Quinn, and several business and tourism groups.

But the plan has also encountered its share of critics, including Senator Schumer, who called the plan too small and too expensive.

The current plan will extend the center north along 11th Avenue one block to 40th Street, and will increase exhibit and meeting room space to more than 1.3 million square feet. Much of the additional square footage will be achieved by building another floor on top of the existing structure. The state is also planning to sell an entire city block to the south of the center for private commercial and residential development to generate additional project funds, and move the truck marshalling yards to the center's northern end. The plan includes a 1,500-room hotel nearby.

The Municipal Art Society, which opposes the Javits expansion, filed a lawsuit last week to halt the plan. The plaintiffs, who include neighborhood groups, claim the state failed to update the environmental impact statement.

Other planning advocates have said the expansion plan, which will largely be upward, will leave the center with an awkward configuration for conventioneers who prefer contiguous space. There are also questions whether the block to the south will generate as much money as the state has predicted.

A spokesman for the Regional Plan Association, Jeremy Soffin, said that none of the project's flaws are necessarily "fatal", but he said that the most recent design seems to cost more but accomplish less.

"It is worrisome that the cost is going up and the final product is getting decreasingly effective at solving the original problem," Mr. Soffin said. "If you think long term, you really need to think about moving Javits altogether. It sits on some of the most valuable real estate in the world."

Mr. Gargano, the chairman of the state agency shepherding the project through the approval process, said that Javits' lack of space forces the city to turn away between 50 and 60 shows a year. He said a vertical expansion is "much, much cheaper" than expanding to the north - which would require buying a bus garage from the Metropolitan Transit Authority for an estimated $600 million.

Mr. Gargano said the vertical configuration would work "as long as there are enough escalators and elevators."

Even if Mr. Pataki is able to win the necessary approvals and begin preparation work on both the Javits Center and Moynihan Station, there is no guarantee the next governor will not block or revise the plans.

The first designs for Moynihan Station, an expansion of Pennsylvania Station into the Farley Post Office across the street, were drawn up in 1992. Plans have been delayed by the September 11th attacks and drawn-out negotiations with the Post Office over site acquisition, among other factors.

The latest designs, rendered by architect David Childs, were released last month. The plan, estimated at about $880 million, is for new train halls for New Jersey Transit and Long Island Railroad, a post office, and a mixed-use development that could include a hotel, big box stores and restaurants. The commercial portion will be developed by two of the city's most active developers, the Related Companies and Vornado Realty Trust.

Penn Station is currently the busiest transportation hub in America, with about 550,000 people daily, and the dark, dingy underground labyrinth is calling out for renovation or demolition.

A public hearing over Moynihan Station is scheduled for June 1, according to Mr. Gargano.

The owners of Madison Square Garden have expressed some interest in moving into the back portion of the post office, along 9th Avenue. Mr. Gargano said yesterday that the sports arena could be added to the project after the current plans are approved.

Amtrak has not agreed to move to Moynihan Station from Penn Station, which Mr. Gargano said was a disappointment.

© 2006 The New York Sun, One SL, LLC.
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Old May 10th, 2006, 07:49 PM   #124
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I've always thought they simply wanted to expand the Javits center, but looking at the render, it seems like they're going to change even the existing structure.
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Old May 10th, 2006, 10:42 PM   #125
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34 cranes eh.....should be fun to watch
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Old May 11th, 2006, 09:22 PM   #126
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This article is from last year but they are clearing the lot to start construction soon...


The East River Science Park, to be built - after 20 years of institutional wrangling

Steve Garmhausen
NYC 12 20 05

Maybe it’s the fact that the East River Science Park will be New York City’s largest biotech campus. Or it could be that the $700-million project is being built on spec. Whatever the reason, its 872,000 square feet seems like an awful lot of space to fill.

Then again, if the planned science park fulfills the city’s goal of jump-starting a true commercial bioscience industry, the 3.7-acre campus, in the Kips Bay neighborhood between First Avenue and the FDR Drive, could start to seem very small to its tenants.

“Where do these companies go when they become bigger?” asks Patricia Ardigo, director of the life sciences group at CB Richard Ellis, who envisions the new park eventually spawning satellite research hubs in Long Island and Westchester.

It would be a nice problem to have, but the city, which will lease the site on Bellevue Hospital’s campus to Alexandria Real Estate Equities Inc., must first overcome challenges to landing tenants. Those include established competition in Boston and New Jersey as well as Manhattan’s high rental rates.

The good news is that recruiting work is well under way. The city has already spoken with 500 companies worldwide, says Bill Fair, managing director of healthcare and bioscience for the New York City Economic Development Corp, which was the major driver behind the project.

“Conceptually, people don’t think of New York as bioscience,” admits Fair. The city is playing up four strengths in its recruiting efforts: its deep, skilled employment pool; entrepreneurial talent; and access to capital for all stages of a company’s growth.

But the biggest muscle group in the city's armature is its collection of 11 major academic medical research institutions, including NYU and Columbia’s schools of medicine and Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center. Together, these institutions filed more biotech patents between 1992 and 2002 than the institutions of Boston, Cambridge and the San Francisco Bay area combined, says Fair. But because of the city’s dearth of lab space, the people behind those patented ideas are forced to go elsewhere to try to commercialize them.

“The great ideas are already here,” says Fair. “It’s just that the companies haven’t stuck here. We’re good at spinning out companies to places like La Jolla.” (He might have mentioned New Jersey as another popular destination; perhaps it’s too close for comfort.)

The feedback from biotech companies has been that these strengths could offset the high cost of setting up shop in New York City, Fair says: “Cost is definitely an important factor, but not the most important factor for companies making location decisions.”

Ramping up biotech in the city has been talked about for a good 20 years. But for various reasons?among them the rivalries between the research and academic institutions?it remained talk.

Upon taking office four years ago, Mayor Michael Bloomberg commissioned a market study that identified all the ingredients for biotech success. The administration, determined to follow through, had a key assist from several business-world heavy hitters, including Jerry Speyer and Henry Kravis, who reportedly used some muscle on their own to persuade directors on the boards of the city’s universities and hospitals to put aside their turf concerns and form a consortium to bring biotech into the city.

When the city’s RFP process for East River culminated in August with the selection of Alexandria, mere talk had congealed into reality. The Pasadena, Calif.-based real estate investment trust is a pioneer in building, running and acquiring lab and office complexes; it owns 127 properties with 8.2 million square feet. Alexandria has the “deep pockets and the wherewithal for a long stay,” says Ardigo, who served on the EDC and New York City Partnership’s biotech task force that helped bring about the science park. (Read about Alexandria in the November Forbes/Slatin Real Estate Report, available by subscription on our Publications page).

Bringing in a private developer also relieves the city’s institutions of driving economic development &emdash;which is not, after all, their mission. What’s more, the REIT is financing the park and building it on spec. What makes Alexandria CEO Joel Marcus, so confident that he took on blue-chip REIT Boston Properties for the right to build East River? Good question; he isn’t talking to the press. But his company’s bioscience parks are full of institutional users as well as corporations like Merck and Quest Diagnostics, and Alexandria should be focused on getting such heavy hitters to pre-lease space at ERSP.

“They have to go after large users right out of the box,” says Peter Waldt, senior director at Cushman & Wakefield, and a veteran of city government, who notes that the bioscience plan in the Giuliani era focused on institutions, while Bloomberg’s plan expands the mix to include corporate tenants. By contrast, the 100,000-square-foot Audubon Biomedical Science and Technology Park, part of Columbia University Medical Center and housed in the historic Audubon Ballroom where Malcolm X was assassinated, is mostly filled with incubator-sized companies and organizations.

The science park will also provide lower-cost lab and office space for entrepreneurs, who would now find a dry well, says Fair: “If someone called my office today, I’d have no place to put them.”

Subsidies are sure to be key to filling the space. The New York City Partnership has pledged $10 million to help small and medium-size companies fit out their space. Labs’ specialized needs&emdash;everything from extra-thick walls to emergency wash stations&emdash;add a tidy premium to their costs, explains Bob Von Ancken, the head of consulting and evaluation at Grubb & Ellis, which is conducting a pricing study for the EDC.

The state aid needed to compete with well-subsidized life science space like that in New Jersey may be hard to squeeze out of Albany because biotech companies&emdash;even though they create high-quality jobs&emdash;tend to be loss leaders, often investing for years before seeing any profit, notes Ardigo.

The park’s first phase, slated for groundbreaking in 2006, includes two laboratories and office towers totaling 542,000 square feet, with the first tenants anticipated in 2008. Designed by Hillier Architecture, It’s to include a glass-enclosed retail area with 43,000 square feet of public open space, including a riverfront esplanade, and 520 underground parking spaces. The second, 330,000-square-foot phase is slated for completion by 2009, and it will have additional open space and 200 more parking slots.

There’s a potential snag for the second phase. The city’s office of the chief medical examiner must first vacate the site; that is problematic because the office is storing 9,000 unidentified remains of victims from the September 11 attacks there. The remains are to be moved to the planned memorial at the World Trade Center site – whenever that is completed.

But if all goes well, the second phase will have a line of would-be tenants waiting to move in. The EDC’s Fair acknowledges that the city’s plans for biotech are not unique. In fact, all 50 states have biotech initiatives in their economic agendas. But unlike most of them, New York actually has what biotech firms are looking for, he says.

“Most places pin their hopes on biotech as a hot, sexy area, thinking they’ll see great stock increases, lots of employees and cures for diseases,” he says. “What we’re doing is the opposite of the way most places approach biotech.”

(c) 2003 - 2005 The Slatin Report.
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Old May 11th, 2006, 10:00 PM   #127
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Proposed Gehry design for Atlantic Yards Project in Brooklyn... The site is currently in demolition stage...

Architect Frank Gehry Presents Designs For Atlantic Yards Project

May 11, 2006

Developers unveiled new designs Thursday for a scaled back plan for the Atlantic rail yards complex in Brooklyn aimed at winning over critics of the project.
The plans are almost the same as the original, but the buildings are smaller and the project is about a half-million square feet smaller.

The change is intended to end an on-going feud between the developers and residents who say the $3.5 billion project will only increase congestion. They're also concerned about the look and feel of the borough.

Famed architect, Frank Gehry, says the borough inspires his vision for the area.

"We're trying to understand what is Brooklyn, what is the body language of Brooklyn and trying to emulate it without copying it,” said Gehry. “Copying it would trivialize it."

Supporters say the sports complex will bring jobs to the borough and revitalize Downtown.

Some buildings are already being demolished at the site.

Plans call for the arena to be open by 2009.

Copyright © 2006 NY1 News.

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Old May 11th, 2006, 11:13 PM   #128
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New Design for Atlantic Yards Presented

The Atlantic Yards design, unveiled today by the developer Forest City Ratner, faces opponents with a
different vision for Brooklyn.

Published: May 11, 2006

From across the room, the new plastic-and-wood model of Brooklyn's proposed Atlantic Yards project — unveiled by the developer Forest City Ratner at a news conference today — looked a lot like the old one sitting a few feet away: A 22-acre swathe of glass, brick and metal towers that will loom over the surrounding neighborhoods and forever alter the borough's otherwise sparse skyline.

But in an hourlong presentation, Frank Gehry, the project's architect, and Laurie Olin, its landscape designer, emphasized details that they said would harmonize the project's scale with the neighborhoods it would border. They described shorter and thinner buildings on Dean Street, where the project abuts a mostly low-rise neighborhood, extensive use of glass walls at street level, and what Mr. Olin described as "the biggest stoop in Brooklyn," a sort of public porch planned for the southeast corner of Flatbush and Atlantic.

"It still feels like Brooklyn," Mr. Olin said.

But Mr. Gehry, Mr. Olin and Forest City Ratner officials made clear that the developer and its opponents still have vastly different visions of what, exactly, Brooklyn should feel like, at least in this corner of the borough, where the bustling downtown commercial district shades into a quiet, tree-lined neighborhood of brownstones.

"They should've been picketing Henry Ford," Mr. Gehry said today, dismissing critics who oppose high-density development in the borough. "There is progress everywhere. There is a constant change. The issue is how to manage it."

Opponents of the project have criticized the height and scale of Mr. Gehry's designs, among other issues, and the possible use of eminent domain to make room for them. They have backed alternative plans for the site, including proposals by rival developers that would include mostly low-rise buildings and would not require eminent domain. (Forest City Ratner is the development partner of The New York Times Company in building its new Midtown headquarters, a project that itself involved government condemnation of private property.)

Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which opposes the project, said the new design "puts a Gehry sheen on top of repudiated 1960's-style urban renewal. It's still way too big, and does not change the fact of 16 skyscrapers slammed on top of and next to low-rise, historic neighborhoods."

Mr. Goldstein also criticized Mr. Gehry for declining to meet with residents of the communities surrounding the proposed site. The project "remains an urban planning disaster," he said, because "Mr. Gehry and Mr. Ratner continue to ignore the community."

Today's carefully-orchestrated presentation — Junior's, the famed Brooklyn cheesecake mecca, catered breakfast — came amid one of the most contentious periods yet of what has been a two-and-a-half year battle over the Atlantic Yards, which would be the largest Brooklyn real estate development in decades.

The Empire State Development Corporation, which is sponsoring the project, is in the midst of a state-mandated review of its potential environmental impacts, the final result of which is almost certain to be the subject of legal action. Today, the Council of Brooklyn Neighborhoods, an association of about 40 Brooklyn community groups, announced that it had hired Phillips Preiss Shapiro Associates, a real estate planning firm, to conduct an independent review of the pending study.

Copyright 2006 The New York Times Company
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Old May 11th, 2006, 11:56 PM   #129
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That is amazing! I like it more then the original. The massing in the main tower is brilliant
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Old May 12th, 2006, 12:19 AM   #130
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More on this Atlantic Yards project...

May 11, 2006,

Gehry, Gehry Everywhere...

The big Forest City Ratner high-security press conference today produced little news but lots of images: fewer crooked buildings and more straight lines, more titanium siding and less Las Vegas. This is all about how it looks, so take a peek inside.

By comparison to the latest version above, here's a shot of last year's model that led a Brooklynite to ask the Daily News, "Why is it crooked?"

The most iconic building in the 16-tower complex is the Miss Brooklyn, at 620 feet tall (650 with mechanicals). Gehry said that when he transported the model via airplane from Los Angeles to New York he had to give it a name so it could get its own seat. He likens the tower to an actual Brooklyn bride he saw walking around one day. "She's a bride," he said of the tower, "with her flowing bridal veil--I really overdid it. If you had seen the bride you would--I fell in love with her." The tower to the right is her husband, and the second shiny one to the left is the man she will have an affair with, according to Gehry. Developer Bruce Ratner must really love having an architect who designs unfaithful buildings and tells the press about it!

Here is the bride at its most flattering angle, with the Williamsburgh Savings Bank tower (512 feet tall) in the lower left hand corner (given what's on that tower's top, maybe he's the one she will run off with!):

Gehry said that he and his team spent a lot of time studying Brooklyn and its "body language," in order to make the complex fit in, and also how his children live or have lived in Brooklyn. Then what exactly does he think of Brooklyn? "I like it.... It's a very friendly city. It has a different sense of scale. It's got a fabulous street life. It's got an ethnic mix that seems to coexist."

That different sense of scale, of course, is a lot smaller than the type of bulding he has been commissioned to design here. He does make a few token gestures to fit into the borough, however, but they definitely are tokens. The main one is the "largest stoop in Brooklyn" at the point of Atlantic and Flatbush, in front of the arena. One is supposed to be able to see through the lobby and a large window into the arena and make out the scoreboard from this angle (provided someone is not standing in front of you):

The complex will have seven acres of publicly accessible open space, but it will be inside the interior courtyards formed by Gehry's buildings and dwarfed by their height. Laurie Olin, the landscape designer, discounted the idea that hiding the open space would keep New Yorkers from using it. "I don't think one has to draw people into open space in New York City. They will find it." The swamp and pool will collect stormwater and reduce runoff.

Whether the complex will fit into the surrounding neighborhood of three- and four-story brownstones is very much in the eye of the beholder--and the angle of the camera. Here is Forest City's take on the view north from Carlton and Park Place, with trees in full bloom. (This is a better view of building No. 7, the paramour.)

Here is a similar view, just one block closer, imagined by onNYTurf, a website critical of the project. (It's based on specs from the project that have since been slimmed down a bit.)

Finally, the real reason to root for Ratner. Isn't that the Starbucks logo there on the left?

copyright © 2006 the new york observer, L.P.
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Old May 14th, 2006, 03:00 AM   #131
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A trim for Yards work

New & smaller look for B'klyn buildings


Architect Frank Gehry now has a kinder and gentler vision for Brooklyn.

Nearly a year after his futuristic designs for the controversial Nets arena complex sent shudders through parts of the borough, Gehry released revised plans yesterday.

"We've tried to break down the scale," Gehry said, and mirror "the messiness of Brooklyn - messiness in a good way."

The adjustments make the massive project fit in better with surrounding neighborhoods, he said at a briefing with officials from Forest City Ratner, which is developing the 22-acre site at Atlantic and Flatbush Aves.

"We spent an enormous amount of time studying Brooklyn ... trying to get a sense what it is," Gehry said.

The centerpiece glass building, dubbed Miss Brooklyn, was inspired by a bride he spotted in the area, he said. The Atlantic Yards project has sparked criticism that its 16 high-rise towers are too big and will create a traffic nightmare. The new designs are about 5% smaller than before. Gehry and Ratner officials said they have been tweaked to be more open and less dense.

Some buildings were streamlined to be less bulky, Gehry said, while landscape architect Laurie Olin's designs aim to make the site more inviting. Other buildings are now less slanted than in the original designs released last July.

Gehry said the project's critics "would have been picketing Henry Ford."

"There is constant change. The issue is how do you manage change," he said.

The $3.5 billion project has not yet been approved. Ratner officials hope to have it okayed by October and the arena open for the 2009-2010 basketball season.

Reactions to the new designs were mixed.

Daniel Goldstein, a spokesman for Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, which has been battling the project, was unimpressed.

"It's still way too big and does not change the fact of 16 skyscrapers slammed on top of and next to low-rise, historic neighborhoods," said Goldstein, calling the project "a land grab by a wealthy sports baron developer."

But Jennifer Baffle, 34, liked the changes and said the new design "looks more like it suits Brooklyn."

"The old design just seems a little too much," said Baffle, who is unemployed and lives in Clinton Hill. "Who wants that kind of look for Brooklyn? That's more Manhattan."

Paris Crawford, 68, said he preferred the original look.

"The old design looks more futuristic, a sign of things to come, which sets Brooklyn apart," said the retiree from Fort Greene.

"This is Brooklyn. We deserve to be on the cutting edge."

Originally published on May 12, 2006
I respected your views, so I expect you do to the same.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 04:49 AM   #132
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Im a fan of the project but not the look of the buildings. Miss Brooklyn is b-fugly. ugly enough to make me flip flop on the whole deal
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Old May 15th, 2006, 05:16 AM   #133
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yeah, Miss brooklyn isnt very good looking... Still, anything is better the the huge gapping hole in the ground we have there now. (Talking about the LIRR
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Old May 15th, 2006, 05:36 AM   #134
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It's a sham!
The entire project is a disgrace to Brooklyn.
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Old May 15th, 2006, 10:11 AM   #135
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Sure, its not very beautiful, but you can say its original at least..

I think they should desing something less "cartooned".
Ecumenopolis: "The city of the future, covering most of the habitable surface of the Earth as a continuous system, forming an universal settlement, the limits determined by climatic constraints and the extent of fairly flat land."
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Old May 15th, 2006, 10:59 AM   #136
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I like this whole development... Here is another rendering of the tall one...

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Old May 15th, 2006, 11:00 AM   #137
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Here are views from street level....

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Old May 15th, 2006, 11:01 AM   #138
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and a mini-skyline will be born....

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Old May 15th, 2006, 02:19 PM   #139
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The first five are unbelievable, they just look so amazing
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Old May 17th, 2006, 12:13 AM   #140
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Smaller Size Proposed for Atlantic Yards

Published: May 16, 2006

Assemblyman James F. Brennan, a Brooklyn Democrat, introduced legislation yesterday that would require the developer Forest City Ratner to reduce the size of its proposed Atlantic Yards real estate development by about three million square feet, or roughly a third. In exchange, the bill would offer up to $15.4 million a year in state money to subsidize below-market-priced housing in the project, a 22-acre residential, commercial and arena development near Downtown Brooklyn. The bill would also relieve Forest City Ratner of about $310 million in costs associated with renovating and buying building rights over the railyards on the site of the project. Five other Brooklyn members of the Assembly are also sponsoring the legislation.
I respected your views, so I expect you do to the same.
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