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Thread: Proposed: 59 story tower - 250 East 57th St @ 2nd Ave - by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

  1. #1

    Default Proposed: 59 story tower - 250 East 57th St @ 2nd Ave - by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill

    NY Sun

    New Schools, 59-Story Tower To Rise at 57th St. and Second Ave.

    By DAVID LOMBINO - Staff Reporter of the Sun
    October 9, 2006


    Reviving a development model from the 1970s, the city will permit a private developer to build a soaring residential tower on a low-rise, under-utilized city-owned site in Midtown in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars that will be used to build at least two new city schools.

    The developer, the World-Wide Group, has made an agreement with the city for a 75-year lease of a 1.5-acre site on East 57th Street and Second Avenue, and it will make payments to the city worth $325 million. The developer will raze the two existing schools on the site, P.S. 59 and the High School of Art and Design, build two new schools that will accommodate more students, and develop a 59-story apartment tower and a long, four-story band of retail stores.

    The city will issue about $130 million worth of bonds to build the schools through its educational construction fund, but the debt will be paid back with the developer's payments. The profit from selling the development rights is so great, according to city officials, that it will pay for capital improvements of other city schools around the five boroughs.

    The executive director of the educational construction fund, run by the Department of Education, Jamie Smarr, said the city is now looking for additional, similar deals.

    "Because our capital needs are so great versus the available resources, we are looking to greatly expand this model," Mr. Smarr said.


    He said the conditions of the existing schools, P.S. 59 and the High School of Art and Design, are among the worst of any in Manhattan. Last year, with the support of the schools' principals, the city sought proposals from private developers to replace the schools and capture the development rights available at the site. World-Wide Group was the highest bidder, according to Mr. Smarr.

    Because the planned development will occur on an as-of-right site, it does not require approval by the Planning Commission or the City Council.

    The developer has met with the local community board and is in the final stages of planning and an environmental review. Construction on the schools is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2008, and should take about two years. The developer's lease payments will also pay for a temporary facility that will house the students during construction and will serve as a working school for about 20 years.

    A partner at World-Wide Group, David Lowenfeld, said the developer was attracted to the opportunity to recreate "an eminently forgettable area," and he cited the value of having nearly 200,000 square feet of retail on one of Manhattan's busiest crosstown streets. One of the retail spaces could house a Whole Foods or another supermarket, according to the existing plans.

    The residential tower, designed by architects from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, would be about 450,000 square feet. It would contain 320 residential units with rental apartments on the lower floors and apartments for sale up above. The residential tower would be separated from the schools by a courtyard. According to the plans, 20% of the rental units would be "affordable" and the developer would build 30 "affordable" units off-site under the inclusionary housing program.

    The planned development is just a few blocks from the headquarters of Bloomberg LLP and One Beacon Court, a project by Vornado Realty Trust that mixed luxury apartments with ground floor retail, and that was fantastically successful, according to real estate experts.

    Mr. Lowenfeld, a former executive director of the city's Industrial Development Agency during the Koch administration, would not rule out switching to commercial development of the tower, but he said he favored residential. An office tower would require a zoning change and approval by the Planning Commission and the City Council.

    World-Wide Group has built about 1,350 residential apartments in Manhattan, and was a partner in the development of the mixed-use Worldwide Plaza on West 50th Street.

    This will be the 16th time the city has leveraged real estate assets to build schools using the educational constructional fund, but the model has been dormant since the 1970s. Last year, the city signed a 75-year lease with a private developer to build a junior high school and a residential building on 91st Street and First Avenue on the site of an old, vacant school.

    In the 1970s, the city leased the site of 3 Park Avenue to a developer who built a 42-story commercial tower with a public school in its base. The Verizon Building at 375 Pearl Street and the adjacent Murry Bergtraum High School, near Police Headquarters, is also a product of the same program.

    In the 1990s, a city study identified several possible sites suitable for similar development plans, including PS 9 on 84th Street and Columbus, PS 6 on 84th Street and Madison, PS 290 on 82nd Street between First and Second Avenues, and PS 51 on 45th Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues.

    One of the problems with the program, according to Mr. Smarr, is that it only benefited schools in Manhattan, where real estate values are higher and zoning allows denser development. But in the last few years, real estate values have soared in the outer boroughs, and the city is now seeking proposals from developers for a school site in Park Slope, according to Mr. Smarr.

    The local City Council member, Daniel Garodnick, said he would be closely following the project as it moves towards construction.

    Mr. Smarr said that the public benefit should outweigh any concerns about the height of the building or disruption during construction.

    "We are getting three new schools, and the affordable housing component," Mr. Smarr said. "The public amenity is so great, it overwhelms whatever natural concerns someone might have over the scale of the tower."

    Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff called the project a "win-win."

    "It's a terrific example of what the public and private sectors can achieve when they work together for the benefit of the community," Mr. Doctoroff said. "At the same time, this project will generate a financial return for the city that can be used to support school construction and renovation elsewhere."

  2. #2

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    I totally agree with the developer's assessment that this is an eminently forgettable area. Hopefully, the new tower will be nice and will transform this stretch. The retail will be nice too.

    PS: I assume that the school is occupied this year. I wonder if this year will be its last year in operation and if demolition will start next summer. This school is huge, and it's a massive eyesore.
    Last edited by londonlawyer; October 9th, 2006 at 10:06 AM.

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    I'm predicting a souless glass box or at best, a parallelogram. Let's see if SOM proves me wrong.

  5. #5

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    59 stories with 450,000 square feet is great. It will not be a fat tower.

    But SOM.....I wouldn't expect much more than a box with great glass.

  6. #6
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    A soulless SOM glass box is always better than a grotesque O'Hara brick box.
    Anytime O'Hara is not the architect for any project, we've dodged a big bullet.

    Anyway, like my man Doctoroff said, a win-win situation. Finally the city's smartin' up.

  7. #7

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    I'd much rather SOM be hired and put up a predictable corporate high-rise than Kondylis, SLCE, or O'Hara put up a cheapy, balcony detailed residential.

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    Forum Veteran macreator's Avatar
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    Thumbs up

    This is great news! It's funny, I was just walking by this site the other day with a friend and noted how the City would benefit greatly by selling the site to a developer and having the deal include school space in the bottom ala Ratner's Spruce Street tower.

    Not only do we rid ourselves of a truly ugly schoolhouse, we also get a tall tower, retail space (a biggy, that area is truly dead due to the school's blank first floor), and we get a brand new school with money to spare.

    "Win-win" really does describe this deal. Let's just hope things progress and don't fall through.

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    The Dude Abides
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    From http://cityrealty.com/new_developments:

    59-story mixed-use tower planned for East 57th Street 11-OCT-06



    World Wide Holdings plans to erect a 59-story apartment tower on the west side of Second Avenue between 56th and 57th Street as part of the redevelopment of the High School of Art & Design and PS 59 at that location.
    The new apartment tower will contain 320 rental and condominium apartments.

    Under the terms of an agreement with the Educational Construction Fund of the New York City Department of Education, World Wide Holdings will build two new and expanded schools to replace the existing ones and the development will also contain about 170,000 square feet of retail space.

    World Wide Holdings is leasing the site for 75 years and will make annual lease and PILOT (payments in lieu of tax) payments to the Educational Construction Fund that will cover the cost of both new schools, estimated to be $130 million, and generate additional revenues for other school capital projects.

    The apartment tower and retail space and the 1,400-sear High School of Art and Design structures are being designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill LLP and Ehrenkrantz Eckstut & Kihyn is designed the new PS 59, which will be expanded from 400 to 730 students.

    The fist phase is expected to take three years and will involve the construction of the two new schools and during this phase PS 59 which is known as the Beekman Hill International School will be relocated to a new school facility in the boundaries of the existing school district. The second phase involves the mixed-use tower in which 20 percent of the apartments available for rent will be “affordable.” According to the agreement, another 30 units of affordable housing will be built off-site in the boundaries of Community Board 6.

    The new development will also include community meeting places.

    The two schools will frame an expanded, mid-block, open space.

    The fund leases air rights over schools to developers who build new schools and are able to use the air rights not used by the schools for their own purposes.

    World Wide Holdings, of which Victor Elmaleh, a fine painter and former national champion handball player, is a principal, has developed more than 1,800 apartments in Manhattan over the last decade and its projects include 50 Murray Street, 53 Park Place, 88 Greenwich Street and the Milan on 55th Street and Second Avenue. It was a partner in the development of World Wide Plaza on Eighth Avenue at 50th Street.

    Last November, the Educational Construction Fund entered an agreement with the DeMatteis Organization to build a new intermediate school and 238,000 square feet of residential space at 1765 First Avenue.

    The Educational Construction Fund was created in 1966 and it best known for its mixed-use developments such as the office-building/Norman Thomas High School on the southeast corner of Park Avenue and 34th Street and the apartment building/Robert F. Kennedy School on 88th Street between Park and Lexington Avenues.

    This neighborhood, which is not far from Sutton Place, has witnessed considerable new development activity recently with three residential condominium buildings nearing completion on Eat 57th Street and three major residential condominium towers advancing on Second Avenue just a few blocks to the south.

    The residential space in the new tower that will front on Second Avenue will be on the first two floors and two underground levels.

    The rendering made available this week is a massing study of the complex at street-level and a spokesman for World Wide Holdings said that the architect is preparing more detailed renderings of the tower, which is one block south and a block east of One Beacon Court, the Bloomberg tower.

  10. #10

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    This is good news. Are the schools currently in use or will this school year be their last? This block is horrible and will benefit even from a glass box.

  11. #11

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    has this developer "World Wide" done any other developments in nyc.

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    Forum Veteran macreator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jeffpark View Post
    has this developer "World Wide" done any other developments in nyc.
    They were involved in Worldwide Plaza over on Eighth Avenue in the late 80's.

  13. #13

    Default 59-story tower; 57th & 2nd

    Any updates on this project? We know the elementary school closes this June and a massing study has been released. Regarding that diagram, where was 2nd Ave, 57th St and /or 56th it was difficult to tell. Will the tower be mid-block or at the corner? If it goes mid-block it is smack in the face of 919 Third Ave. which is 47 floors [615 ft.]. Also the developer mentioned that he was nor ruling out the possibility of asking for a zoning variance to convert the use to commercial. Any new news would be appreciated.

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    Forum Veteran macreator's Avatar
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    A commercial building is certainly plausible with the huge demand for office space and seemingly sagging residential demand.

    If they could pull it off, I'd love to see an office/hotel project.

  15. #15

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    Quote Originally Posted by pagh View Post
    Any updates on this project? We know the elementary school closes this June and a massing study has been released. Regarding that diagram, where was 2nd Ave, 57th St and /or 56th it was difficult to tell. Will the tower be mid-block or at the corner? If it goes mid-block it is smack in the face of 919 Third Ave. which is 47 floors [615 ft.]. Also the developer mentioned that he was nor ruling out the possibility of asking for a zoning variance to convert the use to commercial. Any new news would be appreciated.
    That's good news that the school closes in June. Where did you learn this news?

    By the way, Extell apparently owns a parcel on West 58th which sits behind the Hard Rock Hotel site. There's a high school directly behind it. Do you know if that will close too?

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