View Poll Results: What proposal would you like to see built for Hudson Yards?

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  • Brookfield: SOM, Field Operations, Thomas Phifer, SHoP Architects and Diller Scofidio & Renfro

    64 65.98%
  • Durst / Vornado / Conde Nast: FXFowle and Rafael Pelli

    11 11.34%
  • Extell: Steven Holl

    8 8.25%
  • Related / Goldman Sachs / NewsCorp: Kohn Pedersen Fox, Arquitectonica and Robert AM Stern

    8 8.25%
  • Tishman Speyer / Morgan Stanley: Helmut Jahn

    6 6.19%
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Thread: Hudson Yards

  1. #46


    June 22, 2004

    City Unveils Titanic Plan to Transform Far West Side


    The Bloomberg administration's plan to redevelop the far West Side of Manhattan would transform a neighborhood of brick warehouses, tenements and parking lots into a vibrant district of skyscrapers, 12,600 new apartments and 20 acres of parkland, according to a 6,000-page environmental impact study released by the city yesterday.

    The proposal, known as the Hudson Yards plan, would rezone a 40-block area west of Seventh Avenue between 30th and 42nd Streets and include a one-mile extension of the No. 7 subway line, an expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and a 75,000-seat football stadium over the adjacent railyards.

    Although the study acknowledged that traffic congestion would increase at more than 30 intersections in the district, it indicated that most problems could be mitigated. The city also rejected 18 alternative plans, including some proposed by community groups, saying they were impractical or generated fewer jobs and revenues for the city.

    The benefits of creating a new district and allowing the city to grow outweigh any potential problems, the report concludes. It was prepared by the city's Department of City Planning and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority.

    "Hudson Yards is the single biggest investment we can make in our city's future, besides the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan," said Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff. "It provides room in Midtown for the largest and most productive business district in the nation to grow, while creating the conditions for significant residential development."

    The release of the environmental study triggers the beginning of a seven-month public review of what promises to be one of the most contested rezonings in city history. Despite the opposition of neighborhood groups and the local community board, the city government hopes to win formal approval in January.

    Most West Side groups were still wading through the dense report yesterday and not yet ready to comment.

    The $1.4 billion expansion of the convention center has fairly broad support from Community Board 4 and the hotel and tourism industry, unlike the plan for the football stadium, which would serve as home for the New York Jets.

    There was an effort in the State Legislature yesterday afternoon to hammer together a revised bill that would allow the center to add 340,000 square feet of exhibit space. Gov. George E. Pataki's original proposal sparked widespread criticism from supporters and critics alike, in part because some of the language appeared to allow for the financing of the stadium.

    "We'll try to find a way to pass a Javits bill," said Assemblyman Richard L. Brodsky, "but not if they keep trying to jam the stadium into it. We can fix the other problems."

    The governor issued a revised proposal on Friday, which removed some of the most disputed elements of the bill. But it came in for criticism yesterday during an Assembly hearing in Manhattan. Assemblyman Brodsky asked city and state officials if they would accept language stating that the bill would in no way authorize the financing, construction or management of the stadium.

    Mr. Doctoroff said the bill was solely concerned with the expansion of the Javits, but he favored some kind of joint operating agreement, because the stadium would double as an exhibit hall. He said that he would oppose efforts to prohibit construction of the stadium, which he views as a critical component of the West Side redevelopment plan.

    "They should do what's necessary to get the Javits expansion moving forward," said Louis J. Coletti of the Building Trades Employers Council, a construction company group. "I think it's time to move this project forward."

    The $1.4 billion stadium, which requires a $600 million public investment, is the single most contentious item in the city's plans for the West Side. Those plans also include the creation of a tree-lined boulevard between 10th and 11th Avenues, stretching from 42nd Street to a newly created public square next to the stadium at 34th Street. There would also be a connection to the High Line, a former elevated railroad line that would be turned into a linear park.

    The rezoning would provide developers and corporations with sites for new skyscrapers and apartment houses and allow for the construction of 28 million square feet of office space, hotels, stores and thousands of apartments over the next 40 years.

    The impact study examined 18 alternatives, including moving the stadium to Willets Point, Queens, next to Shea Stadium, a proposal supported by some groups in Queens and Manhattan. The study said it would cost as much as the Manhattan project, but would not attract any convention business.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  2. #47
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    Major clash looms over West Side plan

    June 22, 2004

    Get ready for a wild, wild fight over Manhattan's far West Side.

    The city kicked off a likely raucous, seven-month review of its proposal to redevelop the far West Side yesterday by releasing a mostly upbeat assessment of the plan's environmental impacts.

    The sweeping, multibillion-dollar makeover would extend the No. 7 subway line, add 24 acres of parks, build a new Jets stadium and create a towering new commercial corridor within a 40-block area, from 30th to 42nd Sts. and Seventh to 11th Aves.

    "The result is a plan that will transform the area into a place where future generations will clamor to live, work, invest and visit," proclaimed City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden.

    The stadium alone would cost $1.4 billion, and the subway extension $1.8 billion. Not included in the plan is a separate $1.4 billion expansion of the Javits Center. Yesterday's draft environmental review attempts to gauge the plan's impact on everything from traffic and air to the number of homes and businesses that would fall under the bulldozer.

    But critics of the plan, which relies on $600 million in taxpayer dollars to build the new Jets stadium, immediately slammed the review as a whitewash.

    "It looks like they haven't listened to anyone in the last two years," said John Fisher, head of the Clinton Special District Coalition, a neighborhood group opposed to the stadium. "They're intent on ramming this thing through."

    The draft study found that the West Side overhaul would "dramatically improve neighborhood character" by transforming an "underutilized urban landscape" into a "lively, 24-hour" community.

    Broadway theater owners would be helped, not hurt, by the added traffic, the report asserts - a view not shared by some theater owners.

    And while 225 businesses with 4,269 employees would have to be evicted to make way for new development, the businesses "do not collectively represent substantial economic value to the city," the report stated. Another 139 people would lose their homes, it added.

    Much of the report's traffic analyses looked at worst-case scenarios: A simultaneous Jets football game, Madison Square Garden concert and a convention at Javits. The report concluded that while most everyday traffic could be absorbed in the neighborhood, such "perfect storm" scenarios would cause major backups at a handful of intersections.

    The draft also concluded that building a new Jets stadium in Queens, as some have suggested, would be just as expensive as in Manhattan. The only difference, the report added, is the Jets are willing to contribute $800 million toward the Manhattan site.

    All contents © 2004 Daily News, L.P.

  3. #48




    by William Finnegan

    Issue of 2004-07-05
    Posted 2004-06-28

    Both sides have started punching harder lately in the brawl over whether or not to build a seventy-five-thousand-seat football stadium over the Hudson rail yards on Manhattan’s far West Side. The New York Jets, who would own the place, will be taking computers from the mouths of needy schoolchildren if the state and the city are forced to provide the six hundred million dollars that would be their part of the deal—or, at least, that’s what the television ads paid for by the Dolan family, the owners of Madison Square Garden, say. Nonsense, say the Jets and their supporters, who include Mayor Bloomberg, Governor Pataki, and the construction unions. The stadium will be such a financial success that it will end up giving computers to needy schoolchildren. Opponents say that the stadium will sink New York City’s bid to host the 2012 Olympics (the International Olympic Committee does not like controversy). No, say the stadium’s backers, it is the centerpiece of the city’s Olympic hopes.

    Either way, the stadium is part of a much larger development plan for the far West Side, which would include an extension of the No. 7 subway line, a major expansion of the Javits Convention Center, a park, a museum, many office buildings and apartment buildings, even a large new boulevard that would run for nine blocks south from Forty-second Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues. The total cost of the project would be several billion dollars. Not surprisingly, many neighborhood groups are opposed to it. So it didn’t really seem like a stretch when Newsday reported recently that “the fight over the stadium is shaping up to be the most pitched battle”—the most pitched battle?—“since the Westway project.”

    Except who remembers Westway? A straw poll of otherwise well-informed New Yorkers—conducted last week, with a margin of error of, oh, about fifty per cent—suggested that almost no one does. “An elevated highway?” was the most common response. Even a man who described himself as having been “a strong Westway supporter” said, “An elevated highway?” No. The West Side Highway was an elevated eyesore for forty-odd years, and it rotted until a truck fell through it, around West Twelfth Street, in 1973. Then it was torn down. Westway was the proposed replacement. It would have been an underground highway, running beneath landfill just off the present Hudson River shoreline. The street grids of Chelsea and Greenwich Village would have been extended one block west and ended in parkland. The federal government had agreed to pay for ninety per cent of this multibillion-dollar project. The State of New York was committed to pay the other ten. The city would have paid zero.

    A number—very small, at first—of community activists opposed Westway. Their ranks grew, while rationales for opposition evolved, from support (healthy) for mass transit to loathing (justified) for greedy developers and, in the latter stages of the battle, concern (sincere, in many cases) for a striped-bass habitat. For some people, the mere fact that Presidents, governors, mayors, senators, C.E.O.s, and other powerful types all wanted Westway built seemed reason enough to fight it. The project was tied up in the courts for so many years that, in the end, the federal government withdrew its backing, and, in 1985, the plan died.

    Earlier this month, there was a modest panel discussion, held in the lobby of Pier 40, called “Westway Revisited.” The crowd was made up mainly of veterans of the Westway wars. One of the panelists, Mitchell Bernard, a lawyer, had fought Westway on environmental grounds. “There’s a myth that Westway was defeated by clever lawyers on a technicality, a little snail-darter issue,” he said. “But in the courtroom it wasn’t a technicality—it was the truth versus a lie.” The government had lied, he said, about the results of its own studies of the potential impact of the Westway landfill on the striped bass, and this was exposed in court. “It was thrilling to me as a young lawyer,” Bernard said. “It was absolutely the reason I became a lawyer.”

    Craig Whitaker, another panelist, who was a Westway planner, not long out of Yale, and who is now an architect, an author, and an adjunct professor at New York University, listened ruefully to Bernard. Whitaker talked about some of the places where the city has had the wisdom to run highways under riverfront esplanades—the Brooklyn Heights Promenade, Carl Schurz Park. “We thought New Yorkers would never accept sixty-five thousand cars passing daily between them and the waterfront,” he said. He nodded toward the six lanes of hurtling cars and trucks just outside the Pier 40 lobby. “But that’s what we’ve got out here. It was a tragedy for the city.”

    A few days later, in his studio in SoHo, Whitaker was still reflecting on the missed opportunity of Westway. “We should have called it the something Tunnel,” he said. “Westway was just the wrong name.” He pulled out a set of old Westway drawings. The formal, eclectic beauty of the riverfront park that he and his colleagues had planned was startling. There were spaces to rival the Bethesda Fountain terrace in Central Park.

    The drawing brought to mind one of the architectural renderings of the would-be West Side stadium. It is a large, pretty watercolor, much reproduced by the Jets and their allies and currently hanging in a gallery in the Village. It’s a view of the stadium from the middle of the Hudson. The shore has a lush bank of grass above a seawall, with picnickers and fishermen and striped umbrellas, and above this idyll stands the stadium, its great central glass wall reflecting white clouds and blue sky. What’s missing from the picture, you eventually realize, is the highway—Twelfth Avenue, or West Street, or whatever the West Side Highway is called below Thirty-fourth Street, where the stadium would be built. It’s just untrammelled parkland, being enjoyed by the public, with the harsh, assaultive roadway we all know simply tucked out of sight. No V.I.P. Heliport, no endless chain-link fencing and battered traffic barriers, no rows of parked garbage trucks. It is the riverfront as it would have looked if Westway had been built.

  4. #49

  5. #50
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    Hudson Yards Area:

    Aerial view of surrounding neighborhoods:

    Aerial view of the transportation infrastructure network:

  6. #51
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    Hudson Yards Area:

    Just to put them in order...

    BTW, the LT "cuts" are the lead in ramps for the LT?

  7. #52
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    Clinton Rezoning Enters Review Process

    Proposed Clinton Rezoning

    By Barbara Jarvie
    Last updated: Thursday, July 29, 2004 10:40pm

    NEW YORK CITY-Responding to citizens' concerns that existing zoning permits taller development within the West Side’s Clinton district, the New York City Department of City Planning launched the public review of its proposal to limit building heights along Ninth and Tenth avenues. With existing regulations, buildings within what is known as the Preservation Area of the Special Clinton District--bounded by on the north by 56th Street and 43rd Street to the south within those avenues--can be considerably taller than many existing ones and could result in “sore thumb buildings” that are out of character with the neighboring ones.

    “As important as it is to promote growth for the future of the city, we must also recognize the need to preserve the lower-scaled quality that makes a neighborhood like Clinton in Manhattan so special,” points out DCP chief Amanda Burden.

    The proposed text amendment would establish new height controls to ensure that new development is consistent with the scale and character of the surrounding neighborhood. The DCP is proposing that the overall height of new development and enlargements along the avenues be limited to 85 feet or approximately eight stories with a streetwall between five or six stories. The proposed bulk controls would continue to accommodate allowable floor area as well as the higher floor-to-ceiling height for ground floor retail uses, but would ensure that new development is compatible with the existing character of Clinton.

    According to DCP, the preservation of the character of Ninth Avenue to the South of 43rd Street is an “integral part” of the proposed 360-acre Hudson Yards comprehensive plan. That plan, which is expected to take 40 years or so to realize, aims to revitalize the entire West Side are of the city. The proposal, which is intended to promote commercial and residential growth, retains the existing zoning along Ninth Avenue within the Hudson Yards.

    Community Board 4 now has 60 days to review the proposal then it passed along to the borough president, the City Planning commission and the city council as part of the City’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

    © 2004 by

  8. #53
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    The DCP is proposing that the overall height of new development and enlargements along the avenues be limited to 85 feet or approximately eight stories with a streetwall between five or six stories.
    WHAT?? That is a blow on development for the west side. How could developers make any profit and at the same time the area prosper with 8 stories of buildings. Totally dumb IMO. The area needs big and taller buildings to rise up. If the people there don't like it then they should move to the village or another borough where there is no taller buildings going to rise up. :evil:

  9. #54
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    From the sound of that article, no tall buildings were intended for Ninth or Tenth Avenues anyway.

  10. #55
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    West Side plan's cost will skyrocket: report

    August 5, 2004

    Mayor Michael Bloomberg's financing plan for the Hudson Yards project on Manhattan's West Side will cost $1.3 billion more than if the capital budget were used, according to a report by the city Independent Budget Office.

    The IBO, an independent agency, says that by going outside the capital budget to finance the project--which includes extending the No. 7 subway line and building a platform over the West Side rail yards for new development--the city will face higher costs and, ultimately, lower tax revenues.

    Mr. Bloomberg's plan, which he estimates will cost about $3 billion, relies on short-term borrowing, or commercial paper, to pay interest because the project will not generate enough revenue in its early years to cover debt service. The city says the borrowing plan allows it to avoid drawing on general fund revenue, which is needed for school construction and other capital projects. But the IBO says in its report that the plan shifts far more of the cost to the future than does regular borrowing. Plus, if investors don’t buy the commercial paper, the state Transitional Finance Authority will buy it using some of the city’s personal income tax revenue.

    In addition, Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum, who requested the report, says the mayor’s approach removes the West Side plan from the usual legislative review that is required for capital projects.

    In a separate report, the IBO said New York City could have a glut of office space by 2035 under current city and state development plans--that could lower demand for office space at Hudson Yards and mean even more borrowing.

    The mayor's office said it will issue comments on the report later today.

    Copyright 2004, Crain Communications, Inc

  11. #56


    August 6, 2004

    Budget Office Warns of Risks in West Side Redevelopment Financing


    The city's Independent Budget Office said yesterday that the Bloomberg administration's unusual financing plan for the proposed redevelopment of the far West Side would cost $1.3 billion more than if the city used conventional borrowing and could pose "significant risks for the city budget" if its projections fall short.

    The city plans to create the Hudson Yards Infrastructure Corporation, which would issue long-term bonds and short-term debt to pay for $3 billion in parks, new streets, a deck over a railyard and the extension of the No. 7 subway line from Times Square to 11th Avenue and 34th Street. Under the city's plan, those projects, together with new zoning and a football stadium for the Jets, would bring about residential and commercial development.

    The corporation, not the city, would pay off the bondholders under the city's plan, using tax revenue from the increased development. But the budget office warned that if the development does not proceed as quickly as the city envisions, the city's taxpayers may be stuck with the debt payments.

    Because the corporation's credit rating would be lower than the city's, the bonds would cost the corporation about $1.3 billion more in interest payments than the city would pay, the budget office said. The city's approach also allows it to bypass a potentially contentious review by the City Council, the report said.

    "While the Hudson Yards plan is vitally important for the city's future development, we find that the financing proposal poses significant risks for the city budget," said Ronnie Lowenstein, director of the budget office. "What they're doing is: buy now, pay later. The later and later you pay, the more it will cost you."

    Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff disputed the report's conclusion, saying the city "very carefully balances the need to preserve flexibility and preserve financing for other things with costs."

    He said the budget office's analysis of the demand for office space was flawed. While the administration has always acknowledged that its borrowing costs would be smaller if the projects were part of the city's capital budget, he said, the plan envisions using rising real estate values on the West Side to pay for the costs of improving the area, rather than competing with other projects for scarce city dollars.

    When fully redeveloped, he said, the West Side will generate billions of dollars in additional revenues.

    "Financing decisions are about trade-offs between risk and cost," Mr. Doctoroff said. "In this case, there's a trade-off well worth taking. We want to get this done to begin generating $65 billion to $70 billion in new tax revenues over and above the cost of financing."

    Other than a small part of the financing, Mr. Doctoroff said the city "will not be obligated" to pay off the bonds issued by the Hudson Yards Infrastructure Corporation, if the corporation defaults.

    But Richard Ravitch, a former developer who was chairman of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority in the early 1980's, said he doubted that the corporation would be able to sell the bonds to investors unless the city guaranteed the financing.

    "The risks associated with an investment of this kind are not worth taking, given the fiscal problems faced by the city and state," Mr. Ravitch said. "It's more important right now for the city and the state to tell us how they're going to fund the nearly $12 billion the M.T.A. needs to adequately maintain the system over the next five years."

    The city's financial plan does not deal with two other related projects: the $1.4 billion expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and the $1.4 billion stadium project for the Jets, which would double as an exhibition hall. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's administration contends that these projects and the infrastructure work would serve as catalysts for development that would otherwise take decades to develop.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  12. #57
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    The New York Post


    September 28, 2004 -- The Great White Way could go west under a proposal to develop new theaters along 42nd Street, between 10th Avenue and the Hudson River.

    City planners are looking at the proposal as part of a massive and controversial redevelopment plan for an area of the far West Side known as the Hudson Yards.

    Adding theaters to a now underdeveloped stretch of West 42nd Street is a recent addition to the proposal, which also includes construction of a football stadium, an extension of the subway and an expansion of the Javits Convention Center.

    "The environment on West 42nd Street isn't great right now, and we're trying to get more activity there to enliven it," said Vishaan Chakrabarti, director of planning for Manhattan.

    In exchange for including theaters in the base of any new high-rise towers, developers would be given the chance to build larger structures than would be normally allowed on West 42nd Street, Chakrabarti said.

    Chakrabarti described the incentive as a "theater bonus" that was added to the Hudson Yard proposal in response to concerns by the theater industry.

    Theater owners fear that a 75,000-seat football stadium at 11th Avenue and 33rd Street would generate so much traffic on the West Side that it would keep theatergoers from attending matinees on Sundays — the industry's busiest day.

  13. #58


    November 7, 2004

    Far West Side Story


    Miles from Midtown in vibes if not distance, the far West Side has a feel of "passing through.''

    "NO one is in love today," says a man selling flowers. It is a brisk Sunday evening, but business is slow. The man stands on a traffic island near the Lincoln Tunnel - a triangle surrounded by West 36th Street, the Dyer Avenue approach and the ramp from Ninth Avenue.

    A billboard painted on a nearby building encourages passers-by to "See yourself in the Bahamas." For the drivers mired in the heavy traffic here, imagining themselves in Weehawken would require no less a leap of imagination. Below the ad, a window has been cut out of the black-painted bricks. Red light glows through a curtain, as if the Bahamas themselves were on the other side of the wall.

    Eventually, the flower man picks up a clutch of roses and wades into the traffic like a fly-fisherman, gliding downstream with the traffic. He makes his way toward the tunnel entrance, ambles back, and works the ramp from Ninth Avenue. When he comes back to the island, his hands are empty. A dozen roses are making their way under the Hudson.

    But such iconic scenes of the far West Side may soon be altered or disappear entirely. In June, a few months after the flower man made his hard-won sale, New York announced a sweeping plan to redevelop his neighborhood. The proposal would result in nothing less than the transformation of a 59-block area - partly in Hell's Kitchen and partly in Chelsea - that lies west of Seventh Avenue between 30th and 42nd Streets. If it all happens, the revamping would include not only a bigger Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and a new Jets stadium, each costing about $1.4 billion, but also the addition of the equivalent of 13 Empire State Buildings of commercial space and more than 12,000 apartments.

    Given the sweep of the plan, many New Yorkers, including people who live or work on the far West Side, have strong opinions about it. The Jets stadium in particular has inspired much combat, and by late October the two sides in that battle had spent $11.5 million on television ads and other promotional material. And skirmishes are taking place over many other aspects of the proposal, with critics pointing to displaced businesses and residents, and supporters emphasizing the city's need for office and residential space. State economic development officials approved the Jets stadium last Thursday, and the City Planning Commission is to release its final environmental review of the city's overall West Side plan this week. But those are just two of the many hurdles these hot-button proposals must jump.

    Often lost in this loud debate, however, is the day-to-day rhythm of the area as it exists now - the clack of a train on the track, the tap of a stable hand hammering a horseshoe, the "Next!" of the hot dog vendor who works near the flower man. These vignettes, drawn over the last 12 months, furnish glimpses of a thriving if eccentric ecosystem, whose roots stretch back to the 19th century, to piers and slaughterhouses, and to the construction of the Lincoln Tunnel.

    With the city's plan looming and with new restaurants, apartments and galleries already sprouting in the area, this patch of small buildings and railroad tracks, of tiny swaths of green, of grit and exhaust, may, in the future, wear a far different face. In that event, these pictures will memorialize as well as describe.

    It is midafternoon. A truck driver is stopped at a light on Ninth Avenue, his tractor-trailer straddling the plastic dividers that separate the main road from a tunnel-only lane, where he does not want to be. An orange pylon has wedged itself under the front bumper of his rig. A pedestrian pauses on his way across the street, reaches under and wriggles it free. He holds it up, where the driver can see. The light changes, and the truck rolls away, a lion to the pedestrian's mouse. The orange thorn is set back down in its line.

    The relationship between walker and driver on the far West Side is not always so symbiotic, especially as the evening rush bears down. Unlike the out-of-town trucker, these drivers know exactly where they need to be. And in their minds many of them are already there, mentally soaring over this familiar crush of traffic. Pedestrians crossing the avenue search hard for the eyes of drivers turning from the street on a green light.

    What the drivers see is not always what it appears to be. At 38th Street, cars roll past a block of buildings that look rundown and abandoned. The words "Moved to W 36 St." have been spray-painted on a boarded-up storefront, as if on a giant Post-It note.

    But from the far sidewalk, a few green and blue birds can be seen hopping on a windowsill inside a second-floor apartment of one structure. These buildings are not dead. They are being renovated.

    "This neighborhood used to be crack city," says Herminio Torres, who lives in one of the buildings with his family, adding that it wasn't until about 1987 that things began to turn around. This particular block, he says, was "The Last of the Mohicans."

    Not just anyone can carry off the nickname T-Bone. But Mr. Torres can, and does. On this day last December, he was sporting a black leather cap, black sunglasses, a few gold chains and a "T-Bone" bracelet. "I've thrown a few people down the stairs," he says without affect, describing the days when the area was overrun with drug dealers.

    Some years ago, while working in a metal shop on his block, Mr. Torres lost part of a leg when a load of metal fell from a delivery truck. "Everybody said, 'It'll slow T-Bone down,' " Mr. Torres recalls, with only a mild smugness at having proved them wrong.

    While he was recuperating, he wanted to hear birds. Because it was too difficult to go out and walk, he bought some pet birds for his apartment.

    For the moment, the birds' presence is adequately explained. But there's more to it.

    When Mr. Torres regained his mobility (he wears a prosthesis), having birds in his apartment was no longer a priority. He offered the birds to another tenant, but she didn't want them. Eventually he gave them to his sister. But the elderly woman to whom he'd offered them later warmed to the idea of having birds, and wound up buying some of her own.

    "When I didn't want them," Mr. Torres says, "I couldn't give them away."

    From unwanted to sought after: a parable of Hell's Kitchen.

    In the mid-1930's, wrecking crews began dismantling scores of tenements to make way for the Lincoln Tunnel approaches. A contemporary newspaper account described the clearance project as "one of the indirect benefits" of the tunnel's construction. Photos of the time show the damage: surgically precise, devastating in effect.

    The far West Side retains the legacy of the tunnel's infrastructure: the spaghetti of ramps, odd-shaped parcels of concrete, cross streets tethered to avenues by steel beams. It's as if Hell's Kitchen were an ocean, and this hulking profusion of concrete and steel a sunken ship lying on its floor. But now, 70 years after its abrupt intrusion, some of the tunnel's otherworldliness has been worn away by the incessant activity of its environment.

    One day last winter, Leni Schwendinger was standing in a community garden at 39th Street and 10th Avenue. "People come down here and say, 'I saw this from the bus ramp; I always wondered what this was,' " she says. The garden and a dog park form an L-shaped oasis. Below the garden, westbound cars emerge into their final daylight before the tunnel, where a sign reads, "Last Exit in Manhattan." Alongside the dog park, buses make their way down a ramp from the Port Authority Bus Terminal.

    Ms. Schwendinger, president of the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association, and Meta Brunzema, an architect and urban planner, eagerly point out other concrete patches that might be similarly transformed. "It shows there's energy here," Ms. Brunzema says.

    The energy in Hell's Kitchen is the kind that comes and goes, swells with the crowds of commuters, Ninth Avenue shoppers and Javits Center conventioneers, is changed by its late-night isolation, by the lurking thrum of the Port Authority, vanishes in places, and appears again unexpectedly.

    On a sidewalk on 38th Street near 11th Avenue on this day last January, the club crowd has already disappeared. But not all is quiet: the ping of a hammer can be heard through the open door of a building where a man is tacking horseshoes onto a carriage horse. Along the side of the building, hay sticks out of small arched windows. The occasional junkyard dog prowls "the cut," the depressed railroad right-of-way that crosses under the street. To the east, Midtown is an impressive incongruity.

    Trains and tracks are a large presence in parts of the far West Side. "The cut" is the less exalted brother of the High Line, the unused 1.5-mile railroad viaduct built about 70 years ago that extends from the West Side Yards to Gansevoort Street. Both were constructed in the 1930's, part of an initiative called the West Side Improvement Project that removed freight trains from city streets.

    Down below 40th Street, along "the cut,'' a message has been painted on a wall beside the tracks: "If you lived here, you'd be home by now." The tracks here have been built over, but the light comes in through an open patch, where the upper floors of some residential towers are cast against blue sky. A disused section of track is covered with trash - old cushions, clothes, baby strollers, suitcases, an empty bottle of orange wine. A spur goes off to the west, toward a place where a slaughterhouse used to be. An Amtrak train comes through on the main track, loud at first, then a hushed string of silver passenger cars.

    Then the place is quiet again, a library of graffiti and darkness.

    Tony Guida was born in 1927, in a cold-water flat on West 33rd Street, and he has lived in Hell's Kitchen nearly his whole life. One day last winter, Mr. Guida was recalling when Ninth Avenue was crowded with pushcarts from Paddy's Market, when trains plied the surface track along 11th Avenue (then labeled "Death Avenue" because of all the train-related accidents), and when bakers and butchers delivered to people's apartments by horse and wagon.

    "My father worked for the New York Central, unloading trains," Mr. Guida says, in a classic New York accent. He remembers when the circus arrived in town at the New York Central's yard. The workers and the animals would sleep in their respective railroad cars at night, and the animals would be marched to the circus through the streets.

    In those days, goods that had "fallen off a truck" might actually have so fallen, and the men who pulled freight off trains and loaded it on trucks often went home with errant produce that had been slipped into a satchel before an inspector could seize it. In the years before refrigeration, fish were often transported live, on specialized cars that were, in effect, rolling aquariums; Mr. Guida remembers an eel that spent some time swimming corkscrews in the bathtub of his family's apartment.

    The railroad yards have changed a lot since the mid- to late 1800's, when the Hell's Kitchen Gang and the Gophers routinely raided the trains there. The raids stopped around 1910, when the New York Central Railroad established a special police force that was as formidable as the gangsters.

    The site, also known as Hudson Yards and the John D. Caemmerer Yards, is now owned by the Long Island Rail Road, and is used to maintain, repair and store trains.

    Brian Dolan, a spokesman for the Long Island Rail Road, was walking through the yard one day last December, acting like a homeowner showing off a new addition. The L.I.R.R. opened the yard in 1987, after six years of construction. Before that, morning trains into the city had to return to Long Island before coming back for the evening rush. Now the trains wait here, like parents outside a Blink-182 concert, until it's time to take commuters back to Long Island. "By 5:30, this place will be empty," Mr. Dolan says, but in midafternoon trains fill most of the yard's 31 tracks.

    In the yard's vast flatness, it's easy to forget that you are in Manhattan. It will be even easier if the place is decked over and the Jets stadium is built on top of it.

    On 42nd Street near 12th Avenue, next to the Chinese consulate and across from the new River Place residential tower, stands a brownstone with a white facade and lime-green fire escapes and windowsills. It was a gray day last November.

    "Thirty-seven years I've been here," says Louis Gritsipis, taking a break inside his restaurant on the building's first floor. Mr. Gritsipis, who is in his early 60's, owns the building and lives with his wife and two children in one of three upstairs apartments. "I had difficult years, with the drug dealers and criminals," he says. "The 60's, 70's - forget about it. They used to cut the roof, break through the wall. I would open the store at 5:30: no eggs, no ham, no cash register." Mr. Gritsipis taps two fingers to his temple. "Seven times I was held up."

    The strain of those encounters doesn't show in his face. But his expression tightens when he talks about certain changes in the neighborhood. The area has been cleaned up, and it is much safer, improvements for which he credits Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. Yet it's not just the bad characters who have been swept out. "Lunchtime used to be all locals, packed in like sardines," he says. Now, he relies on tourists. "I prefer to have my neighbors know each other. We used to know each other.

    "But this building," he continues, gesturing toward the tower across the street, "I don't know if it exists or not. These big buildings, I call them 'mountains.' This one: 900 apartments, but I don't see any people."

    Matthew Doherty, who was a Stegner Fellow in poetry at Stanford University, has written for The Atlantic Monthly, Poetry and Glimmer Train, a literary quarterly.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

  14. #59
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    Jan 2003
    Garden City, LI

    Default City Proposes No-Cost Incentives for Hudson Yards Housing De

    City Proposes No-Cost Incentives for Hudson Yards Housing Developers
    By Barbara Jarvie
    Last updated: November 8, 2004 07:51am

    NEW YORK CITY-The Departments of City Planning and Housing Preservation & Development presented the Hudson Yards Affordable Housing Strategy which is designed to provide increased affordable housing in this West Side development area. One component calls for a larger incentive for developers to create affordable housing by lowering “as-of-right” density and in exchange requiring a greater share of affordable units. The density increase would be as much as 33%; currently it averages around 20%. A DCP spokesperson tells that there has already been “active interest in developing residential sites in the area.”

    The program would also extend the Inclusionary Zoning Program within the rezoning area to include the neighboring Hells Kitchen community. The third element is to enhance the current preservation option to ensure that more existing units would be preserved in exchange for increased density.

    The Hudson Yards Redevelopment Plan--a comprehensive 40-year initiative--calls for the creation of 13,600 new residential units with a total of 2,600 affordable units. This is an increase of 500 affordable housing units over the number that would have been generated by the Hudson Yards proposal certified in June. The plan involves the area from West 30th Street to West 43rd Street, and Seventh and Eighth avenues to 12th Avenue. It is bordered by Clinton to the north, Chelsea to the south, the Hudson River to the west and the Garment Center and Midtown to the east.

    “The comprehensive Hudson Yards plan for a vibrant new neighborhood will secure New York City’s economic future,” says city planning director Amanda M. Burden.

    “We want to expand options for safe, decent and affordable housing to New Yorkers of all income levels,” adds HPD commissioner Shaun Donovan.

    Current residents of the community would be given preference in the lottery to rent or buy at least half of the affordable homes and apartments and affordability provisions for all units, produced or preserved by inclusionary zoning would last in perpetuity. The proposal is currently in the public review process and the City Planning Commission is scheduled to vote on the proposal Nov. 22.

    Already adding to housing in the area is the Fashion Institute of Technology’s acquisition this past summer of a 320,000-sf former flex property at 406 W. 31st St. The college will convert the site into 493 student apartments. In addition to affordable housing, the plan also calls for the creation of 28 million sf of office space, 3,000 hotel rooms, 700,000 sf of retail space, and more than 20 acres of new parkland.

    Earlier this year, the city created the Hudson Yards Infrastructure Corp., a nonprofit that will help in the financing of the massive West Side project. City estimates peg the total costs of the infrastructure to be financed between 2005 and 2012 to be $2.8 billion and a continued build-out is expected to follow through 2040.

  15. #60
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    Feb 2003
    New York City


    Daily News

    Horse-trade on West Side

    When the city Planning Commission meets today to consider a rezoning plan of the 59-square-block Hudson Yards development area, the owners of one building will be paying special attention.
    The 16-story office building at 450 W. 33rd St. - whose tenants include The Associated Press, WNET-Channel 13 and the Daily News - may be given its very own zone.

    That special rezoning would permit the owners to erect two high-rise towers above the current structure, and allow a combination of offices and residential units in those towers.

    In exchange, the city secured a commitment by the owners to build a pedestrian walkway right through the middle of their building.

    The walkway would connect the proposed Jets Stadium site to the new Penn Station, allowing fans to go straight from the train to the game.

    The building's special rezoning proposal has been under negotiation with the city for nearly two years but was made public only in February - and not included in the city's original plans for the new West Side.

    "At first we weren't looking at it at all," said Vishaan Chakrabarti, the commission's planning director for Manhattan. "The building was only included in our plans at the request of the previous owners, Max Capital."

    Executives at the Max Capital Group spent many months negotiating a satisfactory zoning change with the city, Chakrabarti said.

    Planning commission staff eventually agreed to the valuable increase in allowable density for the site, Chakrabarti said.

    Just last week, however, commission staff modified their rezoning proposal. According to an internal staff memo obtained by The News, the new rezoning allows the owners to demolish the building and construct a much larger one on the same footprint.

    It would be quite the deal for 450 Partners LLC, the investment group that bought the building from Max Capital in 1999.

    The group is headed by real estate moguls Joseph and Jacob Chetrit and includes three other limited partnerships as part of its controlling group.

    Until two years ago, Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff, City Hall's main architect for the Hudson Yards project, was himself an investor in the building.

    A city Conflict of Interest Board decision led to Doctoroff's selling off his interest in several real estate ventures, including the building at 450 W. 33rd St.

    The conflicts board went a step further. Because Doctoroff, a millionaire many times over, had been partners with legendary Texas billionaire Robert Bass, the board ruled that Doctoroff must recuse himself from taking any actions as deputy mayor that affected any companies "that Mr. Doctoroff knows to be controlled by, controlling or under common control with" the Texas billionaire.

    Here's where it gets tricky.

    According to city real estate records, the group that owns the building now includes the Lone Star Fund II, a Dallas-based investment fund founded in 1993 by John Grayken, once a top aide to Bass.

    It's unclear if Bass has any interest in Lone Star Fund II; the fund incorporated in the Bahamas, and it's hard to trace things in non-U.S. filings.

    Neither the Chetrit brothers nor officials at the Lone Star Fund II in Dallas returned phone calls last week for comment.

    What is known is this:

    By the late 1990s, Doctoroff owned a piece of the building. By then, Doctoroff already had championed a failed bid to get the 2008 Summer Olympics to New York.

    He continued his Olympics campaign, setting his sights on the 2012 Summer Games.

    In the meantime, Max Capital went about its business. It formed an equity fund with Bass. It came up with the rezoning idea that would allow it to build towers on its roof.

    By then, Doctoroff - who still owned part of 450 W. 33rd - would become deputy mayor for economic development.

    The rezoning plan for 450 W. 33rd St. ultimately was put together by the Planning Commission staff and the city's Economic Development Corporation - both overseen by Doctoroff.

    City Hall spokeswoman Jennifer Falk said Doctoroff is "confident he has no direct or indirect involvement with the property."

    Falk said Doctoroff "made a general request to the administrator of [his blind] trust to unload any property to avoid even the appearance of a conflict."

    That administrator sold off Doctoroff's 2% share in the 33rd St. building "more than two years ago," Falk added, though she could not say just when that occurred.

    Some critics worry that Doctoroff might be skirting the line between public and private interests. But with Manhattan's West Side turning into the Wild West of real estate, we need to be absolutely sure our economic development czar is using his vast power for the public's good.

    Originally published on November 22, 2004

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