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. #1

    Default Hudson Yards

    February 10, 2003

    Grand Vision for Remaking the West Side

    By CHARLES V. BAGLI

    Where some people see the far West Side of Manhattan as a low-slung district of tenements, small shops, warehouses and parking lots, the Bloomberg administration envisions a neighborhood transformed.

    Tonight at the Jacob Javits Convention Center, city officials plan to publicly unveil an ambitious proposal to redevelop the area between Eighth Avenue and the Hudson River, from 28th Street to 42nd Street.

    The plan, which would require billions of dollars in public investment, calls for a $1.5 billion subway extension, new office towers along 11th Avenue, opposite a greatly expanded convention center, and a commercial corridor stretching from Madison Square Garden on Seventh Avenue west to the Hudson River, between 30th and 34th Streets. A new boulevard with a tree-filled center median — similar to Park Avenue — would be built between 10th and 11th Avenues and run from 38th to 34th Street to help ease traffic congestion between office skyscrapers to the west and new apartment buildings to the east.

    There would be a waterfront esplanade, ferry terminals at 38th and 34th Streets, hotels and residential buildings along 10th Avenue and small parks throughout the district, which now has few such amenities.

    Some elements, like a $1.2 billion stadium over the West Side rail yards, have already generated resistance from local residents, business executives and politicians.

    But the deputy mayor for economic development, Daniel L. Doctoroff, argues that the transformation of the West Side over the next several decades is critical to the city's future growth. If companies that are pressed for space in other areas of the city cannot expand when the economy rebounds, he said, their jobs will go to the suburbs in New Jersey and Connecticut. Many proposed public investments would also provide the foundation for Mr. Doctoroff's bid to bring the 2012 Summer Olympics to New York, though he says the plans are not dependent on New York's being chosen as the site of the Games.

    "The West Side presents the best opportunity for the city to invest in its future and grow," Mr. Doctoroff said in an interview. "Our highest priority is to create jobs for people, to develop businesses and to provide places for people to live. There has not been a time in the city's history when relatively virgin areas did not grow and develop after the extension of mass transit and public investments. This is the best return on our investment we can get."

    Development in the area has been hobbled, he said, by outdated manufacturing zoning and a lack of public transportation. To catalyze the vast development envisioned, the Bloomberg administration would overhaul the zoning and together with the state extend the No. 7 subway line from Times Square to 34th Street, where plans call for the establishment of a transit hub that would link the Long Island Rail Road, Metro-North and the subways and would be several blocks west of Pennsylvania Station.

    Plans also call for a $1 billion public investment to double the size of the convention center, to approximately 1.6 million square feet, by expanding it northward and linking it to the new stadium to the south, over the rail yards.

    The planned Farley post office project would provide the link between the current site of Madison Square Garden and the stadium, which is proposed for a massive deck that would be built over the rail yards.

    These projects, city officials said, would spur the private development of roughly 28 million square feet of office towers and thousands of apartments.

    "This is an area where the public sector can make an investment," Mr. Doctoroff said, "and have it returned many times with new jobs and new businesses that generate an enormous amount of tax revenue."

    The administration likens the potential effect of its proposal to how the construction of Grand Central Terminal in the late 1800's on a one-time rail yard and the sale of development rights over the tracks heading north sparked the development of the city's premier business district, along Madison, Park and Lexington Avenues.

    But critics have questioned whether the city even needs a stadium and another business district, as well as how much commercial development such a district would generate.

    Because the proposal is subject to the city's land-use review process and approval by the City Council, and because state assistance would be needed to expand the convention center and extend the subway line, the Bloomberg administration is waging an intensive campaign for official and public support as it also faces huge budget deficits and a recession.

    City officials have been meeting privately with hotel and real estate executives, and officials from the hotel construction and restaurant unions, in an effort to sell what the city is calling the Hudson Yards Master Plan, to evoke the image of change coming to the rail yards rather than the entire neighborhood. And the word stadium has been banished in favor of "multi-use facility."

    Not everyone is impressed.

    "They've gone through a bunch of euphemisms," said Simone Sindin, the chairwoman of Community Board 4, which covers the West Side. "They've been instructed to drop the word stadium from their lips. I call it the 900-pound gorilla in the room."

    The stadium, which would be built as an Olympic stadium and a home for the New York Jets football team, is the lightning rod for opposition to the plan, be it from local residents fearing the destruction of working-class housing in favor of tall towers, or Broadway theater operators who are worried that further traffic congestion will discourage patrons from coming to Times Square.

    One opponent, State Senator Thomas K. Duane, has called for a "movement like the one that stopped Westway," a reference to a successful 10-year campaign against a $4 billion federal landfill and highway project along the Hudson River from the Battery to 59th Street. And John Fisher, a founder of the Clinton Special District Coalition, has organized a Web site for the opposition, www.hellskitchen.net .

    Ms. Sindin complimented the City Planning Department for meeting with community leaders and incorporating some of their recommendations. But she has not been won over.

    "One of the positives I see is that they're planning for a great swath of green to run southwest across the district," she said. "They've also added housing on the side streets between Ninth and 10th Avenues. But they're still married to the esplanade of skyscrapers along 11th Avenue. What does not impress me is the stadium. It doesn't belong here."

    A business executive who is active in civic affairs and generally supports the West Side planning effort also questioned the wisdom of building a stadium there. "We should be planning for future growth in an orderly manner so that when the time for expansion comes we're not caught flat-footed," said the executive, who spoke only on the condition of anonymity because he often deals with Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg. "But I think the stadium would be better elsewhere, like in Queens."

    While the Jets have told the city they would be willing to finance much of the cost of a domed stadium, which could replace Madison Square Garden, taxpayers would still have to pay for the $250 million deck on which the stadium would be built.

    Jonathan Bowles, research director of the Center for an Urban Future, a nonprofit urban planning group, says he doubts that the billions of dollars worth of infrastructure projects will spark the 30 million square feet of commercial development the Bloomberg administration foresees over the next 30 years.

    "Their plans look great, with all the parks and esplanades," Mr. Bowles said. "But this is about office development. Economists see very little growth in the financial industry. If Wall Street isn't going to grow, will there be enough jobs created in the service sector?"

    Mr. Doctoroff said the city's projections are based on a study of the historic growth of office buildings, hotels, retail and housing in the city by Cushman & Wakefield, a real estate firm, and Economics Research Associates, a consulting firm. He said that based on very conservative assumptions, the city estimates that from about 2010 through 2040 New York will need an additional one million square feet of commercial space and roughly 400 apartments each year on the West Side.

    The city's plan estimates that the stadium would be completed in 2009 and the convention center in 2010, which alarms the hotel industry because it is far in the future.

    "The industry is still focused on the Javits expansion as something that could be started almost immediately," said Jonathan M. Tisch, chairman of Loews Hotels and the city's convention and visitors bureau. "It might take a couple of years to build, but it would send a message to booking groups that New York City is serious."

    Mr. Doctoroff has long said that the public investments would be recouped by the sale of development rights and new tax revenues from rising real estate values within the district, a phenomenon known as tax increment financing, or TIF. The redevelopment area would be the largest so-called TIF district in the country, but state officials have expressed some doubts about the marketing of bonds based on revenues expected from taxes based on increased property values. In any event, such revenues would not cover the $1 billion cost of expanding the convention center.

    City and state officials have talked to hotel and tourism-related industries about a dedicated tax, say $1 per hotel per night, that could finance the center and a marketing budget. Mr. Doctoroff said the city was still revising its financial plan, which will be completed in six to eight weeks.

    "The assumption remains that we'll finance this through incremental tax revenues generated as a result of our investment in infrastructure," Mr. Doctoroff said.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #2

    Default Grand Vision for Remaking the West Side

    March 11, 2003

    Midtown's Final Frontier

    Forty years isn't very long in the life of a city, but it's long enough to reinvent an entire district. So the Bloomberg administration hopes. Recently city officials, including Amanda Burden, head of the City Planning Commission, and a deputy mayor, Daniel L. Doctoroff, unveiled the Hudson Yards Master Plan, the city's vision for the redevelopment of Midtown West. Merely to walk out of the Javits Convention Center into the low dark streets that surround it is to understand why this section of the city, between 28th and 42nd Streets west of Eighth Avenue, is regarded as the last frontier in middle Manhattan.

    No subways serve Hudson Yards. As the name suggests, much of the area is taken up by rail yards, parking lots and warehouses. The core of the Hudson Yards Master Plan is to extend and connect the transportation links that run nearby. This means, especially, an extension of the No. 7 subway line into the heart of the district. By itself, that would prompt a lot of development. But to their credit, city planners want to guide growth so the district becomes a coherent neighborhood, shaped by new streets, new open spaces and new public buildings.

    Much of this plan makes sense. The Javits Center would expand northward and add a hotel that would give it access to 42nd Street. There would be serious efforts to bring the waterfront into play. On the other hand, the city's plan to create a double row of skyscrapers flanking 11th Avenue unfortunately recalls the street-level dreariness of the Avenue of the Americas in Midtown.

    But for now, the big question is the "multi-use facility," which still amounts to a stadium, possibly for the Olympics and certainly for the Jets. Officials have said that the Hudson Yards plan does not depend on the stadium, but they also argue that the logic of the redevelopment design makes much less sense without it. Its feasibility will clearly depend on two things, a financing plan that does not depend on public money and a way of making "multi-use" more than a euphemism. No one wants a publicly financed hulk that sits empty most of the time and floods the city with traffic when it is being used.

    The plan will have to compete with the city's other big redevelopment program, the plan to rebuild the World Trade Center site. There is not enough money now to move ahead on both fronts, and there is just as obviously a pressing emotional and civic need to make sure that ground zero comes first. Phasing is a word we are all going to learn the nuances of in the next few years. One of the virtues of the Hudson Yards Master Plan is that its phasing takes us all the way to 2040.

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  3. #3

    Default Grand Vision for Remaking the West Side

    March 30, 2003

    Far West Side: a Vision of the Far Future

    By DAVID W. DUNLAP


    Rendering of the proposed Jets stadium shows the two panels making up the retractable roof.

    "This project, more than any other, is the single best investment in our future that this city can make," Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff told a planning conference at Baruch College last month.

    He was not talking about the World Trade Center site.

    Instead, he was talking about the far West Side, where the Bloomberg administration envisions some 28 million square feet of commercial development and 12 million square feet of residential development by midcentury.

    Radiating from a plaza at 11th Avenue and 33rd Street would be an exoskeletal stadium, arena and exposition hall to serve the New York Jets and, if the city lands them, the 2012 Olympics; a new four-block-long boulevard lined with very large office towers and apartment buildings; a transportation hub reached by an extended No. 7 subway line; and an expanded Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.

    In the name "Hudson Yards" and features like the plaza and the new boulevard between 10th and 11th Avenues, the project can be traced to Mr. Doctoroff's campaign to lure the Olympics, which began in 1996 and involved Alexander Garvin, who now directs planning for the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation. The Olympic bid meshed with the Giuliani administration's hope of redeveloping the area as an extension of Midtown, an effort that needed a catalyst. The current project is an alloy of these plans, said Vishaan Chakrabarti, director of the City Planning Department's Manhattan office.

    Zoning details are evolving. "We have all the ingredients, but I don't know what the bouillabaisse is going to be yet," said Alexander Cooper of Cooper, Robertson & Partners, design consultants to the planning department and the Economic Development Corporation, with Arquitectonica and the Olin Partnership.

    Even in broad outline, the Hudson Yards project has already attracted criticism for the gigantism and density of the buildings that might result, for the novelty of its $3 billion economic underpinnings, for the prospect that it will divert municipal resources from more urgent needs and for the possibility that it would disrupt and displace residents and small businesses in Clinton and Chelsea.

    Mr. Doctoroff is pressing ahead, however. In an interview on Monday, as the dimensions of the Iraq war were becoming evident, he conjured up the construction of Central Park during the Civil War and the Empire State Building during the Depression. "What really defines this city," he said, "is the ability at critical junctures to take fear, to take tragedy, to take economic woe and channel it into the accomplishment of magnificent achievements that truly set a different course for the city."

    One tangible sign of a new course locally is Hudson Crossing, a 15-story, 259-unit apartment building at Ninth Avenue and 37th Street that will open next month. A lottery for 52 apartments set aside for lower-income tenants attracted about 4,000 applicants. Rents for the market-rate apartments begin at $1,495 for a studio.

    "Olympics or no Olympics, the city has obviously decided that the whole area is going to be redeveloped," said William P. Dickey of the Dermot Company, developers of the $74 million Hudson Crossing.

    Mr. Dickey, a Bronx native who was formerly a partner in the law firm of Cravath, Swaine & Moore and then a managing director of Credit Suisse First Boston, founded Dermot in 1991, naming the company for his father, Joseph Dermot Dickey. The name now does the double duty of honoring his brother, Joseph Jr., who perished at the World Trade Center in the Sept. 11 attack.

    Although Hudson Crossing is Dermot's only project in the immediate area, the company was designated this month by the Housing Preservation and Development Department to build 600 units on two city-owned parcels on 10th Avenue, between 51st and 53rd Streets. Dermot owns buildings in Washington Heights and Astoria, Queens, and is planning 400 new units in Queens.

    Dermot is associated in three projects with the A.F.L.-C.I.O. Building Investment Trust and the A.F.L.-C.I.O. Housing Investment Trust. In the case of Hudson Crossing, the building trust has made a $25 million equity investment, while the housing trust has purchased $10 million in Housing Development Corporation bonds. "Our focus is on housing because the need is so great," said Marcie Cohen, senior vice president of the housing investment trust.

    Construction is running about two months ahead of schedule and may cost about $4 million less than budgeted. The chunky red-brick structure was designed by H. Thomas O'Hara. It has 5,300 square feet of retail space and a 166-stall garage.

    Prospective tenants are largely in their 20's and 30's, said Stephen N. Benjamin, a principal in Dermot. "We felt this neighborhood had great promise, given its proximity to most of the jobs in Midtown," he said. "Frankly, we thought the only thing it lacked was comprehensive zoning that would encourage new development."

    Hudson Crossing was built on a strip of Ninth Avenue that is already zoned for residential development. Most of the area to the west, around the Long Island Rail Road's John D. Caemmerer yards, is zoned for manufacturing. The predominant allowable density is a floor-area ratio of five to one; that is, five square feet of floor space for every square foot of land on the site.

    THE Hudson Yards plan would create a high-density spine between 10th and 11th Avenues, with floor-area ratios that might range from 15 to 18 per square foot of land. This zone would extend like two arms around a medium-density area between Eighth and 10th Avenues, 33rd and 40th Streets, with a floor-area ratio of 7.5 to 10. In the center would be a lower-density district along Ninth Avenue, from 34th to 39th Streets, carrying a ratio of 6 to 7.5.

    Potentially higher density, up to a floor-area ratio of 21.6, is being considered for sites closest to the proposed transportation hub at 11th Avenue and 34th Street, where the No. 7 subway line would extend beyond its current terminus at Times Square, perhaps linked to platforms for L.I.R.R. and even Metro-North Railroad trains. This very high density might also be applied to the current site of Madison Square Garden on Eighth Avenue, if the Garden moves out.

    Such density is "required to accommodate long-term growth," Mr. Chakrabarti said, and is also tied to the public financing of the subway extension, new streets and parks, and the vast platform over the Caemmerer yards on which the Jets stadium would sit, through the transfer of development rights and the use of tax-increment financing. This financing technique earmarks tax revenues from increased property values to cover the debt on bonds used to pay for the infrastructure that induces new development. "If you had less density, you couldn't fund the No. 7 line or the parks," Mr. Chakrabarti said. "The density creates the revenue stream that allows you to fund the infrastructure improvements."

    A financing plan should be ready by the end of April or early May, Mr. Doctoroff said. He once called for a Hudson Yards Development Authority with the power to issue bonds, acquire land, and hold and sell development rights, but now declines to be any more specific than to say that a "city-state partnership is critical."

    "There is no single investment, in our view, that we can make in infrastructure in this city that earns such a high rate of return," Mr. Doctoroff said, without indicating what that would be, other than "multiples" of the $3 billion public investment.

    But opponents of the project, like John Fisher of the Clinton Special District Coalition, ask what will happen if the city's assumptions prove wrong. "When you add debt on more debt, that causes interest rates to go up," he said. "The whole financial plan is a diversion of tax money that's not going to be available to the city budget.

    "There is no way to print money," Mr. Fisher said. "It's all smoke and mirrors."

    And, he added, intense redevelopment is simply not necessary. "They're pretending this area is empty," Mr. Fisher said. "It's not Park Avenue. But it's not empty. It's full of tax-producing businesses. You may not like a parking lot, but you need it."

    In contrast, property owners in the 34th Street Partnership look at the parking lots and railyards as conveying a sense of abandonment, said Daniel A. Biederman, president of the partnership, which administers a business improvement district that runs to 10th Avenue. They generally feel "highly positive" about the Hudson Yards project, he said, but cannot foresee commercial rents reaching the levels necessary to prompt development until about a decade of steady market improvement.

    That is roughly when city officials assume the first office tower will get under way on the far West Side. "We feel very comfortable that's not taking away from other important development priorities; in many ways most importantly, Lower Manhattan," Mr. Doctoroff said. "First of all, Lower Manhattan hopefully will be more or less built out 10 to 12 years from now."

    An environmental impact statement on Hudson Yards is to be finished in the spring of 2004, when the project would go into land-use review, meaning that it could reach the City Council later that year. If it were approved, construction of the No. 7 line and the railyard platform might begin in 2005.

    NO one expects the review to go smoothly, given the fears of neighbors that a stadium will flood the area with traffic and wall off the waterfront with its gargantuan scale. (The structure would be 600 feet across, 800 feet long and about 300 feet tall at the uppermost parapets, roughly equal to a 25 to 30 story building.) Critics are unpersuaded by an assurance from L. Jay Cross, the president of the Jets, based on polls of the patrons and studies of comparable stadiums elsewhere, that at least 70 percent of season ticket holders would use mass transit.

    "I wish the city's plan was not inextricably linked to the stadium," said Councilwoman Christine C. Quinn. "It seems as though the city has carried over Mayor Giuliani's commitment to the stadium and then backed into a zoning plan."

    Borough President C. Virginia Fields has offered a plan in which the Caemmerer yards would be covered by apartment towers of 30 stories along 11th Avenue, with a park to the west. Paul Buckhurst of Buckhurst Fish & Jacquemart, which prepared the plan, said, "It seemed to us that having 5,000 units with views of a park might be, from a planning standpoint, a slightly saner use than an enclosed stadium."

    But since the mid-90's, city officials have seen the stadium as the catalyst for larger redevelopment. "While the media played it mostly about the stadium, it was really about the growth of the city," said Joseph B. Rose, the planning commission chairman under Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani.

    The first talk was of a new Yankee Stadium. However, Mr. Doctoroff recalled his concern that a baseball stadium could not win approval. "Baseball teams play 81 home games, many of them at 7 o'clock on a weekday night," he said. "And, of course, there was the issue of wrenching the Yankees out of their historic home."

    By contrast, the Jets' lease at Giants Stadium in the Meadowlands has six years to run and they would play 10 home games a year. That opened the possibility of a structure that could be used by the Olympics, as an adjunct to Javits and perhaps by Madison Square Garden, leaving the Garden's current site available for redevelopment.

    In 2000, Robert Wood Johnson IV, the new owner of the Jets, brought Mr. Cross to New York from Miami, where he had helped develop the American Airlines Arena for the Miami Heat, also in the face of opposition.

    "The Jets knew that to build their stadium, they would have to push very hard in the arena of public opinion and they decided to pump up the architectural vision," Raymond W. Gastil wrote in "Beyond the Edge: New York's New Waterfront" (Princeton Architectural Press, 2002).

    The design of the $1 billion stadium is unlike the poured-concrete bunkers of the 1970's and the nostalgic brick ballparks of more recent vintage. Instead, it is a starkly industrial-looking steel structure, with an array of wind turbines along the top, that is meant to evoke the pier sheds along the Hudson and the towers of the George Washington Bridge, Mr. Cross said. The architects are Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, working with Heinlein Schrock Stearns, specialists in sports design. The engineers are Thornton-Tomasetti and Flack & Kurtz.

    The structure would extend from 11th to 12th Avenue, 30th to 33rd Street. It would have a retractable roof and movable seats. With the stands opened to their fullest extent, some 70,000 spectators could be accommodated. With the stands compressed, a 20,000-seat arena would be created, adjoining a 120,000-square-foot exposition hall. At such times, the roof would be closed.

    Mr. Cross said the structure would probably be used 14 times a year as a stadium, 55 times as an arena and 40 times as an exposition hall. The site can also accommodate 640,000 square feet of underground space that might be used as a truck marshaling area for Javits or as a new home for the city tow pound, freeing up Pier 76.

    To bring crowds across 10th and 11th Avenues, the Jets propose to reuse parts of the High Line, the abandoned New York Central viaduct that runs north from Gansevoort Street and across 30th Street into the Caemmerer yards. While the Giuliani administration sought to demolish the High Line, its preservation and adaptation has been embraced by Deputy Mayor Doctoroff.

    A design competition sponsored by the Friends of the High Line is open for submissions until April 25. It is the latest in a series of planning exercises for the far West Side, including 13 community-based proposals put forward last year by the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association and the Design Trust for Public Space.

    In 1999, the International Foundation for the Canadian Center for Architecture sponsored a $100,000 prize competition for the redesign of the area. Peter Eisenman won with his proposal for an undulating, low-rise megastructure with a rooftop park covering a new Garden and Javits extension.

    Phyllis Lambert, the founding director of the center, said at the time that the plan was "eminently realizable." But now she says that construction of the winning entry was not the point, but rather focusing architectural attention on a neglected precinct. "To me, the most important thing about the site is that this is public land," she said. "And New York needs more public space."

    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  4. #4

    Default Grand Vision for Remaking the West Side

    It might be the sunset, but I am impressed with the rendition, its iconic, its very New York.

  5. #5

    Default Grand Vision for Remaking the West Side

    THE Hudson Yards plan would create a high-density spine between 10th and 11th Avenues, with floor-area ratios that might range from 15 to 18 per square foot of land. This zone would extend like two arms around a medium-density area between Eighth and 10th Avenues, 33rd and 40th Streets, with a floor-area ratio of 7.5 to 10. In the center would be a lower-density district along Ninth Avenue, from 34th to 39th Streets, carrying a ratio of 6 to 7.5.
    This is ridiculous.
    No wonder Manhattan has a virtual height limit of 750 ft.
    These regulations are doing more harm than good.

  6. #6
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    Default Grand Vision for Remaking the West Side

    Yeah, when are they gonna realize, a 750 ft building does no more "harm" then a 1000 footer.

    Damnit, this is annoying, but 10000 times better than what is there now.

  7. #7

    Default

    City Hall Seeking Brand-New Avenue Between 10th, 11th

    by Blair Golson

    Lost in the brouhaha over the Jets stadium and the Bloomberg administration’s plan for a revitalized West Side is a broad swath of privately owned buildings in the 30’s and 40’s that the city wants to demolish to make room for a broad, park-like boulevard.

    Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff’s ambitious plan calls for the city to invoke eminent domain to clear away the middle of every block from 33rd Street to 42nd Street, between 10th and 11th avenues, in order to create this long, landscaped, car-free Champs Elysées. Mr. Doctoroff, the city’s deputy mayor for economic development, hopes to see tall office buildings and residential towers sprout up along both sides of the park.

    "Creating this mid-block boulevard, we believe, will create a signature address for the commercial and residential development that will occur on either side of it," Mr. Doctoroff said, "as well as a spectacular park in a neighborhood that basically has none."

    And were it not for one pesky building, he would be looking at the easiest land grab since the city took Robert Moses’ bulldozers away from him.

    Federal Express, the international shipping company, is gearing up for a fight over its World Service Center, which stands in the path of the wrecking ball.

    The shipping company doesn’t own the building in which it is housed, a 65,000-square-foot facility at 528 West 34th Street. However, over the last 15 years, FedEx has put $54 million worth of renovations into the facility, and sources in Community Board 4, which represents that district, said that FedEx has told them it would cost upwards of $140 million to relocate.

    A representative of FedEx’s landlord, a family that has owned the building for three generations, wrote in a June 16 letter to the city that seizing the site would put in jeopardy 1,000 full- and part-time jobs.

    "In reviewing the impact of the Hudson Yards rezoning and as laudable as open space uses are, one must be concerned that this City continues to provide employment to all economic strata," wrote Richard Bass, a senior real-estate analyst at the law firm Herrick, Feinstein. "Sacrificing jobs for open space at this particular site is not the right decision."

    Mr. Doctoroff conceded that the FedEx facility was the "largest single piece" that his office will have to deal with when it comes time to begin formally negotiating with landlords.

    Path Of Least Resistance

    The city hasn’t publicly disclosed exactly which—or how many—buildings are standing in its way. (Nor will Mr. Doctoroff release an estimate of how much he expects all the condemnations to cost. Suffice it to say, however, that the city stands to pay out hundreds of millions of dollars to landowners who lose their properties in the ambitious move.)

    But an examination of the proposed route for the boulevard, compared with a tax map of the neighborhood, yields a fairly detailed picture of who and what will be affected by the park.

    In all, the city appears to have carved a route of least resistance. Much of the park wends through aging and unused railyards, in addition to small, squat buildings with little aesthetic appeal. There are, of course, exceptions.

    About 60 small-sized businesses stand in the way of the wrecking ball, but about 40 of those have short-term leases in one office building; and many of them don’t expect to be around in 2007, the earliest that construction could realistically start.

    The most established businesses include a Red Cross facility, a high-end catering company, a small advertising firm, a convenience deli, a pipe manufacturer and an auto-body shop.

    At least 31 rental housing units are in the way. Of those, about 25 are in a new luxury loft building, and six are located in an aging walk-up building.

    Five large businesses will also have to go. They are the FedEx facility, another package-delivery service called Velocity Express, a Best Western hotel, the office building housing the 40 companies, and Splashlight Studios, a high-end, newly renovated photo studio.

    Of these, the most problematic for the city is the FedEx facility, which has informally sent word that it intends to fight any eminent-domain proceeding, in which the city acquires privately held properties in the name of public good.

    Another interesting negotiation may yet play out between the city and New York Waterway president Alfred E. Imperatore. Arcorp Properties, a real-estate company of which Mr. Imperatore is a principal, owns the three aging railyard lots that the city hopes to use to create its new West Side boulevard.

    Separately, Mr. Imperatore’s company was served with a federal subpoena in April in connection with an investigation into whether New York Waterway inflated the ferry-service bills that it sent the Port Authority in the wake of the Sept. 11 attacks. At the time, the company issued a statement saying that it was cooperating fully with the Justice Department and "was confident his inquiry will confirm our good work."

    The Port Authority couldn’t be reached by press time to comment on the investigation, and Mr. Imperatore’s spokesman said that there has been no development beyond the company’s April statement that he could address.

    According to a spokesman, Mr. Imperatore purchased the lots some 20 years ago, and they have gone unused since then. Right now, Mr. Imperatore is keeping his plans for the properties quiet, perhaps to maintain some bargaining leverage with the city.

    "We are aware of the city’s plan for the site and hope to achieve an equitable resolution so this exciting project can go forward," said the spokesman, Pat Smith of Rubenstein Associates.

    West Side Settlements

    On the whole, the small business owners and landlords in the area seem resigned to the city’s plan. Most said they felt certain that they would be able to negotiate a reasonably fair settlement with the city for the price of their properties, and none made any serious mention of a fight.

    Ken Bookspan has owned a two-story commercial building at 527 West 36th Street for 35 years, where, until about five years ago, he ran a profitable building-materials company. He now rents it out to a similar company. Mr. Bookspan said he doesn’t want to stand in the way of progress; he just wants to make sure that he gets a fair price for his property.

    "I’m a gentleman who’s 60 years old," he said. "It’s my retirement package. All I want is not to be screwed …. I don’t feel like going to court for the next 10 years."

    Bill Ashe has owned his warehouse at 534 West 35th Street since 1979. Mr. Ashe, a commercial photographer, used the building as his studio, mainly to shoot cars. He first heard about the park when city officials sent him a letter this summer, informing him that they needed to check his premises for hazardous materials that might cause a snag in the park’s development. (Mr. Doctoroff said that every owner received such a letter and that the city has, to this point, opened a dialogue with about 40 percent of them.)

    "If the eminent domain is a fair and reasonable thing, it might be a good idea, because someone is going to make a lot of money from this park," said Mr. Ashe. "Sadly, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be me."

    One business owner who is not so sanguine about the city’s boulevard is Henry Geddes, the president of Splashlight Studios. Four years ago, after his father bought the building at 535 West 35th Street, Mr. Geddes commenced a multimillion-dollar renovation of the now-gleaming, handsome, two-story white-brick building. He said it is now arguably one of the two or three highest-end photo studios in the city, and hosts weekly shoots for magazine covers along with the occasional fashion-show event.

    Mr. Geddes said his concern stems from the fact that although the city compensates landlords for their buildings, it only provides moving costs for businesses that hold leases in those buildings. So while his family, which owns the building, will probably end up all right, his business, which only finished its renovation around the beginning of 2002, may be unable to re-establish itself after the eviction.

    "I’m trying to build up a brand, and they’re taking the legs out from underneath me," he said. "Every business owner who is not a landowner is going to be hurting."

    Before anything happens, the Mayor’s West Side plan has to undergo the standard advisory procedure, dubbed ULURP (for "uniform land-use review procedure"). Once the application has been certified by the City Planning Commission (slated for this spring), Community Board 4 will review it and make a written recommendation. The borough president will then review the plan and submit a written recommendation back to the C.P.C., which in turn will re-review the application before sending it to the City Council and, finally, along to the Mayor.

    Sources in City Hall estimate that the city won’t be able to break ground on the project for at least several years.

    To date, the local community board has not taken a stance on the issue of the boulevard, saying it is too early in the process for any judgment. But the board’s district manager, Anthony Borelli, said he is drafting an initial-outreach letter to local landowners "as we speak."

    Many of the potentially affected landlords have a similar wait-and-see attitude.

    "I hope that it will be resolved peacefully," said Richard Quad, manager of Quadrille Realty, a two-story building at 517 West 36th Street. "We were expecting the Olympics, the Jets stadium, the No. 7 subway line. We’ve been expecting something—what, we don’t know yet. We’ll leave it in God’s hands."

    —additional reporting by John Gallagher

    You may reach Blair Golson via email at: bgolson@observer.com.

    This column ran on page 1 in the 2/16/2004 edition of The New York Observer.

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    I was wondering about that...

  9. #9

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    February 9, 2004

    City Set to Create West Side Development Unit

    By THE NEW YORK TIMES

    Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff and the city's Office of Management and Budget are expected to announce this week the creation of a Hudson Yards Development Corporation to oversee the redevelopment of the far West Side of Manhattan, according to state and city officials.

    The city will also announce the hiring of three investment banks as financial advisers and underwriters for the West Side project, the officials said. Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's administration has drawn up plans for the transformation of the West Side over the next 30 years, with a stadium, hotels and new zoning to promote the development of 28 million square feet of office space and about 15,000 apartments.

    But according to the officials, the announcement, which could come as early as Wednesday, will deal with only one of three elements of the city's financing plan for the West Side: financing for a $2.5 billion plan to extend the No. 7 subway line west along 42nd Street and south on 11th Avenue to 34th Street; building a deck over the eastern rail yard between 10th and 11th Avenues; and condemnation of land in the area and the creation of public parks.

    That part of the project would be financed through the sale of development rights and zoning bonuses, which allow a developer to build a structure larger than normally permitted, as well as payments in lieu of taxes from developers who commit to the West Side.

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    Wish there was more than 15K units of residential, though. Maybe 25-35K?

  11. #11

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    February 12, 2004

    $3.7 Billion Plan to Alter Far West Side Is Unveiled

    By CHARLES V. BAGLI

    City officials unveiled a long-awaited plan yesterday to borrow $3.7 billion to transform the far West Side of Manhattan with an extended subway line, parks and a deck over a railyard where office buildings and a cultural institution could be built.

    In a related move, Charles A. Gargano, chairman of the development corporation for the nearby Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, is to announce a conceptual plan today to expand the center to about 1.3 million square feet of exhibition space from 720,000 square feet, city and state officials said. The convention center would be linked to a proposed $1.5 billion stadium for the New York Jets. The state is continuing work on a design and a financial plan for the Javits expansion.

    At City Hall yesterday, Deputy Mayor Daniel L. Doctoroff and Mark Page, the director of the city's Office of Management and Budget, said the city had hired Goldman Sachs & Company, J. P. Morgan Chase & Company and Bear Stearns & Company to act as senior underwriters for the bond offering. The bonds, they said, would be paid off through the sale of development rights and zoning bonuses on the West Side, and tax revenues from new projects.

    Mr. Doctoroff said the extension of the No. 7 subway line from Times Square to 11th Avenue and 34th Street, the deck over the railyard and new streets and parks would open up the West Side to development that is "absolutely critical to the future of New York City." Mr. Page said the city would ultimately issue about $2.8 billion in long-term bonds and about $900 million in "commercial paper," or short-term debt.

    The city's announcement dealt with one of three elements of its financing plan for the West Side. The Bloomberg administration is developing a plan to rezone the area, from 27th Street to 43rd Street, to encourage the creation of 28 million square feet of office space and 12,000 apartments over the next 30 years. Many community groups have already formed a coalition opposing the plans, which they say would "bulldoze" a vibrant neighborhood.

    In the coming weeks, the city and the state are expected to announce the two other pieces of the financing plan: the $1.4 billion expansion of the Javits center, and $600 million in public funds for a football stadium for the Jets, which would also serve as an Olympic stadium if the city wins its bid for the 2012 Summer Games. The Jets have committed to investing $800 million in the 75,000-seat stadium.

    The announcements are propelled by the Jets' need to build a new stadium before the lease runs out on their current home in the New Jersey Meadowlands and the city's need to show some progress on the stadium before July 2005, when the International Olympic Committee will select the host for the 2012 games.

    Mr. Doctoroff said he expected the West Side redevelopment to generate about $16 billion in revenues by 2035 to pay bondholders. But before those revenues materialize, about $1.7 billion will be needed to build the subway extension alone.

    "Repayment is being tied to a stream of revenues that won't exist for at least a decade and which ultimately may or may not be sufficient," said Ronnie Lowenstein, director of the Independent Budget Office. Assemblyman Dick Gottfried, a founder of the Hell's Kitchen-Hudson Yards Coalition, also questioned aspects of the financial plan, which will bypass the City Council and be under the control of a public authority. He called "the idea of raising billions by selling development rights and then putting the money in an off-budget fund'' administered by that authority "an extraordinary departure from democratic government. A huge chunk is being siphoned off for a one-stop subway line for a stadium that should not be approved."

    But the Regional Plan Association applauded the efforts to do "what it takes" to finance badly need infrastructure.

    "This is a comprehensive, long-term strategy for a part of New York," said Richard T. Anderson, president of the New York Building Congress. "I haven't seen anything like it in my 40 years in the business."

    Copyright 2004 The New York Times Company

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    Default Javits Center Almost Doubles In Expansion Plan

    Newsday...

    Javits Center Almost Doubles In Expansion Plan

    By RICHARD PYLE

    February 12, 2004

    NEW YORK -- Business leaders spelled out plans Thursday to almost double the size of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, enabling the glass-walled complex to compete for dozens of prestigious trade shows and other events that now go to Las Vegas, Chicago and other cities.

    The plan would extend the Manhattan facility over 10 blocks near the Hudson River in two phases _ first, southward to connect with a proposed new stadium for the New York Jets football team at 33rd Street, then north as far as 42nd Street.

    The plan, adding hundreds of thousands of square feet of convention space, would cost an estimated $1.5 billion to $1.7 billion for the first phase alone, said Charles Gargano, chairman of the Empire State Development Corp. The investment probably would be enough to finance the second part, he added.

    Phase one could take five to six years, but its promised completion would draw conventions and trade shows that must plan annual meetings several years in advance, Gargano said. Most conspicuously absent are professional, medical and scientific groups.

    Designed by the famed architect I.M. Pei and opened in 1986, the Javits center covers five blocks of Manhattan's scruffy Hell's Kitchen district between 34th and 39th streets and 11th and 12th avenues, adjoining the city's Hudson rail yards. At 814,000 square feet, it ranks 14th in size among the nation's convention centers.

    Chicago's McCormick Place is the country's biggest convention center, at more than 2 million square feet.

    Gargano and John Tisch, chairman of NYC & Company, a tourism development group, told tourism executives at a Brooklyn luncheon that years of stalled efforts to enlarge the Javits center had cost the city and state millions of dollars in potential income from conventions and visitor spending on hotels, food and entertainment.

    Tisch said more than 60 of the nation's largest trade associations and other groups that hold annual conventions bypass New York because the Javits facility is too small and severely lacks meeting rooms and ballrooms essential for such gatherings.

    Javits has 18 square feet of exhibit space to each square foot of meeting rooms, compared with a 5-to-1 ratio in most rival convention centers. The expansion plan calls for a more than tenfold increase in Javits' meeting spaces.

    Gargano said the project, as part of a general upgrading of Manhattan's economically depressed West Side, had the strong support of Gov. George Pataki and city leaders, who are promoting the stadium as vital to New York's bid for the 2012 summer Olympics.

    "There have been too many delays in expanding Javits," Gargano said, to smatterings of applause. "This is a vision that I pledge to you will become a reality."

    While overall financial arrangements are yet to be resolved, Gargano said, the project should finance itself from increased revenues from the first phase of expansion.

    The stadium, to be built by the Jets for $800 million, would have a special deck, paid for separately, as part of the Javits expansion _ to be used when the sports facility is idle.

    The plans also envision an extension of a crosstown subway line to the far West Side, which has no subway connection at present, and a 50-story, 1,500-room hotel adjoining the northern end of the expanded Javits center.

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    Now, this would make it #3 after CHI and LV (CHI is planning another expansion now, I think). Is this large enough? Does anyone know if the old section will be reclad, or left alone? This is crazy, but how would a tunnel (a la the WTC) be next to the Jets and Javits... right to the park and water?

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    Quote Originally Posted by billyblancoNYC
    ...how would a tunnel (a la the WTC) be next to the Jets and Javits... right to the park and water?
    It's not a tunnel.


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