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Thread: New development on the Bowery

  1. #16
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    The site of the proposed Cooper Square tower is currently a parking lot. The prewar building directly south of it is currently being renovated into a residential building with high-end street-level retail.

  2. #17

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    There was an article in the 10/5 issue of NY Times magazine about the Bowery. Quite interesting. Maybe I'll go and see if I can post it.

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    That's pretty. Reminds me of the failed DGA Tower.

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    I have classes on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 48 Cooper Square, the low, long four-story building south of this plot. The parking lot is often used by us students to cut across the midblock in order to get to classes more easily.

    This tower looks really great and will be a very nice front to Astor Place.

  6. #21
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    Update: the cars have gone, the attendant's booth is being demolished, the site is cordoned off and a green plywood wall is being set up around the perimeter.

  7. #22
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    Before I left college for break on December, the booth was gone and the lot was being excavated. No telling how far along it is now.

    I have a digital camera now (yay), so when I get back to college I can keep you guys posted.

  8. #23
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    The New York Times
    January 4, 2004
    Rental Developer's Manhattan Debut: Lower East Side
    By NADINE BROZAN

    AVALONBAY COMMUNITIES has been circling New York City with upscale rental apartment buildings in Long Island, Westchester, Connecticut and New Jersey, coming into the city in 2003 with a 32-story tower on the East River in Queens. Now the real estate investment trust is about to enter Manhattan with a splash.

    The company has begun laying the foundation for the first of four buildings it is putting up on land that has been the target of fierce dissension and the site of failed plans for decades. To be called Avalon Chrystie Place, its 708 apartments will be in buildings scattered across four irregular parcels sitting between East Second Street to the north, Stanton Street to the south, the Bowery to the west and Second Avenue and Chrystie Street to the east. The property, which measures more than three acres, is traversed by East First Street and Houston Street.

    A mixed use complex, Avalon Chrystie Place is to include studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartments, with 531 renting for market rates. The remaining 177 will be set aside for tenants who earn no more than 60 percent of the area median income, which for a family of four in New York City, today comes to $37,680. A multilevel community and athletic center in the first building is to be operated jointly by the University Settlement, a 117-year-old social service agency, and the Chinatown branch of Y.M.C.A. of Greater New York, and there will be 85,000 square feet of retail space.

    The venture, widely praised as the result of an unusual collaboration of state and city officials, nonprofit organizations, grass roots groups and private companies, brings to a close what has been called the longest-running dispute over an urban renewal site in the city. Designated part of the Cooper Square Urban Renewal Area in 1970 by the City Board of Estimate, it remained more or less untouched over the years, dotted by vacant lots and small, mostly unimproved, commercial and residential buildings.

    For AvalonBay Communities, winning the bid for the project from the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, marks an auspicious debut into a prime market.

    It is one of the first REIT's to enter the Manhattan fray and is believed to be the first to build from the ground up.

    But, said Bryce Blair, AvalonBay's chairman and chief executive, moving into Manhattan is only one part of a broader sweep through the Northeast, which, with Southern California, is a primary focus of the REIT.

    "As our single largest community, Avalon Chrystie Place is an important signal of our interest in and commitment to the New York area," Mr. Blair said. "Our interest in the city began about seven or eight years ago, and we hope this is the first of many communities we put up there."

    But, "we approach the New York area in a holistic way," he emphasized. "We didn't just say we want to be in Manhattan. What we are trying to do is to develop a portfolio of different property types across a variety of submarkets in and around New York. We can't do that without a presence in Manhattan, but our strategy is not myopically focused on Manhattan either."

    Indeed, there are now AvalonBay complexes in 32 locales in the New York City area, half of them built or — in three cases — remodeled since 2002. Three projects are now under construction, in Glen Cove on Long Island, Milford, Conn., and Lawrenceville, N.J., and are scheduled to be occupied this year. Construction has also begun on a development in Coram, Long Island, and two more are on the drawing boards for Connecticut in the near future: one in Danbury, the other in Orange.

    AvalonBay's developments are all clearly geared to an upscale clientele, although some apartments are set aside for tenants with limited incomes. The architecture varies with the community. In Glen Cove, for example, 256 apartments are set in a rambling, multistory structure with a courtyard, pool and theater. Farther east on Long Island, in Coram, 450 two-story units with lofts will meander around an 18-hole golf course. In New Rochelle, by contrast, a second skyscraper is being planned to duplicate the first, which opened in 2001. The 25-story tower dominates the skyline and is visible for miles around.

    As it has edged closer to urban centers, AvalonBay has broadened its scope. In 1994, garden apartments represented 86 percent of its inventory, with mid- and high-rises accounting for the remaining 14 percent. By last year, the balance had shifted to 71 percent for garden apartments, 25 percent for mid- and high-rises and 4 percent for town houses. Chrystie Place will be its most urban setting yet.

    "We are not cutting back on garden apartment development," said Fred Harris, the vice president of development for New York City, Westchester and Long Island. "We're simply offering a wider range of choices."

    AvalonBay Communities
    Target Market: People in Transition

    Whatever the configuration, the company has defined its target market: people in transition. "They could be single, married with kids or empty nesters, but they tend to be people undergoing some change," Mr. Blair said. "Maybe they're 22 and in their first job or 28 and in their first marriage, 39 and in their first divorce or 62 and downsizing." As a result, he said, "The average stay is just under two years."

    Although the market rate rents for the Manhattan apartments have yet to be set, Nancy Packes, president of Halstead/Feathered Nest Leasing Consultant, a marketing and leasing consultant on the project, said that if Avalon Chrystie Place were to open today, studios would probably go for about $1,900 to $2,100 a month, one bedroom apartments for $2,400 to $2,700 and two bedrooms for $3,900 to $4,400.

    AvalonBay evolved from two residential development concerns, Greenbriar Apartments Homes and a division of Trammel Crow, that were both founded in the early 1980's and later converted to REIT's. By 1994, these companies were known as Avalon Properties, based in Wilton, Conn., and Bay Apartment Communities, based in San Jose, Calif. They merged in a $2 billion transaction in 1998. All told, the company has 139 "communities," encompassing 41,237 apartments in 10 states and the District of Columbia.

    As a REIT, a publicly traded company that owns income-producing real estate, it is obligated to distribute at least 90 percent of its taxable income to shareholders in the form of dividends. Its securities are worth a total of about $3.3 billion, making it the 16th largest of 172 REIT's, according to Jay Hyde, a spokesman for the National Association of Real Estate Investment Trusts.

    Among the 20 REIT's that specialize in apartments, it ranks fourth, as measured by market capitalization, said Randy Anderson, a professor of real estate finance at Baruch College. "It is consistently among the strongest dividend payers," he said.

    The timing of its entry into Manhattan is propitious in Mr. Blair's view. "Tactically you have to ask, `When do you begin a community?' " he said. "You want to do that with the wind at your back and not in your face. The economy is still tenuous, but compared to a year ago, there are positive signals — gross domestic product, modest job increases, improving corporate profits — that give us comfort. And the impact on our stock has been good."

    A key to the company's success is the way it chooses communities in which to build, and its approach may seem counterintuitive to the layman. It limits its searches to "high barrier to entry" areas, where developers encounter obstacles to construction, strict zoning limitations or community resistance. Such projects expose the company to lengthy delays, high legal bills and intense community opposition, but they also mean less competition from other developers.

    According to Dr. Anderson, that is a laudable strategy. "The markets in which you are the most at risk are those in which it is easiest to build," he said. "If you are able to get into a difficult market like New York, where supply is constrained, you run a lower risk of oversupply."

    In suburban areas, Mr. Harris said, "high barrier to entry means building in New Canaan or Bronxville, where they don't want apartments at all. In the city, it means going after sites where we see value but no one else does, like Long Island City." Its Avalon Riverview, part of the Queens West development site, sits on the East River opposite the United Nations.

    One of the company's requirements for a site is that it be near transportation. In New Rochelle, for example, the Metro-North station is outside the back door of the building. But nowhere will it be in closer proximity than at Chrystie Place, where the first building will sit atop the tunnels for the B and D subway lines. It will also be steps away from the proposed Second Avenue subway and indeed part of the retail space of the building has to be designed so that it can some day be converted to a subway entrance.

    Among the barriers AvalonBay encountered for the Chrystie Place project, in fact, was the challenge of designing a complex that could be built on top of the subway.

    "There were a lot of specific limitations due to the existing subway system whose roof was designed to receive specific loads, and every exercise we have undertaken to integrate new stations with a new building turns into an adventure," said James Davidson, a partner at Schuman Lichtenstein Claman Efron Architects, which did the preliminary planning, massing and interior layouts for three of the four buildings. (Arquitectonica did the master plan and the facade and collaborated with RJP Architects on one of the buildings, which is to be owned by Phipps Houses.)

    Another complication arose from the fact that at the time the design was being formulated, a zoning code revision, known as the Unified Bulk Program, was proposed, although it was never approved. "So this community conforms to a code never adopted," Mr. Harris said.

    Urban Renewal Area
    A Thorny Path to Development

    Whatever the problems or prospects for the complex, there is little disagreement that the property it will occupy was long overdue for development. "When the market was strong, there was no consensus on it, and when the market was weak the consensus was always for something unfeasible," said John Shapiro, a city planner and consultant with the firm of Phillips Preiss Shapiro & Associates, who was recruited by James F. Lima, then an assistant commissioner at the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, to do conflict resolution work with representatives of the various factions.

    "Plans were adopted and not carried out, promises were made and broken and there was a tremendous amount of bitterness on the part of constituents, leaders and agencies," Mr. Shapiro recalled. "Lower East Side community gardeners, historic building advocates, cultural mavens, antidevelopment residents, major real estate interests were all making very vocal demands. There were almost insurmountable divisions between the Hispanic community and left-wing housing advocates."

    In 1996, Fran Reiter, then a deputy mayor, assembled a task force charged with producing a viable plan encompassing both the vacant land and occupied buildings on 4.35 acres in the Cooper Square Urban Renewal Area. The task force included representatives of more than a dozen interests, including City Council members, agency officials and grass-roots leaders. The task force was headed by Mr. Lima.

    "I asked every player in the area, `What is your bottom line?' and told them, `I promise you we will meet it and if we can't we will get back to you,' " Mr. Shapiro said. "People had strong opinions on everything from the preservation of the gardens to the necessity for curb cuts to where the entrances to the community center should be. In the end, every player felt something fell short, but we met everyone's bottom line."

    Among the more intractable demands that were honored was the preservation of a community garden — the Liz Christy Bowery-Houston Garden — and the positioning of the buildings so that no shadows are cast on it. Over all, the effort to achieve consensus was a diplomatic triumph.

    As Jerilyn Perine, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development commissioner, put it: "It is a great accomplishment when with a high degree of public engagement you can take a site that has been dormant for decades and the source of great controversy and create a highly engaged process where people get to be heard, and build a project that will be better than what any participant could achieve on their own."

    The agreement led to what Adam Weinstein, president and chief executive of Phipps Houses, a partner in Chrsytie Venture Partners, the entity formed for the project, described as "one of the most challenging requests for proposal ever seen."

    "When a seller sells, they usually ask for the purchase price and don't say, `You have to restrict 25 percent of the units, build a community center and we want retail and a supermarket,' " he said. "And then not every site has a subway tunnel running through it." A nonprofit housing developer, Phipps Houses will own and operate one of the Avalon Chrystie Place buildings, which will be limited to low-income residents.

    Chrystie Venture Partners was chosen to be the developer in 2000, beating out such contenders as the Related Companies and the DeMatteis Organization. The fact that it was a newcomer to the scene was not seen as a deterrent.

    "AvalonBay was a nontraditional company, and this was a nontraditional project for them, but they were an out-of-town firm that understood how to do business in New York and had deep pockets," said Mr. Lima, who is now president of the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation.

    The total cost of the project, including land, is estimated to run about $150 million. AvalonBay has already paid the city $13.5 million for the land, the first installment on a $40.5 million purchase price.

    The New York State Common Retirement Fund will provide $25 million in equity financing, which will constitute 80 percent of the equity. AvalonBay will provide another $6 million in equity. Additional financing will come from the sale of $117 million in tax exempt bonds issued by the New York State Housing Finance Agency. There will be no bank loans involved.

    In addition, Chrystie Venture Partners will be granted property tax and sales tax exemptions on the retail development through an agreement with the Empire State Development Corporation.

    Strikingly, construction has begun without closure of the agreements. This did not keep numerous public and private officials from celebrating at the recent groundbreaking ceremony.

    "We are nontraditional because most developers don't start doing anything until all that is in place," Mr. Harris of AvalonBay said. "As a REIT, we have our own financial wherewithal."

    In return for tax breaks, the city required that 25 percent of the apartments in the complex go to tenants earning no more than 60 percent of median income, with those tenants to be chosen by lottery. As of now, the income ceiling is $37,680 for a family of four, but that could be adjusted before the building is ready for occupancy and the qualifying candidates chosen.

    Avalon Chrystie Place
    Setting Aside Units With Income Ceilings

    The building on the Bowery and First Street, which will have 42 units, is to be reserved entirely for low-income residents. The remainder of the 135 apartments in the "affordable" category, for which limitations on income will be even more stringent at 50 percent of area median income, will be distributed through the other buildings.

    The income caps in those buildings were set by the New York State Housing Finance Agency as a condition of the bonds it is issuing.

    The decision to restrict one building to low income tenants was based in part on the hope that income caps there will not be lifted when the bond financing for the entire project expires in 30 years and in part on financial incentives that are not available to mixed buildings.

    The other three buildings could, after their tax benefits are run out, become entirely market-rate buildings. But tenants in occupancy 30 years from now will be protected by rent stabilization, providing that system remains in place.

    Mr. Weinstein of Phipps Houses said: "There are programs available for financing of projects with a greater proportion of low-income people and doing this makes the remaining buildings more like other products in the marketplace. We raised the isolation issue with the community board, but this really will be one community, not like a homeless shelter in the middle of luxury housing."

    If there is any element that will forge community, it will probably be the community center, which is to be owned and operated jointly by the University Settlement and the Y.M.C.A. "Everything in it was requested by the community," said Michael Zisser, executive director of the settlement.

    The 42,000-square-foot three-level facility will include a gym, a 75-foot pool, a fitness center, four classrooms, three meeting rooms and offices available to community organizations. After-school, cultural enrichment and literacy programs and college advisory services are among the ideas being floated,

    By and large even skeptics have made their peace with the complex. "We didn't object to putting in market-rate housing, but we just didn't want so much of it," said Steve Herrick, executive director of the Cooper Square Committee, a tenants rights organization that works to preserve economic and ethnic diversity in the neighborhood. "We didn't feel that there was enough low-income housing."

    Still, "the developer has dealt in good faith with us and I think it looks pretty good," he said. "People may not be thrilled, but they have moved on — and low-income people are now calling us for applications."

  9. #24
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    This lot has been a junkheap for as long as I can remember. The building rendering is bland but its good to see something going up here.

  10. #25

    Default Bond St

    I saw this flyer taped up on Bond St today:

    Notice of Public Hearing
    January 8th, 6.30 pm
    Metro NY Developmental Disabilites Services
    75 Morton St Room 3C25B

    25 Bond St: Board of Standards and Appeals Application for a variance to request a 10-story mixed use building. The building would contain a 51 car parking garage in the cellar, a small retail space and residential lobby on the groud floor and 26 residential apartments on floors 2-10. All are welcome to attend.

    -> since there are so many community activists who love to rally against this sort of thing anyone who could attend and suppor the project would probably be a good thing.

  11. #26
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    Progress as of June 1, 2004:


  12. #27
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    thanks for the update!

  13. #28
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    This could very well be a focal point for the southern end of Astor Place, much like the Flatiron Building with Madison Square or the Helmsley Building (pre-Pan Am/MetLife) with Park Avenue.

  14. #29
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    Quote Originally Posted by TLOZ Link5
    This could very well be a focal point for the southern end of Astor Place, much like the Flatiron Building with Madison Square or the Helmsley Building (pre-Pan Am/MetLife) with Park Avenue.
    You think so. I hope it does. That area needs a great focal point of a building. 8)

  15. #30

    Default Bond St - just off Bowery

    from the Post

    June 25, 2004 -- THE partnership between Ian Schrager and real estate tycoon Aby Rosen (whose RFR Realty owns the Seagram Building and Lever House) is blossoming. After their victory in taking over the Gramercy Park Hotel, the two are now buying a NoHo parking lot on Bond Street between Houston and Lafayette, where they plan to build townhouses. The new buildings, the first townhouses to be built in the area in 125 years, will have condominiums with high ceilings, great views and hotel-like service. Pritzker Award-winning architects Herzog and de Meuron (of the Tate Museum in London) will design the new buildings. This is good news for Schrager - who needs it. Because his sale of the Paramount hotel to Hard Rock Hotels fell through, there are whispers Schrager will have to sell the historic Clift Hotel in San Francisco to ease cash flow issues.

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