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Thread: Con Ed site on the East River

  1. #751
    The Dude Abides
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    I think developers (or the people that pitch their projects for them) should make it a priority to explain certan logical realities of a development before any questions are raised. Some people are just ignorant, and perceive height as unequivocally bad. Is it so hard to understand the concept that a taller, slimmer building will take up less land area, therefore leaving more space for parkland and open areas? Is it a myth that bulkier buildings block more of the sun, especially when it's low in the sky (near sunrise and sunset)? Common sense (with a little help from outside sources) goes a long way towards self-enlightenment.

  2. #752

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    ^^That assumes that some peoples opposition is due to an insufficent grasp of the facts and not a completly ulterior motive.

  3. #753

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    ^ Worst is when it's simultaneously both. They have an ulterior motive, and they're so ignorant that they produce the opposite of what they want.

  4. #754
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    Self-induced myopia.

    If in fact the opposition is based on ulterior motives, then these people are no better than the businessmen they are trying to fight. Since the city planning commission regulates developers, they should regulate selfish NIMBYs, too.

  5. #755

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    ^ Interesting thought. Maybe NIMBYs should be required to submit drawings too. The NIMBYs' drawings would need to demonstrate that their claims made sense, just as developers' drawings must demostrate code adherence.
    Last edited by ablarc; June 27th, 2006 at 10:02 PM.

  6. #756

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    Quote Originally Posted by londonlawyer
    Good one! Clearly though, these wankers don't care about the city as a hole. They care only about their maggot strewn, filthy 4 block area.
    Whoa there buddy, you have NO idea what kind of neighborhood that is over there. According to the press release:

    The meeting last night was attended by many residents in high-rise buildings near the site such as the 552-foot-high Corinthinian, the 383 foot-high Manhattan Plaza and the 442-foot-high Horizon, all clustered along First Avenue and the Manhattan entrance to the Queens Midtown Tunnel.
    These are some of the most valuable midtown apartment complexes beyond 5th ave and central park south! The Corinthinian alone has rents in excess of 4k/month for just a 1 bedroom. That goes without even mentioning Tudor City. The people who attended this meeting are very rich, likely to have many contacts, and can influence politicians/developers in many ways. Maggot strewn? Yes, the Con-ed plant sure was, in fact that was the ugliest piece of architecture on the east side, just because you travel the FDR and see hubcaps doesn't mean that part of town isn't nice. Next year go to the midtown 4th of July Fireworks and walk around down there, ignore the eyesore that is the con-ed demolition(since it will probably still be going on) and focus on the park space, NYU medical center, UN complex, Tudor City etc. area. The midtown tunnel isn't even visible until you get up to 2nd ave...please, before you go spewing hate take a closer look at the surroundings.

    P.S.> I am actually in favor of the development, especially since it involves getting rid of that "beautiful old plant" that parked 3 smokestacks right in the middle of arguably the nicest piece of skyline in the world.

  7. #757

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    Quote Originally Posted by webuiltthiscity
    Whoa there buddy, you have NO idea what kind of neighborhood that is over there....
    I work near there. I also live on York and go down 2nd Ave. all the time. But for Tudor City and expensive high-rises, this area is a dump that warrants redevelopment. I am not someone who favors building high-rises everywhere. This area, however, should be redeveloped.

  8. #758

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    Observer

    At Con Ed Site, Solow Takes a Cue From His Peers


    By Matthew Schuerman


    It’s been almost 10 years since Consolidated Edison decided to sell off its nine prime waterfront acres in the East 30’s and developer Sheldon Solow emerged as its buyer—for $630 million.

    Still, nothing is built there.

    The Con Ed site is hardly alone. Ground Zero is crawling upward, and Bruce Ratner’s plan for a 22-acre site in downtown Brooklyn is struggling with vocal neighborhood opposition.

    But while the masters of those sites have grappled with, paid off, charmed or waged P.R. campaigns against their critics, Mr. Solow—whose plans for the site include seven high-rises, between 3,000 and 4,000 apartments and about one million square feet of office space—has remained aloof.

    That may be ending now.

    Mr. Solow recently hired the lobbying and public-relations firm Geto & De Milly—the same firm that is handling Mr. Ratner’s project—to do his community and political liaising.

    And he has made a politic concession—however slight, the first one yet in evidence—to his opponents. He has agreed to lower the height of the buildings and increase their footprints to make up for the lost space, and to reorient the buildings so that street lines can run through the site and almost right up to the river’s edge.


    The new drawings were shown around to elected officials and the community board this summer, but to little more fanfare than when the original plan was unveiled last fall.

    “He took a little bit of the top off of the buildings but did not change the density,” said City Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who represents the area. “They are too tall and too dense; there’s not a single unit of affordable housing; and from a services perspective, the number of people who could be introduced into the neighborhood—it is like dropping the entire population of Kennebunkport between 34th and 41st Street.”

    Considering that Kennebunkport only has 3,720 people in it, make that two Kennebunkports—with lots of Republicans, Yalies and generally rich people inhabiting them.


    Michael Gross, a spokesman for Mr. Solow’s partnership, East River Realty, told The Observer: “We’ve substantially revised our master plan to respond to community concerns, and we look forward to a continued constructive dialogue with community leaders and elected officials as we continue the planning process.”

    He wouldn’t discuss whether the project would include affordable housing. It’s not necessary under the zoning that Mr. Solow has proposed, but elected officials have come to expect some sort of sweetener if asked to rezone large swaths of land for profitable development.

    Dan Golub, senior policy advisor to Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, who has met with Mr. Solow’s advisors, said that they may end up including affordable housing under pressure.

    “As of now, they haven’t stepped up on their own to make a serious affordable-housing commitment,” Mr. Golub told The Observer. “But at some point in the process, they know they’re going to be forced to, and they’d be better off doing it sooner rather than later. They can’t make it a golden ghetto.”

    The Bloomberg administration has said nothing publicly about the proposal, since it is in the preliminary stages of review, but other officials have been critical. Former State Assemblyman Steve Sanders once predicted “one of the biggest development fights” over what is the largest undeveloped parcel in Manhattan after the World Trade Center, but it has not generated much interest outside the confines of Murray Hill.

    The 5.1-million-square-foot development right now sits in limbo as the developer figures out the final specifications and the Department of City Planning moves to the next review phase. Two hearings this spring brought out large crowds that objected to the project.

    But Mr. Solow, who developed 9 West 57th Street in the 1970’s and luxury projects on the Upper East Side more recently, hasn’t gone too soft, and it is unclear just what City Hall—and the City Council—will do once he makes his application to rezone the area from manufacturing to commercial.

    The one place that Mr. Solow has budged is height. The luxury towers, which are being designed by David Childs and Richard Meier, once reached as high as 864 feet, or 57 stories; the tallest one is now about 700 feet, according to individuals who have seen the latest plan. That’s still taller than the 505-foot United Nations Secretariat building a few blocks north, and Mr. Solow has made up for the lost floors by making the buildings wider and adding an eighth tower.

    In addition, in a nod to residents who wanted more access and views of the East River, Mr. Solow’s architects have turned the buildings in an east-west direction and extended the streets almost to the F.D.R. Drive, where he would also add a raised promenade.

    “The community board took the position that other buildings that have been built between 34th and 41st Street are all about 400 feet tall,” said John West, the co-chairman of the Board 6 subcommittee on the Con Ed site. “That’s still a substantial apartment building, but 400 feet is enough shorter than 500 feet that we consider them to be deferentially shorter than the Secretariat. We like that word deferentially shorter, because it conveys what we are trying to express.”

    Marilyn Taylor, a partner at Skidmore Owings and Merrill, Mr. Childs’ architectural firm, presented the revised site plan earlier this summer to Board 6. Mr. Solow, though he has met board members previously, wasn’t present; Mr. Childs and Mr. Meier were also absent.

    “Marilyn Taylor maintains a degree of credibility,” Mr. West told The Observer. “She sticks by the party line but doesn’t over-promise. She said that they had been listening to us and had some changes they thought were in the right direction—and to the extent that they were, great. But there were many points at which they were not.”

    Mr. West and others on the community board say they do not substantially disagree with the density that Mr. Solow is proposing. In fact, an alternative rezoning plan that Board 6 has formally proposed calls for just 25 percent less square footage, and none of it would be office space.

    The board’s own plan would require affordable housing to reach that density, though, as well as improving the esplanade along the East River.

  9. #759
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    So we end up with BULK BULK BULK everywhere ...

    Seems it's viewed by some that this development's core reason is as a ploy to populate the area with Republicans and skew the votiing precinct ...
    "... the number of people who could be introduced into the neighborhood — it is like dropping the entire population of Kennebunkport between 34th and 41st Street.”

    Considering that Kennebunkport only has 3,720 people in it, make that two Kennebunkports — with lots of Republicans, Yalies and generally rich people inhabiting them.


  10. #760
    Forum Veteran TREPYE's Avatar
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    These scrapers should be scaled down even further than 700 feet

    I am usually for tall scrapers but this is one case I believe that the scraper should be shorter. Mostly becasue they are in the waterfront positions that if build tall enough could block the views of other scrapers and sections of the skyline. Thats why I despise the trump world tower so much (besides the banal design issues); at that waterfront position at that height it blocks the great midtown scrapers.

  11. #761
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    Quote Originally Posted by Matthew Schuerman

    And he has made a politic concession—however slight, the first one yet in evidence—to his opponents. He has agreed to lower the height of the buildings and increase their footprints to make up for the lost space, and to reorient the buildings so that street lines can run through the site and almost right up to the river’s edge.
    The reorientation is a great idea, and community input in that regard is helpful. The lowering of heights and increasing the footprints is absurd as the only people that will really be impacted by this is new residents on the Queens waterfront. This is not Atlantic Yards, where the surroundings are low-rise; this is Midtown, and a 800-foot tower cannot "add" to the shadows of a 400-foot tower behind it. As for the people that currently have East River views: if you don't own the land that still affords you those views, you have no right to dictate what is built there. Period.

    “He took a little bit of the top off of the buildings but did not change the density,” said City Councilman Daniel Garodnick, who represents the area. “They are too tall and too dense; there’s not a single unit of affordable housing; and from a services perspective, the number of people who could be introduced into the neighborhood—it is like dropping the entire population of Kennebunkport between 34th and 41st Street.”
    And Tudor City, not to mention all of the East Side, isn't already dense? Give me a break. Again, it's one thing to complain about a development like this if the surroundings were tree-lined streets with townhomes; it's completely different when you're talking about Midtown Manhattan, arguably the densest commercial district in the world.

    Furthermore, to add to the complete lack of logic in all of this: if there's going to be affordable housing, the buildings should be taller and/or denser. That's the tradeoff. How can you possibly expect the developer to make the buildings smaller and replace market-rate units with affordable housing? Again, are people forgetting this is Manhattan, and how much it costs to build anything here at all?

    The one place that Mr. Solow has budged is height. The luxury towers, which are being designed by David Childs and Richard Meier, once reached as high as 864 feet, or 57 stories; the tallest one is now about 700 feet, according to individuals who have seen the latest plan. That’s still taller than the 505-foot United Nations Secretariat building a few blocks north, and Mr. Solow has made up for the lost floors by making the buildings wider and adding an eighth tower.
    Again, very disappointing, especially considering that Trump has already broken that barrier by going almost 400 feet taller than the UN. Why does it matter so much to these people? What is so desirable in having a table-top? You don't have to be contextual with height to be contextual.

    “The community board took the position that other buildings that have been built between 34th and 41st Street are all about 400 feet tall,” said John West, the co-chairman of the Board 6 subcommittee on the Con Ed site. “That’s still a substantial apartment building, but 400 feet is enough shorter than 500 feet that we consider them to be deferentially shorter than the Secretariat. We like that word deferentially shorter, because it conveys what we are trying to express.”
    That has to be one of the most nonsensical quotes I've heard come out of a NIMBY's mouth, and that's saying something.

    Mr. West and others on the community board say they do not substantially disagree with the density that Mr. Solow is proposing. In fact, an alternative rezoning plan that Board 6 has formally proposed calls for just 25 percent less square footage, and none of it would be office space.

    The board’s own plan would require affordable housing to reach that density, though, as well as improving the esplanade along the East River.
    So if the board is not calling for substantial downsizing, where is all the pressure coming from? Certainly not the United Nations, and even if it were coming from Mr. Annan, like it did regarding TWT, Trump still managed to build to the maximum allowable height. I see absolutely no reason to scale these down.

    As for the benefits to the community: what makes most sense to me is going through a compromise. If Solow can build as of right based on rezoning, and the community wants it cut down by 25%, cut it down. But then, no affordable housing, and no waterfront/streetscape improvements. Increase the density/height back up by 12.5% for each of those, and then the developer gets what he wants, and he fulfills reasonable requests by the community.

    Now, am I deluded, or does that seem like a relatively easy way of resolving this?

  12. #762

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    Quote Originally Posted by TREPYE View Post
    These scrapers should be scaled down even further than 700 feet

    I am usually for tall scrapers but this is one case I believe that the scraper should be shorter. Mostly becasue they are in the waterfront positions that if build tall enough could block the views of other scrapers and sections of the skyline. Thats why I despise the trump world tower so much (besides the banal design issues); at that waterfront position at that height it blocks the great midtown scrapers.

    The Trump World Tower is exactly what a skyscraper should be in my opinion. A tower that soars to the heavens. Does it block anything? Perhaps. All skyscrapers block something, and in an area as dense as Manhattan, its a given that something will be blocked. On the contrary, these towers should be built in a prominent location, and not hidden like most Manhattan towers. These towers along the east river won't block views of anything that matters. What you won't see from one angle, you can always see from another. Besides, as far as views being blocked, the vast majority of the city won't get those views anyway.





  13. #763
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    Quote Originally Posted by TREPYE View Post
    These scrapers should be scaled down even further than 700 feet

    I am usually for tall scrapers but this is one case I believe that the scraper should be shorter. Mostly becasue they are in the waterfront positions that if build tall enough could block the views of other scrapers and sections of the skyline. Thats why I despise the trump world tower so much (besides the banal design issues); at that waterfront position at that height it blocks the great midtown scrapers.
    Trump Tower gives you something to look at, not the other way around. It makes a powerful addition to a piece of East River skyline that for years was relatively flat and uninteresting; it provides a peak, and peaks are good.

    Now, look at this picture, and tell me exactly which great Midtown skyscrapers the Solow development will block:


  14. #764

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    They are crying over open space, yet by lowering the heights of the towers, they have lost substancial amounts due to the increased footprints, and a completely new tower. I swear, they have no brain sometimes, and only ruin things further for the whole city.

    If it was up to me, I would have one icon super tall, positioned somewhere on the south side of the site, away from the UN. It would have an observatory and restaurants, a hotel and office space. Then I would have buildings 200-500 feet, a-la Rockefeller Center. I would also include an icon piece of open space, something unique to the city. Everyone would win. It would be a new landmark.

    Instead we are going to get 8 towers around the same height in an extreme cluster. I seriously wish I had the money and resources to be a developer in this city.

  15. #765

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    Quote Originally Posted by sfenn1117 View Post
    They are crying over open space, yet by lowering the heights of the towers, they have lost substancial amounts due to the increased footprints, and a completely new tower. I swear, they have no brain sometimes, and only ruin things further for the whole city.

    If it was up to me, I would have one icon super tall, positioned somewhere on the south side of the site, away from the UN. It would have an observatory and restaurants, a hotel and office space. Then I would have buildings 200-500 feet, a-la Rockefeller Center. I would also include an icon piece of open space, something unique to the city. Everyone would win. It would be a new landmark.

    Instead we are going to get 8 towers around the same height in an extreme cluster. I seriously wish I had the money and resources to be a developer in this city.
    That makes better sense, but I wonder if the NIMBYs would come to such a realization. A similar situation with Ratner's Beenkman St tower resulted in a taller, more slender tower. The increased height resulted in the tower being stepped back away from neighboring buildings.

    The NIMBYs here should be given a plan C (or D? E?) - one 1,100 ft tower and maybe two or three towers of 30 to 40 stories. But sometimes its hard to tell if its the buildings and their heights or the people those buildings will bring that the NIMBYs hate most.

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