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Thread: Renovation of the UN - by Fumihiko Maki with S.O.M.

  1. #46
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    Garden City, LI

    Default U.n.'s Boro Haul


    February 10, 2005 -- The United Nations is looking at the outer boroughs for a controversial new building to house its interim headquarters, The Post has learned.

    Downtown Brooklyn and Queens are being considered as sites for a massive project to house U.N operations while the organization's historic Manhattan headquarters undergoes a $1.2 billion upgrade, sources said.

    Although the project was being planned as a temporary facility, that could change once the United Nations is settled in the outer boroughs, one of the sources said.

    "This could be a permanent site," the source said.

    "It's one of the world's major institutions and it would only help Downtown Brooklyn develop as a business district," said Councilman David Yassky (D-Brooklyn), who added he was unaware of the plans.

    The proposed 35-story, $650 million auxiliary building — which U.N. planners call "swing space" — was to be built on Robert Moses Park, a playground next to the U.N. headquarters, but was stalled by the state Senate.

    The towering new building was intended to host all operations while security upgrades, safety-system improvements and an expansion of the meeting facilities are completed on the 52-year-old Secretariat building.

    Once the renovation is finished — which could take 10 years or more — the new building was intended to become a permanent office for workers now scattered throughout multiple buildings on the East Side.

    But now, with earlier plans indefinitely stalled, sources said the United Nations, which had been dead set on staying in Manhattan, has set its sights on other possibilities in the outer boroughs.

    "This is the first I've heard they would explore outside of Manhattan," said state Sen. Liz Krueger (D-Manhattan), whose district contains the United Nations. She said she knew they would consider other sites in existing commercial buildings in Manhattan.

    Krueger, who supports keeping the United Nations in New York, was enthusiastic about the outer-borough potential and said, "It's about the city of New York."

    A spokesman for the United Nations declined to comment.

    The United Nations ironically traces its roots back to Queens.

    Then-Parks Commissioner Robert Moses converted a skating rink on the 1939 World's Fair grounds in Flushing Meadows Park into a makeshift general assembly hall in the late '40s before construction of the nine-acre U.N. campus between 42nd and 49th streets on Manhattan's East Side.

  2. #47
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    Park Slope, Brooklyn, NY


    I don't think Brooklyn needs the U.N. right now. It will scare away potential tenants with its burdensome secutiry needs and diplomats who, generally, disregard courtesy toward city residents. (Written as a former East 46th Street Resident)

  3. #48


    Somehow, Queens seems to be a good fit for it. But what would become of the current UN headquarters site? Not more apartments, hopefully.

  4. #49
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    Jackson Heights


    The main campus will stay put. But there's no reason the U.N. can't build a tower or two in L.I.C. It would seem an ideal solution.

  5. #50
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    N40° 44' 53.977" W073° 59' 10.812"


    Leavenworth for Kofi Annan; Geneva for the rest of these impotent scoundrels. Woodrow Wilson, rest in peace.

    (East Midtown resident)

  6. #51

    Default UN where?

    For some reason there is such a negativity to United Nations among lots of the posts and in our government. True some of the diplomats can be arse-holes but then again a lot of I-bankers are arse-holes and no-one here (or in the state senate or city council) is suggesting we kick them out of the city.

    The UN gives an incredible credibility to NY's claim to be the capitol of the world (which it undeniably is). If anything, we should be trying to expand it's presence here (screw Geneva, that's what I say). It also generate a massive amount of secondary economic activity (first through hiring local service firms, and second, well let's be honest... diplomats are loaded).

    There was talk a long time ago of building a type of 'UN City' over the near-end of the Sunnyside Rail Yards at the edge of L.I.C. -- I think that would be a great place for it. The city could build a whole campus there (platform and all, wait, where have we heard this before...) and get not only the UN to expand but also the myriad NGO organizations that are here.

  7. #52


    February 25, 2005


    Act Globally, Get Stuck Locally


    N case you have just emerged from a cryonics experiment, the chatter this week was all about the 2012 Olympics and City Hall's hunger for a stadium on what has come to be known as the Far West Side.

    But across town, on what might be called the Far East Side, another real estate squabble is in progress. It may not be the blood sport that the struggle over the stadium has become. But it involves the United Nations, and that is good enough for some New York politicians who insist on conducting their own foreign policy.

    At issue is the United Nations headquarters building, more than half a century old and in sorry shape. Some even consider it unsafe.

    Good, you can hear diplomat-hating New Yorkers muttering, let the place crumble. But for all its failings, the United Nations is not about to disappear. Another reality is that it is important to New York, try though its detractors may to pooh-pooh the point.

    The city's Economic Development Corporation says the organization generates 18,000 jobs and boosts the local economy by $2.5 billion a year. There is also a more intangible quality. "It is largely because of the United Nations' presence that we refer to New York City as the 'Capital of the World,' " a senior city official wrote in 1995 on the organization's 50th anniversary. That was Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, never known for wantonly hugging the striped-pants set.

    Not surprisingly, the city and state want to help the United Nations repair itself. So do the White House and Congress, neither of them a likely place to find adoring portraits of Secretary General Kofi Annan.

    A deal that they all worked out provides for a $1.2 billion federal loan to get the headquarters in shape. But first, a new 35-story building would be constructed across 42nd Street, on a splatter of asphalt at First Avenue called Robert Moses Playground. This would be financed through roughly $700 million in bonds to be sold by a joint city-state agency, the United Nations Development Corporation. Rent from the United Nations would pay off the bonds.

    Thousands of headquarters employees would move into the new building while the old one is repaired. Once the work is done, back they will go. The new building would then be used to gather under one roof United Nations workers now scattered around Manhattan. Many are in city-owned spaces that, once emptied, could be put on the market.

    "This is a win-win situation" for the city and the United Nations, said Roy M. Goodman, the former state senator who is president of the United Nations Development Corporation.

    Not so fast. Remember, this is New York, where uncomplicated real estate deals are rare.

    The Moses Playground may not look like much, but it is a slice of open space for some East Siders, especially teams that use it for roller hockey. The local community board, No. 6, is not yet convinced that its interests are best served by new, vaster park space that the United Nations pledges to build along the river.

    A bigger obstacle is Albany. (What are the odds?) The Legislature must give its blessing to the playground arrangement, but the State Senate, taking the lead, has said no.

    ENTER foreign policy. Some lawmakers cannot pass up this opportunity to vent longstanding, not to mention widely shared, unhappiness with the United Nations. They have denounced it as anti-American, anti-Israel and corrupt, as evidenced by the charges swirling around the oil-for-food program.

    Then there is Old Reliable for New York politicians: parking summonses and diplomats' reputation for not paying them.

    In fact, the city's Finance Department says that the deadbeat rate has been reduced virtually to zero. That reality, however, has not stopped the Senate majority leader, Joseph L. Bruno, from citing parking tickets as proof that the United Nations cannot be trusted to pay its debts. Never mind that the city says the organization has never missed a rent payment.

    Now the United Nations says it has begun looking for alternatives to the playground, just in case. But Mr. Goodman says he remains optimistic that the project can still be salvaged. "This is so important to New York," he said.

    It is not lost on city officials that as rewarding as it may be for some people to stick a finger in the collective United Nations eye, the big losers would be the many New York construction workers who could see good-paying jobs float away.

    Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company

  8. #53


    Quote Originally Posted by Kris
    [The city's Economic Development Corporation says the organization generates 18,000 jobs and boosts the local economy by $2.5 billion a year. There is also a more intangible quality. "It is largely because of the United Nations' presence that we refer to New York City as the 'Capital of the World,' " a senior city official wrote in 1995 on the organization's 50th anniversary. That was Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani, never known for wantonly hugging the striped-pants set.
    I doubt the UN would leave the city itself, but the headquarters (love it or hate it) is a classic on the city's waterfront...

  9. #54
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    N40° 44' 53.977" W073° 59' 10.812"


    Re "Act Globally, Get Stuck Locally":

    Although I support this project, the NYT’s hypocrisy is remarkable.

    Apparently, they are now in favor of using a joint city-state agency for financing non-public development. How did this volte-face occur? (The Javits Center and several stadium proposals come to mind).

    "The big losers would be the many New York construction workers". When the original Columbus Center project (Eli Attila) was underway - with steel already ordered despite the lawsuits - thousand of construction workers demonstrated in front of the Coliseum to support the development. This merited one sentence in the Times, in contrast to numerous articles and editorials backing the Jackie O. and MAS protests.

    A "splatter of asphalt at First Avenue called Robert Moses Playground"? At least this space is accessible to the public, unlike the UN's verdant acres. It's also widely used for roller hockey, basketball and exercising dogs, all activates that were excluded from the design for the new, "vaster" (where?) riverfront park.

    Finally, the NYT was adamant that TWT would block views and sunlight, create traffic, and detract from the "sacred ground" (Donald's words) of the UN. CB6 is now portrayed as unreasonable for raising similar concerns for Tudor City and Murray Hill residents.

  10. #55


    So what -- ? Just because the NY Times was wrong before doesn't mean it isn't right now...

    The playground -- even if it was a great one, is a little thing to sacrifice for pursuing the goal of consolidating the city's hold on the UN -- and upstate hicks like Bruno (not that all people from upstate are), who wouldn't even be able to find France on the map, shouldn't be in any position to try to increase their political power by bashing one of the most important insitutions in the city.

    All of the NYT's points are valid, correct, and should be heeded. If anything the city should be trying to get the UN to relocate more offices here, instead of locating so many of them in other cities in Europe.

  11. #56


    Bloomberg's Sister Enters the Fray Over U.N. Offices

    BY MEGHAN CLYNE - Staff Reporter of the Sun

    March 8, 2005

    The mayor's sister has been dispatched to Albany to placate opponents there of the U.N. expansion project, in an attempt to break a legislative impasse that has frozen the United Nations' renovation plans and that may imperil the financing of a new 35-story swing-space building that is considered integral to the proposed refurbishment.

    Marjorie Tiven, who was appointed commissioner of the New York City Commission for the United Nations, Consular Corps and Protocol, by her brother in February 2002, is a director of the United Nations Development Corp., the city-state entity overseeing the construction of the swing space on Robert Moses Playground on Manhattan's East Side near the U.N. headquarters.

    Along with the president of the corporation, Roy Goodman, who is a former Republican state senator, and its chairman, George Klein, who is a real-estate developer, she has been meeting at Albany with sponsors of the stalled legislation and some of its opponents, according to state Senator Martin Golden, Republican of Brooklyn, who falls into the latter camp.

    Legislative and other critics of the project have cited a host of complaints in their opposition to the plan, ranging from the loss of parkland in a community already deprived of it, to U.N. anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism, to concerns about aiding the institution responsible for the corruption-riddled oil-for-food program.

    Mrs. Tiven's office confirmed that she is "actively meeting with Assembly and Senate leadership about this legislation," but the office declined to comment further while the negotiations were continuing. Calls to Mr. Goodman's office were not returned.

    Mr. Golden said that in the recent meetings, the emissaries of the U.N. development group encouraged the state Senate to push the legislation forward, citing support for the U.N. renovation project from the federal government - which has authorized a $1.2 billion loan for the work - in making their case.

    While the senator said no hard-and-fast deadline was set by which the legislation must be approved before the United Nations would be forced to abandon its hopes for building over the playground, the U.N. boosters stressed the urgency of starting the project soon to meet deadlines for getting approval for later phases of the construction.

    Assemblyman Jonathan Bing, a Democrat who represents the Turtle Bay area around the United Nations and who is a co-sponsor of the moribund legislation, said the development corporation's concern about the delay centered on money and timing.

    The legislator said that in his meetings with the threesome in mid-February, the delegation expressed concern that delays in moving the stalled legislation and swing-space construction forward could limit the corporation's ability to get the funds it needs to finance the project. The development corporation has said it plans to pay for the construction by issuing $650 million in bonds.

    Mr. Bing and other leaders in Albany said yesterday, however, that there are no signs the legislative gridlock will end soon. A spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno, Mark Hansen, said that there are no new developments in connection with the legislation.

    Mr. Golden, too, was skeptical the Senate would budge and consider the legislation in the near future. For his part, he said, the delegation must provide more information about the project to assuage concerns about it, which he said the officials were working to do.

    One of those concerns, the senator said, is security, particularly surrounding the Queens Midtown Tunnel. As The New York Sun reported in January, current plans for the swing space would place the 900,000-square-foot building on top of the tunnel, which has been identified as a potential terrorist target. Mr. Golden said he was waiting on information from the state Senate's committee on homeland security to assure him the new building would not pose any further threat. Another concern about the project that needs to be addressed, the senator said, was its cost.

    Mr. Golden previously maintained that nothing short of the resignation of Secretary-General Annan would sway his position on the world body's construction plans at Turtle Bay. But while he said "the state Senate could see itself approving this property in the immediate future if Kofi Annan were to resign," Mr. Golden said that absent Mr. Annan's ouster, which he acknowledged appears unlikely, he might be more amenable to supporting the U.N. plans if these and other concerns about the project were sufficiently assuaged.

    Another state senator who has opposed the project, Frank Padavan, Republican of Queens, is waiting for a signal from Washington before reconsidering his position, his spokesman, Peter Potter, said.

    "Basically, two things need to be met," Mr. Potter said. "We need to receive a letter either from Ambassador Bolton or the White House expressing the importance and necessity of the changes, and also regarding security issues." Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice announced yesterday that John Bolton, currently undersecretary of state for arms control and international security affairs - and a past critic of the United Nations - has been nominated by President Bush to replace John Danforth as America's ambassador to the world body.

    The other component, Mr. Potter said, is a commitment from Mr. Bing and the sponsor of the legislation in the Assembly, Steven Sanders, a Democrat who represents the immediate U.N. vicinity, that they support the proposed U.N. project.

    Messrs. Bing and Sanders, however, said yesterday that the legislation they have sponsored allows only for a land use review to inform the community about the U.N. project, and that they cannot express an opinion about the project itself until the results of the review are available.

    To one of the expansion project's most vocal opponents in the Assembly, Dov Hikind of Brooklyn, no information from the city or the United Nations, and no convincing by the mayor's sister, could alter his position.

    "It doesn't matter if it's the mayor's sister, uncle, aunt, or anyone else," Mr. Hikind said. "My sentiment of the United Nations is I don't trust them. ... Maybe in five years, if the U.N. becomes a different body and one that we could trust, I would feel differently, but nothing has really changed in the last few months."

    Because of opposition from legislators such as Mr. Hikind, the United Nations may be looking at alternatives to its current proposal for the swing space, Mr. Golden said. While the senator said there were no plans to build the swing space at Brooklyn or Queens, which he said was just a rumor, the development corporation said other Manhattan sites were being considered. Mr. Golden said he was not at liberty to identify which. But in planning for the renovation of its headquarters, the United Nations had identified locations on its own property that could be used to house U.N. staff while the refurbishments took place. Renting commercial space around Manhattan for temporary use has also been considered, but another director of the U.N. development corporation, Jeffrey Wiesenfeld, dismissed that option as "not viable."

    A spokesman for the city's Economic Development Corp., Michael Sherman, said the city remains committed to the current plan for the U.N. project.

    "We are moving forward with our plan to build a new building for the United Nations near its campus in Turtle Bay," he said in a written statement. "This is an important project because it will bring significant jobs and investment to New York City. The U.N. is a valuable asset to New York City, supporting thousands of jobs and contributing more than $2.5 billion to the local economy each year. The U.N. is visited by 800,000 people annually and makes a major contribution to the New York's reputation as an international city."


  12. #57
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
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    Don't get you hopes up about a new tower...

    Published on April 04, 2005


    In preparation for the renovation of its famously dilapidated headquarters, the United Nations is aggressively looking to rent more than 1 million square feet of office space over the next five to seven years.

    Industry sources say the U.N. is looking at 485 Lexington Ave., between East 46th and East 47th streets, for its temporary home. The building has 855,000 square feet of empty offices; asking rents average $58 a square foot. Sources say the Lexington Avenue location may be the U.N.'s best available option near its East Side headquarters. The renovations could begin as soon as two years from now.

    Newmark, which represents the U.N., and Cushman & Wakefield Inc., which represents building owner SL Green Realty Corp., declined to comment.

    A U.N. spokesman says it is also pursuing the construction of temporary space near its headquarters in Robert Moses Park, but hasn't gotten the necessary zoning approval.

    --Christine Haughney


  13. #58
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    This is a great example of when a city has gotten too complacent for its own good. ANY other city in the country would be chomping at the bits to get a UN building, let alone its headquarters, temporary or otherwise. Now, because of the dumb city/state bureaucrats and red tape, the only thing the city gains is the preservation of some ugly dog-poop filled park.

  14. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by antinimby
    ANY other city in the country would be chomping at the bits to get a UN building, let alone its headquarters, temporary or otherwise.
    I'm not so sure. There is a lot of anti-UN sentiment running in the rest of the US. You may be right about other larger cities being open to the UN but if NYC has people complaining about them, other less international cities would be a mess.

    Its a non-issue anyways, the UN isn't moving. This project will eventually push through with the UN building renovated with or without a new secondary building.

  15. #60




    April 7, 2005 -- The United Nations has yet to hire a company to renovate its New York headquarters, but Donald Trump and a senator are already making the case to say "You're fired" if the cost comes close to the expected $1.2 billion.

    After speaking yesterday with Trump, Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.) introduced a measure that would cap the loan at $600 million.

    Trump told Sessions, a longtime critic of the United Nations, that he could do the job better — and at $500 million. Trump said the officials never got back to him.

    "I think Congress should be ashamed of themselves if they let them spend $1.2 billion on renovating a building that should cost less than $500 million," Trump said in an interview with The Associated Press.

    "Someone's going to make a fortune on this."

    Last year, President Bush proposed and Congress agreed to a $1.2 billion loan for the project over 30 years, financed at 5.5 percent interest. The United Nations has not accepted the loan, so Sessions' measure — if approved — could cut the amount in half.

    "The U.N., as we know, is notoriously wasteful in spending its money," Sessions said in a Senate speech. "I wish that weren't so, but it's just a plain fact."

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