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Thread: Manhattan Residential Development

  1. #796
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    March 19, 2006
    Is Prewar Losing Its Status to Glass?
    By TERI KARUSH ROGERS

    FOR decades, Manhattan's graceful, well-constructed prewar apartments have lorded it over their bland, low-ceilinged postwar kin. Then, brazen and unapologetic, the nouveau condos arrived. From glass-wrapped towers slicked in showy minimalism to more sedate structures melding prewar touches with contemporary floor plans and finishes, the newcomers are creating an entirely new category of Manhattan real estate.

    While there is no way to know whether the upstarts will have staying power, the fabled prewar luster is already fading among a certain sort of buyer. "A lot of our young rich people are outgrowing this self-validation that getting into a prewar big-name co-op has always had for a New Yorker," said Michele Conte, a senior vice president and managing director of Brown Harris Stevens.

    Some just don't care about the style or status of prewar, Ms. Conte said, while others have been liberated by the new alternatives. "The old buildings are wonderful, but there's something fresh and exciting about the newer space," she said.

    In choosing great glass houses in the sky over inward-facing dwellings designed for their great-grandparents, a younger-than-ever moneyed class has embraced a modern design ethic - and plug-and-play, amenity-laden lives, with no messy renovations required. They may prefer an apartment that is more akin to an iPod than something with a decent kitchen convenient to transportation. And for those who find prewar too understated and even claustrophobic, the new hot stuff comes with a different set of bragging rights: Manhattanites have been glibly tossing off "starchitect" names the way they once batted around Internet stocks.

    "It used to be that condos played second fiddle to the prewar co-ops," said Pamela Liebman, the chief executive of the Corcoran Group. "Now, there's a lot of status attached to living in the latest great condominium building or high-rise. People think it's cool - it's like owning art."

    Unlike prewar co-ops with their often zealous co-op boards regulating admission standards, anyone with enough zeros in a bank account can buy a condo.

    "People drawn to the glass buildings are a little bit more on the showy side," said Michael Shvo, a real estate marketer. "They're not as discreet, and these are not discreet buildings. These are people who don't mind having other people know they have money. You can live on the third floor or fifth floor, and everyone can really see into the apartment."

    For some who have made the switch from prewar to ultramodern, it's also a different way of living - of living inside out, with the goal of feeling more connected to the outside world rather than projecting one's image outward.

    Gilbert H. Lamphere, 53, is a financier who, after a divorce and remarriage, traded in an elegant four-bedroom Sutton Place prewar co-op for a glassy $6.6 million penthouse duplex in one of the Richard Meier towers, which he found with Kirk Henckels, the director of Stribling Private Brokerage.

    "When I was at One Sutton Place, and my first wife had created this great space, you felt comfortable in a cocoon, in a beautifully decorated cocoon," he said. "There was nothing jarring. And I think for most of the places on the Upper East Side, that is the objective. There's nothing jarring, it's comforting, you can sit down, you can read a book, you can entertain, and your mind is at rest visually."

    In his aerie, which he shares with his wife, Lucy O'Laughlin, 54, he said, "there's no cocoon when you're living 15 stories up and seagulls are flying by."

    "I think these spaces are about stimulation," he said. "You are intensely aware of the outside, and on the Upper East Side, I think you're intensely aware of the inside."

    Asked whether he could envision going back to prewar one day, he hesitated. "I think you would feel confined," he said. "It would take an adjustment, but over time you'd probably adjust back again."

    The new buildings are drawing others like Mr. Lamphere, people who in the past would have remained solidly wed to their prewar apartments. "I was surprised by how many people moved out of prewar," said Ms. Conte of Brown Harris Stevens, who was the sales director for the Metropolitan, a new condo at 181 East 90th Street, at Third Avenue. About 30 percent of the buyers came from neighboring prewar buildings, she said, citing their thirst for big windows and new finishes.

    A few blocks east, about 50 to 70 percent of the people who expressed interest in a 110-unit condo building being constructed at 170 East End live in prewar co-ops, said Louise Sunshine, chairwoman emeritus of Corcoran Sunshine Marketing, the marketing and sales agent for buildings designed by Peter Marino.

    Billed as "couture homes" for families, the $2,000-a-square-foot units opposite Gracie Mansion combine prewar layouts with a modern, glassy exterior as well as amenities like on-site parking, a billiards room, a golf simulator, a squash court, a chauffeur's room and a high-tech video arcade.

    Along with modern infrastructure and light, amenities like these make the services of a typical prewar building - often a doorman and maybe a porter - seem anachronistic and puny.

    "For young people coming out of Wall Street, when they go home after working such long hours, they have the gym, perhaps a built-in social life, and they have a cachet almost like a designer handbag," said Joy Weiner, a senior vice president of Corcoran.

    These buyers want to be pampered. "There's this whole sort of I-deserve-it mentality," said Frederick Peters, the president of the Warburg Realty Partnership. The thirst for pampering may also have a link to a growing cultural obsession with celebrities. "Andy Warhol promised us 15 minutes of fame," Mr. Peters said. "This feels like you're getting it."

    And getting something new, a powerful lure for many.

    "This is a consumer culture," Ms. Conte said. "People want new. They want to be the first owner. I call it the virgin syndrome."

    Dr. Matthew C. Gomillion, a 46-year-old anesthesiologist and a former prewar owner, said a desire for something new, not just different, led him to exchange his sunny two-bedroom prewar Riverside Drive apartment - and his prized river views - for a modern one-bedroom a block south in the Heritage at Trump Place condominium, at West 72nd and Riverside.

    "A couple of years ago, I went away to Boston and stayed in a little boutique hotel, and I really enjoyed the luxury of having all the extra services," Dr. Gomillion said. "It was just all fresh and newly renovated."

    Though he still had feelings for his prewar apartment - "I loved the building, I loved the apartment, I loved the views," he said - he found himself tempted to exchange it for the real estate equivalent of a younger, more up-to-date spouse. "Since my apartment had appreciated quite significantly, I thought why not take advantage of this?" he said.

    With the help of Sharon Bergh, a senior vice president of Halstead Property, he bought his condo from floor plans in September 2003. "I liked the fact that it was brand new with luxurious amenities - a health club, sauna, swimming pool, a garage in the building, almost floor-to-ceiling windows," said Dr. Gomillion, who moved in last month. "I love it. It's everything I thought it would be."

    While the new buildings may be luring former fans of prewar, brokers say that the old buildings are not suffering from falling values as a result. The supply is too limited and too far outstripped by demand.

    "There is always going to be a large group of New Yorkers who want plaster walls and a particular kind of prewar feeling you can't duplicate in new construction no matter how beautiful it is," Mr. Peters said. "And one thing to remember is it's not only about buildings, it's also about location. There aren't the spots to build on the prime avenues, and people are always going to want to live there."

    As so many glass buildings rise in so many parts of the city, the status of the oldest stock might even rise. "If anything, new luxury condominiums give added value to the prewars that can no longer be built," said Ruth McCoy, director of sales at Brown Harris Stevens.

    Prewar co-ops have long sold for less per square foot than condos, and that ratio continues at about the same level. At the end of last year, the average co-op price in all of Manhattan was $972 a square foot, versus $1,212 for post-1990 condos, according to the appraisal firm Miller Samuel. The disparity reflects the premium put on the condominium form of ownership.

    It is postwar apartments - built in the 50's, 60's, 70's and 80's with an eye more toward cost containment than luxury - that may be worst equipped to compete in today's souped-up luxury market.

    The postwar buildings do not have the same quality of construction or finishes, and they do not have the tax abatements that help lure buyers to new condos.

    Postwar resales are hardest hit when a competitively priced building comes on the market nearby. A new building "basically is a whirlpool that sucks in all the customers," said Richard V. Hamilton, a senior vice president of Halstead. Activity on his Chelsea-area postwar listings slowed significantly when a competitively priced 337-unit, 14-story development at 555 West 23rd came on the market in August.

    "If you're sitting there owning a 1970's condominium apartment that doesn't particularly have the prewar style and may not have so much to offer over something brand new," Mr. Hamilton said, "you could be in a little bit of trouble."

    But in a decade or two, it may be today's ultramodern buildings whose values are impaired, as hidden or ignored costs add up. For example, amenities could wind up costing more than expected or more than justified by their use, particularly in smaller buildings where the cost is divided among fewer owners. "Low common charges are often a lure - they start low and start escalating," said Ms. Weiner of Corcoran.

    Escalating property taxes will take a bite, too. Under the widespread tax abatements helping to fuel the condo boom, property taxes start out at a fraction of their ultimate cost, rising every two years for 10 years. Higher taxes could eat into the resale value, even as some owners, too optimistic about their earning power when they signed the contract, decide to sell. "I wouldn't call it a time bomb, but it could be an unpleasant surprise," said Jonathan J. Miller, the president of Miller Samuel.

    In the glass-curtain buildings, another potential cost is hidden in plain view: "You get a lot of heat loss from the curtain walls," which will matter more as fuel becomes more expensive, said Stephen G. Kliegerman, executive director for development at Halstead.

    And then there are the aesthetic questions. What happens, for instance, when a building's exterior is degraded by a hodgepodge of window covering styles? From the inside, glass-happy apartments "can be very difficult to furnish," Mr. Kliegerman said. "It's wonderful to have a lot of glass if you have a fabulous vista. But if you don't have a great view, a lot of people will feel like they're living in a fishbowl."

    Some buyers fret over a cookie-cutter sameness among the new buildings. Charlotte Van Doren, a vice president of Stribling, recalled a prewar resident who looked at a new building and remarked, "I'm worried it's going to be just like a first-class Hilton."

    Savvy buyers would do well to buy a unit that offers something different from the rest of a building's apartments, according to Mr. Miller, the appraiser. "Buy outdoor space, a view break, something with a fireplace," he said.

    He also cautioned buyers to consider what may happen to a new apartment's value when the marketing is just a memory and the unit goes on the market with a sea of similar apartments. Today's branding of a building may lend a temporary boost to its value that cannot be sustained later.

    The biggest question is their aesthetic staying power.

    "In 20 years, maybe all of these buildings that are the hottest things now will look completely outdated," Mr. Shvo said, "whereas the prewar building is always going to look beautiful. But you're looking at a generation that doesn't plan 20 years ahead - they're lucky if they plan two years away."



    Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

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    March 16, 2006
    Are Tax Breaks for Builders Still Needed in Hot Market?
    By JANNY SCOTT

    The Bloomberg administration's recent move to re-evaluate the tax breaks used to encourage apartment construction in New York City has led to the beginnings of what will likely be an impassioned debate: In the hottest real estate market in decades, to what extent do developers still need tax incentives to entice them to build?

    In a report to be released today, New York Acorn, a community group, argues that the city's most popular tax-incentive program, known as 421-a, is not only not generating much moderately priced housing in places like Downtown Brooklyn but is, in effect, subsidizing a lot of expensive housing in gentrifying neighborhoods.


    The group, which claims 36,000 low- and moderate-income families as members, wants the city to change the program to require that all developers receiving these tax breaks for building apartments in much of Downtown and central Brooklyn make 30 percent of all new units affordable to people of modest means.

    The group's report comes less than a month after Mayor Michael A. Bloomberg appointed a task force of developers, housing advocates and others to rethink the program, which city housing officials say has fueled the construction of more than 110,000 units since 1971 but has also cost the city hundreds of millions of dollars in lost taxes a year.

    "What we're trying to do is inform that process," said Jonathan Rosen, an Acorn spokesman. "We want to take the mayor's opening and point out that in places where you're selling condos for a million dollars overlooking the East River, you probably don't need to subsidize those developments with money from middle-class homeowners."

    Under the 421-a program, developers of new multifamily housing in most neighborhoods are eligible for a 10- to-15-year exemption from the increase in real estate taxes resulting from the work, whether or not lower-priced units are built. Only in the so-called exclusion zone, which consists primarily of Manhattan between 14th Street and 96th Street, must developers agree to include some lower-priced units in their project or nearby.

    The Regional Plan Association, a civic group that works to improve the economy and quality of life in the New York region, also raised the issue this week, saying in an article in its newsletter that "neighborhoods like Wall Street, Harlem, Williamsburg and other communities throughout the five boroughs are hot residential markets in no need of subsidy."

    The article, by Jeremy Soffin, an association vice president, said: "If the city is going to add another million people and jobs over the next two decades, we'll need a lot of new development. But the developers need New York just as much as we need them, so our elected officials are positioned to demand that projects make sense for the city, not just the bottom line."

    New York Acorn, which successfully pressured the Forest City Ratner Companies to include mixed-income housing in its 9.1 million-square-foot Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn, looked in its new report at 87 housing development projects in various Brooklyn neighborhoods starting at the Brooklyn and Manhattan Bridges and extending toward Prospect Park.

    According to the group, all the projects will be eligible for 421-a tax breaks upon completion. But, the group found, relatively few of the nearly 6,000 units expected will be affordable for low- or moderate-income people. Noting that government data shows incomes in the area rising and the black population shrinking, the group suggested that the city was contributing to the displacement of longtime lower-income residents.

    City officials, who were shown the study, said it was far from comprehensive. They said the group had overlooked at least 700 to 800 low- and moderate-income units in the city's pipeline. They said that several of the neighborhoods studied included large percentages of public housing, where rents barely rose, and that in one of the community districts studied, fully 52 percent of all rental units were rent stabilized.

    They and others also said the report included no proof of displacement.

    Nevertheless, a number of housing experts said the report touched on two key questions confronting the city: Where is the housing market strong enough that developers would build market-rate housing even without tax breaks? And can the incentive system be changed to produce more lower-price housing without putting a chill on the market?

    "With any targeted tax break, there's always a difficulty in targeting it to the developments that actually need it," said Ingrid Gould Ellen, an associate professor of public policy and urban planning at New York University and a member of the task force.

    "The changing markets add another challenge: You may get it just right today, and then the markets change and some program that looked right today becomes a giveaway tomorrow. Or you may choke off all development."

    Ron Moelis, a developer of low- and moderate-income housing and a task force member, said he believed there was a general consensus that certain neighborhoods, including TriBeCa, should be added to the exclusion zone. But he added: "I am not sure it can be broad-brushed and say the whole program should be geared toward low-income housing. I just don't know."

    Brad Lander, director of the Pratt Center for Community Development and also on the task force, said he would like to see the tax breaks given only where they generated some affordable housing. "I think the 421-a debate is going to be an interesting one," he said.



    Copyright 2006The New York

  3. #798

    Default New construction around Grand Central

    Hi,

    this is a new building that will go up at the corner of Park Avenue and 37th street. They are tearing down the old Sheraton Russel that use to be there with amazing speed. Some neighbourhood association tried to stop them from destroying it but did not have time to complete a project to landmark that nice old Park Avenue hotel. Half destroyed as of now.
    Attached Thumbnails Attached Thumbnails Click image for larger version. 

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  4. #799

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    [quote=lofter1]CURBED has posted pictures and an up-date of the jumbled pile of brick and glass aka 88 Leonard St.:

    http://www.curbed.com/archives/2006/...onard.php#more

    The pictures don't tell the full story. If you have the unfortunate opportunity to view this building in person you'll see that it's a mix of glass-enclosed projections (the west edge of the building awkwardly butts glass right up against the cast iron building next door -- see 2nd photo at far right), winky bricked areas with A/C cut-outs, intermittent exposed floor plates and more -- all in an apparent attempt to disguise the mass of the building.

    I'm sure this thang will sell like hotcakes, but it's a mess ...





    Totally agree, everytime i go past this project i think how ugly it is

  5. #800

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    Was it designed by that moron Cunilingis Condylis?

  6. #801
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    ^^ Yep, he's the guilty one.

  7. #802

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    Walked by there a couple days ago and for what it is worth, the new building, at least as portrayed by the rendering, looked at least half a notch better than the usual new NYC condo. There seemed to be more details.

    Quote Originally Posted by bonnemazou
    Hi,

    this is a new building that will go up at the corner of Park Avenue and 37th street. They are tearing down the old Sheraton Russel that use to be there with amazing speed. Some neighbourhood association tried to stop them from destroying it but did not have time to complete a project to landmark that nice old Park Avenue hotel. Half destroyed as of now.

  8. #803

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    Walked by there today. It was the first time that I realized how massive this building is. I agree, it's ugly, not butt-ugly, but ugly. Then again, the area around it is pretty non-descript, in a sort of no-man's land, south of Chinatown, north (and west) of judicial/government town.

    About the only benefit is that it will dramatically increase the population, which might possibly pump some life into the area.

    [quote=harsaphes]
    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1
    CURBED has posted pictures and an up-date of the jumbled pile of brick and glass aka 88 Leonard St.:

  9. #804

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    Quote Originally Posted by lofter1
    ^^ Yep, he's the guilty one.
    Costas really is the ultimate crapmeister. Why do developers hire this idiot? I propose the following as his corporate logo:


  10. #805

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    Quote Originally Posted by londonlawyer
    Was it designed by that moron Cunilingis Condylis?

    Quote Originally Posted by londonlawyer
    Costas really is the ultimate crapmeister. Why do developers hire this idiot? I propose the following as his corporate logo:

    I didn't even have to look up to see who was posting this garbage, I knew already. You may think we’re at a Dive Bar London but you are wrong. You are the only member on this forum who continues to post in such a revile matter. Why reduce yourself to creating such coarse and unintelligent posts? Thrive to creating something intelligent that everyone can benefit from. Your comparrasion to sex acts and bodily functions on an architecture forum is not the least bit funny, its infantile.

    Edward has established forum rules of conduct...

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  11. #806

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    On SLCE's site you can find a building they;re designing close by on Broadway & Reade. There's also another condo going up on Broadway by Swanke Hayden Connell Architects.

    http://www.slcearch.com/

  12. #807

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    The building on B'Way and Reade is nice. I was wondering when that site would be developed.

  13. #808
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    That one going up on Broadway and Reade has one BIG problem as far as I'm concerned:

    The beautiful building immediately to the south of it is "The Broadway Chambers Building" (aka 277 Broadway @ NW corner of Broadway / Chambers).

    The architect of this building was Cass Gilbert. Built in 1899 - 1900, this was Gilbert's first building in New York -- before the Customs House, before the Woolworth Building

    The way the new building is to be constructed will obscure the upper floors of the north facade of the Gilbert building -- admittedly not the most "important" facade, but even that side of the building has some very nice work that will now be obliterated.

    It will be interesting to see how this develops.

    Info on this building from nyc-architecture.com ( http://www.nyc-architecture.com/SOH/SOH028.htm ) :
    Cass Gilbert's first building in New York was this boldly designed tower. Gilbert's design juxtaposes the grandly ornamented pink granite clad base with the plain red and blue brick clad shaft. The tower culminates in a highly ornamented colonnade, attic story and projecting cornice. At the time, this design was hailed by architectural critic Montgomery Schuyler as "the last word" in the period’s dominant skyscraper style, which looked to the classical three-part column for inspiration. The building also features the first large scale use of polychrome terra-cotta architectural ornament in New York, a material that Gilbert would use extensively in later buildings.
    Here are some images of 277 Broadway:

    Rendering of the Cass Gilbert Broadway Tower:


    From the Tweed Courthouse Steps (the NY Sun building to the right):

    The upper floors showing the polychromatic ornamentation:


    Detail:

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    Can you say "They don't make them like they used to"?

  15. #810
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    Quote Originally Posted by TLOZ Link5
    Can you say "They don't make them like they used to"?
    ^ Dang Straight!

    I should also add that from the rendering of the Broadway / Reade building (here: http://www.slcearch.com/ ) it appears that the upper portion of the north facade of Broadway / Chambers will be obscured, but hopefully the angle of the rendering is misleading.

    The developer / architect would be smart to realize that a view of that part of the Gilbert building through the windows of their new building could be worth a big wad to a smart buyer.

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