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Thread: 2628 & 2633 Broadway: Ariel West - by Cook + Fox | Ariel East - by Cetra/Ruddy

  1. #16


    That would be the Columbia:

    By Carter B. Horsley

    This handsome, 35-story condominium was a major pioneer in the redevelopment of Broadway north of 86th Street. Not surprisingly, it was developed by William Zeckendorf Jr., and partners, who also pioneered the redevelopment of Union Square with Zeckendorf Towers and Eighth Avenue with the World Wide Plaza complex.

    The Columbia, which was designed by Liebman Williams Ellis Architects, is one of the Upper West Side's tallest buildings as well as one of its most sculpturally massed. Its solid balconies are staggered or alternated to create a very vigorous façade. It is interesting that the architects also set the main tower back from Broadway to minimize its visual impact on that street's cornice line. The base of the building extends fully to Broadway and the top of the base contains a health club and pool. The building has a garage and a sun deck.

    Building in 1983, the light-colored building has 300 units and many boast dramatic views, regardless of the direction.

    At the time of its construction, the area had fallen on relatively bad times and this was the first major private investment. For a while, the site had been considered by a department store for a major satellite operation.

    In his excellent book, "On Broadway, A Journey Over Time" (Rizzoli, 1990), David W. Dunlap, a reporter for The New York Times, noted:

    "In spite of its rebounding commercial life, Broadway as a physical entity remained frozen in its pre-Depression state through the 1970's. It was a measure of local stasis that the blockfront at Ninety-sixth Street stood largely vacant, except for a community garden, for fifteen years after the Riveria and Riverside theaters were razed in 1976. Finally, in 1981, after several false starts by other developers, William Zeckendorf Jr., began a huge condominium apartment tower called the Columbia. This project has been credited - and blamed - for triggering the wave of luxury high-rise construction in the mid-1980s."

    Indeed, in 1984 the city enacted new zoning for Broadway on the Upper West Side to encourage contextual architecture.

    The name of the building is probably a reference to the famous university of the same name about a mile north on Broadway.

    "This towering hulk is the earliest adventure in sophisticated modern housing on the Upper West Side. A bit brash, it evokes the cubistic dreams of Walter Gropius in his wonderful but losing scheme for the Chicago Tribune Tower," observed Elliot Willensky and Norval White in their excellent book, "The A.I.A. Guide to New York City, Third Edition," (Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1988).

    "What is refreshing here is that the terms of apartment development - pack the site, create units with balconies and views, do it at low cost - are met head-on, unflinchingly, in a neo-Bauhaus design that eschews fashionable contextualism and does not try pretentiously to conceal its inherent tawdriness. What a breath of fresh air!" exclaimed Francis Morrone in his book, "The Architectural Guide to new York City," (a Peregrine Smith Book, published by Gibbs Smith, Publishers, Layton, Utah, 1994).

  2. #17


    New York Times:

    On a Site With a Past, a Battle Goes On

    WHERE the Gristedes supermarket used to stand on Broadway between 99th and 100th Streets, there is a large hole in the ground, big enough to hold a few dozen workmen, an earth-moving machine and a hulking vehicle with a shiny metal pick in place of a scoop. Heavy trucks pull in and out on a ramp, which sits on the former site of two brownstones.

    The property caught the city's notice in July, when the supermarket collapsed as workers were demolishing it, injuring 10 people, including a 7-month-old who was briefly buried inside her stroller but rescued when her nanny screamed for help. The demolition crews are long gone now, and workers are busy laying the foundation for a 32-story glass tower known as Ariel West, companion to a similar but taller structure rising across Broadway. Both towers are the work of the Extell Development Company, and both have been targets of neighborhood opposition.

    The buildings are allowed by right under the current zoning. Still, a group called West Siders for Responsible Development has been expressing its concern about the project, via a Web site, a petition with about 2,000 signatures and regular meetings at local apartments and in the Metro Diner on 100th Street around the corner. Last week the group's president, Miki Fiegel, and its treasurer, Toni Cindrich, stood on the sidewalk next to the hole and laid out their objections, their voices raised over the rumble of the trucks.

    "It's really quiet right now," said Ms. Fiegel, a real estate agent who works from home less than a block down 99th Street. "Wait until the drilling starts."

    Ms. Fiegel has discovered that nothing, including playing "Tosca" at high volume, drowns out the noise. "This is a neighborhood full of people in the arts, people who work late," she said. "And when they start at seven in the morning, you can hear it for blocks."

    Kenny Ziomek, the barrel-chested Teamster foreman for the site, ambled over. "Oh, they love us here," he said with a sarcastic smile. As if on cue, a thunderous pounding started behind him.

    Mr. Ziomek, a Long Islander who said he often chatted with passers-by, wondered aloud if the towers wouldn't improve the neighborhood by bringing a touch of luxury to a stretch of Broadway that is generally grungier than the areas to the immediate north and south.

    But Ms. Fiegel says that what residents prize about the neighborhood are the buildings, including brownstones on some side streets and prewar apartment buildings, few of them taller than 15 stories, along the avenues. "You can see the sky," she said. "It gives the neighborhood a more human scale, and when you start putting these buildings up, you lose the scale of the neighborhood, you lose the character of the neighborhood."

    One of the group's main goals, along with fighting the Extell project, is to prevent other tall buildings in the area. Residents fear such structures because the neighborhood contains so many low-rent buildings and single-room occupancy hotels that are tempting to developers.

    At the Metro Diner, Ms. Cindrich brandished artists' renderings of the buildings that she had picked up at one of Extell's promotional champagne brunches, and recalled the community board meeting where residents first saw similar sketches. "People in the audience just gasped," she said.

    Extell's senior vice president of development, Raizy Haas, said the group did not speak for the whole neighborhood. "You're always going to have people oppose development," she said, "but I think a lot of the people on the Upper West Side are pleased with what we're doing. Our buildings are definitely not going to be an eyesore; they're very beautiful glass towers."

    Ms. Haas noted that Extell's president, Gary Barnett, was responsible for renovating the Belnord, the Renaissance Revival apartment building on 86th Street, after a long dispute between residents and the previous owner. "He's beloved by all the tenants in that building," she said. "He's sort of a hero to them."

    And the noise from the drilling? It should be ending, she said, "pretty soon."

  3. #18

    Default Wondering

    If anyone has been by the sales office or when they are going to start selling the units. Thanks in advance if anyone has any information that they can share.

  4. #19
    Forum Veteran krulltime's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2003
    Manhattan - UWS


    February 16, 2006:

    Ariel East:

    Ariel West:

    Last edited by krulltime; February 17th, 2006 at 02:08 PM.

  5. #20


    I'm really glad the building with Turkuaz in it is getting a new neighbour. It stuck out like a sore thumb for too long. Still...the width of that lot is startling! I hope the tower doesn't turn out too girthy...

  6. #21

    Default I am intrigued...

    ...with the idea of living within 50 yards of Indus Valley. Best Indian food on the UWS -- but that's not saying much I guess.

    I have an appointment with the Ariel people next week so if I find out anything interesting I'll pass it along.

  7. #22


    That area's a bit of a culinary wasteland. Will the influx of yuppies make a difference?

  8. #23

    Default With my 3 squares...

    ...from Indus, that's all the food I'll ever need. That Cheesy Pizza place on 100th has a pretty damn good slice. Perhaps Tom Valenti will be headed up this way? Perhaps.

  9. #24

    Default Oh, and... them or not, yuppies always make a difference. And with the average price of a place hovering around $2.7M or so at Ariel West, that will bring up some fairly discriminating palettes with fat wallets.

    It seems to be a fairly gentrified area that needs some further sprucing up. Those buildings just might be the impetus.
    Last edited by Strangely Charming Quark; February 23rd, 2006 at 06:47 AM.

  10. #25


    ^ Trouble is, they all like the same food.

  11. #26


    "That area's a bit of a culinary wasteland."

    You mean you don't like overpriced, mediocre food?

    I actually recommend Mama Mexico. Meridiana seemed to have been alright as well. I heard there were some interesting places on Amsterdam and Columbus in the low 100s.

    There are some interesting-looking places I'm too poor to try as well...Regionale, Alouette, Cafe du Soleil...

    Anyway, if you want truly good Indian food, go to Baluchi's...or Jackson Heights.

  12. #27


    Cafe du Soleil has a good $19 "pre-Theatre Menu" deal, not bad.

  13. #28

    Default Floorplans

    I have to admit, that 4-bedroom high floor with the south view looks pretty swank. Nothing like a 55-foot long wall of glass on the 27th floor. I presume the ladies might want to drop by.

    Now the only problem, I need to find 3 roommates with a combined $4M or so in their pockets so I can get set up.

  14. #29
    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
    Join Date
    Sep 2004
    in Limbo


    This thread should be merged with this one.

  15. #30
    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
    Join Date
    Jun 2005
    NYC - Downtown


    Selling the Air Above

    Hiroko Masuike for The New York Times
    LOCATION IS KEY Four small buildings on West 99th Street sold most of their
    air rights for about $2.7 million to the developer of a new condominium tower
    with its entrance on Broadway. Their air rights were valuable because they
    share a lot line with the site of the condo.

    NY Times
    March 5, 2006

    ON an island where there is often nowhere to build but up, the air in Manhattan can get pretty pricey. Air-rights deals, or the sale of unused development rights from one property owner to another, are generally considered the business of big-time developers. But in cheek-by-jowl Manhattan, homeowners, small-building owners and co-op boards can often find themselves involved, too. While potentially lucrative, such deals are complex and can even raise ethical quandaries for property owners.

    On the Upper West Side, the owners of four town houses on 99th Street, west of Broadway, sold a total of 19,148 square feet of development rights last April to the Extell Corporation, which will allow Extell to add about four stories to a large, and controversial, condominium tower it is building on the block.

    Extell approached the town-house owners for their air rights because the properties all share at least 10 feet of lot line with the developer's building site — a requirement for most air-rights deals. Several of the town-house owners said they were distressed over the idea of a tall building going up next door, one that would loom over their backyards and one that had been opposed by many people in the neighborhood because of its size. But they ultimately decided to band together and hire a lawyer to advise them and work out a contract with Extell.

    "Basically, our feeling was it was going to happen; they were going to build this thing," said Jonathan F. Richards, who owns the upper two floors of one of the town houses that had been turned into a co-op with two units. Mr. Richards lives in New Mexico, and his apartment is used by a family member.

    "We didn't feel that by selling or refusing to sell we would have any impact on whether they would build," he said.

    The owners' lawyer, Gary R. Tarnoff, said he was able to get Extell to agree to several concessions that benefited his clients, including an agreement that the developer would try to place a garage entrance away from their property.

    But while the owners negotiated the overall contract together, they agreed on prices separately. According to a calculation based on the real estate transfer tax paid on the transactions, they were paid a total of $2.72 million. Individual payments ranged from $584,000 to $764,000, depending on both the square foot price and the amount of air rights each owner decided to sell, city records show.

    Each property had a different amount of air rights available to transfer, and two of the buildings kept 500 square feet of air rights in case they wanted to add on to their houses in the future. The price per square foot paid by Extell was $132 to $148.

    The incentives for the developer are clear. Construction and marketing costs are generally estimated to be $450 to $500 a square foot, although the figure generally rises as you go higher in a building. Adding in the air rights, that puts the developer's costs at roughly $650 a square foot on the upper floors. The apartments on the top four floors of Extell's building have been priced at about $1,500 a square foot, leaving plenty of room for profit.

    Extell has faced vocal opposition in the neighborhood to its 32-story tower, which it plans to call the Ariel West. Residents contend that the building is out of scale with others around it — including the town houses that have sold their air rights.

    Last year, demolition work on a former Gristede's supermarket on the site caused a wall to collapse, briefly trapping a child in a stroller. That renewed attention on the project, but it has gone forward nonetheless, and workers are building the foundation.

    The opposition has made some of the town-house owners nervous, and three of the six owners (two of the buildings have been converted into two-unit co-ops) asked that their names not be used and one refused to talk to a reporter. They said that they feared drawing their neighbors' ire for cooperating with the developer or that they were wary of violating a confidentiality provision in the air-rights deal.

    But one of the owners said she regretted taking part in the deal altogether.

    She said that construction workers had dug up part of the backyards of the town houses, apparently under a construction easement that was part of the air-rights contract. But she said the work went beyond what she had expected and that the workers had removed one large tree from her property and damaged the roots of another.

    "Everything was dead and gone and dug out," said the owner. "I'm sorry I sold them anything."

    Deals do not always have to spell regret, but many people who sell development rights do feel pressured in a variety of ways. Like the 99th Street owners, they may dislike the idea of helping someone put up a tall building next door. They may also believe that it would be foolish not to profit from the opportunity.

    At the same time, developers frequently play one neighbor off against another. That is because a developer may be able to choose from among several adjoining properties when buying development rights. A developer may tell an owner that if he or she will not agree on a price, a deal will be made with someone else on the block.

    Frank Farina sold 14,472 square feet of development rights last March for about $3 million, or $213 a square foot, to a developer that owned a site next door to his five-story building at 231 East 34th Street. Mr. Farina, 79, a retired restaurant owner, lives in the 19-unit century-old building and rents out the apartments.

    "So far I'm happy with it," Mr. Farina said of the deal. "I had no use for those air rights myself. I wasn't about to build on top of my building. It was a no-brainer for me. I had no cause for turning it down."

    The market for air rights in Manhattan, in its current form, dates to a revamping of city zoning rules in 1961. Those rules established density restrictions for every block in the city, expressed as a ratio of floor area to lot size. For instance, a 10,000-square-foot lot zoned with a floor-area ratio (or F.A.R.) of 10 could hold a building no larger than 100,000 square feet. But if a developer bought 15,000 square feet of unused air rights from his neighbors, then he could put up a 115,000-square-foot building.

    When a property owner sells his air rights, he is really agreeing to merge his property with another one into what is known as a single "zoning lot." In most cases, the receiving site has to share at least 10 feet of lot line with the selling site. On 99th Street, the town houses all back up to the Extell property.

    But F.A.R. can also be made to pass through a series of properties. That is, if a development company buys air rights from a neighbor, it can then buy the air rights from the next property down the block, even though it does not directly border on the building site. That is because all three properties will then be made part of the same contiguous zoning lot.

    In a case that has received a great deal of attention recently, the developers William L. and Arthur W. Zeckendorf have been trying to increase the size of a planned condo tower on East 60th Street. The Zeckendorf brothers worked out an agreement to buy air rights from the property next door, which is owned by the Grolier Club. That allowed them to approach Christ Church on the other side of the Grolier Club, which had more air rights available.

    The Zeckendorfs offered both properties $430 a square foot for their air rights, in what would be the highest price ever paid in such a deal. But more recently some members of the Grolier Club have balked at the arrangement, pointing out that the club's air rights are actually more valuable to the developers, since without them the Zeckendorfs cannot buy air rights from the church.

    An exception to this rule exists for buildings with landmark status; they are allowed to transfer development rights across the street. And there are some specially designated areas in which certain properties are allowed to transfer their air rights anywhere within a specified zone.

    One of these areas was created to benefit some two dozen Broadway theaters, which can transfer their air rights anywhere between 40th and 57th Streets and Avenue of the Americas and Eighth Avenue. And, while air-rights deals are most common in Manhattan, where the premium on buildable space is highest, they can occur anywhere in the city.

    Robert I. Shapiro, the president of City Center Real Estate, a brokerage and consulting company specializing in development rights deals, cautions that, in practice, all air rights are not equal. Some blocks have height restrictions, so that no matter how many square feet of development rights a developer has at his disposal, his ability to build upward has a definite limit.

    Other factors affect the value of air rights. When a developer has several neighboring plots to choose from in buying air rights, the law of supply and demand will help keep the price low. The opposite is true if a developer needs the air rights from a particular parcel. There are also some restrictions on the transfer of air rights between high- and low-density zoning parcels.

    As a rule of thumb, air rights typically sell for about 50 to 60 percent of what a piece of land would sell for, said Bob Von Ancken, an air-rights expert who is executive managing director of Grubb & Ellis Consulting Services. In other words, a medium-size parcel that could hold a 100,000-square-foot building might sell for $45 million, or $450 a buildable square foot. A neighboring property owner then might expect his air rights to sell in the neighborhood of $225 a square foot, as long as there are no other factors affecting the price.

    Mr. Von Ancken works to determine the value of air rights to improve his clients' leverage. Because buying air rights allows a developer to build higher, Mr. Von Ancken bases his estimates on the value of the upper floors of the proposed building. And since the upper floors bring the highest prices in apartment and office buildings alike, Mr. Von Ancken argues that the air rights should bring in premium prices as well.

    Air rights can become important to buildings and individual co-op owners even if they are not considering selling them to a neighboring property owner. Some co-ops have found that they have to understand the value of air rights in considering proposals to expand individual apartments.

    Elliott Meisel, a lawyer who advises many co-op boards, recently worked on a deal involving a building on Broadway in the mid-70's. Several years ago, the building had sold a group of antiquated maids' rooms on the roof to a couple that turned them into a 1,000-square-foot penthouse with a large terrace. But last year the couple decided they wanted more space, and they approached the board about putting on another room.

    A consultant determined that the building had about 525 square feet of unused air rights, and the couple agreed to pay the board $250,000 for the right to build an addition of that size on the roof. Because the building was a co-op, the couple were not buying the air rights outright, Mr. Meisel said, but instead were buying more shares, entitling them to use the building's air rights.

    Mr. Meisel said the co-op booked the payments as a capital contribution for the issuance of new shares so it would not be considered taxable income, and the money went to the building's reserve fund.

    The construction and condo boom of recent years has led to an increase in air-rights deals, according to consultants and lawyers who specialize in these transactions. And while the pace of development may decrease as construction costs rise and the real estate market responds to higher interest rates, they say they have yet to see a downturn in the demand for air rights.

    "It's been the busiest time that I have ever had," said Mr. Shapiro of City Center Real Estate, who has been involved in air rights deals for more than two decades. "I'm working seven days a week on this sort of stuff."

    Copyright 2006The New York Times Company

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