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City Launches RFP to Redevelop Crown Heights’ Bedford Union Armory

10 Nov 2013, 7:28 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The century-old Bedford Union Armory in Brooklyn’s Crown Heights section is a likely candidate for transformation into a public recreation center. The New York City Economic Development Corp. (NYCEDC) recently issued a request for proposals to revitalize the long-vacant armory into a community-friendly space or sports venue.

Bedford Union Armory – Crown Heights – Brooklyn

“We are looking forward to helping the Bedford Union Armory, a cornerstone of the Crown Heights community for more than a century, fulfill its potential as an engine of economic growth,” NYCEDC President Kyle Kimball said in an official statement. “Reactivating this historic property will generate jobs, spur economic activity, and revive a vibrant facility that will once again serve the neighborhood for years to come.”

The 138,000-square-foot property was built in 1903 for the Troop C Cavalry Unit and was used until 2011 when all its soldiers were relocated to Fort Hamilton, NY Daily News reports. In August this year the state handed over the armory to the City of New York, but meanwhile the property was used as a filming location for the most recent “Men in Black” movie and storage space.

This RFP is the result of a complex research study that was commissioned in 2012 by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz—a Crown Heights native—in an effort to find the best redevelopment possibilities for the Art Nouveau-style building. The options included a large roller skating rink, a community sports facility, an entertainment venue or, according to Brownstoner, even an affordable housing development that was proposed by a group of grad students at New York University’s Wagner Capstone program.

NYCEDC seems to be open to any redevelopment project, provided that it is “financially feasible and economically viable” and “a substantial portion of its uses are community-serving.” The revamp should also “incorporate principles of sustainable design” and “maximize permanent employment opportunities for the City’s local and disadvantaged residents.” Proposals are due on January 23, 2014.


Image via Google Maps

Developers Complete First Phase of Construction at Brooklyn’s Navy Green

3 Nov 2013, 12:05 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

City officials and developers gathered last week at the former site of the “Brig,” a naval prison in Brooklyn’s Fort Greene, to celebrate the completion of the first phase of an $18 million project designed to reconvert the site into affordable housing.

Navy Green Brooklyn NYC

Navy Green, as the master plan was named, is the result of a three-day International Design Workshop that was held in December 2003 by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) in its efforts to create a conceptual redevelopment plan of the vacant 103,000-square-foot property. HPD tapped a development team including L + M Development Partners, Dunn Development Corp. and Pratt Area Community Council (PACC) along with master planner and architect FX Fowle Architects, Curtis + Ginsberg Architects LLP as architect, Architecture in Formation as design architect and Brooklyn-based Todd Rader and Amy Crews Landscape Architecture LLC as the landscape architect.

According to a statement for the press, Navy Green is being developed under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan, a multi-billion dollar initiative that aims to finance and create 165,000 affordable housing units for half a million New Yorkers by the close of the 2014 fiscal year.

Construction at the site started in September 2010. Now, three years after groundbreaking, the Navy Green project counts two mixed-use buildings and one supportive housing facility which, combined, have around 300 apartments ranging from studios to three-bedroom units.

At 110,640 square feet and a $36.3 million investment, the 12-story mixed-use building at 7 Clermont Avenue is the largest and most expensive of the three. It has 112 units—22 studios, 32 one-bedrooms, 47 two-bedrooms and 11 three-bedrooms—as well as almost 6,000 square feet of ground floor retail space.

The second building, which is located at 45 Clermont Avenue, cost $27 million to construct. It is an eight-story low-income rental building with 33 studios, 36 one-bedrooms, and 32 two-bedrooms.

The $21.9 million supportive housing building was developed with support of the Pratt Area Community Council (PACC) and is located at 40 Vanderbilt Avenue. It includes 98 units that will be occupied by formerly homeless single adults and low-income single adults; all of its residents will have access to onsite services such as medical care, recreation and vocational training through a partnership with Brooklyn Community Housing and Services, Inc.

According to official information, the next phase of the Navy Green project calls for more mixed-income housing and is set to begin next month.

“We’re excited to have converted this property from an obsolete use into a vibrant new community using the best practices of sustainable design and green construction. By combining supportive housing and affordable rental and homeownership units with market rate condos and townhouses, all sharing a common green, Navy Green is a model for mixed-income urban community development,” said Martin Dunn, president of Dunn Development Corp.

Rendering via Architecture in Formation

Three Off Broadway Theaters Scheduled for Opening in 2014 in Midtown West

28 Oct 2013, 1:29 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

In an ever-crowded place like Manhattan, where business and art go hand in hand, finding available space to open a new entertainment venue seems like a quest to find the Holy Grail.

But nothing’s impossible in The City. A commercial building located at the corner of 8th Avenue and 39th Street in Midtown West is set to become Manhattan’s newest multi-theater complex. Two industry veterans have teamed up to open an Off Broadway performance venue that will include three first-class theaters totaling almost 600 new seats, a much-needed addition considering the growing number of shows that are released by Off and Off-Off Broadway theater companies.

Tentatively named The Theatre Center and scheduled to open in early 2014, the project is a joint venture between Tony Award winner and Broadway producer and actor Hugh Hysell and actress Catherine Russell, who owns and manages the Snapple Theatre Center in the northern Times Square Area and several other Off Broadway venues. The partners have signed a 10-year lease with 601 8TH Ave Mue LLC, the property owner.

According to an official statement, the two-story facility at 601 8th Avenue will house a 249-seat theater and a 199-seat theater on the second floor. Both theaters will be licensed to commercial plays and musicals, while a third, 99-seat space will be licensed to Off and Off-Off Broadway productions. The building will also have a box office, a bar and a restaurant on the ground floor. Once fully operational, the theaters will be rented out at standard market prices—or for $5,000 to $10,000 a week plus a percentage of the show’s box office sales, The New York Times reports.

The Off Broadway movement (and its subsequent Off-Off Broadway) began in the 1950s as a reaction to Broadway’s commercialism and grandeur—a typical Broadway theater has 500 or more seats and charges up to $300 for a ticket. An Off Broadway venue has a seating capacity between 100 and 499, while an Off-Off Broadway space (or indie theater) provides only up to 99 seats. By being smaller in size and more intimate than the standard Broadway theaters, both venue types can offer more experimental and challenging performances.


Image via Google Maps

$11 Million Extensive Renovation Completed at Tanya Towers

24 Oct 2013, 2:48 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Tanya Towers Lower East Side Manhattan

After two years of extensive renovations, a low-rent apartment building at 620 East 13th Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side was reopened last week during an official ceremony.

The 10-story Tanya Towers was completed in 1973 and has been offering affordable housing with special support services to low-income individuals who are hard of hearing, deaf, blind or have other disabilities that require assistance. The residential building was developed by New York City under the Mitchell-Lama program that started in 1955 and provides affordable rental and cooperative housing to moderate- and low-income families.

The building was named in honor of Tanya Nash, who for 35 years served as Executive Director of the New York Society for the Deaf. In 2006 the Society merged with Federal Employment Guidance Services (FEGS), a large nonprofit organization and provider of housing and residential services for people with disabilities.

In November 2011 FEGS broke ground on an $11 million renovation that was meant to address the needs of the deaf and hard of hearing residents, but also to transform the 150-unit residential building into a LEED certifiable facility. The project is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP) which, to date, has funded the creation or preservation of more than 8,100 affordable housing units in Manhattan Community Board 3 alone.

The renovation designed by TEK Architects includes upgraded community rooms and lobby area, elevator modernization and the installation of an emergency power generator. Additionally, all kitchen and bathrooms were upgraded.

The project was made possible through a $1 million grant from the New York City Council, sponsored by Council Member Rosie Mendez, and a $500,000 grant from the Office of Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer. The remaining funds were made available by financing arranged by HDC and a $6.4 million mortgage financing from the same source.

Photo via NYC HPD Facebook Page

City Announces Development Team for EyeBAM Mixed-Use and Cultural Building in Downtown Brooklyn

11 Oct 2013, 6:39 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A team of six entities was chosen by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development representatives to develop BAM North Site II, the last vacant property within the Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District, also known as DoBro or Fort Greene.

EyeBAM rendering

Jonathan Rose Companies along with Dattner Architects, Bernheimer Architecture, SCAPE Landscape Architects—and cultural partners Eyebeam Art + Technology and Science Gallery International—will create an affordable, mixed-use structure on three undeveloped lots totaling almost 12,500 square feet on Lafayette Street between Ashland Place and Rockwell Place.

According to an official statement, the project will be developed under Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP), a multi-billion initiative that aims to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by the close of fiscal year 2014.

EyeBAM, as the 12-story building was named, will include a mix of 109 apartments, of which 40 percent will be made available as affordable housing and 60 percent as market rate units. Project plans also include 27,000 square feet of ground floor and second floor space that will house exhibition areas and a cultural center shared by Eyebeam and the Science Gallery. A Craft-

EyeBAM rendering

branded restaurant will occupy around 2,700 square feet of street level space.

Expected to break ground in mid-2015, EyeBAM is designed to meet LEED Gold criteria and exceed Enterprise Green Communities standards, which translates into a set of green building guidelines applicable to affordable housing and is mandatory for all new affordable housing projects financed by the City of New York.

The Downtown Brooklyn Cultural District has seen a lot of movement since November 2012, when Mayor Bloomberg announced a plan to revitalize this area. The initiative tackled several city-owned, undeveloped parcels in the district and aimed to bring approximately 600 much-needed affordable housing units, a new public plaza and new cultural spaces to this neighborhood which has historically been home to a great number of artists and arts organizations such as the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM).

EyeBAM rendering via Dattner Architects/Bernheimer Architecture

Lower East Side Mega-Project Includes New Andy Warhol Museum

20 Sep 2013, 6:01 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Could New York City become even more arts-friendly in the not-too-distant future? The answer is yes. There’s always room for more art in this city than anywhere else in the world.

The Bloomberg administration, which recently provided financing for an affordable rehearsal studio for Long Island City performing artists, is planning to add an Andy Warhol museum in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The new institution will serve as an outpost for The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, where the artist was born in 1928, and it will be developed as part of the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA) initiative that aims to completely transform a 1.65-million-square-foot undeveloped area consisting of nine sites at the corner of Essex Street and Delancey Street in Manhattan’s historic Lower East Side neighborhood.

A $1.1 billion investment by a joint venture comprised of L+M Development Partners, BFC Partners and Taconic Investment Partners, the mega-project named Essex Crossing will be developed in five phases over several years under plans designed primarily by SHoP Architects and Beyer Blinder Belle. As detailed in a press statement, the anticipated groundbreaking of the project is spring 2015. Essex Crossing will include a community center run by Grand Street Settlement, a rooftop urban farm, micro-retail spaces, a school operated by the Educational Alliance, 250,000 square feet of office space and 1,000 housing units, half of which will be permanently affordable for low-, moderate-, and middle-income households and senior citizens.

According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the new Andy Warhol art museum will be located in an area that was home to working-class immigrants until 1967, when 2,000 residents were evicted by the City to make room for new housing and retail. When completed sometime in spring 2017, the new museum will have only 10,000 square feet—less than one eighth of the space currently occupied by The Andy Warhol Museum in Pittsburgh, which was opened in 1994 as the largest museum in the United States dedicated to a single artist.

Known as the “Pope of Pop” for his immense contribution to the Pop Art movement, Andy Warhol (born Andrej Varhola to Czechoslovakian immigrant parents) moved from Pittsburgh to New York in June 1949, shortly after he graduated from the Carnegie Institute of Technology with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in pictorial design. Soon after he made Manhattan his home, Warhol established himself as an acclaimed graphic artist by working for the most important fashion magazines, creating album covers, designing retail ad campaigns or painting iconic American objects—Campbell’s Soup Cans, dollar bills, Coca-Cola bottles—and celebrities such as Elvis Presley, Marilyn Monroe, Elizabeth Taylor or Jackie Kennedy.

Rendering courtesy of New York City Mayor’s Office via Flickr

Andy Warhol,  Self-Portrait, 1963-1964 via www.warhol.org

$157 Million Luxury Building Underway in Queens; Continuum Announces Harlem’s Tallest Residential Project

14 Sep 2013, 4:45 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A new luxury residential project is under construction at 41-50 24th Street, a vacant site in Queens’ fast growing Long Island City neighborhood.

The World-Wide Group, a New York City-based development company that has developed over $3 billion worth of premium residential properties in Manhattan over the past five decades, recently broke ground on a $157 million project. According to Crain’s New York Business, it will add 421 new rental units ranging from studios to three-bedroom units to Long Island City’s bustling Queens Plaza North Area. When completed in spring 2015, the units could fetch rents between $1,990 for a studio and around $3,750 for a two-bedroom.

Developed in a joint venture with partners Rabina Properties and Cammeby’s International Group, the 21-story rental building will also feature 25,000 square feet of high-end amenities including a landscaped roof deck and private gardens, an outdoor pool, a state-of-the-art fitness center, underground parking and storage spaces for bikes.

A report from PropertyShark.com reveals that the 41,628-square-foot parcel changed hands in February 2012, when the Criterion Group sold it in a direct deal for $28.85 million to World-Wide. With this purchase, the development company became the property’s third owner in seven years.

Meanwhile in Harlem, Continuum Cos. is about to break ground on a pair of residential towers totaling 650,000 square feet, the New York Post reports. Designed by ODA-Architecture to be the tallest buildings in the neighborhood, the 320-foot-high towers will go up at 1800 Park Ave. on a 3,539-square-foot parcel that Continuum purchased from Vornado Realty Trust for $65 million in April. The housing units at 1800 Park Ave. will be marketed under the “80/20 Housing Program,” which stipulates that at least 20 percent of the apartments must be set aside for families or individuals with incomes at half or less of the local Area Median Income, while the remaining 80 percent can be market rate. Additionally, the maximum rent on these low-income units can’t exceed 30 percent of the applicable income limits. According to the New York Post, the new residential development in Harlem will offer around 120 affordable housing units and 380 market rate apartments.

Construction Starts at East New York Senior Housing Development

9 Sep 2013, 4:52 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Another residential project officially kicked off in Brooklyn last week as part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan that aims to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for 500,000 New Yorkers by the close of Fiscal Year 2014.

Named after Coretta Scott King, the prominent activist, civil rights leader and widow of Martin Luther King, Jr., the new development will add 50 units of low-income affordable housing for seniors living in Brooklyn’s East New York neighborhood. The total cost of the Coretta Scott-King Senior Houses will be $13.7 million, with $7.7 million coming from the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the rest coming from the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz and the New York City Council Brooklyn Delegation.

Coretta Scott-King Senior Houses will replace a city-owned vacant lot at McClancy Place that has not been developed in more than 40 years. Co-developed by Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council and sponsored by the East New York Council for the Aging, Inc. and Community Partners Commission Association, Inc., the four-story building was designed by Urban Architectural Initiatives (UAI), a design and architecture firm headquartered in Manhattan. The new development will include a community space, a parking lot, a secluded walking path with seating area and community garden plots that will be used by the seniors.

“This senior housing development will provide much needed housing for seniors and enhance the community by developing former City-owned property in the heart of a family-based community that welcomes their new senior neighbors,” said President of the Coretta Scott-King HDFC, Dedra Wade, in a press statement.

The 50 apartments will be filled through an open lottery supervised by HPD. Eligible residents must be over the age of 62 and earn less than 50 percent of the Area Median Income (or less than $30,100 a annually).

Rendering via HPD Facebook Page

Affordable Rehearsal Space Available for Rent in Long Island City

25 Aug 2013, 10:14 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

With such a thriving arts and culture scene, New York City visual and performing artists are constantly on the lookout for new and affordable rehearsal spaces—while trying to stop the demolition of some already established artistic sites, such as the world famous 5Pointz which will be replaced by apartments.

Starting this week, city artists have access to Spaceworks LIC, a privately funded rental facility located at 33-02 Skillman Avenue in Long Island City that offers three rehearsal rooms and one music studio for performing artists. According to data from PropertyShark, the underutilized six-story building which is owned by Skillman Avenue Corp. was built in 1931 and was mainly used for storage.

Developed by the non-profit organization Spaceworks and backed by the Bloomberg administration, the $200,000 Spaceworks LIC is the first of five facilities which will create nearly 30,000 square feet of rental rehearsal space for city artists over the next two years. The other Spaceworks sites will be opened in Gowanus, Williamsburg and Governor’s Island.

“By integrating affordable workspace for artists into neighborhoods across the city, Spaceworks is helping us find innovative ways to attract the talented workers who help shape our City’s economy, identity and quality of life,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a statement.

The 3,800-square-foot building features three large rehearsal spaces for dance and theater, as well as one music practice studio. These spaces will be rented online on an hourly basis, with prices ranging from $12 to $16 for a rehearsal studio. First time applicants will pay a one-time $10 application processing fee.

Images via http://spaceworksnyc.org

USTA Unveils $550 Million Makeover of the National Tennis Center

20 Aug 2013, 5:01 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

One of the world’s most anticipated sports tournaments is right around the corner. The 2013 US Open has reached its 133rd edition and will run on outdoor hard courts from August 26 to September 9 at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows, Queens. This year’s Grand Slam event was officially extended by one day because of the poor weather conditions which have caused delays for the past five years.

In an effort to outbalance this shortcoming, USTA announced this week an extensive renovation plan for the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center that will also call for a retractable roof over the Arthur Ashe Stadium—US Open’s main stadium and the largest outdoor tennis-only venue in the world.

The historic $550 million transformation will be developed in phases over the next five years, with a start date set for the conclusion of the 2013 event. As revealed in the press statement, the project will be entirely self-financed, through a combination of bonds and USTA revenue generation.

For phase one of the project USTA has retained Hunt Construction Group to create the retractable roof structure over the 22,500-seat arena that was designed and built in 1997 by Rossetti, a Southfield, MI-based architectural design and planning firm. Scheduled for completion in August 2017, the structure will cost in excess of $100 million and will be constructed of flexible, translucent PTFE fabric stretched over a steel frame which will sit on eight steel columns surrounding the stadium. The first phase also includes moving the existing practice courts and two tournament courts to the north to make room for three new tournament courts.

A new 15,000-seat, “roof-ready” Louis Armstrong Stadium will be built during the final phase of the project. Most probably the new venue will be inaugurated just in time for the 2018 US Open. According to the press statement, the new stadium will increase the number of new visitors by 100,000 during the event, which will translate in a multi-million economic boost for Queens and the New York City metropolitan area.


Rendering credits to architecture firm Rossetti


BAM Fisher is NYC’s First LEED Gold Certified Theater

13 Aug 2013, 12:53 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor


The US Green Building Council (USGBC) marked another milestone last week when it awarded the LEED Gold Certification for New Construction to the newest addition of the Brooklyn Academy of Music (BAM). The seven-story Richard B. Fisher Building located at 321 Ashland Place in Fort Greene has just became the first theater in New York City to receive such a recognition that underlines BAM’s goal to create an innovative, world-class arts facility that is able to conserve resources and reduce its environmental impact.

According to property data from PropertyShark, the original red-brick building was completed in 1928. Four years ago BAM announced plans to embark on a multi-million expansion project to create a new, six-story addition to the rear of the historic structure.

Located on the site of the Salvation Army’s former Brooklyn Citadel Corps and referred to as BAM Fisher, the $50 million building opened in September 2012. The expansion project was designed New York architect Hugh Hardy of H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture, who worked closely with theater consultant Auerbach Pollock Friedlander to create the academy’s first fully-flexible, fully-adaptable performance space since 1987.

The 40,000-square-foot building offers a 250-seat experimental theater that housed over 170 artistic performances and events and provided 1,600 square feet of rehearsal space for 33 community organizations in its first 10 months of full operation.

BAM Fisher’s eco-friendly features include a reduction in water consumption by more than 40% and an energy efficiency system that reduces the greenhouse gas emissions by 22%. The green rooftop, which was designed by Starr Whitehouse Architects and Planners, features native plants to reduce the need for watering and opaque glass paver lights to create an intimate atmosphere at night. The 1,400-square-foot rooftop is used as an outdoor venue for community gatherings and special events.

Renderings courtesy of  H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture and Starr Whitehouse Architects and Planners

Alloy, Monadnock Selected for Mixed-Use Project in DUMBO

5 Aug 2013, 9:06 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The Brooklyn Bridge Park Board of Directors has selected a development team to design and create a 12-story mixed-use building located at 1 John Street in DUMBO, while expanding the parkland area into the northern portion of the park and improving pedestrian access.

Following a request for proposals issued in December, the city received 11 designs that aimed to enliven the northern entrance of the park. According to an official statement, the joint venture between Alloy Development and Monadnock Construction—both based in Brooklyn—was tapped to redevelop the 1.5-acre vacant site that was previously owned and maintained by Consolidated Edison Inc.

“Brooklyn Bridge Park has quickly become one of our city’s favorite parks, attracting visitors who enjoy its innovative design, new amenities and breathtaking views,” said Mayor Michael Bloomberg in a press, statement, adding that “new parkland and residential development at John Street will allow the park to grow and continue to thrive as one of the highlights of our city’s new green waterfront.”

Set to break ground in 2014 and expected to be completed in winter 2015, the project will add 47 new housing units—most probably condos totaling 96,440 square feet—immediately north of the Manhattan Bridge as well as 2,650 square feet of ground floor retail space and 1,750 square feet of cultural space which will include the first annex of the Brooklyn Children’s Museum. The park will expand with tree-lined pathways, a saltwater marsh with pedestrian bridges, and a 13,000-square-foot gathering lawn.

Renderings via NYC Mayor’s Office

Two Roaring 20s Landmarks Reinvented as Hollywood Studio, Event Space

28 Jul 2013, 11:36 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Yes, you got that right! Hollywood! The Big Apple will soon have its first and only outdoor studio set on 36th Street between 34th and 35th Avenues in Astoria, Queens. Kaufman Astoria Studios, a historic film and media production facility that was established more than 90 years ago as Paramount’s east coast production arm, is looking to expand and bring a little bit of that Hollywood magic to this section of Queens.

DNAinfo.com reports that the new production space will offer filmmakers an appropriate outdoor space where temporary sets can be built, and special-effect scenes and realistic car chases can be filmed within a controlled area.

Though it was de-mapped in June 2012, 36th street was closed to traffic last week as a result of a deal between Kaufman Astoria Studios and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) that allows the studio to lease the street until 2049. According to an earlier news report by The New York Times, the studio will begin paying rent in 2015 ($140,000 per year, but the amount is set to increase every five years). Reportedly, the new outdoor studio will feature a Hollywood-style main gate designed by a team of architects from the Rockwell Group.

Meanwhile in New York City’s West Side, another landmark from the Roaring Twenties is currently undergoing renovations. Located at 639 West 46th Street, the former H&H Bagel Factory will become Metropolitan West, the newest event venue in this part of the city that has become a popular location for tourists.

Metropolitan West will open in late 2013 as an extension of Metropolitan Pavilion at 125 West 18th Street in Chelsea. The new venue will host over 200 events each year, from Internet Week to corporate events. According to the Commercial Observer, back in early 2012 Metropolitan Pavilion signed a lease for the 24,000-square-foot facility with the MKF Group, which owns the building. The remodeling process, with plans designed by architect David Feldman, will include a new elevator, new stairs, new mechanicals, and a renovated façade that will preserve the building’s many original Art Deco architectural details.

Studio Gate rendering courtesy of Kaufman Astoria Studios; Metropolitan West rendering via Melody Joy Public Relations

The Queens Museum of Art to Reopen in October, Twice as Large

20 Jul 2013, 12:38 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

After more than two years of extensive renovations and a $68 million investment, The Queens Museum of Art will reopen on October 11, bringing new technology and expanded exhibition space to accommodate the institution’s growing collection.

Located in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in the borough of Queens, the museum is housed in the New York City Building that was originally designed by architect Aymer Embury II to accommodate the New York City Pavilion at the 1939 World’s Fair. During its more than four decades of history, the museum—originally known as the Queens Center for Art and Culture—underwent several renovations led by famous architects such as Daniel Chait and Rafael Viñoly.

In 2011 the Queens Museum of Art and the New York City Department of Design and Construction awarded the renovation project to London-based Grimshaw Architects who worked closely with the engineering firm of Ammann & Whitney to add an additional 50,000 square feet of exhibition, education and office space and eight new artist studios, making the museum twice as large as it used to be.

According to Architectural Record, the highlight of this renovation and expansion effort is the museum’s new entrance which is now accessible from the building’s west façade, facing the Grand Central Parkway, and a new 220-foot long illuminated glass façade and entry plaza, with a sky-lit atrium in between.

Renderings via Grimshaw Architects

Rehabilitation Completed at Bed-Stuy Low-Income Building

12 Jul 2013, 2:55 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Renovated project by renovated project, Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP)—a 10-year long, multi-billion dollar initiative that aims to create and preserve 165,000 affordable housing units in the five boroughs by the close of fiscal year 2014—is heading for fruition.

On July 11, another energy inefficient housing building that’s part of the NHMP initiative was added to the list of rehabilitated multifamily properties. 270 Pulaski Street, a bunker-like 78,000-square-foot building in in the Bedford Stuyvesant neighborhood of Brooklyn that was completed in 1974 by the non-profit community development Consumer Action Program of Bedford Stuyvesant (CABS), went through an 18-month renovation project under plans designed by Nomad Architecture. The development team also included Rockabill Advisors, St. Nicks Alliance, and FG-PH Corp.

According to a press statement, the rehabilitation included the creation of six additional apartments, raising the total number of units to 72 ranging from one- to four-bedroom apartments, all of them targeting individuals or families earning at or below 60 percent of the AMI (or $49,080 for a family of four).

The rehabilitation project also included a deep energy retrofit to lower the energy consumption by half by replacing the building’s envelope, upgrading most of the plumbing and mechanical equipment, renovating all units with new bathrooms, kitchens, finishes and energy-efficient lighting, and adding a full sprinkler fire protection system.


Image courtesy of Nomad Architecture

Forest City Ratner Tapped for Master Development of Cornell Tech Campus

3 Jul 2013, 8:58 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Cornell University’s Board of Trustees is moving forward with plans to develop Cornell Tech, an innovation campus where tech industry professionals and businesses will work with university students under the same roof at the Roosevelt Island Campus of graduate high-tech education to create real-world applications and entrepreneurship.

The Board of Trustees has chosen Brooklyn-based developer Forest City Ratner, a subsidiary of real estate company Forest City Inc. with headquarters in Cleveland, OH, as the master developer of the project’s Phase I—a “corporate co-location” building of up to 200,000 square feet of flex/office space. Designed by award-winning architecture firm Weiss/Manfredi, the building will be owned and operated by Forest City Ratner. It will be anchored by Cornell, which will occupy approximately 50,000 square feet, while the developer will lease the rest of the space to a mix of tech, research and entrepreneurial tenants. Set to break ground in March 2014, the project is still subject to finalizing plans and terms.

Crain’s New York Business reports that Forest City Ratner will also oversee the development of a $200 million building of nearly 150,000 square feet that will be owned entirely by Cornell and used only for classrooms and academic purposes. Construction at the second building is expected to start in spring 2014 under plans designed by Thom Mayne of Morphosis Architects. The five-story building will aim for a LEED Platinum certification and once fully completed—in 2017, according to Green Buildings NYC—it is expected to become the largest net-zero structure in the eastern United States. The developers hope that the building will be opened for classes in 2017.

Master plan rendering via Cornell University’s Facebook Page

New York Parks Now Have Free Solar-Powered Charging Stations

21 Jun 2013, 6:46 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Imagine you’re taking a walk in the city and your cellphone starts ringing. It’s your mom/boss/partner/landlord and you know you absolutely must take this call but that evil “low-battery” message has a different plan. So what do you do, with no chargers around?

Thanks to a partnership between the Bloomberg administration and telecommunications provider AT&T, New Yorkers can now enjoy improved connectivity in their day-to-day lives. The “AT&T Street Charge” initiative has provided 25 solar powered charging stations located across all five boroughs where people can charge their cellphones, tablets and other mobile devices. The first solar charging units were installed in Riverside Park and Union Square in Manhattan, and along the Pier 1 promenade at Brooklyn Bridge Park.

AT&T teamed up with solar technology company Goal Zero and Pensa, a Brooklyn-based design firm, to create these seven-foot tall poles, each of them featuring three, 15-watt solar panels on top and offering iPhone 4 and iPhone 5 connections, microUSB ports for Android and Windows phones and regular USB ports for other devices. Each solar charging unit is able to fully charge around 30 mobile devices before running out of power and can be used free of charge by anyone, no matter what telecom company they use. According to Mashable, the poles are equipped with 168 watt-hour batteries, which allow the chargers to operate for days even if the weather is bad and there is little or no exposure to the sun.

The “AT&T Street Charge” initiative took shape naturally after Superstorm Sandy left large residential areas in the city with no power for several days and the telecom company stepped in with commercial generators and pop-up cellular service that allowed users to juice up their devices and communicate. The 25 solar charging poles will operate in various locations across New York City as a test until this fall and—if they prove to be a success—the initiative will be expanded to other major cities.

Images courtesy of AT&T

Midtown Manhattan Hospitality Market Heating Up with New EVEN, SpringHill Hotels

31 May 2013, 2:43 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

InterContinental Hotels Group (IHG) recently announced it has decided on a second location for its new EVEN Hotels property in New York City, falling under an ownership group led by long-time business partners Frank Chan and Lance Steinberg. Located at 321 West 35th St. in Midtown Manhattan, the new EVEN Hotels property will add 150 guest rooms over 25 floors to the city’s ever-growing hospitality market.

The EVEN Hotels brand was designed for business and leisure travelers who like to keep a healthy and active lifestyle. The brand was launched by IHG in February 2012 with a focus on wellness space, from offering state-of-the-art gym and workout spaces to healthier food options, as well as peaceful design elements and amenities.

“The wellness industry continues to grow, and the need for a hotel brand like this one has never been greater,” said co-owner Lance Steinberg in a statement for the press. “IHG’s innovative approach to brand creation and the strength of their portfolio made them the ideal choice for our first venture into the hotel real estate business.”

The 77,000-square-foot EVEN Hotel in Midtown Manhattan is expected to open mid-year in 2015.

In October 2012, IHG announced the first-ever EVEN Hotel at 219 East 44th St. on the east side of Midtown Manhattan, an 87,000-square-foot new-build that is also scheduled to open in 2015. Also co-owned by the Chan-Steinberg partnership, the 23-story facility will have 230 guest rooms, flexible meeting space, and dining areas that will serve healthy food and beverages.

According to IHG, as many as 100 new EVEN Hotels are expected to be signed in the U.S. within the next five years.

In addition to these developments, SpringHill Suites by Marriott recently celebrated its 300th milestone with the opening of a new hotel at 25 West 37th St. near Herald Square. The 18-story, 173-room SpringHill Suites by Marriott/Manhattan Fifth Avenue is owned by Robert Finvarb Companies and Hidrock Partners, who also served as the project’s developer.

For more market data from New York City, click here.

Correction: both of the New York City EVEN Hotels are slated for 2015 openings.

 Rendering of the EVEN Hotel via evenhotels.com

 Rendering of  SpringHill Suites by Marriott courtesy of the Robert Finvarb Companies

Yahoo’s New Home in Manhattan

29 May 2013, 2:28 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Hot on the heels of its $1.1 billion acquisition of Tumblr—the fast-growing social blogging platform, Yahoo! has announced that the company’s New York City-based offices will now move into one central location in Manhattan. According to the media giant’s first post on Tumblr, around 500 employees in three buildings in the Big Apple will be reunited on four full floors in the historic Times Square in the old New York Times building.

Located at 229 West 43rd Street and designed in stages between 1913 and 1932, the 18-story structure was the headquarters of the New York Times newspaper for more than 90 years.

In 2004, the building was sold by its owner, The New York Times Company—which has been controlled by the Sulzeberger family since 1896, to Tishman Speyer Properties for $175 million. Three years later, Tishman sold the historic building for $525 million to Africa Israel Investments, an Israel-based international holding and investment company.

According to the newspaper itself, Yahoo! is currently negotiating with city officials to place a large neon sign with the company name on top of the building, where The Times’ iconic clock used to be. Yahoo!’s relocation—and possible expansion—is expected to consolidate the presence of tech-giants in Manhattan, as Facebook has already leased space in the area and Microsoft is in the process of moving in.

For more market data from New York City, click here.

Image via Yahoo! on Tumblr


Luxury Assisted Living Facility Opens in White Plains

13 May 2013, 1:19 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A new luxury assisted living complex called The Bristal at White Plains celebrated its official grand opening last week during a ribbon-cutting ceremony that attracted over 200 Worcester County dignitaries, businesspersons and residents.

Developed by a joint venture between the Engel Burman Group and Caiola Partners, The Bristal is located at 305 North St. on the site of the former St. Agnes Hospital, which was shuttered in 2004. The abandoned hospital building was then acquired for $6 million from North Street Communities by Engel Burman, a Garden City-based company that owns and operates several Bristal assisted living communities on Long Island.

“The transformation of this former hospital building into a new state-of-the-art assisted living community is a remarkable achievement,” said Steven Krieger of The Engel Burman Group, who was quoted in a statement for the press. “The Bristal at White Plains is bringing high-quality senior care to Westchester while creating new jobs for the area economy.”

The Bristal at White Plains started receiving residents over the age of 65 in November 2012 and is now nearly 40 percent occupied. Designed by architect David Mammina, the $30 million assisted living facility has all the amenities that resemble a luxury hotel—daily housekeeping and laundry services, a 40-seat cinema, arts and crafts studio, library, spa, private dining room, business center and heated outdoor pool.

The four-story Bristal building can accommodate 148 residents in 136 rental apartments with rents ranging from $4,000 to $8,000 per month, including 32 units dedicated for residents who require memory care.

The North Street facility is Engel Burman’s first completed assisted living facility in Westchester County. A second Bristal community is currently under construction on a 6.5-acre office-park parcel in Armonk. The 105,000-square-foot facility will add 140 rental units with up to 170 beds to Engel Burman‘s portfolio of assisted living properties. The Armonk project is expected to open next year.

Please click here for more market data on New York City.

Photo of The Bristal at White Plains via caring.com

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