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$225 Million Mixed-Use Tower to Revitalize Downtown Jamaica

10 Mar 2014, 4:01 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Greater Jamaica Development Corp. has plans for a mixed-use tower that is expected to revitalize an underdeveloped site at 93-01 Sutphin Boulevard and the corner of Archer Avenue, near the Jamaica AirTrain Station area and across from the Long Island Rail Road station.

93-01 Sutphin Boulevard - Jamaica, Queens

93-01 Sutphin Boulevard – Jamaica, Queens

According to the Queens Time Ledger, the new high-rise will be developed on land owned by Greater Jamaica and will replace a Duane Reade store which has a lease running through 2018 with an option to renew until 2023.

Dubbed Site 6, the $225 million project will mark the largest private investment in this Queens neighborhood and will be part of the city’s redevelopment efforts to revitalize its downtown area. The 22-story tower will be built by the New York-based BRP Companies, the developer behind Macedonia Church Development Corp.’s 143-unit affordable rental building at 37-08 Union Street.

Reportedly, the tower project will have 400 apartment units, a fitness center for residents and a roof deck. The 80,000-square-foot street level retail space will most likely be occupied by grocery stores. The site is included in New York City’s Food Retail Expansion to Support Health program, which means grocery store operators and/or developers seeking to construct or renovate retail spaces in underserved communities are eligible for up to 20,000 square feet in additional development rights, as well as financial incentives and tax exemptions.

According to the source, in June 2012 Greater Jamaica issued a request for proposals to revitalize the Jamaica neighborhood. A list of redevelopment projects was announced since that time, including a 26-story hotel with 210 rooms that will be constructed south of the AirTrain station.


Image via Google Maps

Hotel 373 and the Historic Waldorf Astoria in Midtown Manhattan May Hit the Market

3 Mar 2014, 4:15 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Hersha Hospitality Trust, a self-advised real estate investment trust that owns and manages around 8,000 hotel rooms in 50 hotels in urban gateway markets across US, recently announced it has entered into a definitive agreement to sell the Hotel 373 located in Midtown Manhattan to an unnamed offshore investment fund.

Hotel 373 - Fifth Avenue, Midtown Manhattan

Hotel 373 – Fifth Avenue, Midtown Manhattan

A statement announcing the transaction reveals the 70-room European-style boutique hotel is valued at $37 million or nearly $529,000 per key and $1,680 per square foot, which highlights Manhattan’s sizzling real estate market and underscores the quality and value of Hersha’s hotel portfolio in New York City. The transaction is expected to close in the second quarter of 2014, the company announced.

 “We believe the sale of Hotel 373 will narrow the gap between the private and public market value of the Company’s real estate,” stated Jay H. Shah, Hersha’s chief executive officer. “The transaction is a strong indication of continuing domestic and international interest from public and private groups seeking to acquire cash flowing real estate in top U.S. gateway markets. We remain optimistic regarding the long-term prospects of the New York City hotel market, but we will continue to search for opportunities to divest high-yielding, stabilized assets and to redeploy the proceeds into higher growth opportunities or to pursue stock buyback opportunities at periods when the stock price does not appropriately reflect value,” he added.

The Waldorf Astoria – 301 Park Avenue, Midtown Manhattan

According to a property report from PropertyShark.com, the eight-story building located at 373 Fifth Avenue was constructed in 1906.

In further Midtown Manhattan hospitality news, Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. may sell a stake in the historic Waldorf Astoria hotel or possibly the entire property. In an interview with Bloomberg, Hilton CEO Christopher Nassetta said that the company is evaluating how the property could be repositioned, as Hilton is considering residential, office and retail uses for the luxury hotel located at 301 Park Avenue. Nassetta stressed that Hilton would continue to operate the Waldorf Astoria—which is one of the largest hotels in New York City—after any sale.

Opened in 1931, the 47-story Art-Deco structure was designed by Schultze and Weaver Architects. Hilton Worldwide Holdings Inc. acquired the 1,232-room hotel in 1972.

Image of Hotel 373 via PropertyShark.com; Image of the Waldorf Astoria via Facebook

LargaVista and Related Team Up to Create Mixed-Use Building in SoHo

17 Feb 2014, 5:41 pm

Rendering of 300 Lafayette Project in SoHo, Manhattan

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A former BP gas station and two other derelict buildings at the corner of Houston and Lafayette streets in Manhattan’s SoHo neighborhood, will be replaced by 300 Lafayette, a boutique office and retail building by a joint venture between LargaVista Companies and Related Cos.

“By joining forces with Related, we are introducing an exceptionally strong financial partner with proven expertise in delivering world-class properties like 300 Lafayette,” Marcello Porcelli, president of largaVista, commented in a press statement. “This project will benefit tremendously from Related’s wealth of experience in building and leasing some of the most complex projects and demanding designs in major markets throughout the globe,” he added.

Rendering of 300 Lafayette Project in SoHo, Manhattan

The gas station site, which has been owned by LargaVista since 1976, was designated as part of the SoHo Cast Iron Historic District Extension by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission because of its prominent location at SoHo’s retail gateway. According to The Real Deal, LargaVista recently paid $5 million for the two adjacent buildings (a bar and a former mechanic’s garage) that will be demolished to make room for the new building.

Designed by COOKFOX Architects as a seven-story building featuring floor-to-ceiling glazing set in terra-cotta and limestone frames with generous outdoor spaces and landscaped terraces, the $200 million development project was unanimously approved by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission in April 2013. When completed in 2015, 300 Lafayette will offer 53,000 square feet of office space and 30,000 square feet of retail space.

Renderings courtesy of COOKFOX Architects

Renovation and Rebranding Announced for Holiday Inn New York City Midtown

8 Feb 2014, 9:06 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The existing Holiday Inn hotel located at 30-32 West 31stStreet in New York City’s Midtown District is set to be converted into a new Hyatt-branded hotel, as Chesapeake Lodging Trust appointed a Hyatt affiliate to oversee the $6 million renovation and rebranding process.

Holiday Inn New York City 30-32 West 31st Street

“We are very pleased to expand our relationship with Hyatt, by way of up-branding the hotel to the upper-upscale market position in the vibrant midtown area of Manhattan. Hyatt Herald Square will mark our sixth Hyatt property in our growing portfolio of high-quality assets throughout the key markets of North America,” said James L. Francis, Chesapeake Lodging Trust’s president and chief executive officer, in a press statement.

The renovation project is expected to begin in August and be completed by the end of September 2014, during which time the hotel operations will be closed. Paul Vega, founder of VLDG designs of New York, was tapped to develop the redesign of the 20-story building which will use the hotel’s surrounding Herald Square area and the nearby Fashion District as sources of inspiration.

According to a press release from Chesapeake Lodging Trust, a self-advised real estate investment trust focused on investments in upper-scale hotels in key markets across the United States, the reconversion plans include a complex renovation to each of the hotel’s 122 guestrooms, as well as a renovated and upgraded lobby and social spaces on the first floor.

According to Hotel Management, the 60,270-square-foot structure was completed in 2011 by Heena Hotel LLC which later that year sold it to Annapolis, MD-based Chesapeake Lodging Trust  for a reported $52.2 million, or roughly $428,000 per room.


Image via Intercontinental Hotels Group

Mashable Signs 38 KSF Lease to Relocate to 114 Fifth Avenue

25 Jan 2014, 8:30 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor


Mashable logo

Mashable, the mega-popular tech and social news blog founded in 2005 by Pete Cashmore—yes, the cool entrepreneur who made it to Forbes’ “30 Under 30” list—struck a deal with L&L Holding Company for 38,580 square feet of space at the newly renovated 114 Fifth Avenue in Midtown South.

With the current lease at 304 Park Avenue South set to expire this year, the news-hub has been on the lookout for a possible location for a new headquarters in Manhattan ever since November, The Real Deal reported. The new lease agreement, which has a termination date in 2024, was brokered by CBRE’s Sacha Zarba, Chris Corrinet and

114 Fifth Avenue office tower

Scott Bogetti who represented Mashable, and L&L Holding Company’s David Berkey and Andrew Wiener. According to an announcement released by L&L, Mashable will occupy the entire 14th and 15th floors in the 20-story office tower, more than double the space it currently occupies at 304 Park Avenue South. The news-hub will most probably relocate to the new headquarters in August, as soon as renovations are completed at the office building.

“We’re proud to welcome Mashable to 114 Fifth Avenue, which is widely acknowledged as an emerging new Silicon Alley hotspot,” stated L&L Chairman and CEO David Levinson. “Given the high demand and tight vacancy rate in Midtown South, we expect our leasing program to move swiftly,” he added, noting that L&L is currently in negotiations with a number of other tenants for the balance of the building.

Completed in 19101, 114 Fifth Avenue was designed and built by Mayniche & Franke. The building along with a 99-year leasehold was acquired in January 2013 for $165 million by a joint venture between L&L and private equity firm Lubert-Adler, The Real Deal said. Shortly after the transaction was closed, the new owners embarked on a complex renovation and upgrade process that will boast new infrastructure, a new lobby, elevators and green roof that will serve as a tenant amenity.


Image via 1145thavenue.com

Magnum/40 North J-V to Develop Student Housing in Manhattan

24 Jan 2014, 5:55 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

The School of Visual Arts, one of the largest independently regionally accredited art colleges in the country, will add a new dormitory building to its campus in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan. The Real Dealreports that the 14-story residence hall will be developed by a joint venture between Magnum Real Estate Group and 40 North Properties, a local development company focused on commercial and residential developments across the five New York City boroughs.

School of Visual Arts Dormitory at 407 First Avenue on 24 Street

Set to occupy an existing parking lot of 4,200 square feet at 407 First Avenue on 24 Street, the building was designed by Ismael Leyva Architects as an L-shaped structure that will allow the construction of a six-story wing on First Avenue. Reportedly, construction at the 147,000-square-foot residence hall will start in spring 2014 with a completion date set for the beginning of the fall semester 2016.

Once open, the new School of Visual Arts residence hall will provide over 500 dormitory beds within 242 suites. The building will also include administrative and faculty offices, as well as a public terrace on the seventh floor.

“We will design a comfortable living environment for students in a functional building, keeping in context with the surrounding neighborhood,” said Ismael Leyva, AIA, president, Ismael Leyva Architects, in a press statement.

According to The Real Deal, the Magnum/40 North partnership acquired the development site in April 2013 for $32.25 from the nonprofit International Center for the Disabled.

Rendering credits: Ismael Leyva Architects

Triangle Equities’ $200 Million Lighthouse Point Adds to Staten Island Wave of Developments

10 Jan 2014, 7:28 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor


Lighthouse Point project rendering – St. George, Staten Island

Queens-based Triangle Equities is finally moving on with one of the largest mixed-use projects to be developed on the North Shore of Staten Island since Hurricane Sandy hit the area. Though the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) green lighted the development plans in early 2007, the project faced several years of hurdles mostly because of the economic downturn that affected the real estate sector.

Just like the adjacent New York Ferris Wheel project that was announced in September 2012 and approved by the City Council one year later, Triangle Equities’ $200 million development will be a key piece in the revitalization puzzle on the northeastern side of Staten Island.

Slated for ground breaking in mid-2014, Lighthouse Point will be developed in phases and will replace a three-acre waterfront parcel that is currently occupied by a vacant lighthouse facility in the neighborhood of St. George, which is the gateway to the borough for more than 65,000 commuters and tourists each weekday. The historic structure located near Bay Street served as the U.S. Coast Guard Station Administration building until 1966.

Lighthouse Point project rendering – St. George, Staten Island

According to the Staten Island Advance, development plans call for a residential tower with 96 rental units and retail space and a new 180-room hotel that will incorporate a historic building as the entrance way. Some of the six historic buildings included on the development site will be renovated for new uses such as dining areas. The first phase of the project is estimated to last around 18 months with a focus on completing the three-story retail structure that will serve as a base for the rental tower. Depending on how fast the construction moves forward, the first residential floors could be developed during this phase. Phase two will see the construction of the new hotel and the renovation or repositioning of the historic buildings.

The Lighthouse Point project will reportedly create nearly 700 construction jobs and almost 380 permanent jobs.


Renderings via Triangle Equities website

Terreno Realty Corp. Pays $53.1 Million for Industrial Buildings in Queens, NY

3 Jan 2014, 3:24 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

San Francisco-based Terreno Realty Corporation recently acquired a real estate portfolio marketed under the name JFK Airgate and an adjacent parcel in Queens for a purchase price of $53.1 million, or around $232 per square foot. According to a blog post by Philip Blumberg, JFK Airgate’s previous owner was AMB Property Corporation (it later merged with Prologis) which purchased it for $34.4 million in 2005.

Terreno Realty Corporation logo

According to a press release from the company, JFK Airgate is located one-half mile north of John F. Kennedy International Airport and close to Rockaway Boulevard, the Belt Parkway and the Van Wyck Expressway, while the 0.2-acre paved and fenced land parcel is located at Baisley Boulevard and 132nd Avenue and has 27 parking spaces.

Totaling nearly 230,000 square feet of space, JFK Airgate includes four commercial buildings which were 98.6 percent leased at the time of acquisition by 18 tenants, including some of the largest international air cargo and logistics firms.

The buildings acquired by Terreno Realty Corporation are as follows:

-          Airgate I – a two-story warehouse located at 151-02 132nd Avenue. According to data from PropertyShark.com, the facility was built in 1987; it has approximately 65,000 square feet of usable storage space and parking spots for 56 cars.

-          Airgate II – a 66,000-square-foot front-load warehouse with 12 dock-high and 3 grade level loading positions. The building is located at 150-10 132nd Avenue and has 76 parking spaces.

-          Airgate III – a two-story warehouse located at 152-02 Baisley Boulevard. The building contains 73,000 square feet of storage space and features 18 dock-high and 1 grade level loading positions, as well as 138 parking spaces.

-          Airgate IV – a 25,000-square-foot office building with 58 parking spaces located at 152-01 133rd Avenue.

Terreno Realty Corporation is a San Francisco-based company that focuses on acquiring and  operating industrial real estate in six major U.S. coastal markets.

Flatiron-Shaped Condo Tower Underway in Soho

30 Dec 2013, 8:44 am

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

A 16-story residential tower is underway in Manhattan’s Soho neighborhood as the city Board of Standards and Appeals unanimously recently approved the construction project proposed by Madison Equities and Property Markets Group. According to The Real Deal, the joint venture needed a variance change because the construction site was zoned for commercial and industrial use.

10 Sullivan Street – Soho, NYC

Designed by NYC-based architect and designer Cary Tamarkin, the flatiron-shaped condo tower will rise on the site of a former car wash on the northeast corner of Sixth Avenue and Broome Street—though Corcoran Group Real Estate will market the building under the name 10 Sullivan Street. As reported by Curbed NY earlier this year, the triangular-shaped site was purchased by the development partners in June 2012.

Reportedly, the condo tower will have up to 27 units and nearly 4,000 square feet of ground floor leasable retail space and will feature four attached 4-story townhouses of around 4,500 square feet each, with backyards and parking space. According to the original plans filed for approval by Madison Equities, the tower will include a triplex occupying the 16th and 18th floors of the building. Furthermore, the tower’s ground floor will also contain a 1,500-square-foot residential lobby and a 3,800-square-foot parking garage with 11 spaces.

The development plans include a small plaza which will be located at the narrow point of the site facing the intersection of Broome Street, Sullivan Street and the Avenue of the Americas will serve as an entrance and will be included in the leasable retail space.

According to The Real Deal, the developers hope to complete the condo tower by mid-2015.

Rendering Madison Equities and Property Markets Group

Citigroup Signs $1B Lease Extension to Relocate Headquarters in Lower Manhattan

20 Dec 2013, 8:06 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Citigroup Inc., the third-biggest bank in the U.S., and SL Green Realty Corp. recently signed a $1 billion lease agreement and renovation deal that will allow the financial giant to relocate its headquarters from the existing offices at 399 Park Avenue to a twin-building complex on Greenwich Street through December 31, 2035.

388 Greenwich Street

Crain’s New York Business reports that Citigroup owned the 39-story 388 Greenwich tower and the adjacent 390 Greenwich, an eight-story building offering 94,000 square feet of prime office space, until 2007 when the two buildings were sold to SL Green and Ivanhoe Cambridge for $1.6 billion. The newly signed deal includes an option for Citigroup to buy back the two properties during the period from December 1, 2017 through December 31, 2020, as well as a thorough renovation of the office buildings which were built in the 1990s.

Reportedly, Citigroup already occupies space at the office complex in Lower Manhattan. According to the newly signed deal, the financial giant can also extend the 2.7-million-square-foot lease by at least 15 years.

390 Greenwich Street

According to an official statement from SL Green, Citigroup was represented in this transaction by Robert Alexander, Michael Geoghegan, Andrew Sussman and Michael Wellen from CBRE and received legal counseling from law firm Fried Frank, while SL Green acted on behalf of the landlord partnership.

“We worked tirelessly to structure a transaction that is advantageous to all parties, and we are extremely pleased that Citi has extended its long-term commitment to Downtown Manhattan,” said Marc Holliday, chief executive officer of SL Green Realty Corp. “Citi is one of the world’s great financial institutions. SL Green has enjoyed being its largest landlord and we are pleased to continue this strong and highly valued relationship.”


Images of 388 and 390 Greenwich Street courtesy of SL Green Realty Corp.

25 K Sq. Ft. Retail Condominium in Manhattan Sold for $50 M

13 Dec 2013, 5:23 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

200 West End

As the Manhattan commercial real estate market heats up, a retail condominium on the Upper West Side changed hands last week in a $50 million transaction.

The 25,000-square-foot property was sold to an unknown entity by real estate fund manager ALTO Private Investments which, according to an official statement, almost doubled its investment two years after the acquisition. The property consisting of four retail units had been purchased by ALTO with Florham Park, N.J.-based real estate firm The Klein American Group in 2011 for $31 million.

“Two years after the acquisition and with the improvements we instituted, we sold the property at a gross return of almost three times our original equity investment,” said Mody Kidon, ALTO chairman and co-founder.

Located at the intersection of 70th Street and West End Avenue on the ground floor of 200 West End Avenue, the 173-unit luxury condominium tower was built by Clarett Capital LLC in 2008; the retail property was leased to CVS for 13 years at the time of purchase. Immediately after purchasing the retail units, ALTO signed three additional tenants, each with 15-year leases, increasing occupancy and rental revenues by 40 percent.

ALTO focuses on the acquisition of value-add commercial properties by forming local joint ventures and co-investing with partners in local real estate assets. The company has invested $285 million in 14 commercial properties totaling 1.8 million square feet of space in top markets in the United States.


Image via Rubenstein PR

Seventh Hyatt-Branded Hotel in Manhattan to Open on New Year’s Eve

9 Dec 2013, 5:25 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

With the holiday season in progress, the Big Apple is as ready as ever for the winter wave of tourists, seasonal shoppers and business travelers. Hyatt Hotels Corporation announced the grand opening on New Year’s Eve 2013 of its seventh flagship hotel in the heart of New York City, just steps away from Times Square, Broadway theaters, Fifth Avenue shops, Rockefeller Center, the Museum of Modern Art and all that buzz that Manhattan has to offer.

Hyatt Times Square New York

“We are rolling out the red carpet, eager to welcome our first guests and future guests to come,” said Richard Morgan, general manager of Hyatt Times Square in a press statement. “We are especially delighted to share our local lore and favorite neighborhood spots so guests can enjoy Hyatt’s authentic hospitality as well as enjoy an authentic New York experience,” he added.

Standing 54 stories high at 135 West 45th Street, Hyatt Times Square New York is the tallest newly built Hyatt-branded hotel in the country. Construction at the new hotel broke ground in mid-2011 with Extell Development Company spearheading the operations. The 4-star hotel was designed by SLCE with interiors by Broadway-based SPaN Architecture. It offers a total of 487 guest rooms designed by George Wong—with only 11 rooms per floor—and 49 suites with modern amenities such as 47-inch flat screen TVs, ergonomic workspaces and multiport connections, in-room refrigerators and coffeemakers. A fully equipped 24-hour fitness center will be open to all guests. The hotel also includes a George Wong-designed restaurant with delicious signature dishes by New York-native Chef Nick Pelliccione.

By early 2014 Hyatt Times Square will feature additional amenities such as a 4,200-square-foot spa, a 2,000-square-foot meeting center with pre-function areas and three adjacent rooms equipped with state-of-the-art audio and video facilities, and a SPaN-designed rooftop lounge on the 54th floor where guests can enjoy indoor/outdoor fireplaces and spectacular views of Manhattan.


Image via Hyatt Times Square New York Facebook page

709-Unit Luxury High-Rise Opens in Long Island City

2 Dec 2013, 7:38 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Linc LIC – the newest luxury rental tower in Long Island City

Manhattan-based Rockrose Development Corporation officially opened its newest signature residential high-rise in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens, where real estate experts predict a housing boom in the next few years.

Located in Court Square at 43-10 Crescent Street, Linc LIC is one of the tallest and largest structures in Queens, offering 709 luxury rental apartments. The development broke ground in 2011 under plans designed by Avinash K. Malhorta Architects (AKM), with interiors by Moed de Armas & Shannon and Matthews Nielson as landscape architect.

According to DNAInfo.com New York, the developer had been leasing the 42-story tower for quite a while, so as much as 40 percent of the units were already under contract at opening date. With rents ranging from $2,200 for a studio and $4,4750 for a three-bedroom unit, Linc LIC provides high-end amenities such as a tenant lounge on the 31st floor, a fitness center, interior basketball and squash courts, children’s playroom, Wi-Fi lounge and screening room, a roof deck and a green park accessible to residents. There is also an underground parking garage with 175 available spaces. The first floor of the building will be occupied by retailers, which are yet to be named; although DNAInfo.com New York reports that a Food Cellar gourmet grocery store is set to open there in late 2014.

Linc LIC – residents lounge

A $155 million investment backed by Wells Fargo, Bank of America, Helaba and Capital One, Linc LIC is the first residential project that Rockrose has completed in Long Island City’s Court Square, an area mostly known as a hub for white collars. A 50-story tower with almost 1,000 apartment units will open in 2016 at 4325 Hunter Street, while a smaller rental tower with 800 units will replace a vacant warehouse at 43-22 Queens Street. Additionally, Rockrose will develop a 100-unit condo building on Crescent Street. The total development costs for the four residential projects are estimated to exceed $750 million.


Images via AKM Architects and Rockrose Development



Construction Starts on $80 Million Soundview Housing Project in the Bronx

25 Nov 2013, 6:09 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Soundview Family Homes

The first phase of construction at a new affordable housing community in the Soundview neighborhood of the Bronx has begun.

A joint venture between CPC Resources, Inc., L + M Development Partners, Lemle & Wolff and The New York Housing Partnership, the $80 million Soundview Housing project will be developed under the New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP), Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s multi-billion initiative to finance 165,000 units of low-income housing by the close of the 2014 fiscal year.

Soundview Housing is located next to Soundview Park, a 205-acre green public space along the Bronx River. As reported by Crain’s New York Business, the residential project will occupy a vacant lot owned by the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). Scheduled to be built in three phases, Soundview Housing will provide 206 units of affordable housing for the borough’s low-income families and also for individuals and families on NYCHA’s waiting list.

Soundview Family Housing, the project’s first and largest stage of construction, will cost $46.9 million to build. According to an official statement, the funds will be provided by a combination of tax exemptions from HDC, HPD, NYCHA, Wells Fargo financing and Resolution “A” funding.

Designed by Magnusson Architecture and Planning to reference mid-20th century brick structures already existing in the area, the eight-story building will comprise 120 rental units of various sizes which will be available to families earning up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (or less than $51,540 annually for a family of four). Residents will also have access to 42 parking spaces.

The second phase of the project, a $34 million complex called Soundview Senior Housing, will break ground by the end of 2013 and will include 86 affordable senior housing units. Phase III of construction, which would comprise 16 two-family market-rate townhomes, will be developed depending on market conditions.

Soundview Family Homes rendering by Magnusson Architecture and Planning

Javits Center Completes $465 Million Make-Over, Boasts Largest Green Roof in the Northeast

21 Nov 2013, 1:33 pm

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

Javits Center

The expansion and revitalization process of the iconic Jacob K. Javits Convention Center has reached completion after a four-year-long process.

Considered the country’s largest and busiest venue for conventions, trade shows and large-scale events (in 2012 alone it hosted more than 140 events that generated nearly $1.5 billion for New York City and New York State), the Javits Center is located in the heart of the city, on Manhattan’s West Side. Designed as an innovative frame structure by a team of I. M. Pei architects lead by James Ingo Freed, the center was built between 1980 and 1986 as a replacement of the New York Coliseum.

As a direct response to the growing demand for convention and trade space, in 2009 the center embarked on a $465 million renovation project managed by the Empire State Development and The New York Convention Center Operating Corp. as the property owner, in collaboration with the Hotel Association of New York City, FXFOWLE, Epstein and Tishman Construction. Phase I of the project was completed within one year with the addition of an 110,000-square-foot hall known as Javits Center North.

Javits Center Green Roof

One of the project’s goals was for the center to achieve LEED Silver certification, so the development team created a 6.75-acre green roof—the second largest in the United States and the largest in the Northeast on a single, stand-alone building—to reduce water run-off and help conserving energy inside the building. The green roof is expected to achieve more than 25 percent in energy use reduction.

As part of the “green” improvements at the Javits Center, the existing curtain wall was replaced with 3,722 panels of energy-efficient glass and 2,400 skylight panels that allow the maximum usage of daylight.

Photos by David Sundberg/Esto

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

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