Build, Baby, Build: A Conversation With Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams

The Brooklyn Bridge

In March, during the press conference unveiling Mayor Bill de Blasio’s affordable housing plan, Brooklyn’s new borough president Eric Adams made it clear how he felt about new development: “Build, baby, build. Build tall, build high.”

Taller buildings and denser neighborhoods will be essential if the de Blasio administration is to meet its ambitious affordable housing goals, and Adams has demonstrated his willingness to provide leadership and direction as to where the new housing will go.

Adams is also offering a counter-narrative to those who would seek to keep out new development in the hopes of preventing displacement and gentrification – including many of Brooklyn’s own local council members. “Building higher should not be a curse,” Adams told YIMBY in a recent interview.

His “build, baby, build” comment was a message to developers, Adams said. “There is a need for us to go beyond the boundaries that we have historically looked at for new buildings,” Adams said. “I’m extremely excited about the possibilities of upzoning areas like the Broadway Corridor, between the Williamsburg Bridge and Broadway Junction” – a transit hub at the intersection of Bed-Stuy, Brownsville and East New York. “I’m asking the developers to look at the borough with an artistic eye.”

The blocks on the south side of Broadway, forming northern boundary of Bedford-Stuyvestant, were rezoned in 2012, increasing the allowed residential density by about two-thirds. Under the rezoning, buildings can reach heights up to 100 feet. Adams wants a similar zoning scheme for the blocks on the north side of Broadway and for the stretch to the west of Flushing.

In order to accomplish this, Adams will have to work with the local councilman Antonio Reynoso, who has already expressed his skepticism of new development. Reynoso has spoken in the past of his desire to rezone the area in a way to preserve its low-rise character.

“I think he is a great councilman, I think he’s a good representative for his district,” Adams said of Reynoso. “He has a council [district]-centric vision while I have a borough-wide vision. It is important that we have a borough-wide vision of how we share the resources of the borough in a way that allows all groups to be a part of it.”

Reyonoso’s political sway on land use is greater than that of the borough president, though Adams does have a voice in the process. Ultimately, it is the City Council that has the final say – and council members often defer to the judgment of the local representative – whereas the borough president’s recommendation is only advisory.

The conversation shifted to gentrification. “I was at a meeting in Bed-Stuy, and the tone of the conversation was about gentrification, about how Bed-Stuy is becoming more and more white. And I responded, ‘Bed Stuy doesn’t belong to blacks, just as Sunset Park doesn’t belong to Hispanics and Bay Ridge to Irish. We build great neighborhoods in the hope that people will come.’ ”

“I understand the desire to be nostalgic, but Brooklyn is going to grow whether we like it or not. We should have a voice in how it grows. And that’s why I welcome Antonio and others to talk about what areas we are going to upzone.”

Adams held up the Bloomberg-era Park Slope rezoning as a model. “We protected the inner blocks, we raised buildings on Fourth Avenue. We upzoned there and it was a great trade-off.”

Adams spoke of how building higher and denser was necessary to keep the borough affordable. “Those who are saying ‘no, we don’t want taller buildings’—they need a reality check. If I want my son to be able to live in Brooklyn, I’d better be able to figure out how to build.” Ultimately, by shutting off new development, “The people you think you’re protecting, you’re not going to protect.”

We also spoke about Industry City in Sunset Park. Jamestown properties just acquired the pre-war complex of industrial buildings with hopes of converting them into new commercial space.

Asked whether housing should be a part of the mix, Adams responded, “The local elected are extremely concerned with losing industrial park space.” But, he said, “I think that there’s room to protect the jobs there and at the same time become creative and find some form of housing there.” Adams noted that there was some land “used for parking only,” which could be used as housing.

“We need to create employment opportunities where someone can leave their home, walk down their block, ride their bike down the block or have everything in the same location. That is the goal and Industry City can be a model to accomplish that goal. It’s not going to be an easy task because when people hear of building, immediately bad things come to their mind. And we have to engage in conversations to put some of those fears at bay.”

Is there any hope, then, to forge a consensus on the need for Brooklyn to build up? Or is it always going to be an uphill battle?

“I think that if we start having conversations about the overall plan—the overall plan is to build communities where we can have employment in the same community, and to ensure that whatever benefits that it will benefit that entire neighborhood—I think if we start building the conversation around that, then it’s not about displacement but about ensuring a proper placement.”

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Posted in Brooklyn | Eric Adams | Interview | New York | Residential | Zoning

Old Rich People’s Homes: How Can Filtering Address New York’s Housing Crisis?

Harlem Tenements

For about a century — since the tenement laws forbid the construction of the old railroad and dumbbell apartment buildings — for-profit, market-rate builders in New York City have largely shunned the poor. The city is still teeming with poor people, of course, because of a phenomenon known as housing filtering, whereby homes “filter” down over time from people with the means to afford new construction to people with lower incomes, who cannot.

It’s undeniable that this is how New York has traditionally housed its poor (and, increasingly, middle class). Big apartments uptown were carved into smaller, more affordable units after the Great Depression; starting with white flight in the 1960s, middle-class Jewish and Italian buildings in the Bronx filtered down to less wealthy African-Americans and Latinos.

But the specifics of filtering – in the absence of white flight and complete economic collapse, is it still happening? is it a viable way to provide affordable housing? – are hotly debated, with people staking out positions that seem to be based on preconceived ideological notions rather than real evidence.

A paper published earlier this year by Syracuse professor Stuart S. Rosenthal won’t put an end to debates on housing filtering, but it does shed some light on this fundamental but poorly-understood feature of housing economics.

The paper reaffirms the obvious, which is that filtering is real, with Rosenthal writing that one of his basic findings “provides direct evidence that housing filters down, on average,” saying “there should no longer be debate on this point.” The question then becomes the exact rate at which homes filter down to lower-income families.

After employing a more advanced model, Rosenthal finds the filtering rate – how fast a newly-arriving family’s real income falls for each year of a house or apartment’s life – is much faster than the standard 0.5 percent (or less) rate of rent depreciation. Nationwide, he finds it to be 0.5 percent a year for owner-occupied housing, but anywhere between 1.8 to 2.5 percent each year for rental units, depending on the region, with faster filtering rates for areas with slower housing price growth. Since owner-occupied units tends to turn into rentals as they age, the overall nationwide filtering rate from 1975 to 2011 worked out to 1.9 percent a year in real terms.

“At that rate,” he writes, “the real income of an arriving occupant in a 50-year-old home would be 60 percent less than the income of an occupant of a newly built home.”

New York City is surely home to one of the most inflationary housing markets in the country, meaning filtering is slower here than elsewhere, but Rosenthal’s paper provides some hints on how to speed it up. Moderating housing cost hikes (perhaps by ramping up housing production citywide) would be best, as it would speed up the filtering process, but the city can also encourage the development of rentals, so that filtering starts at a faster pace from day one.

Realistically, this means zoning for more development at lower price points in the outer boroughs, since lower prices there make rentals more viable than in condo-crazed Manhattan. And because buildings in the outer boroughs – especially the farthest reaches, in places like the northern Bronx, eastern Queens and southern Brooklyn – start at lower price points, catering to those outside of the city’s 1 percent, they also reach even lower income percentiles faster.

Rosenthal also finds some relevance for those devising housing subsidy programs:

For housing assistance advocates a message is to take seriously the market’s ability to generate lower-income housing, especially among rental units. This lends support to housing voucher programs that rely on market supplies of affordable housing but with the caveat that filtering is less pronounced in areas subject to high rates of house price appreciation.

New York City definitely has a high rate of price appreciation, but “less pronounced” is not nonexistent. Since housing still becomes cheaper with time, inclusionary housing policies that effectively buy newly-built units for lower-income New Yorkers (and pay for it by granting developers tax subsidies and, increasingly, density bonuses) are an inherently ineffective way for the city to subsidize housing.

Not only do vouchers make the housing subsidy process more transparent – if the costs were more obvious and paid in cash rather than in-kind, politicians would be far less likely to burn money by doing things like handing out 90 percent discounts on ultra-luxury rentals in West Chelsea – but they also allow the money to be spread farther by taking advantage of older units’ lower subsidy requirements.

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Posted in Filtering | New York | Residential

Suburban Housing Growth Outpaces 4/5 Boroughs

The five boroughs and suburbs from space; image from Astronaut Chris Hadfield

While New York City has the largest and densest localities within the greater metropolitan area, recent housing growth in the region’s core has been mostly abysmal; in a surprising contrast, suburban localities have seen a similar overall increase, highlighting out-of-date planning policies that are throttling the five boroughs.

By far, the largest growth between 2007 and 2012 was in Brooklyn, which saw an increase of 48,000 units. This wasn’t particularly unexpected. In more shocking news, Suffolk County came in second with an increase of 28,000 units, followed by Hudson County, with an increase of 20,000. Most of the new units in Suffolk County were in single-family detached homes, which totaled 16,000.

Compare this with an increase of only 8,000 units in the Bronx, 10,000 in Manhattan, and 6,000 in Queens. Excluding Brooklyn, the four other boroughs only saw a 24,000-unit increase between 2007 and 2012, which was smaller than the increase in Suffolk County.

ACS Housing Table for NYC

Particularly surprising was the fact that, according to Census data, Queens actually lost 7,000 units of housing in one-and-two-family buildings. On the other hand, the Census would not have counted the very large number of “illegal” basement apartments known to be in Queens. New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio hopes to legalize these apartments as part of his housing plan.

In terms of large-scale, multi-family development (buildings with more than 20 units), Brooklyn led the pack with a growth of 17,000 units. Hudson County came in second with 10,000. Surprisingly, Westchester County came in third, outpacing all boroughs except Brooklyn. And although most of the growth in Suffolk consisted of single-family homes, there was still more growth in multi-family units in Suffolk than in Manhattan: 7,800 units in Suffolk, compared to 6,800 units in Manhattan.

This data highlights the lethargic pace of new residential development in New York City, even as population growth in the city outpaces that in the suburbs. In turn, this is leading to severely overcrowded conditions in neighborhoods like Jackson Heights and Sunset Park, and escalating prices in desirable neighborhoods that are effectively closed off to new development.

One step forward would be acknowledging that the dearth of new development is a problem that needs to be solved. On top of the plan to create and preserve affordable apartments, the de Blasio administration should look at ways to ramp up housing production in general. The city should seek to ease restrictive zoning in neighborhoods with good subway and bus service, reversing the Bloomberg administration’s policy of downzoning transit-accessible areas.

Rezoning alone will not be sufficient. New development has been slow even in neighborhoods with excess capacity, like Jamaica and Coney Island.  There are many restricting factors outside the city’s control, such as land prices and the availability of financing for multi-family projects. The solutions may not be easy, or even immediately popular, but solving the housing crisis is essential to the future livability of New York City.

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Posted in American Community Survey | Housing Crisis | New York | Residential | Zoning

What’s in Store for East New York?

ESB's view, East New York in distance.

When it comes to parts of New York City primed for new development, Brooklyn’s East New York may not be the first to come to mind. But this transit-rich and under-utilized node is first in line as the de Blasio administration embarks on 15 neighborhood re-zonings, part of the mayor’s plan to build and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing over the next ten years.

A complete plan for East New York is at least several months away, but a draft report from the Department of City Planning gives clues about what to expect: no towering apartments, but mid-rise housing along Atlantic and Pitkin Avenue and “regional scale development” near Broadway Junction.

Atlantic Avenue has the biggest potential for new residential development. Today, Atlantic is primarily commercial with parking lots, auto repair shops, and car-washes scattered amongst 3-4 story buildings dating from the 1880s and 1890s.

New housing on Atlantic isn’t allowed under current zoning—only commercial or industrial development—something that de Blasio will certainly change. The vision is a mixed-use corridor with mid-rise buildings flanking a redesigned Atlantic Avenue.

The plan also calls for the redevelopment of Pitkin Avenue to the south and Fulton Street to the north, both of which would also host new residential development. The planning study suggests changing zoning from low-density to medium-density; residential side streets between Fulton, Atlantic, and Pitkin would most likely be preserved as low-rise districts, though with three nearby subway lines, these streets could certainly handle higher densities.

East New York Re-zoning

East New York Re-zoning

The vision laid out for Broadway Junction is more ambitious, calling for “regional scale” development similar to Brooklyn’s Atlantic Terminal. The plan hinges on attracting an anchor, with offices, retail, movie theaters, or a college as potential uses. A rendering shows a single commercial tower amongst lower-scale buildings, nestled next to a public plaza.

Because there aren’t any parcels of an appropriate size for development on this scale, the plan suggests that some streets may be de-mapped, as “site assemblage will be necessary.”

In order for this vision to work, significant investments will be needed to improve the streetscape and the public realm. Broadway Junction is well-served by transit, but the elevated tracks of the L train and LIRR, along with the Atlantic Avenue viaduct, make the area difficult to navigate and unwelcoming.

East New York Re-zoning

Elevated tracks above East New York, via the DCP

Atlantic Avenue has several large, vacant, and underutilized sites that could catalyze additional transformational developments. One example – Arlington Village — is a complex of half-occupied low-rise apartments on 300,000 square feet of land. In the industrial area to the west, the 100,000 square foot Long Island Rail Road substation has the potential for adaptive reuse.

An abandoned elevated rail spur could be transformed into a new pedestrian overpass, and a truly ambitious plan would include a High-Line style park. Space below the tracks could potentially be transformed into part of the public sphere, hosting markets and festivals and acting as a community gathering area.

Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod has suggested that East New York will be a model for future city re-zonings. If this is the case, one has to wonder if the city is being ambitious enough. Atlantic Avenue could certainly accommodate high-rise development; it’s flanked by two subway lines and is 120 feet wide.

If the city wants to make a legitimate difference in the affordability crisis, plans for the outer boroughs should be more ambitious than the preliminary proposal. East New York can and should support high-density development, but it will take political courage for the neighborhood to live up to its full potential.

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Posted in City Planning | De Blasio | East New York | New York | Residential | Zoning

Construction Update: The World Trade Center Transit Hub

The World Trade Center Transit Hub and One World Trade Center; 175 Greenwich at left

Construction has made major headway on all fronts at the World Trade Center’s Transportation Hub, where spokes are now being attached to the rib-cage. The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey is building the $3.94 billion structure, which was designed by Santiago Calatrava.

Totaling 800,000 square-feet, the Transit Hub will connect major arteries to a central node directly underneath the new World Trade Center complex. While construction has taken many years, it will soon connect eleven subway lines, also servicing the PATH with three permanent platforms.

The World Trade Center Transit Hub

The World Trade Center Transit Hub

The design is impressive, and includes a retractable roof 150 feet above the street. The six underground floors will be warmed by sunlight from above; Calatrava’s inspiration originated with the idea of taking flight, and he has previously stated The Hub “resembles a bird being released from a child’s hand.”

All 114 ribs, or the steel portions that extend upward from street level to the angled sections, have now been installed; the arches above are also complete. Construction is currently focused on the wings that protrude outward, capping the structure. As of mid-June, over a dozen have been added, though — so far — the majority are on the site’s western side, removed from pedestrian access.

The World Trade Center Transit Hub

The World Trade Center Transit Hub

The Westfield Group is developing the retail portion of the Transit Hub, which will have a 365,000 square foot and 150-store underground mall. The Wall Street Journal has reported that 80% of the slots have already signed leases, with rents reportedly running between $400 and $500 per square foot. Big-name tenants already include Tom Ford, Zadig & Voltaire, and Apple; pictures of the interior’s progress have been posted on the site’s Facebook page.

The opening of the Transit Hub should jump-start the rest of the World Trade Center. Fighting between Silverstein and The Port Authority has jeopardized the future of 175 Greenwich Street — aka Three World Trade Center — which could remain on-hold if an agreement is not reached soon. GroupM’s lease has the potential to unravel if private financing is not secured by the end of this month, and the PA has seemingly walked away from the project.

150 & 175 Greenwich and the World Trade Center Transit Hub

150 & 175 Greenwich and the World Trade Center Transit Hub

Two World Trade Center’s completion is even further off, and that tower remains in a perpetual state of limbo. Construction fencing lining the site will continue to blight Church Street, and the chaotic pedestrian bottleneck at the intersection of Church and Vesey will remain impassable for the foreseeable future.

WTC Transit Hub

WTC Transit Hub

Luckily there’s light at the end of one tunnel, and the Transit Hub is set to open in December of 2015.

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Posted in 1 WTC | 175 Greenwich | 200 Greenwich | Calatrava | One World Trade Center | Port Authority | Silverstein | The Westfield Group | WTC Transit Center

YIMBY Today

One Vanderbilt, image via KPF/Crain's

One Vanderbilt [Crain's New York]: With TD Bank likely to anchor, Mayor De Blasio is proposing a limited re-zoning ahead of the more general proposal, which would allow developer SL Green to proceed with construction of One Vanderbilt, a 1.6 million square-foot tower to the west of Grand Central Terminal. The Mayor is proceeding with a “short-term zoning change for the five-block stretch west of Grand Central that is Vanderbilt Avenue,” which runs from 42nd to 47th Street. The rezoning of Vanderbilt Ave “could be approved as early as this fall”.

330 Throop Avenue [Brownstoner]: Demolition appears to be imminent at 330 Throop Avenue in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which is currently occupied by a three-story wood-framed structure. The corner lot has received applications that “call for a four-story, eight-unit building.” The lot can accommodate an 11,475 square-foot development.

533 Myrtle Avenue [Brownstoner]: The Rabsky Group is planning a five-story, 27-unit residential building on the western corner of Myrtle Avenue and Steuben Street in Clinton Hill. 533 Myrtle currently houses a drive-through White Castle, which is worthy of redevelopment. Demolition permits have yet to be filed, but building applications have already been submitted. Karl Fischer is designing.

210-266 Market Street [The Real Deal]: Newark has cut the ribbon to mark the opening of 210-226 Market Street in Downtown Newark, a $38 million redevelopment and restoration that will bring 48 loft-style apartments and retail to Championship Plaza.

64-76 Wetherole Street [Brownstoner]: Permits have been filed for a seven-story, 14-unit building at 64-76 Wetherole Street in Rego Park. The site has already been cleared, and construction of the building should be imminent. Tan Architects PC is the architect of record.

221 West 17th Street [Commercial Observer]: Delshah Capital plans to add four stories to the six-story building at 221 West 17th Street in Chelsea, and create a “luxury residential condominium with ground-floor retail space.” Delshah “acquired the property from Doreen Interiors for $26.4 million.”

740 Atlantic Avenue [The Brooklyn Eagle]: A judge has allowed the development of a 12-story hotel at the long-vacant site of 730-740 Atlantic Avenue in Prospect Heights. The condemned property “was valued at $9,186,000” and the new building will span 124,000 square feet.

South Street Seaport [DNAinfo New York]: Demolition of “the hulking red mall that sat on Pier 17” in the Financial District is nearly complete, and will soon continue on the existing pier. SHoP Architects is designing an entirely new three-story glassy structure that will house high-end retail tenants. Completion is set for 2016.

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Posted in 210-266 Market Street | 221 West 17th Street | 330 Throop Avenue | 533 Myrtle Avenue | 64-76 Wetherole Street | 740 Atlantic Avenue | Architecture | Delshah Capital | Karl Fischer | New York | Newark | One Vanderbilt | Pier 17 | Rabsky Group | Residential | Seaport | SHoP | SL Green

YIMBY Today

490 Myrtle Avenue, image via Brownstoner

490 Myrtle Avenue [Brownstoner]: Silverstone Property Group is developing a block-long, seven-story mixed-use building at 490 Myrtle Avenue in Clinton Hill. Steel has risen to the fifth floor of the 232-unit building, and construction is expected to wrap up next summer.

180 Orchard Street [Bowery Boogie]: The 24-story, 158,000 square-foot Hotel Indigo LES at 180 Orchard Street in the Lower East Side has topped out, and higher resolution renderings are finally surfacing. Stephen B. Jacobs Group is designing, and their website reveals a one-story structure flush with the street wall, and keeping in context with neighbors, it will have a brick façade. From there, the building climbs with multiple setbacks, eventually topping-out on the 24th floor.

177 Front Street [The Real Deal]: Megalith Capital Management has sold a portfolio including 173-177 Front Street and Dumbo’s 200 Water Street to The Carlyle Group for the same amount previously paid for the site. Megalith “had planned to construct a 105-unit rental building,” which would rise 12 stories, and similar plans are expected to proceed.

20 Old Fulton Street [Curbed]: Permits have been filed at 20 Old Fulton Street in Dumbo, that would replace the parking lot with a one-story, “5,776-square-foot structure with retail and a restaurant.” The parcel would seem deserving of a more grandiose development, but Snohetta is the architect of record, so the final product will likely be attractive.

6 Water Street [Curbed]: The five-story building at 6 Water Street in the Financial District is currently being demolished to make way for a 29-story, 249-room hotel. Sam Chang sold off the site to Magna Hospitality Group back in March; Gene Kaufman still appears to be the architect.

321 East 3rd Street [EV Grieve Blog]: The green plywood fence has reportedly gone up at 321 East 3rd Street in East Village, signaling work is imminent. Permits have been approved for a six-story, 60-unit residential building for the long-vacant lot.

60 Water Street [Brownstoner]: Glass is now being placed on the first few floors of Two Trees’ 17-story residential building at 60 Water Street in Dumbo. The 290-unit building has been “designed by Ismael Levya Architects and LEESER Architecture.”

1133 Manhattan Avenue [Brownstoner]: At the corner of Manhattan Avenue and Clay Street in Greenpoint, a 210-unit, all-affordable-housing building has topped out. 1133 Manhattan Avenue now stands seven stories tall, and cladding should soon commence on the block-long structure.

Atlantic Yards: B2 Tower [Atlantic Yards Report Blog]: Painfully slow construction looks to be proceeding at Forest City’s B2 Tower, of the Atlantic Yards mega-development.

Posted in 1133 Manhattan Avenue | 177 Front Street | 180 Orchard Street | 20 Old Fulton Street | 321 East 3rd Street | 490 Myrtle Avenue | 6 Water Street | 60 Water Street | Architecture | Atlantic Yards | Brooklyn | Construction Update | DUMBO | East Village | Kaufman | New York | Residential | Silverstone Property Group

YIMBY Today

215 Chrystie Street -- image via Bowery Boogie

215 Chrystie Street [Bowery Boogie]: Ian Schrager’s mixed-use project at 215 Chrystie Street is finally seeing action. A green plywood fence has been erected in addition to an on-site rendering revealing the glassy, 28-story tower. With a targeted completion date of 2016, the first 18 floors will be a hotel, while the remainder will be residential.

52 Lispenard Street [Curbed]: Developer Murat Bugdaycay is constructing a seven story townhouse at 52 Lispenard Street in the Tribeca East Historic District. The townhouse will have “seven units, ranging from 2,500 to 4,700 square feet,” accompanied by a triplex penthouse. Bugdaycay is also restoring a five-story townhouse at 54 Lispenard.

388 Bridge Street [Brooklyn Daily Eagle]: Construction has finished at 388 Bridge Street in Downtown Brooklyn, resulting in never-before-seen views of the city – and people are taking note, with the building “renting at a rate of one [unit] per day”. 388 Bridge won’t stay in the spotlight for long, as a plethora of nearby skyscrapers are already rising, or will soon sprout.

21-16 44th Drive [The Court Square Blog]: A rendering has been posted on-site at the recently demolished 21-16 44th Drive, in Hunter’s Point. Depicted is a “seven-story mixed-used project,” with an anticipated completion date of mid-2015. Since demolition, no activity has been reported, and construction permits have yet to be filed.

121 Plymouth Street [Brownstoner]: Demolition permits have been submitted for the parking garage at 121 Plymouth Street under the Manhattan Bridge in Dumbo. Developer BBP is going to construct a park facility to accommodate their “new section of waterfront green space”. The facility will eventually contain “restrooms, community meeting space and an environmental education center”.

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Posted in 121 Plymouth Street | 21-16 44th Drive | 215 Chrystie Street | 388 Bridge Street | 52 Lispenard | 54 Lispenard | Architecture | Brooklyn | Construction Update | DoBro | Hotel | Hunter's Point | Ian Schrager | Lower East Side | New York | Queens | Residential | Tribeca

Revealed: 136-68 Roosevelt Avenue

136-68 Roosevelt Avenue

Renderings are up for a 9-story mixed-use building at 136-68 Roosevelt Avenue, in Flushing; filings indicate the site’s developer is Bill Choi, of 136-68 Roosevelt Avenue LLC, and the architect of record is Raymond Chan, with images of the structure coming from his firm’s website.

136-68 Roosevelt Avenue

136-68 Roosevelt Avenue — image by Raymond Chan Architect P.C.

136-68 Roosevelt Avenue will measure 53,403 square feet, with 29,124 square feet dedicated to commercial use. The remainder of the building will be utilized by a ‘community facility,’ with an ambulatory care center spanning floors five through eight; the development will rise nine stories and 123 feet, in total.

Aesthetically, 136-68 Roosevelt Avenue deviates from the semi-present street-wall along the rest of the block, but given the context of the neighborhood, the setback is not completely out of place. Foot traffic along Roosevelt Avenue is very heavy, and expanding the pedestrian realm with a small plaza will benefit the crowded corridor, as will retail space on the development’s ground level. The curb-cut is a necessary evil as well, given the presence of the ambulatory care center.

Besides its interaction with the street, 136-68 Roosevelt is quite simple, and the glass cladding is inoffensive; the angular form is also semi-interesting, and for an outer-borough office building, the design seems to be above average. At worst, its presence will be benign, with its relatively short height relegating the project to ‘infill’ status.

Completion of 136-68 Roosevelt Avenue is expected by early 2015.

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Posted in 136-68 Roosevelt Avenue | Architecture | Flushing | New York | Office | Queens | Raymond Chan Architects | Renderings

Construction Update: The Hudson Yards

7-Line Station and Hudson Boulevard

As spring has sprung, the pace of construction has picked up at Related’s Hudson Yards development, and the formwork for 10 Hudson Yards is beginning to command local prominence. Besides progress at Coach’s future headquarters, activity is also occurring across the rest of the site, and the rest of phase I will soon begin to rise.

10 Hudson Yards

10 Hudson Yards

The intricacies of 10 Hudson Yards’ cantilever over The High Line are obvious, as extensive formwork is now in place over the elevated park. As the Coach Tower ascends beyond the complicated lower floors, the pace of its construction should begin to speed up. The building is already looming over the end of The High Line, and by the summer, it will likely surpass 500 West 30th Street, beginning its short-lived domination of the local skyline.

10 Hudson Yards

10 Hudson Yards at center; 500 West 30th Street at right, the AVA High line at left

Progress on the platform that will support several of the development’s towers is also evident, as is work on the right-of-way for Amtrak’s Gateway project, which will hopefully link New York to New Jersey with additional tunnels. Excavation equipment is well below street-level, and concrete pours for the tunnel’s foundation are evident closer to Tenth Avenue.

Amtrak Gateway Excavation

Amtrak Gateway Excavation

The scope of work at The Hudson Yards is enormous, though one piece of the puzzle is nearing completion; construction appears to be wrapping up on the new 7-line stop at 34th Street. The station is expected to open this year, along with the adjacent landscaped plaza, which will eventually be integrated into the ‘Hudson Boulevard,’ forming the neighborhood’s key pedestrian arterial.

Pavers for the new park-plaza-hybrid beckon pedestrian access, and clumps of dirt denote future hills for landscaping purposes. The 7-station’s surrounds underscore how even the ‘natural’ parts of Manhattan are man-made, though Hudson Boulevard certainly takes technology to a level that Frederick Law Olmstead could have only imagined.

Hudson Boulevard Pavers

Hudson Boulevard Pavers

Completion of the Hudson Yards’ first phase of construction is expected in 2018.

The Hudson Yards

The Hudson Yards

The Hudson Yards

The Hudson Yards

10 Hudson Yards

10 Hudson Yards

10 Hudson Yards

10 Hudson Yards

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Posted in 10 Hudson Yards | Architecture | Construction Update | Hudson Yards | Kohn Pedersen Fox | Midtown | New York | Office | Related | Residential | Supertall

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