Construction Update: 11 North Moore

11 North Moore

Construction continues at 11 North Moore in Tribeca, which has now topped-out; the project began rising above ground approximately one year ago, and progress has been swift. The building’s facade remains missing in action, and no windows are visible, but scaffolding has recently encased the structure, designed by Adjmi & Andreoli developed by VE Equities.

11 North Moore

11 North Moore, looking north

11 North Moore stands ten stories tall, and the building has eighteen apartments, with units falling on the astronomical end of the pricing spectrum. In January, Curbed reported that the penthouse came on the market for $40 million.

The site was initially subject of a different proposal — also by Adjmi & Andreoli — which would have been dubbed 24 Varick. That iteration was shelved for the current design, which is more contextual with the surrounding neighborhood, utilizing a subdued concrete facade.

11 North Moore

11 North Moore, rendering by AA Studio

Renderings promise an attractive addition to the Tribeca streetscape, and 11 North Moore’s window panes will rank amongst the largest in New York City, comparing with 432 Park Avenue. Soaring ceilings and expansive layouts cement the project’s superluxe status.

11 North Moore

11 North Moore

Information previously posted on construction signage indicated 11 North Moore was supposed to be completed earlier this year, but clearly work is ongoing, and an early 2015 opening would appear likely at this point.

11 North Moore

11 North Moore and 56 Leonard behind

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Posted in 11 North Moore Street | 24 Varick | Adjmi and Andreoli | Architecture | New York | Residential | Tribeca | VE Equities

Permits Filed: 1499 & 1499A Nostrand Avenue

Vacant lot & trees at 1499 and 1499A Nostrand Avenue

Developers have been filing plans left and right for new apartment buildings on Nostrand Avenue in Flatbush lately, and today’s crop of filings comes at 1499 and 1499A Nostrand Avenue, at Erasmus Street, just south of Church Avenue.

Developer Astral Weeks, led by the Roubenis, has plans to build a pair of identically-sized four-story, eight-unit buildings, each of which would hold 5,632 square feet of rentable floorspace. Bricolage is the architect of record, and rentals are more likely than condos, given the emerging market for new development in this part of town.

These applications follow last week’s filings from the same builder for an identical pair of buildings just a few doors down, at 1471 and 1475 Nostrand. They may also be joined by a much larger 23-story tower by Hello Living, at 1580 Nostrand.

The buildings are not very dense, an unfortunate product of the ahistorical zoning along this stretch of Nostrand Avenue. Before urban decline set in and the 1961 zoning straitjacket was imposed on New York City, developers were eagerly snapping up single-family house and small tenements in Flatbush and redeveloping them into five- and six-story New Law tenements. These buildings, which are found both to the north and south of the site in question, can be a third denser (or more) than what’s currently allowed – an irrational situation given that the nearby B/Q and 2/5 trains are still under capacity.

1499 Nostrand Avenue

1499 Nostrand Avenue, via Google Maps

Still, piecemeal infill is beneficial. No completion dates for either 1499 or 1499A Nostrand Avenue have been announced.

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Posted in 1499 Nostrand Avenue | 1499A Nostrand Avenue | Architecture | Astral Weeks | Bricolage Design | Brooklyn | Flatbush | New York | Residential

Flushing Grows Up: A Conversation With F&T Group’s Michael Meyer

Flushing Commons, rendering from Perkins Eastman

About ten miles east of Grand Central Terminal, the 7 train terminates at Flushing Main Street. Stepping out into downtown Flushing, one is immediately struck with a sense of vibrancy, by the tangible energy of entrepreneurial activity. Flushing is home to over 5,000 businesses and 41,000 jobs, putting it right up there with Downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City as one of the city’s most important outer borough business districts.

Like Downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City, downtown Flushing – which vies with Sunset Park for the title of New York City’s most populous Chinese neighborhood – is brimming with potential for new businesses and job growth. The business district is getting a boost with the construction of Flushing Commons, a mixed-use project rising on a former municipal parking lot.

Flushing Commons

Flushing Commons phase I — image from Perkins Eastman

The first phase of this project will include 150 apartments and, notably, 220,000 square feet of commercial space, mostly offices. The second phase will add another 450 units of housing and an additional 150,000 square feet of office space, making Flushing Commons one of the largest new commercial projects in the outer boroughs.

Just how deep does Flushing’s potential for new office space run? YIMBY spoke with Michael Meyer, president of F&T Group, whose subsidiary TDC Development is leading the Flushing Commons development team.

F&T has been one of Flushing’s most active developers. Their Queens Crossing project, completed in 2007, included 210,000 square feet of office space, and they’re also working on One Fulton Square, another mixed-use mid-rise in downtown Flushing.

Right now the office market in Flushing is dominated by medical tenants, with Meyer estimating that 80 percent of Queens Crossing commercial tenants are medical users. “Most of the space we have here is office condominium,” Meyer said. “Our office building in Flushing Commons will be condo, and One Fulton Square, hitting the market now, is office condo. Those are predominantly sold to doctors, and they’re predominately sold to Chinese and Asian doctors,” with Flushing also being a major hub for New York City’s Korean community.

Flushing Commons

Flushing Commons — image from Perkins Eastman

“Right now you don’t have any large corporate entities that would be behind a lot of office growth,” said Meyer. “You don’t have the large blocks of office space I think you’re going to need, like how Jet Blue went over to Long Island City. Nobody is going to build it on spec,” he said, unless a corporate tenant is lined up. “There’s so much interest in investing in Flushing from Asia, from mainland China, South Korea, Taiwan. Maybe it would take a large corporation from there.”

Meyer believes that Willets Point would have been an ideal location to attract this type of tenant. F&T was among the developers to submit a proposal for Willets Point, but the city ultimately chose Related Companies and Sterling to develop the site.

F&T’s proposal included a pedestrian bridge linking Willets Point to a reactivated Flushing waterfront. The bridge would not only have been an iconic structure, but sought to “link and expand the development zone and create a nexus in this area.”

“Looking forward, there could still be elements of that kind of thinking,” Meyer says. He thinks that the city should look at the Flushing waterfront as an area to be rezoned for “more enlightened, urban development.”

The area on the western edge of Flushing, on the waterfront across from Willets Point, was rezoned over a decade ago, but “that zoning wasn’t ideal for redevelopment from an urban standpoint,” Meyer says. “It was really more suburban, particularly because of the parking requirements.”

Meyer believes a rezoning effort along with a new park and waterfront esplanade would unleash a torrent of new development.

“If you could get the state, city and federal governments coordinated on cleaning up the creek and doing some infrastructure development there – like a pedestrian bridge – you would totally transform the area. That would allow extraordinary, extraordinary development and have an effect for generations.”

Meyer also thinks that providing incubator space for startups could ultimately lead to more commercial growth. “When we start talking about Flushing, because of the very entrepreneurial populace here, there’s an opportunity to incubate future office demand by doing initiatives like that. If you started small and it attracted foreign venture capital it could result in more robust commercial growth, and that’s something that would sit well with the population here.”

Parking requirements and suburban-style zoning are hurting the prospect of new development along the Flushing waterfront. In fact, city parking requirements nearly derailed the Flushing Commons development. He notes that because of pressure from the local community – shopkeepers, residents, and elected officials – Flushing Commons will have twice as much parking as would have been required under zoning.

Flushing Commons

Flushing Commons — image from Perkins Eastman

“We prevailed at Flushing Commons, but we almost died because of the bias for parking. A huge threat to enlightened development is the attitude that people have towards parking and the misconceptions people have about parking, which is unfortunately enabled by local politicians who sort of support it.”

“If you didn’t have to worry about politics and you were trying to design a development in a congested area, you would come up with a traffic and urban and zoning plan that would not build so much parking.”

Meyer said that the Flushing Commons took so long to break ground because of the process of incorporating community benefits, but ultimately the idea of community benefits is valid.

“Getting all that to work,” including the parking, “was extraordinarily challenging.”

“I do think it is legitimate for community benefits to be introduced in developments where there is some sort of city subsidy, on city land. I think the political process by which that works is often counterproductive, and winds up making a lot of development expensive or unfeasible. Or it imposes such a burden that the development you ultimately get maybe isn’t the best for the neighborhood.”

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Posted in Architecture | F&T Group | Flushing | Flushing Commons | New York | Queens Crossing | Residential

Permits Filed: 262 Kent Avenue, Domino Sugar Factory Site A

262 Kent Avenue outlined in red, rendering by SHoP

Permits for 262 Kent Avenue, the northernmost site at Two Trees’ Domino Sugar Factory redevelopment, have been filed.

The building will sit on Site A, between Kent Avenue and River Street, just north of Grand Street. As with the filings earlier this month for Site D at 320 Kent, this application is just in preparation for infrastructure and groundwork, with actual construction coming later, after plans have been finalized and financing for the building is secured. The shorter building at Site E – the only one on the eastern side of Kent, bounded by South 3rd and 4th Streets – will be the first to go vertical, and half of its units will be reserved for below-market renters.

Domino Site Plan

Domino Plan, Site A outlined in red, image via SHoP

According to the permit, 262 Kent Avenue will contain nearly equal parts commercial (mostly office) and residential space, with about 281,869 square feet of total leasable floor area. The tower would rise 320 feet and 30 stories, with 93 apartments, for an average unit size of about 1,500 square feet – which is very large for rentals in Williamsburg. While the location and heat of the Williamsburg market would generally push builders in the direction of condos, Two Trees has said that it prefers holding onto its assets, and will therefore build rental apartments.

The office space was added after Two Trees took over the project from CPC Resources, in a deal whereby the developer swapped out a bit of residential space for a much larger amount of office space, which is seen as more amenable by local politicians wary of luxury housing.

Ismael Leyva is the architect of record, and while SHoP created the site’s masterplan, other architects will be designing some of the buildings. SHoP is set to design the first Site E building along with one other, though which building that will be has yet to be determined.

If 262 Kent Avenue does take on the form originally unveiled in the SHoP plan, it would be marked by a colorful bridge planted atop two towers – one with a traditional glass curtain wall, the other of the same colorful golden material as the bridge.

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Posted in 262 Kent Avenue | Domino Redevelopment | Ismael Leyva | SHoP | Two Trees | Williamsburg

New Look: Herzog & de Meuron’s 215 Chrystie Street

215 Chrystie Street, image from Herzog & de Meuron/Beyer Blinder Belle

A helpful tipster has sent along a fresh set of renderings for the Herzog & de Meuron-designed 215 Chrystie Street, on the Lower East Side, which will likely become the neighborhood’s first iconic high-rise. Ian Schrager and the Witkoff Group are the developers behind the project, which will have a hotel on lower floors, and condominiums above.

215 Chrystie Street

215 Chrystie Street, image from Herzog & de Meuron/Beyer Blinder Belle

The 370-room hotel will rest beneath eleven palatial residences, split between half-floor and full-floor configurations. As the latest batch of renderings make clear, the ceiling heights on upper levels will be soaring, and proportions will be enhanced by floor to ceiling glass. 215 Chrystie will stand 28 stories and 314 feet tall.

215 Chrystie Street

215 Chrystie Street, image from Herzog & de Meuron/Beyer Blinder Belle

In terms of comparisons, Herzog & de Meuron’s 56 Leonard is already rising, and the architects have another project imminent at 357 West Street, where they are also partnering with Schrager. 215 Chrystie will be eye-catching in its own right, and the new images are the first to illustrate the sheathing that will hide upper mechanicals, ensuring the building’s pinnacle tops-off in a cohesive and attractive way.

Each of Herzog & de Meuron’s designs utilize a raw, concrete facade, though the developments will be differentiated by strikingly different forms; the Jenga-like silhouette of 56 Leonard would tower over the relatively angular 215 Chrystie, and 357 West Street is a departure from both high-rises, offering a softer and more flexible take on typical concrete rigidity.

215 Chrystie Street

215 Chrystie Street, image from Herzog & de Meuron/Beyer Blinder Belle

Per on-site signage, completion of 215 Chrystie is expected at the end of 2016.

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Posted in 215 Chrystie Street | Architecture | Downtown | Herzog and de Meuron | Hotel | Ian Schrager | Lower East Side | New York | Residential | Witkoff Group

Construction Update: 290 West Street and 460 Washington

290 West Street and 460 Washington Street

The northwestern corner of Tribeca continues to see rapid changes, as two developments are now rising on the same block. Both 290 West Street and 460 Washington have risen quickly over the past month, and the buildings now outflank their shared neighbor at 288 West Street.

290 West Street

290 West Street

Adjmi & Andreoli are designing the 13-unit 290 West Street, and the condominium project’s appearance was recently revised. The building will be defined by large casement windows as well as an extruded element facing West Street, which will present an appealing contrast against the site’s pre-war neighbor. VE Equities is the developer, and per Curbed, Elliman is marketing.

290 West Street and 460 Washington Street

290 West Street and 460 Washington Street

Down the block, 460 Washington is much larger, and will have 107 units. The design is less distinct, but the infill will be positive, as surrounds are still dominated by parking lots and old warehouses. Ismael Leyva and BKSK are designing, and Related is the developer.

460 Washington Street

460 Washington Street, 290 West Street at left

Northern Tribeca was recently subject to a NIMBY push, with groups advocating for the expansion of the North Tribeca historic district on the basis that “even if the architecture is undistinguished, there is an argument to be made for saving that fabric.”

The lack of rational or sensical discourse when it comes to landmarking show how subjective the process is, and why policy should be geared towards long-term planning rather than the whims of special interest groups. North Tribeca may be quite expensive, but most of the area remains desolate, with abandoned buildings and autobody shops dominating; these things do not enhance the built environment, and replacing them with housing would benefit both the city and the neighborhood.

Given its excellent transit accessibility, North Tribeca would make a viable candidate for comprehensive upzoning, especially given proximity to the office buildings of the Financial District, which are within walking distance. Projects like 290 West Street and 460 Washington are positive steps towards revitalizing the neighborhood, but more generous development is warranted, and the area would be ideal for high-density buildings.

460 Washington Street

460 Washington Street

Completion of 290 West Street is expected in the spring of 2015, while 460 Washington is expected to open in the fall of 2015.

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Posted in 290 West Street | 460 Washington Street | Architecture | Construction Update | Downtown | Ismael Leyva | Morris Adjmi Architects | New York | Related | Residential | Tribeca

Death of the PTACs: TF Cornerstone To Give Luxury Rentals Gift of Central Air

PTACs marring the 'poor door' side of Extell's 40 Riverside Boulevard; note PTAC-free condo component at right

New York City’s architectural legacy is in peril. The threat does not come from the 57th Street towers, nor the destruction of historic buildings, but something most would consider mundane: air conditioning.

Money can buy you a lot of things in New York, but a new rental building with central air is not among them. Unique among North America’s cities, builders in New York have forsaken generations-old technology used in every city from Los Angeles to Toronto, in favor of the lowly packaged terminal air conditioning (or PTAC) unit.

Punched through the wall below a building’s windows, PTAC units mar the façades of new rental buildings from the Financial District to Flushing, Boerum Hill to the Bronx. They are found in affordable housing developments and low-end rentals, as well as skyscraping towers in Midtown that charge $3,500 a month for a studio apartment.

“They have terrible energy performance, terrible acoustical characteristics and terrible aesthetics,” wrote one architect from a major New York City firm that’s built projects using the units.

Why they’re used in the first place is somewhat of a mystery. Simple inertia and the high cost of development in America’s largest city, forcing builders to scrimp and save wherever they can, are the most oft-cited reasons. But there are also regulatory hurdles, from special Department of Buildings permits needed for central air, to height limits that make ducted systems more difficult.

And then there’s a contingent within the city’s insular construction industry that doesn’t even realize how unique our reliance on PTACs really is. (In reality, while they’re fairly common in urban hotels and can occasionally be found in cheap rental projects and older buildings outside of New York, they’re almost never used for new luxury projects.)

But one of the city’s largest developers is starting to buck the trend. In two of their rental buildings under development – 33 Bond Street in Downtown Brooklyn, and 606 West 57th Street on the Far West Side – TF Cornerstone will be forgoing the standard below-window units in favor of more civilized forms of air conditioning.

“We raised the question [of air conditioning] anew at the 57th Street project,” TF Cornerstone’s director of planning, Jon McMillan, told YIMBY.

606 West 57th Street

606 West 57th Street, image from TF Cornerstone

On 57th Street, he said, “we thought it would be nice from the interior to have floor-to-ceiling glass” – something that isn’t possible with a PTAC unit, which sits on the floor and takes up a significant amount of space. “We made the decision from the leasing point-of-view that it would make the unit seem more impressive and expansive.”

The second consideration that led to the decision to nix the PTACs, he said, was the city’s energy code.

“The PTAC unit is kind of a shoddy thing, because it’s a bunch of perforations in the façade. It’s not very efficient,” McMillan explained, “and it’s now increasingly hard to meet the energy code using PTACs.”

Karl Fischer's attempt at clean lines at the Nathaniel in the East Village was admirable, but ruined by PTACs in the corners.

Karl Fischer’s clean lines at the Nathaniel in the East Village are interrupted by PTAC units in the window corners, via EV Grieve

Finally, he said, the heat pump alternative to PTACs doesn’t count towards a building’s allowed square footage, since mechanical space is deducted from a building’s floor area for zoning purposes. A heat pump sits on the floor in a corner space, feeding cool air into both the living and bedrooms, whereas a PTAC must cantilever over the floor in every room with climate control and therefore cannot be deducted as mechanical space.

PTACs, McMillan said, “are almost as hideous from the inside” as they are on the outside. “They’re really fat and bulky, and they protrude. I kept saying, why can’t anybody improve on this design? The answer I got was that we only use them in New York, therefore the market is so small that nobody bothers to try to improve them.”

TF Cornerstone’s willingness to take another look at old ways of doing business is refreshing, and other developers will hopefully follow suit. But the city should also look for ways to encourage the use of more attractive, efficient and comfortable air conditioning systems.

The stick of the energy code is one way, but the Department of Buildings should also dangle the carrot of easier compliance with permitting rules for systems other than PTACs and through-wall units. One expediter we spoke to pegged the cost of getting a so-called “equipment use permit,” needed to install central air-scale condensers (but not PTACs), at $7,000 or $8,000. The permit then needs to be renewed annually, something he said rarely happens, with heavy fines levied on those who don’t comply. Another architect told YIMBY that the city’s noise regulations effectively forbid the use of mini-splits – a ductless system somewhere between PTACs and central air, commonly used in Europe and Asia, in which the condenser can be placed on the roof or otherwise out of sight.

Rental buildings will always have cheaper finishes and fewer amenities than condos, but skimping on quality air conditioning should not be necessary. If every other city in North America has managed to find a way to deliver rentals without PTACs – often at a fraction of our rents – New York City can too.

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Posted in 33 Bond Street | 606 West 57th Street | Architecture | Hotel | Midtown | New York | PTACs | Residential | TF Cornerstone

DOB Digest: SOE Filed for 275 4th Avenue in Gowanus, Corona Infill, and More

275 4th Avenue, image by Adam America/ODA Architecture

Brooklyn:

275 4th AvenueDeveloper Adam America has filed in “support of excavation” for their 11-story and  78-unit mixed-use building at 273-281 4th Avenue, in Gowanus. Demolition of the existing McDonald’s has been approved, and is scheduled to begin today. ODA Architecture is designing the nearly 65,000 square-foot building, which will include 4,500 square feet for commercial use.

434 Manhattan AvenueAn anonymous LLC filed applications to construct a four-story and 10-unit residential building of 6,715 square feet at the vacant lots of 430-440 Manhattan Avenue, in Greenpoint. Edward F. Zevallos is designing the building, which will sit at the north corner of Manhattan Ave. and Bayard Street.

730 Bergen StreetDevelopers have filed in “support of excavation” for a four-story and three-unit residential building of 4,903 square feet at the vacant lot of 730 Bergen Street, in Prospect Heights; S3 Architecture is designing.

Queens:

38-60 13th StreetAn anonymous LLC has filed applications for a 10-story and 72-room hotel of nearly 25,000 square-feet at 38-60 13th Street, in Astoria. An existing one-story warehouse structure must be demolished; Chang Hwa Tan is designing.

103-16 Corona AvenueDaniela R LLC has filed applications to construct a four-story and 16-unit residential building of 11,615 square feet at the vacant lots of 103-14 – 103-16 Corona Avenue, in Corona. Delargent Design has also incorporated a small community facility within the building.

101-03 Radcliff AvenueGreg R1 LLC has filed applications to construct three, three-story and three-unit residential buildings totaling 8,249 square feet at the vacant lots of 101-03 – 101-09 Radcliff Avenue, in Corona; Delargent Design is the architect of record.

Staten Island:

27 Starr AvenueMichael Savo has filed applications to construct three, three-story and single-family abodes at the vacant lots of 11-27 Starr Avenue, in West Brighton; each building will span nearly 2,500 square feet.

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Posted in 101-03 Radcliff Avenue | 103-16 Corona Avenue | 27 Starr Avenue | 275 4th Avenue | 38-60 13th Street | 434 Manhattan Avenue | 730 Bergen Street

Construction Update: One Vandam

One Vandam

Quinlan Development Group’s project at One Vandam has made quick headway, and the future 14-story structure is already close to topping-out. BKSK is the design architect, and the site is located at 180 Avenue of the Americas, just north of Spring Street.

One Vandam

Facade installation underway

Besides all the concrete, the first of the project’s cladding has also arrived, and glass installation is now underway. Stonework appears to be missing from the picture — and that component is what will ultimately distinguish One Vandam — but pane by pane, progress is happening, and One Vandam’s skeleton should not remain exposed for long.

One Vandam

One Vandam

The development is rapidly coming together, and its relatively large scale compared to the rest of the neighborhood gives it local visibility. With excellent transit access, much of Soho could and should accommodate denser residential buildings, but down-zonings have left capacity limited.

Curbed reported that the triplex was on sale for $28 million last September, and the development only totals 25 units, placing it firmly in the ’boutique’ category. Given the demand for neighborhood real estate, as well as constraints on new construction in Soho, the extreme pricing comes as no surprise.

One Vandam

One Vandam

Across the street, One Soho Square is also beginning to take shape, and the neighborhood is emerging as a vibrant district for both residential and office use. Surrounding blocks are currently seeing a mini-boom, with the God’s Love redevelopment also rising just to the south of One Vandam.

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Posted in Architecture | BKSK Architects | New York | One Vandam | Quinlan Development | Residential | Soho | Tavros Capital

Permits Filed: 606 West 57th Street

606 West 57th Street

A few months after TF Cornerstone won approvals for its massive, 1,000-unit-plus development on the Far West Side, SLCE Architects has filed for building permits for the apartment building at 606 West 57th Street.

The filing puts the building’s total construction area at a whopping 1.2 million square feet, on par with Midtown office towers rather than apartments. Of that, 952,938 square feet will be dedicated to apartments, plus another 40,000 square feet for retail space. The building will rise 42 stories, reaching 440 feet into the air, and will contain 1,028 apartments – meaning it will no longer be in the running for highest unit count in the city. SLCE is the architect of record, but Miami-based Arquitectonica is responsible for design.

606 West 57th Street

606 West 57th Street, image by TF Cornerstone

The tower wraps around a holdout structure on the southwestern corner of 57th Street and 11th Avenue, and will replace a Lexus and Acura car dealership. The area around far West 57th Street is currently in transition from a low-slung car dealership row to a high-rent residential neighborhood, capitalizing on 57th Street’s rising cachet and the revitalization of Columbus Circle three avenues to the west. TF Cornerstone also told YIMBY that they’re looking to see if there’s any community interest in retaining the mid-century neon vertical parking sign on the 57th Street frontage, preserving a bit of the strip’s history and avoiding a repeat of the Kentile controversy in Brooklyn.

Neon sign on West 57th Street, photo from Google Streetview

Neon sign on West 57th Street, photo from Google Streetview

The permit filing comes after newly-elected Upper West Side councilwoman Helen Rosenthal cut a deal with the developers to make the building’s “affordable” units more accessible to wealthier residents. In exchange for adding about 20 more units of below-market rentals, she allowed TF Cornerstone to up the lowest-priced units’ maximum income restriction from 40 percent of the area median income to 60 percent. She also negotiated a new income band, reserving some units for families making 175 percent to 230 percent of area median income – meaning a family of four must earn between around $147,000 and $193,000 a year to qualify for the lottery for those apartments.

Groundbreaking should occur in the fall, according to the developer.

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Posted in 606 West 57th Street | Helen Rosenthal | SLCE | TF Cornerstone

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