Beyond Railyards: Related to Create Entire Mini-City

Hudson YardsPhase I of Related's Hudson Yards, with the eastern railyards visible - image from KPF

While Related’s Hudson Yards is an enormous development in and of itself, the company has entered into a series of deals over the past year that have greatly expanded its real estate in the neighborhood. Now, after several purchases, Related’s holdings give it the unprecedented ability to develop an entire mini-city beyond the actual rail-yards.

The largest potential extends along Hudson Boulevard, which will be a new pedestrian spine for the neighborhood, extending north from the center of the rail-yards redevelopment, which will consist of a new public square. Millions of square feet of new air rights were created in the 2005 re-zoning, and the boulevard will divide the blocks between 10th and 11th Avenues, allowing for the creation of at least seven new office towers – each of which has the ability to rise 1,000 feet, or more.

Related has made bold moves to extend beyond the rail-yards, and may soon own the entire block to the north. One Hudson Yards, originally proposed by Extell, was acquired in a land-swap last summer; a recent presentation by the Hudson Yards Development Corp indicates Related has now downsized that project to one million square feet, from a prior figure of 1.7 MSF. The branding conflict caused by the building’s address – and its ownership by rival developer Extell – has now been resolved, though no plans for the site’s new design have been made public. Re-named ‘One Hudson Boulevard’ – averting potential confusion with Related’s Hudson Yards towers – the site could begin rising shortly, as sub-grade levels were completed with the 7-train’s extension. The HYDC report on the site indicates construction will begin in 2014, though whether the tower remains entirely commercial is unknown.

To the east lies the future Two Hudson Boulevard, which could become the largest tower of the entire district – possibly surpassing the 1,337-foot Hudson Yards North Tower. The site is significantly larger than One Hudson Boulevard and, accordingly, holds 2.3 million square feet of air rights. The parcel is partially occupied by a drive-through McDonald’s – a testament to the neighborhood’s current neglect – but per a recent press release, Related now controls both One and Two Hudson Boulevard, giving them ownership of the entire block. This would explain the down-sizing of One Hudson Boulevard, as Related could transfer the unused square footage to Two Hudson Boulevard – resulting in a tower that holds three million square feet of space. The site’s available air rights indicate a massive scope, as the building could become one of the largest in New York City; indeed, if Related does manage to transfer the air rights, the tower will rank as Manhattan’s third largest, behind only 55 Water Street and the MetLife Building. With the modern preference for high ceilings, the tower will be significantly taller than either of the aforementioned, possibly taking the title of New York’s tallest.

Beyond the block immediately above the rail-yards, Crain’s reports that Related acquired a parcel between 35th and 36th Streets, and is also in talks with Alloy to buy their site at 450 Hudson Boulevard, which had illustrative mock-ups released back in 2007. If Related manages to strike a deal with Alloy – and their persistence in negotiating with both the city and Extell would seem to make that a likely outcome – the company would control the entire block between 35th and 36th Streets.

Ignoring the potential for future acquisitions – which seem likely – Related is poised to control four of the seven sites along Hudson Boulevard that can accommodate major towers. The company’s new real estate is significant for several reasons, but the most obvious is their excision of control over the area’s office market, which could become saturated with new developments quite quickly, especially if rival developers build projects of their own. Though Related’s expansion borders on a monopolization of the re-zoning, it’s actually a good thing, as the new skyscrapers can be built with eye for visual cohesion in mind – and the possibility of a glut in new space will also be minimized. While the twelve million square feet of air rights associated with the rail-yards are enormous on their own, the adjacent properties Related has acquired complete the package, and now represent the largest development undertaken in New York City’s history, surpassing both Rockefeller Center and the World Trade Center.

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