2015 will go down in New York’s storied retail history as the year when the city lost two of its flagship toy stores. At 6:00 p.m. on December 30, Toys “R” Us will shut down its Times Square store at West 44th Street and Broadway. The retail giant decided not to renew the lease due to ever-rising rents in the pedestrian-heavy neighborhood. Earlier in July, the company closed the famous FAO Schwarz store on at 767 Fifth Avenue, which had served the city since 1986.
If you’ve gone up the West Side Highway in Manhattan or up Port Imperial Boulevard in New Jersey, you’ve probably noticed the Durst Organization-developed Bjarke Ingels Group-designed Via tetrahedron. Not only is it visually striking, there has been a fair amount of press coverage. Additionally, its next-door neighbor, the high-rise Helena has been there for a decade now. But they are not the only Durst developments on the block bounded by Eleventh Avenue, West 57th Street, Twelfth Avenue, and West 58th Street.
The New York City landmarks law was signed 50 years ago this year. So, what better time to talk about some of its successes? Plenty of great structures, such as the Empire State Building, completed in 1931 as a multi-tenant office building, are easy to keep relevant and functioning. Others, however, become obsolete and can no longer perform their originally intended purpose. That’s where adaptive reuse comes in. If you haven’t heard the term, it’s when an old structure is adapted for a new use. It’s often how we are saving our great city.
In mid-2014, YIMBY reported on applications for a 13-story, 24-unit mixed-use building at 32-06 Astoria Boulevard, in central Astoria, located a stone’s throw away from the N/Q trains’ stop on the same street. Lambros Houliaras, head of Astoria-based Double T Corp., recently scaled down the project and is now planning a six-story, 27-unit building. The 26,016 square-foot structure would include 4,273 and 743 square feet of retail and medical offices, respectively, on the ground floor. Beginning on the second floor, residential units would average a rental-sized 778 square feet apiece. The building will feature a rooftop terrace, and Long Island-based Constantine Efstathiou is the architect of record.
Herman Weiser, doing business as a Brooklyn-based LLC, has filed applications for a four-story, five-unit mixed-use building at 687 Myrtle Avenue, in northwestern Bedford-Stuyvesant. Located four blocks north of the G train’s stop at Bedford-Nostrand Avs., the 6,036 square-foot project will include 1,681 square feet of ground-floor retail space. Residential units begin on the second floor and will average 871 square feet apiece. One of units on the fourth floor will also feature a fifth-floor penthouse, and Greenwich Village-based De-Jan Lu Architect is the applicant of record. An existing two-story townhouse must first be demolished.