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NYC Remains Vibrant

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A rendering of AECOM’s Red Hook waterfront development proposal; image courtesy of AECOM

Major high-rise projects throughout the boroughs create a wealth of opportunity.

Hudson Yards Centerpiece, Residential Tower

Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side was abuzz with activity in September, with the unveiling of the “Vessel,” an interactive centerpiece for the development intended to be climbed, explored and experienced, and the appearance of new renderings for 15 Hudson Yards, a 910-ft.-tall residential tower that will cut a striking figure on the skyline. Designed by Thomas Heatherwick and unveiled in a fanfare-filled ceremony on September 14, the Vessel has a painted steel frame that rises from a 50-ft.-diameter base and widens at the top to 150 ft. with an underside clad with a polished copper-colored skin. The design has an inclined glass elevator, almost 2,500 individual steps and 80 landings, offering 1 mi. worth of pathway above a sprawling public garden.

Heatherwick explained the Vessel’s accessibility component in an interview with designboom:

“We’re going to have quite an amazing elevator. We’ve designed it with extra love in the details. When have you ever been on a curving elevator? And, in fact, when was the last time you walked up 16 stories? There was a sense that there was a physical dimension and a spatial human scale to this project, and whether you see it as a building or an extension of public space, it is a platform for NYC to use and to do what it wants with.”

Nearby, One Manhattan West, 35 Hudson Yards and 15 Hudson Yards are all rising out of the ground, New York YIMBY observed. Fresh renderings of 15 Hudson Yards from Related show a Diller Scofido + Renfro Rockwell Group design featuring a streamlined base tapering into a four-tubed, cloverlike peak. The structure will contain approximately 390 residential units. In a testament to the significance of New York City’s (NYC) supertall building boom, 15 Hudson Yards will likely barely break the top 10 of the city’s tallest residential buildings.

United Cabs Project Update, New Website

United Cabs, Inc. updated the industry on completion of a high-end project in NYC’s Upper East Side and the relaunch of its website. First, it installed new cabs for Manhattan House, a landmark building designed by Gordon Bunshaft of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill in 1950. Interior designer Vicente Wolf redesigned the luxury penthouses, along with all 10 passenger elevators, to represent modernism. United Cabs implemented the cabs’ design, including:

  • A drop ceiling faced with stainless steel
  • Raised removable upper wall panels faced with wood veneer having stainless-steel inlays between each to create a custom pattern
  • Bottom wall panels faced with natural stone
  • Stainless-steel chair rails
  • Fronts, bases and reveals faced with stainless steel
  • Natural stone tile flooring

The company’s redesigned website (www.elevatordesigns.com) was made with minimalism and modernism in mind. Its features include a newly designed “Portfolio” section allowing viewers to see project examples, sorted by NYC borough, and a focused look at United Cabs’ past accomplishments via editorial-style photography with a story behind every building, design and elevator on which United Cabs has worked.

Massive Neighborhood Proposal Includes Towers

NYC construction and engineering firm AECOM envisions building as many as 45,000 units of housing, much of it in new residential towers, in a new neighborhood, Crain’s reported in September. To sit on underutilized Brooklyn sites owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey and the city, the development would transform much of the Red Hook waterfront into a residential neighborhood with a new subway connection, acres of parkland and waterfront flood protections. Intended to revitalize and protect low-lying Red Hook from storms and future sea-level rise, the project would be almost double the size of Battery Park City and several times as large as Hudson Yards, making it the largest current NYC development.

Under AECOM’s preliminary plan, more than a dozen towers that would contain as many as 45,000 apartments would be erected. A quarter of those would be set aside for affordable housing. The new towers would sit on multiple sites: two adjacent waterfront compounds, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey’s 80-acre Red Hook Container Terminal, a similarly sized adjacent parcel of city-owned waterfront along Columbia Street, the southern edge of the neighborhood overlooking the Gowanus Bay and unused land at Red Hook Houses. Additionally, the No. 1 train from lower Manhattan would be extended via a new tunnel under the harbor to the Brooklyn area. Three new subway stations would also be created: one at Atlantic Basin next to the container terminal, another at the Red Hook Houses and a No. 1 train station that would connect to the F and G subway lines at Fourth Avenue.

Bicycle Laws for Elevators Pass

The City Council of NYC has passed three bicycle bills aimed at giving commuters better bicycle access to elevators in residential and commercial buildings under the Bicycle Access Law. One bill, amNewYork reported, requires that office buildings in the city must allow foldable bicycles in offices’ passenger elevators. Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, who sponsored the bill, explained, “Presumably, if a person can fit in an elevator, so can their foldable bike.” Another bill allows commuters to bring their regular bicycles into office buildings’ passenger elevators if freight elevators are closed. The third piece requires residential building owners to allow all bicycles in their buildings’ passenger elevators.

Mixed-Use Building Rising in Downtown Brooklyn

A 33-story mixed-use building designed by Woods Bagot is rising in downtown Brooklyn, with construction reaching the seventh floor in early September, New York YIMBY reported. Located at 120 Nassau Street, the structure will contain 270 residential units, ground-level retail and offices on parts of the second through eighth floors. Scheduled for completion by 2018, the 425-ft.-tall structure will span 313,093 sq. ft. The Clarett Group is the developer.

Glut Predicted for Brooklyn Rental Market

Real-estate experts have speculated that a glut in Brooklyn’s rental housing market is right around the corner. In August, The New York Times reported there were 19 residential towers either under construction or recently completed along the 10-block section of Flatbush (stretching from Barclays Center north to Myrtle Avenue). When finished, these will have added more than 6,500 apartments — mostly rentals. Another four buildings on Myrtle Avenue will add almost 1,000 more units.

Roughly one-fifth of all rental units are expected to become available in the city in 2016 and 2017. Sofia Estevez, executive vice president of developer TF Cornerstone, explained, “The market is saturated. I think it’ll take a couple years to stabilize.”

Some landlords of new towers are offering multiple months of free rent and other promotions with a lease. Lease durations are also on the rise. Developers and consultants do not expect a large decrease in rental rates, but they do expect them to stagnate and/or ease in the short term. Jonathan J. Miller, president and chief executive of real-estate appraisal and consulting firm Miller Samuel, said the problem is “too many units skewed to the upper end of the market,” above US$3,500 a month in rent. “The top of the market is soft for both rentals and condos. That’s where the bulk of the new supply is coming.”

Thus, the number of new rental buildings is expected to fall to almost zero in 2018, partly due to the end of the 421-a subsidy program. However, Brooklyn’s growing density and popularity is fueling plans for growth in office-tower construction.

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