Real Estate

NYC developers poised — but hesitant — to break ground on slew of projects

A whole new Manhattan skyline will emerge when a dozen-odd planned new projects that have yet to break ground hoist their final I-beams. The big question is: Which, if any, of them will actually start construction in 2022?

A glance at the wish-list gives no hint that the city’s real estate destiny, including the fate of tiny apartment buildings, might depend on beating a pandemic that shows no sign of abating.

But developers made their moves years ago. They bought land and air rights, cobbled together financing and signed architects. Some nailed down city zoning and other approvals. Some demolished old structures in the way of their ambitions.

But it’s a long way from those crucial steps to bringing in the backhoes and shovels. Here’s a look at where some of the future jumbos are right now:

The mega-tower planned for the Grand Hyatt Hotel site on East 42nd Street — known as 175 Park Avenue — got its governmental green light his month when the City Council approved a zoning change to allow construction of the $3 billion-plus mixed-use mammoth rising to 1,575 feet.

An image of 343 Madison with construction scaffolding
At 343 Madison Ave., the former MTA headquarters, Boston Properties plans a 1,050 foot-tall tower.
Google Maps

To exploit East Midtown size-bonus rules, developers RXR Realty and TF Cornerstone will pay for and build hundreds of millions of dollars in Grand Central-area transit/pedestrian improvements and also provide 25,000 square feet of free-to-the-public outdoor terraces programmed for arts and cultural uses.

But don’t look to the sky just yet. A spokesman told us, “Now that the entitlement process is complete, the developers will spend next year arranging construction financing and reaching out to potential tenants, with plans to start demolition in 2023.”

Nearby in the Grand Central area, demolition has begun at 343 Madison Avenue, the former MTA headquarters. Boston Properties plans a 1,050-foot-tall tower with more than 800,000 square feet of offices and significant retail. It will also feature numerous underground pedestrian connections to Grand Central Terminal – which Boston is providing in exchange for a size bonus under new East Midtown rezoning rules. The project received its City Council green light last month.

Illustrative rendering of the exterior of 415 Madison Avenue
Rudin Management is making way for 415 Madison Ave, seen here in an illustrative rendering.
SOM

However, there’s no word yet on when ground-up construction will begin.

West 57th Street between Fifth and Seventh avenues — aka Billionaires Row — is without question the most active location for major new projects. Awaiting their marching orders are the empty lots at 41-47 W. 57th and 12 W. 57th St., as demolition proceeds one block west at 125 W. 57th St.

The No. 125 site was home to the Calvary Baptist Church and the Salisbury Hotel. As we reported in June, the church will be restored and enlarged when a new, 26-story mixed-use tower developed by Alchemy-ABR Investment Partners, financial partner Cain International and the church itself is finished in 2024.

A Hyatt sign
The tower at 175 Park will mean a remade Grand Hyatt.
James Messerschmidt for NY Post

Ground-up construction is to begin soon on the $350 million project once demolition, now underway, is complete. The new tower will include 185,000 square feet of office space. It was delayed when a lender pulled out in March 2020, forcing Alechemy-ABR to find new financing, but all the hurdles have been cleared.

Between Fifth and Sixth avenues, the company founded by Sheldon Solow is demolishing old structures to make way for 12 W. 57th, a 670-foot-tall, white marble luxury condo tower with a retail base, designed by SOM architects. Two buildings are yet to be razed, including the original Henri Bendel address. Solow passed away in November 2020, but his son Stefan Soloviev, who reorganized the various Solow entities under the new umbrella of Soloviev Group, seems no less eager to build.

Meanwhile, excavation is expected to begin soon at another large site, 41-47 W. 57th, where developer Sedesco plans an 1,100-foot-tall mixed-use tower with 119 condo units, a 158-room hotel and a large restaurant. YIMBY reported last week that thanks to an agreement with the MTA, Sedesco is to receive an acre of extra floor space in exchange for building new, disabled-accessible elevators for the 57th Street F train station.

A vacant lot along 57th Street
A number of 57th Street projects are awaiting marching orders.

Meanwhile, Rudin Management is gearing up to demolish an old building at East 48th Street to make way for  415 Madison Ave., a planned 605-foot tower with 343,100 square feet of office space. Rudin first needs city approval for an air rights transfer and for a size bonus in exchange for transit/pedestrian amenities — not unlike Boston’s plan for 343 Madison. The project will include a retail pavilion and a public concourse. A Rudin rep said, “They’re working to complete ULURP early next year.”

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