, Today, February 23, 2018
Photo via Wikimedia
The Chinese government has taken control over debt-ridden Anbang Insurance Group, a Beijing-based firm known for snatching up prominent properties around the world for billions of dollars. One of those high-profile properties includes New York City’s iconic Waldorf Astoria, which the group purchased for $1.95 billion in 2014. According to the New York Times, the government takeover comes after Abang violated regulations, although the exact violations committed are unclear so far. Anbang will be overseen for one year by a group that includes China’s central bank, the country’s securities and banking regulator, the regular of foreign exchanges and other government agencies.
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270 Park Avenue via MikePScott’s Flickr
Plans to replace JPMorgan Chase’s current headquarters at 270 Park Avenue with a much taller tower at the same site is facing opposition from architecture and preservation buffs, shortly after the proposal was announced. Not only will the project become the largest intentionally demolished building in history, as YIMBY reported, the landmark-worthy Union Carbide Building was also designed in 1960 by Natalie de Blois, a pioneer of American architecture and one of the few female senior designers at that time. As the first project under the Midtown East rezoning, JPMorgan Chase’s existing 700-foot tall structure will be bulldozed to make way for a tower that will most likely be over 1,200 feet tall.
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A model of what the future 270 Park Ave building might look like via CityRealty
Mayor Bill de Blasio and JPMorgan Chase announced on Wednesday plans to build a new 70-story world headquarters at the site of the bank’s current offices at 270 Park Avenue, the first project under the East Midtown Rezoning plan. Approved by the City Council in August, the rezoning affects 78 blocks running from East 39th Street to East 57th Street and from Third Avenue to Madison Avenue. The updated zoning code is expected to clear the way for 6.5 million square feet of modern office space and allow for taller buildings. JPMorgan Chase’s new building will have enough room for about 15,000 employees, compared to the old building’s capacity of just 3,500 employees.
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After first hitting the market in June for roughly $5.2 million, the former Sutton Place home of influential New York senator, Jacob Javits and his wife Marian, has found a buyer. Last listed for $4.35 million, the three-bedroom co-op at 322 East 57th Street was designed in 1933 by Joseph Urban, an architect known for his Art Deco style. According to the New York Post, Javits entertained socialites and political players, like Henry Kissinger, in his spacious 3,300 square foot duplex.
Check out the glass cube
Photo via Wiki Commons
In the coming weeks, the renovation of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel will finally begin–a three-year process to convert much of the building to luxury condos. Hilton Worldwide Holdings, who had owned the landmark since 1972, agreed in 2014 to sell the 1,413-room hotel to Beijing-based financial and insurance company Anbang Insurance Group for $1.95 billion. Since then, the interior was landmarked, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was tapped to design the project, and the building closed to begin work. Now the New York Post reports that post reno, the Waldorf will only hold 350 hotel rooms–a number that’s “at the low end of recent estimates and much smaller than the number former Waldorf owner Hilton had expected,” according to the paper.
It’s caused some tension
Photo of Trump Tower via Krystal T’s Flickr
Sales prices at the tony Midtown condo building at 721 Fifth Avenue have dropped sharply since Donald Trump began his presidential campaign, according to the Wall Street Journal. The median sale price and average price per square foot are down since 2015 and are now reaching the lows experienced during the last financial crisis. Brokers aren’t exactly sure whether the “Trump effect” has caused the slump–including issues specific to the tower such as heightened security, protests, and a general antipathy toward all things Trump–or it’s part of an overall softening of the luxury condo market.
Is it the Curse of Trump?
Photo of the protest courtesy of Nathan Eddy
After Olayan America and Chelsfield revealed plans last week for a $300 million renovation of the building at 550 Madison Avenue, known as the AT&T Building, criticism quickly followed. Members of the architecture community, including New York architect Robert A.M. Stern, rallied together last Friday at the base of the Philip Johnson-designed skyscraper, to protest Snøhetta’s proposal to replace the building’s base with a scalloped glass front (h/t Dezeen). Protestors held signs that read “Hands off my Johnson,” “Save the Stone,” and “Save AT&T.” Plus, a petition is currently being circulated on Change.org in an attempt to preserve Johnson’s iconic AT&T Building by having the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission officially designate it as a city landmark.
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Rendering of 550 Madison Avenue, via DBOX/ Snøhetta
Over the last few years, plans to refurbish the former headquarters of AT&T and Sony Building at 550 Madison Avenue have come and gone, including a proposal to convert the upper floors into luxury condos designed by Robert A.M. Stern. Now, with those plans long abandoned, Olayan America and Chelsfield revealed plans on Monday for a $300 million renovation of the tower, modernizing the lower levels of the building with high-quality amenities and a sprawling 21,000-square-foot public garden. With Snøhetta as lead architect, the renovation will be the first major project in East Midtown since its revitalization plan was approved earlier this year.
See the new design
A previous rendering of 666 Fifth Avenue, courtesy of Kushner Companies/Zaha Hadid Architects
Instead of the 41-story Midtown tower becoming an 80-story office building with hotel rooms and luxury housing, 666 Fifth Avenue will now get a much more simple upgrade. According to Bloomberg, Vornado Realty Trust, the project’s partner alongside Kushner Companies, told brokers the property will remain an office building, with“mundane” renovations planned. As one of the most financially troubled developments for Kushner Cos., the Fifth Ave project has been losing money since its purchase was first coordinated by Jared Kushner, currently a senior advisor to President Donald Trump, in 2007.
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Grand Central Terminal, photo via NYC & Company
At Grand Central Terminal, it’s in with the new, out with the old. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority said it will replace stores that have served the busy terminal’s commuters for over two decades–Junior’s, Two Boots Pizza, Grand Harvest Wines–with more upscale shops. As the New York Post reported, new stores include Art Bird & Whiskey Bar, run by Oprah Winfrey’s former personal chef, Art Smith, and Tartinery, an open-face sandwich vendor. The restaurant refashioning process is expected to run through 2018.
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