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condos, Hotels, Midtown East, New Developments

Waldorf Astoria will lose 1,000 hotel rooms in renovation

By Emily Nonko, Mon, November 13, 2017

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

Midtown East, real estate trends

Trump Tower prices slide since 2015 presidential campaign

By Michelle Cohen, Fri, November 10, 2017

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?

Design, History, Midtown East

AT&T Building, Robert AM Stern, Phillip Johnson

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.

Find out more

Architecture, Design, Midtown East

550 Madison Avenue, Snohetta, Sony Building

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

Midtown, Policy

666 Fifth Avenue, Kushner Companies, Jared Kushner

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.

More this way

Midtown East, New Developments, real estate trends, Transportation

grand central terminal, grand central, midtown east

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.

Find out more

Architecture, Construction Update, Design, Midtown

One Hundred East 53rd Street, photo via CityRealty

The Midtown East tower designed by Norman Foster’s Foster + Partners is finally finished. As CityRealty reported, the glassy design of One Hundred East 53rd Street takes into account the bronze hues of its historic neighbor, the Seagram Building, with a counter curtain wall. The luxurious residential building continues to be a magnet for celebrities, including couples like George and Amal Clooney and Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber. The amenities are also of star quality: a wellness center, library lounge, swimming pool and a restaurant from the French chef Joël Robuchon who has earned 34 Michelin stars.

See inside

Celebrities, Midtown East, Recent Sales

Beyoncé sells swanky Midtown apartment for $10M

By Annie Doge, Thu, September 28, 2017

beyonce, 151 East 58th Street, one beacon court

Photo of Beyoncé via Wikimedia

It’s been a busy summer for superstar couple Beyoncé and Jay-Z. The twosome recently purchased an LA estate for $88 million in August and shortly after they bought a home on East Hampton’s Georgica Pond for nearly $26 million. Adding to their real estate hustle, Beyoncé just sold her apartment at 151 East 58th in Midtown East for $9.95 million, as the New York Post reported. The 44th-floor pad is located at One Beacon Court, the exclusive Manhattan skyscraper with a Pantheon-inspired elliptical court. Beyoncé’s former pad features three bedrooms, floor-to-ceiling windows and sweeping views of Central Park.

See inside

Major Developments, Midtown East, Policy, real estate trends

666 Fifth Avenue, Kushner Companies, Jared Kushner

A rendering of 666 Fifth Avenue, courtesy of Kushner Companies/Zaha Hadid Architects

In 2007, Kushner Companies purchased a 41-story tower in Midtown for $1.8 billion, which was the most expensive real estate deal ever in the U.S. at the time. The transaction of 666 Fifth Avenue, coordinated by Jared Kushner, now a senior advisor to President Donald Trump, was ill-timed, making the purchase just before the economic recession. As the Washington Post reported, the Fifth Avenue project is one of the most financially troubled for Kushner Cos., with one-fourth of office space empty, and its lease revenue not covering monthly interest payments. While Kushner has divested his stake in the property to avoid conflicts of interest, the property’s value has dropped and foreign entities have withdrawn financial support. Currently, Kushner’s dealings are under investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller, as part of the broader investigation into Russian collusion with the Trump campaign.

Find out more

Celebrities, Midtown East, Recent Sales

Skidmore Owings & Merrill, 252 East 57th Street, Billionaires Row towers, Midtown East condos

Shoe brand honcho Steve Madden put his best foot forward and stepped into an impressive spread at 252 East 57th Street. The Journal reports that the company’s founder and former CEO dropped $12.2 million on a five-bedroom condo at the 65-story Billionaires’ Row tower designed by designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill. Not only does his new home have a 38-foot-long living/dining area, balcony, and all the swanky fixtures and finishing one could hope for, but its 61st-floor location affords it incredible north, east, and west exposures with skyline, Central Park, and East River views.

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