COOKFOX-designed 188-unit tower tops out at Chelsea’s Penn South co-op

June 3, 2024

Rendering courtesy of COOKFOX

The seven-story apartment building that replaced an aging commercial building at Chelsea’s sprawling Penn South co-op topped out last week. Designed by COOKFOX, 335 Eighth Avenue is an 188-unit mixed-use development with a 23,000-square-foot Lidl grocery store on the ground floor. Penn South, a limited equity co-op made up of 10 buildings between West 23rd and West 29th Streets, tapped MAG Partners in 2021 to raze and redevelop the run-down corner building. Developed under the state’s Affordable NY Program, the project will set aside 30 percent of units for low- and middle-income New Yorkers.

335 Eighth Avenue in Chelsea, late May. Photo © Ondel Hylton

Penn South, also known as Mutual Redevelopment Houses, was created in 1962 as a limited-equity co-op; the development receives tax abatements when below-market-rate homes are available to tenants. The complex spans between Eighth and Ninth Avenues and from West 23rd to 29th Streets and includes 15 buildings, roughly 3,000 apartments, and approximately 5,000 residents.

In 2017, the City Council approved a resolution extending Penn South’s tax abatement until 2052, ensuring its continued affordability.

The previous building on the site, home to a Gristedes supermarket, a McDonald’s, and a tennis center, required significant repair work that Penn South co-op could not afford. Additionally, the tenant leases were set to expire, which would result in a substantial loss of revenue for the property and an increase in monthly maintenance fees for residents of the development.

To prevent this drop in revenue, Penn South and its 15-member Board of Directors searched for a partner to redevelop the site. After considering bids from seven developers, they selected MAG Partners, according to The Real Deal.

The partnership is structured as a ground lease, with MAG Partners paying rent directly to Penn South, which will provide an important source of income for the co-op. According to Penn South, the developer will pay $2.1 million annually.

335 Eighth Avenue in Chelsea, late May. Photo © Ondel Hylton

Construction on the project began in October 2023 and completion is scheduled for the third quarter of 2025.

COOKFOX designed 335 Eighth Avenue to achieve passive-house and LEED Gold certifications, while also bridging the architectural character of Chelsea, characterized by its red-brick exterior, with modern living.

The building will offer 30 percent of apartments to low- and middle-income New Yorkers under the Affordable New York Program and made available via a housing lottery. According to the developer, 10 percent of the units will be designated for those earning 70 percent of the area median income (AMI) and 20 percent of the units will be set aside for those earning 130 percent of the AMI.

“Home to nearly 5,000 New Yorkers, Penn South is a beacon of access and equity in the heart of Manhattan – and it will stay that way, thanks to the project we’re celebrating today,” Ambur Nicosia, board president of Penn South, said. “The beautiful new building at 335 Eighth Avenue will strengthen the Penn South community by providing financial support, a new grocery store, and additional affordable housing units to the neighborhood.”

A temporary work of art created by Penn South resident and artist Joseph Meloy, titled “Panoramica,” will face the Penn South community while the building finishes construction.

The piece was created in collaboration with ArtBridge, a non-profit organization that empowers local artists to spice up construction fencing with temporary installations.

“’Panoramica’ is a cheerful and colorful landscape, full of abstracted allusions to the natural and man-made world, and arranged horizontally in a way one might find in a side-scrolling video game. I have lived in Penn South since 2012 and long dreamed of bringing a splash of color to the wall at Sandbox Park, where my wife and I bring our two young children,” Meloy said.

The $150 million building is being developed in partnership with Safanad and MetLife Investment Management, with Bank OZK providing a $73 million construction loan.

Rendering courtesy of BKSK Architects

MAG Partners’ Midtown East project at 300 East 50th Street, a 194-unit project with 4,888-square-feet of retail space, also topped out last week. Designed by BKSK Architects, the 23-story building also sets aside 30 percent of its units for low- and middle-income New Yorkers.

Together with 335 Eighth Avenue, the two projects are delivering nearly 400 units of housing to New York City.

“This tremendous milestone, topping out two projects simultaneously, is a strong testament to our team’s incredible work to secure these sites, begin construction, and finance these deals. We are grateful for the trust and confidence placed in us by our partners and we are excited to be creating high quality, long term value for all of our stakeholders,” MaryAnne Gilmartin, founder and CEO of MAG Partners, said.

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