It’s full steam ahead for SL Green‘s new Midtown supertall, One Vanderbilt. Early this morning the developer announced it had closed on $1.5 billion in financing for its 1,401-foot, full-block office tower slated to rise directly adjacent to Grand Central Terminal. As SL Green Managing Director, Robert Schiffer expressed in a statement: “Closing on the construction financing means that nothing stands in the way of One Vanderbilt becoming an iconic addition to the Manhattan skyline.”
Conceptual image depicting all the proposed sites of the East Midtown rezoning fully built out. Courtesy CityRealty
After Mayor Bloomberg’s failed 2013 attempt, the city has released its long-awaited Midtown East Rezoning plan, a controversial upzoning of the area bound by Madison and Third Avenues and 39th and 50th Streets, which would encourage taller, more modern office towers in an area that many feel is no longer attracting commercial tenants.
According to Crain’s, their proposal, the first step in the formal rezoning process, would allow the tallest buildings around Grand Central, increasing the maximum density by 30 percent. Along Park Avenue and near subway stations north of the Terminal, density would be increased, too. The proposal also will permit owners of landmarked buildings to sell their air rights across the district, rather than just to adjacent properties like the current law dictates.
Last week, a $1.1 billion lawsuit against One Vanderbilt was settled, giving the green light to the 1,401-foot project. Investors at Grand Central Terminal led the suit, claiming that the tower would divest them of the value of their air rights if developer SL Green was was allowed to proceed with construction as it was cleared to do under the controversial Midtown East Rezoning.
Now that it’s been dismissed, NY Yimby reports that excavation work is underway at the site of Midtown’s future tallest tower, at the corner of 42nd Street and Vanderbilt Avenue. And Curbed points out that architecture buffs can stay apprised of construction progress through the building’s new Instagram page.
Another supertall tower will join the $3 billion+ club. The Real Deal reports that SL Green Realty has pegged the cost of One Vanderbilt, Midtown’s future tallest tower, at $3.14 billion. The city’s largest office landlord also said it hopes to close on a $1.5 billion construction loan by the end of the summer, leaving $1.64 in equity needed to complete the 1,401-foot tower designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox.
As TRD notes, One World Trade Center became the world’s most expensive office tower in 2014 when it opened with a final cost of around $3.8 billion. Bjarke Ingels’ planned High Line tower known as the Spiral is also expected to run over $3 billion.
Carter Uncut brings New York City’s latest development news under the critical eye of resident architecture critic Carter B. Horsley. Ahead, Carter brings us his eighth installment of “Skyline Wars,” a series that examines the explosive and unprecedented supertall phenomenon that is transforming the city’s silhouette. In this post Carter looks at the “stray” supertalls rising in low slung neighborhoods.
Most of the city’s recent supertall developments have occurred in traditional high-rise commercial districts such as the Financial District, the Plaza District, downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City. Some are also sprouting in new districts such as the Hudson Yards in far West Midtown.
There are, however, some isolated “stray” supertalls that are rising up in relatively virgin tall territories, such as next to the Manhattan Bridge on the Lower East Side and Sutton Place.
Carter Uncut brings New York City’s breaking development news under the critical eye of resident architecture critic Carter B. Horsley. This week Carter brings us the second installment of nine-part series, “Skyline Wars,” which examines the explosive and unprecedented supertall phenomenon that is transforming the city’s silhouette. In this post Carter zooms in on Midtown East and the design of One Vanderbilt, the controversial tower that is being pinned as the catalyst for change in an area that has fallen behind in recent decades.
Despite some objections from community boards and local politicians, New York City is moving ahead with the rezoning of East Midtown between Fifth and Third avenues, and 39th and 59th Streets; and earlier this year, the de Blasio administration enacted an important part of the plan, a rezoning of the Vanderbilt Avenue corridor just to the west of Grand Central Terminal. The Vanderbilt Avenue rezoning included approval of a 1,501-foot-high tower at 1 Vanderbilt Avenue on the block bounded by Madison Avenue, 42nd and 43rd Streets. The tapered, glass-clad tower, topped by a spire, is being designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox for SL Green. Mayors Bloomberg and de Blasio have championed the 1 Vanderbilt proposal despite serious concerns voiced by numerous civic organizations over the rezoning scheme that some see as “spot zoning” and the fact that the city has still not finalized nor published its complete rezoning package.
Using air-rights transfers from the Grand Central Terminal area and zoning bonuses for providing $210 million for infrastructure improvements in the area, the tower will significantly alter the midtown skyline, rising several hundred feet above the nearby Chrysler Building and the huge and bulky but lower MetLife Tower straddling Park Avenue just north of Grand Central Terminal. Its 63 stories are several less than the Chrysler Building and just a few more than the MetLife Tower, which might be interpreted by some observers as indicated that it was in “context” with such prominent neighbors, but they are wrong.
The digital production studio Visualhouse has posted on their website our first motion video look at SL Green’s 63-story office tower known as One Vanderbilt. Hailed to forever change the face of Midtown East and reinvigorate the business district, the $1 billion-plus, 1.6-million-square-foot tower was unanimously approved by the City Council this past summer, thus granting SL Green the green light to begin construction of the supertower immediately.
Visualhouse’s newly released renderings provide us with a clearer picture of how the building’s full-block base will meet the street, and also remind us just how gargantuan the tower will be. According to the tower’s architects Kohn Pedersen Fox (KPF), the tower will rise 1,401 feet to its spire, making it the second tallest building in the city upon completion. However, unlike the pencil-thin supertalls underway around Central Park, the project will throw up a substantial amount of bulk into the air.
Outside of a $1.1 billion lawsuit, news on the One Vanderbilt front has been relatively quiet. The supertall tower received unanimous approval back in May by the City Council and since then demo at the site has been underway. But now, NY Yimby has gotten ahold of some new renderings that offer additional views of the KPF-designed tower—in particular, how the 1,500-foot behemoth will fit in with the existing NYC skyline. Once the building is constructed, it will be one of the tallest skycrapers in the city with a roof height exceeding that of One World Trade‘s. And as noted by YIMBY, One Vanderbilt will also be the first building in Midtown east to surpass the Chrysler Building in height (which, if you look closely at the above rendering, you can see demurely reflected in the building’s glass).
Grand Central owner Andrew Penson is back in the news again, this time suing the city and One Vanderbilt developer SL Green for a princely sum of $1.1 billion. As the NY Times reports, Penson is claiming that the 65-story behemoth slated to rise next door to the historic structure has led to the devaluation of his air rights atop the terminal.
Penson claims that the de Blasio administration, the City Council and SL Green “deprived him of his property rights when the city gave SL Green permission to build a 1,501-foot tall office tower, without having to buy any air rights from him.” By allowing for a tower twice the size of what was zoned for the block “for free” (but really, in exchange for a $220M investment into the subway infrastructure beneath Grand Central), his air rights have been rendered “worthless.”
This afternoon, SL Green’s One Vanderbilt tower received the ultimate green light from the New York City Council, as members voted unanimously in favor of both the construction of the new 1,501-foot tall office building and the rezoning of a five-block stretch of Vanderbilt Avenue (the Vanderbilt Corridor) that would bring with it significant infrastructural upgrades to the area’s public transportation. The vote was the last hurdle for the development and is a critical step in the rezoning of a greater area of Midtown East.