Just a day after Penn Station‘s long-awaited West End Concourse revealed itself to the public, for the first time allowing Amtrak, Long Island Rail Road, and NJ Transit passengers to enter and board trains through the historic James A. Farley Post Office across 8th Avenue, Governor Cuomo has announced that Empire State Development signed the final financial agreement with Related Companies, Vornado Realty LP, and Skanska AB for the $1.6 billion Penn-Farley Complex. After decades of delays, construction will now begin to transform the historic post office into the Moynihan Train Hall, a new 255,000-square-foot train hall housing both Amtrak and LIRR ticketing and waiting areas, as well as 70,000 square feet of new commercial, retail, and dining space. But a development announcement from the Governor is never complete without a fresh set of renderings, and Cuomo did not disappoint this time.
A rendering of 666 Fifth Avenue. Credit: Kushner Companies/Zaha Hadid Architects
“Kushner Companies is no longer in discussions with Anbang about 666 Fifth Ave.’s potential redevelopment, and our firms have mutually agreed to end talks regarding the property,” a spokesman for the developer told the Post. The timing of the Chinese insurance company backing out of the deal–which the Kushners hoped could increase the Midtown’s skyscraper’s value to a whopping $12 billion and include a flashy new Zaha Hadid design–is uncannily timed with investigations into Jared Kushner’s supposed meetings with a scandalous Russian bank. But despite the controversy surrounding ex-CEO and current White House advisor Jared, Kushner Cos. “remains in active, advanced negotiations around 666 Fifth Ave. with a number of potential investors.”
A rendering of 666 Fifth Avenue. Credit: Kushner Companies/Zaha Hadid Architects
As 6sqft previously reported, 666 Fifth Avenue owners Kushner Companies and Vornado Realty Trust have been seeking financing for a new skyscraper planned for the site of the Midtown office tower that Kushner purchased for $1.8 billion in 2007; Chinese company Anbang Insurance Group is said to have been considering a substantial stake in the tower. Though it was reported that the redevelopment could be valued at $7.5 billion, the Wall Street Journal now cites sources who say the value could be as much as $12 billion, and that a reported deal with Anbang may be far from a sure thing. That huge number represents the projected value of what Kushner envisions as a 1,400-foot-tall mixed-use luxury tower with a design provided by the late Zaha Hadid in 2015, nine floors of retail, a hotel and big-ticket luxury condos on its upper floors.
666 Fifth Avenue, via Vornado
Anbang Insurance Group, the Chinese company who bought the Waldorf Astoria in late 2014 for nearly $2 billion, is now making headlines for another high-profile real estate transaction, this time against a controversial political backdrop. Bloomberg reports that Anbang is considering a stake in Vornado and Kushner Companies’ office tower 666 Fifth Avenue, a deal that Jared Kushner reportedly set into motion before resigning as CEO of his family’s company to serve as a presidential advisor to his father-in-law. If the deal goes through, not only will the Kushners profit some $400 million, but they’ll receive an equity stake in the new partnership, which will refinance $1.5 billion in existing mortgage debt. The deal values the tower at $2.85 billion, and if Anbang’s receives its proposed $4 billion construction loan to turn the top floors into condos, it will be the largest such loan for a single property in NYC history.
Trump to name New York developers Richard LeFrak and Steven Roth to oversee new infrastructure council, Tue, January 17, 2017
President-elect Donald Trump has previously outlined his $1 trillion infrastructure plan not just as a means to repair and build bridges and roads, but as a real estate platform for private entities to build and subsequently own public works such as schools, hospitals, or energy pipeline expansions through $137 billion in tax credits. So it comes as no surprise that he’s tapped two of his longtime buddies and big-time New York real estate developers to head up the new council that will monitor this spending. The Wall Street Journal reports that Trump asked Richard LeFrak and Vornado’s Steven Roth to manage this council of 15 to 20 builders and engineers, referring to the men as “pros” because “…all their lives, they build. They build under-budget, ahead of schedule.”
Robert A.M. Stern‘s latest Billionaires’ Row blockbuster continues its rapid ascent into the sky. As CityRealty.com reports, 220 Central Park South (220 CPS) is now two-thirds of the way up, construction having knocked out about 600 feet of the tower’s eventual 950-foot height. Application of the limestone cladding started in April and has thus far been installed across over one-third of the building. When finished in 2017, the two-winged skyscraper with its rare and direct Central Park South frontage will host 118 luxurious homes across 66 stories—and it will be one of the city’s most expensive residences. Jump ahead to see more photos of all the work that’s been completed.
The past decade has seen an increasing effort to transform New York City’s under-utilized–and sometimes dismal–public spaces into pedestrian plazas and other vibrant and attractive public oases. From Columbus Circle and Times Square to Downtown Brooklyn’s Willoughby Street, new car-free spaces encourage passersby to linger and enjoy their surroundings.
Vornado Realty Trust (VNO), one of the city’s biggest landlords, has been working on a similar transformation of the urban sprawl that surrounds Penn Station and Madison Square Garden by implementing kiosks, seating and attractive architecture. Now, CityRealty.com has revealed new renderings from Kenneth Park Architects (KPA) showing their ideas and recommendations for repositioning retail space and optimizing pedestrian and vehicular circulation.
While Governor Cuomo is busy trying to make his plans for $3 billion in renovations at Penn Station a reality, developers are hot to come up with a new design for 2 Penn Plaza, the tower directly above the station and Madison Square Garden. Vornado Realty Trust, who owns roughly nine million square feet around Penn Station including 2 Penn Plaza, released renderings in March for a glassy, wave-like tower by starchitect of the moment Bjarke Ingels. The concept is quite a departure from the current, stale state of the site, but yesterday an even more futuristic idea came to the table. Brooklyn Capital Partners tapped AE Superlab to create a plan for the world’s tallest free-fall tower ride above the station. “Halo,” as it would be called, would rise 1,200 feet from the roof, have 11 cars, and move as quickly as 100 miles per hour, giving it a top-to-base free fall of about six seconds.
BIG’s design wouldn’t change much in the way of 2 Penn Plaza’s current configuration, but it would create more retail space at the base. Halo, though it would cost $637 million to build, claims it would bring in up to $38 million a year for the state. Since Brooklyn Capital is contending with Vornado Realty Trust and Related Companies to upgrade the space, we want to know which of these ideas you think is a better fit.
At the forefront of Midtown’s high-rise sierra, a new peak is emerging. Simply addressed 220 Central Park South, the two-winged development is being designed by celebrated historian and poet of the city’s skyline Robert A.M. Stern and developed by commercial and retail heavyweights Vornado Realty Trust. The tower portion of the complex has already ascended some 300 feet above street level and is noticeable from many parts of Central Park. Ultimately, it will stand 66 stories, 950 feet high, making it among the tallest residential buildings in the city. The exclusive, Central Park South-fronting wing, dubbed “The Villas” is up to the third of 17 stories and will be topped by a palatial quadplex penthouse.
Earlier this month, the tower’s warm limestone cladding was being applied to the lower mechanical floors, which will have 18- to 24-foot-high ceilings, boosting the building’s height by more than 100 feet and allowing nearly all its residences to possess Central Park views. To coincide with the construction work, Vornado recently published a collection of new renderings in a property portfolio, showing us for the first time several new looks at the project, including three full-scale views from Central Park and close-up looks at the base, porte-cochere, and an upper-level interior.
Another day, another reveal from Danish wunderkind Bjarke Ingels. This time the starchitect has taken on a project at much-loathed Penn Station, transforming 2 Penn Plaza (the tower directly above the station and Madison Square Garden) from a nondescript, monolithic slab to a shiny, playful tower. The renderings, first spotted by NY Yimby, show a somewhat typical glass mass, but the fun begins above the ground levels, where a wave-like canopy of glass panels ushers people in to a new retail base.