Economic woes be damned: Judging from the fairly active scene at the Observer’s condo expo at the Puck Building yesterday — apparently, more than 2,000 attendees passed through the doors — New Yorkers are still gripped with condo fever.
Larry Silverstein's feeling upbeat about the future, but we wonder about his grip on reality as it currently stands. Addressing a roomful of construction pros yesterday, the developer promised that the four towers he wants to build at the World Trade Center site will open by 2012 (with retail comprising “big boxes, little boxes, restaurants, and bars”) and told us later that the site would deliver “an urban experience” as walkable as Bleecker Street — “with bollards, of course.” Lovely. But Silverstein also claimed that construction inflation is starting to level off just as his architects are due to start confronting the problem of how to connect four distinct skyscrapers underground. “I was at the General Contractors Association table, and eyebrows went up when he said that,” says Rick Bell, head of the local American Institute of Architects chapter, who has visited the design studio where Silverstein's starchitects are laboring to cost out the towers' underground guts. “I didn't get any consensus on that from contractors or from architects.”
The much-maligned Trump Soho can’t seem to get it right. Just two months after a construction worker died after a catastrophic on-site fall, which grounded the condo project for weeks, work was again stopped by the city over the weekend after yet another accident. Glass panels came crashing down the condo-hotel on Saturday, “knocked loose by a chain attached to construction equipment on the 26th floor,” according to the New York Sun. Unsurprisingly, critics of the project are quick to pounce on this recent snafu. “It seems like no matter what happens, [the project] at most just gets a temporary delay. But the city just lets them continue ahead. You'd think in light of the recent fatal accident, the developers and construction company would be extra safe and extra careful,” says Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, which is challenging Trump Soho on the grounds that the permits to build it shouldn’t have been issued by the city in the first place. “This project never should have been allowed in the first place, and if they cannot run their construction site safely, it should be shut down.” In response to the incident, Mayor Bloomberg has vowed to tighten construction safety and oversight on developers, but until all construction on Trump Soho stops for good, its vehement opponents are unlikely to be satisfied. — S. Jhoanna RobledoNew accident stops work at Trump SoHo tower as wind wreaks havoc [NYDN]
Earlier:Building Collapse at Trump Soho
Negotiation via blind items drives epochal real-estate projects, as well as ballplayers' contract haggling, and we've uncovered reasons to view recent stories about the Moynihan Station struggles as part of an encouraging trend on the project. For one thing, Governor Spitzer has personally entered negotiations. Spokesman Errol Cockfield confirms that last week Spitz convened his first face-to-face meetings with the Dolans (who own Madison Square Garden) and the developers who own air rights to the intended Moynihan site. One player intimate with the negotiations described this as “shuttle diplomacy,” and apparently it's had an effect.