Temporary Hold on Trump Soho After New Accident Doesn’t Appease Foes
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 Robledo
New accident stops work at Trump SoHo tower as wind wreaks havoc [NYDN]
Earlier: Building Collapse at Trump Soho
Stribling’s Luxury Report Says That Triplex on Fifth Isn’t Getting Any CheaperStribling’s Luxury Market report has bad news for buyers, at least if you’re the type who needs three bedrooms and a library on Park. Prices aren’t expected to drop anytime soon, says Kirk Henckels, director of Stribling Private Brokerage (the luxe firm’s ultraluxe arm), who spoke to us today. Already, there have been four closed sales above $20 million this year — writer Georgia Shreve’s duplex penthouse at 1060 Fifth Avenue that sold for $46 million is one of the more memorable deals, given that it still needs work. And nine more blockbusters are in the offing. (Last year, we had eleven total!) “We’re already ahead of pace,” Henckels says. The under–$20 million market’s also percolating. “There’s just so little [available]. One came on yesterday, and it’s priced significantly higher than one across the street that went for $17 million last year — and it won’t last long.” Why all the action, despite continued ambivalence about the economy’s future? Though some buyers, spooked by talks of a slowdown, may have left the game, plenty are still on the lookout for their next mansion, Henckels says.
Jail Reopening and Expansion Proposed for the Corner of Atlantic and SmithTwo city commissioners revived plans last night to reinvent the jail system — and, they say, gloss up Atlantic Avenue in the bargain. Martin Horn, who runs Corrections and Probation, told a roomful of architects that marooning detainees on Rikers Island thwarts justice (“Nothing angers a judge more than having a jury impanelled and a defendant stuck in traffic on the BQE”) and tempts disaster (the one bridge to Rikers evidently sits between a jet-fuel tank and what Horn describes as “railroad cars full of chlorine gas”).
Developer’s Dreams Deferred in Long Island City
Long Island City won’t be transitioning from Next Big Thing to Big Thing quite as quickly as some were planning. In August 2006, Alan and Stuart Suna, the brothers who run Silvercup Studios near the Queensboro Bridge, unveiled city-approved plans for Silvercup West: a new soundstage and offices and 1,000 apartments (150 priced for people of moderate means), plus retail, a gym, and an esplanade on the waterfront, all designed by Pritzker Prize–winning architect Richard Rogers and set to begin construction in 2008. But it’s taken a year, Silvercup CEO Alan Suna says, to get permission to enter the site and test the soil around a power plant the team will have to clear. And now that the builders have gotten into the dirt, they’ve discovered that the bedrock was not where they expected it to be. Is there something toxic in there? Nobody will say. So when will we get this handsome new neighborhood? “We really can’t give a target date at this point,” says Silvercup spokesperson Cara Marino Gentile. Adds Rogers spokesperson Paul Stelmaszczyk, “We are not currently working on any adjustments to the design.” That’s the sound of a project stalling out. LIC loft-dwellers have a little more time, it seems, to relish that pioneer spirit. —Alec Appelbaum
Robert A.M. Stern Likens New Larry Silverstein Development to the ‘Titanic’Developer Larry Silverstein says his new deal to build a Four Seasons hotel and condo tower downtown will help steer lower Manhattan through the banking industry’s crisis, but not everyone in his circle is matching his strut. At a civic-alliance breakfast this morning, Silverstein presented his plan to replace the stately former Moody’s headquarters, up Church Street from the Woolworth Building, with a 912-foot stone tower by 2011, creating the city’s tallest residential building. The building’s design is by neoclassicist Robert A.M. Stern, who worked up 15 Central Park West — which, Silverstein crowed, “broke all records for sales.” But this morning, after some lukewarm talk about assisting in the rebirth of lower Manhattan “in a way that I’m comfortable with,” Stern betrayed some major butterflies. “I never thought when I was growing up in New York that I’d get to design a building taller than the Woolworth Building,” he told us. “That makes for sleepless nights and exciting mornings — I’m like a guy on the Titanic, and I just hope we don’t crash.” —Alec Appelbaum
Chris Smith: Ratner Showing Fear, At Last?Here’s the argument Bruce Ratner’s lawyers won’t be making in court: “Please hurry up and make a decision on the lawsuits challenging Atlantic Yards, judges, because the delay is cutting into our profits.” But while the sentiment goes unvoiced, that’s what Ratner’s current posturing is really all about. Last week Ratner’s representatives filed papers with a state appellate panel seeking to expedite a ruling because “the credit markets are in turmoil at this time … There is a serious question as to whether, given the current state of the debt market, the underwriters will be able to proceed with the financing for the arena while the appeal is pending.”
JPMorgan Chase Tower at WTC Site to Lose the Beer GutWe’re no closer to knowing when the toxin-clouded former Deutsche Bank building will come down from its corner at the World Trade Center site, but we have fresh reason to look forward to the JPMorgan Chase tower that’s supposed to replace it. Someone close to the process tells us that the ponderous bulge on the lower floors of the design (labeled a “beer belly” by some critics) has vanished from the plans. Early renderings indicated that the projection would hold the bank’s trading floor, but it was received negatively by preservationists. The building still must negotiate a tangle of parking, security, and public spaces while offering wide, high trading floors, says our source. “Amenity floors and cafeterias and conference centers add up to different sizes,” the insider explained. So some creative structuring beyond the standard straight tower model may still be required. But we have it on good authority that the architecture will be more sloping than slouching. That is, of course, if the state clears the site up before JPMorgan gets tired of waiting and starts considering other locations —Alec Appelbaum
Dan Doctoroff’s Replacement: Innie or Outie?With the official news of Dan Doctoroff’s departure as the city’s economic-development czar, the hunt is on to find a lame-duck replacement for him — one that can carry out the mayor’s ambitious NYC2030 plan. So, one source tells us that City Hall recruiters have been feeling around for any takers and have so far reached out to at least two possibilities. One of them is Alan Fishman, the former president of Sovereign Bank who now chairs the mayor’s Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation. (A call to Fishman was not immediately returned.) The other person that’s said to have been asked about Doctoroff’s job is Sean Donovan, who now runs the mayor’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development. “This could be a very good choice,” one politico told New York. “Shaun and Dan have very different philosophical approaches to development. Shaun has a great reputation for working with community groups and community boards and can build allegiances there, and that was always Doctoroff’s weakness. He wanted to bulldoze things through.” Donovan is the choice most frequently mentioned in press reports, but Fishman could be the private-sector outsider we hear that City Hall has been secretly hoping for. Time, and more rushed press conferences, will probably tell. —Geoffrey Gray
Earlier: Dan Doctoroff May Still Save Us
Have We Found Libeskind’s Manhattan Tower at Madison Square Park?Some months ago, Daniel Libeskind told us he was designing his first tower in Manhattan. We asked where it was, and he said he couldn’t tell us, yet, but he would as soon as all the official folderol allowed. A few days later, someone who knows Libeskind mumbled something to us about “One Madison,” then promptly hushed up. For months, Libeskind’s people have said only that Israeli developer Elad Properties is Libeskind’s client for a project somewhere in Manhattan. Well, today, an Israeli news service is reporting that Elad is developing a 74-story apartment tower at One Madison Avenue. You know, that pretty landmark with the illuminated clock tower? According to the report, they’ll be adding many stories to make the new structure one of the tallest residential towers in the world.
Coney Island USA to Buy Its Building, Thwarting ThorYou’d need a fortune-teller to determine the future of Coney Island these days: What will Thor Equities ultimately build, and will the city swap land with the developer, as has been proposed, to preserve amusements on the boardwalk? But this much, at least, is clear: Fans of sword swallowers and facial tattoos can down a celebratory pint of Coney Island Lager in two weeks, when the nonprofit that runs the Mermaid Parade, the Coney Island Museum, and the Circus Sideshow closes a deal to buy the building it currently leases. Coney Island USA founder Dick Zigun says that with the city’s backing, it will purchase the 1917 structure, originally a restaurant, at a price of $3.6 million — beating out Thor for the deal. “We have never been so secure and permanent in the neighborhood,” Zigun said, “and that’s totally thanks to the political leadership of New York City.” Within five years the building will be restored to its former glory and the Coney Island Circus Sideshow will expand, along with the Freak Bar and museum gift shop, to twice its size. Best of all, this means the Mermaid Parade will have a long-term home base. Unless, Zigun points out, everything is under water 30 years from now. —Daniel Maurer
There Goes the Neighborhood: Longstanding UWS Lefty Emporium to Close
Isn’t the Upper West Side — especially the upper reaches of the eighties and into the nineties (and well into the hundreds) — supposed to be for lefty intellectual sorts following familiar routines in their sprawling, rent-controlled prewars? Not anymore, it increasingly seems. The owners of Liberty House, a neighborhood fixture on Broadway and 92nd, posted a sign two days ago announcing it will close its doors after 39 years in business, leaving area residents wondering where they’ll find antiwar posters, jewelry handmade by local artisans, and Frida Kahlo tchotchkes.
Take a Look at the Freedom Tower Lobby
Some day — one hopes sooner rather than later — the Freedom Tower will be an actual building, not just an idea to argue about, and that building will have a lobby. Daily Intel got the first look at renderings of the planned lobby, designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. A 60-foot-high expanse of prismatic glass looks out on the memorial pool. “The lobby sheds light into the memorial pool,” explained SOM’s TJ Gottesdiener. “And the front door is celebrated.” Where the old Twin Towers sealed themselves from the street, the new lobby echoes the old bustle of downtown — true to the notion that Daniel Libeskind laid out before he lost control of the building’s design. “The greatest thing about Danny’s master plan is that it lets streets flow,” Gottesdiener said. Got that? Even more impressive than the renderings, SOM just said something nice about Libeskind. —Alec Appelbaum
Art Society Chief Retires; Moynihan Station Apparently Complete
So it seems the longtime president of the Municipal Art Society, Kent Barwick, who’s run the preservationist organization for nearly four decades, is stepping down. The Crain’s story reporting this news, which we happened across today, notes the Society’s major accomplishments under Barwick: leading the effort to save Grand Central, preventing Mort Zuckerman from building huge towers on the old Coliseum site that would have cast large shadows on Central Park, pushing for waterfront parks and development, and, Society chairman Philip Howard told Crain’s, “building a magnificent new Moynihan Station.” Oh? We’ll admit we haven’t been up Eighth Avenue in the Thirties in a week or two, but, um, we really think someone would have told us if there were a magnificent new Moynihan Station. Right?
Municipal Art Society Head Stepping Down [Crain’s NY]
You Wanna Buy a Rail Yard?
So, once again: Any takers for the West Side rail yards? You know, the 26 acres of relative wasteland along Eleventh Avenue, from 30th to 33rd Street? The state and the yards’ current owner, the MTA, formally announced today that it will be accepting bids for the whole shebang. The part of the offering that City Hall will like: twelve acres of greenery and a “cultural center.” The part the developers will like: residential “skyscrapers up to 70 stories tall.” The usual suspects are expected to come a-courting: Tishman Speyer, Brookfield, the Durst Organization, and Vornado (the last two working in concert). And the part that we find immensely curious: The buyers will be required to submit separate bids “with” and “without” the High Line, a stretch of which grazes the yards. Which means, in essence, that nobody — least of all the sellers — has any idea whatsoever how that one will play out.
Bids to Be Sought for West Side Railyards [NYT]