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NYguy Mar 26, 2008 4:19 PM


PARK-ING PLACE:The city's Hudson Yards project includes a pedestrian bridge

a park with a playground

March 24, 2008

The city's long-sought plan to transform the Far West Side into a new commercial and residential district takes a step forward today, with the launch of a search for firms interested in designing a park and boulevard at the heart of the project.

The boulevard and park are key parts of the Hudson Yards plan proposed by the Bloomberg administration, which has detailed what it would like to see built in newly released sketches.

The boulevard and park will run north-south between 10th and 11th avenues, eventually stretching from 33rd Street to 39th Street.

"As the city grows it becomes increasingly difficult to create significant new open space. However, this park and boulevard will provide dynamic new green space for residents, workers and visitors in the Hudson Yards neighborhood, an area that is woefully lacking in open space today," said Ann Weisbrod, president of the Hudson Yards Development Corp.

A master plan calls for an estimated 24 million square feet of new office space - more than double what's being planned at the World Trade Center - to be built in the district by 2032.

The first phase, from 33rd to 36th Street is expected to be complete in 2012. The city has acquired all of the buildings in that three-block section of the boulevard's path.

Plans call for a 30-foot-wide, tree-lined boulevard and a four-acre park.

Funding for the project is coming out of the $3 billion in bonds the city is selling to pay for an extension of the No. 7 subway line to 11th Avenue and 34th Street.

NYguy Sep 23, 2008 12:15 PM

Redevelopment of Manhattan's far west side begins to take shape...

BIG IDEAS: Proposals for the new West Side boulevard include Work Architecture's fanciful hills

September 22, 2008

Here's the first look at designs for a spectacular new boulevard and park planned for Manhattan's far West Side, where Mayor Bloomberg wants to build a new business district more than twice the size of the World Trade Center complex.

From fanciful images of hills, trails and plantings to a park filled with enormous evergreen trees and rock outcrops, the proposals from five teams of architects vying to design the park and boulevard will go before the public beginning today.

The project, part of the Hudson Yards redevelopment, will create four acres of park space down the middle of a boulevard stretching from 33rd to 42nd Streets, between 10th and 11th Avenues, and linking up with a massive new office and residential project planned for the West Side rail yard just to the south of the new avenue.

"We are thrilled by the quality of the designs," said Ann Weisbrod, president of the Hudson Yards Development Corp., which is overseeing construction of the project and the financing of an extension of the No. 7 subway line to a new station at 11th Avenue and 34th Street.

The winning design will be selected in early October, Weisbrod said. Construction of the first phase of the project, from 33rd to 36th streets, is expected be completed at the same time as the subway extension in 2013.

The now low-rise neighborhood was rezoned by the City Council several years ago to allow for up to 24 million square feet of office space and 13,500 new units of housing, along with hotels and retail development.

The entire project - construction of the subway, boulevard, plaza and other infrastructure work - is being paid for with $3 billion in bonds.

"This is the extension of Midtown, the preeminent business district in the world," said Weisbrod.

The designs will be on public display at the Center for Architecture, at 536 La Guardia Place, from Sept. 25 through the end of October.

Hargreaves Associates' curled overpass .

Gustafson Team: Gustafson Guthrie Nichol Ltd/Allied Works Architecture Inc/PB Americas Inc.

Hargreaves Team: Hargreaves Associates, Ten Arquitectos, James Carpenter Design

Michael Van Valkenburgh Team: Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates, Inc., Landscape Architects

West Infinity Team: West Infinity


New boulevard and park location:

NYguy Oct 16, 2008 4:02 PM

Five Designs for Hudson Park Revealed

October 8, 2008
By Tim McKeough

Five teams competing to design a new park for Manhattan’s West Side recently unveiled their proposals. Led by the Hudson Yards Development Corporation, the Hudson Park and Boulevard project will cover 4 acres stretching from West 33rd to West 42nd Street, between 10th and 11th Avenues—an area presently occupied by a hodgepodge of buildings, rail lines, and roads leading to the Lincoln Tunnel. To the south, the park would connect to the Hudson Rail Yards, a 26-acre mixed-use development that calls for office towers, residential buildings, stores, and parks to be built on a massive platform over existing train tracks. Both projects are part of an initiative to transform an uninviting, semi-industrial area into a popular live-work-play destination.

A selection committee, whose members come from the Hudson Yards Development Corporation and numerous city departments,
plans to announce a winner in late October, and Phase 1 of the project, running between West 33rd and West 36th Streets, is expected to be completed by 2013. The proposals are on view at New York’s Center for Architecture, 536 LaGuardia Place, through the end of October.

A team led by Work Architecture Company and Balmori Associates envisions a “Wild West Side,” where “Times Square meets Central Park,” says Work principal Dan Wood, AIA. The plan calls for undulating, grassy hills with space for cafes and other facilities underneath. Other features include urban gardens, a new animal habitat, and water collection systems that double as park furniture.

A proposal from West 8, Mathews Nielsen, and Weisz + Yoes envisions a “primordial landscape,” with hills being constructed using schist excavated at nearby construction sites, says West 8 principal Jerry van Eyck. Features include a skateboard park, an art park, and a children’s activity area, as well as a kinked bridge that would bring pedestrians above roads leading to the Lincoln Tunnel and deliver them to West 42nd Street.

A team led by Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates and Toshiko Mori took inspiration from Manhattan’s Union Square but rearranged the formal plan “into a kind of carpet,” explains MVVA principal Matthew Urbanski. Benches, plantings, and paved circulation routes similar to those in Union Square would be arranged in a more freeform scheme. Overhead lighting strung between buildings would illuminate the park, and an S-curve bridge with curled edges would bypass tunnel traffic.

A plan from Hargreaves Associates and TEN Arquitectos calls for “ecological rooms,” from chestnut tree forests to pine barrens, describes Hargreaves principal Ken Haines. James Carpenter-designed light wands installed throughout the park would capture and redistribute sunlight. The scheme’s signature feature is a pedestrian bridge edged by a ribbon of grass that curls like a rollercoaster loop over the walkway.

NYguy Nov 3, 2008 11:28 PM

Related's West Side Rail Yards Deal Faces Delay

by Eliot Brown
November 3, 2008

The deal to put $15 billion in residential and commercial development atop the M.T.A.'s West Side rail yards has hit a delay, as the agency will not sign a contract with developer Related Companies this week, as was originally scheduled. The state authority says it has reached an agreement with Related (which is in a joint venture with Goldman Sachs) to push back the deadline for signing a contract for the property by another 90 days, as the M.T.A. has been slower than expected in producing the needed paperwork.

"We have together agreed on an extension of the designation period," said Gary Dellaverson, the CFO of the M.T.A. (who has to have one of the least enviable jobs in government these days). "Our expectation was that the documents would have been turned a month and a half ago.

"This is my fault—the fault of the M.T.A.," he said. "This is not a product of either Related or Goldman or their lawyers."

The M.T.A. named Related the conditionally designated developer back in May, when Related beat out other developers, offering to pay over $1 billion for the rights to develop the 26-acre West Side site. At the time, the agency gave itself and Related 165 days to sign a contract, according to details of the agreement provided to the M.T.A. board at the time, a window that would have expired today. But the agency has been slow to create the contract, a fact it says is due in part to the collapse of the credit markets. The M.T.A.'s attorneys for the deal, Paul, Weiss, have had much work related to the financial crisis and have been slower than expected in finishing their work, Mr. Dellaverson said. As a result, the first draft of the contract and other documents have not yet been provided to Related.

The contract is an important, but not final, step in the solidification of the deal with Related, which would need to be closed some months after going to contract. The M.T.A. originally envisioned closing on the eastern half of the rail yards four months after signing the contract, while a closing on the western half would wait until after it has gone through the rezoning process, an approval targeted to come in late 2009.

The M.T.A. first selected Tishman Speyer to develop the yards in March, though the deal fell apart a month later when the firm tried to change the deal's terms. While the negotiations over the contract have yet to occur, Mr. Dellaverson said he is not worried that the financial crisis will push Related to back out of the agreement.

"I don't have any indication, and they haven't brought anything to me that would indicate slowness or desire to delay on their part," he said. "Everything that I've seen, is they're continuing to operate in good faith and pursuant to a desire to consummate the transaction."

NYC4Life Nov 4, 2008 3:31 AM

This thread should be moved to either the Supertall / skyscraper proposals thread, or should be split between the skyscraper portion and the parkland / open space portion.

NYguy Nov 4, 2008 1:01 PM


Originally Posted by NYC4Life (Post 3890146)
This thread should be moved to either the Supertall / skyscraper proposals thread, or should be split between the skyscraper portion and the parkland / open space portion.

This is the Hudson Yards redevelopment thread. We did have a railyard thread, but that one was lost. This thread encompasses everything Hudson Yards related, from the boulevard, the parks, the convention center, the railyards as well.

NYguy Nov 4, 2008 1:04 PM

A summary of the redevelopment.

NYguy Dec 1, 2008 10:23 PM

An update on the eastern railyards will be presented tonight...

Show your support for the High Line at this public forum hosted by Manhattan Community Board 4 and the Hudson Yards Community Advisory Committee.

The Related Companies, the developer for the site, will present its revised plan for the Eastern Rail Yards, which includes a significant portion of the High Line, including the 10th Avenue Spur. The developer is requesting amendments to the underlying zoning for the site, which will require public review and approval by the City Council.

The proposed zoning amendments do not address preservation of the High Line. In fact, the High Line is not even officially on the agenda for the December 1 presentation. Which is why we need your support NOW.

This is our one chance in the public review process for the Eastern Rail Yards to speak out for full preservation of the High Line, including the 10th Avenue Spur.

From the beginning of the rail yards planning process, the public has been calling for preservation of the High Line, but the High Line is still not protected and remains at risk of demolition. This is our chance to let the City, Governor Paterson, the MTA, and the developers know that it is not acceptable to let the fate of the High Line continue to hang in the balance, and that preservation of the High Line needs to be guaranteed now.

Come to the December 1 public forum and let your voice be heard.
**Free Save the Spur t-shirts and buttons for all supporters who attend.**

Monday, December 1, 2008
6:30 - 8:30 PM (doors open at 6:00)
Red Cross, 520 West 49th Street
Rooms A and B

NYguy Dec 3, 2008 1:31 AM

City (Probably) Taps Van Valkenburgh for West Side Park

by Eliot Brown
December 2, 2008

It seems the Bloomberg administration has chosen landscape designer Michael Van Valkenburgh Associates to build a new West Side park, though there’s no official word yet from the city.

Last night at a forum on the West Side rail yards, both Vishaan Chakrabarti, an executive at the Related Companies who is leading the firm’s development of the yards, and Assemblyman Dick Gottfried referred to Van Valkenburgh as the winner of a design competition for a mid-block park and boulevard. The park is planned to run between 10th and 11th avenues, from 33rd Street to 42nd Street (though only the first segment, from 33rd Street to 36th Street, is funded).

The city’s Hudson Yards Development Corporation declined to comment.

Assuming the news is true (we’d also heard chatter of the same news before last night), the selection of Van Valkenburgh would presumably connect well with Related’s planned $15 billion West Side rail yards development as it is also the landscape architect there.

Michael Van Valkenburgh is doing quite a bit of business these days in the city. The firm does work on Hudson River Park; it’s designing Brooklyn Bridge Park; and it planned the redesign of the northern end of Union Square Park, currently under construction.

Last night's forum, nominally devoted to zoning text amendments for the eastern half of the rail yards, focused mainly on Related’s potential move to tear down a “spur” off the High Line, the railway viaduct-turned-parkland that runs through the rail yards. The spur runs east from the High Line along 30th Street, crossing 10th Avenue.

Most of the dozens of attendees indicated they supported saving the spur, as did two elected officials in attendance, Representative Jerry Nadler and Assemblyman Dick Gottfried. Related has indicated it is concerned about the size and potential economic impact of the structure. The founders of the High Line effort, Friends of the High Line, are pushing Related hard to retain the spur and to move two planned buildings on the western edge of the site away from the High Line (Related revealed images last night showing that one of those buildings had been moved.)

NYguy Dec 8, 2008 11:17 PM

Demo contracts near for Hudson Yards park

545 West 34th Street

By Adam Pincus

The city is moving forward with demolition to clear the way for a new four-acre park and boulevard as well as the entrance for the new terminal station for the No. 7 train for the massive Hudson Yards redevelopment project on Manhattan's West Side.

The city is expected to award its first contracts this week to raze two buildings on two large parcels spanning from 34th to 36th streets, and 10th to 11th avenues, which will become part of the new Hudson Boulevard and park.

And a block to the south, the city is seeking bids that are due Friday for the demolition of the former FedEx World Service Center building at 528-556 West 34th Street, to make way for the entrance to the No. 7 train on 33rd Street.

The buildings will be brought down in what many fear will be the worst economic recession in decades, leading critics to wonder who is going to build and occupy the massive skyscrapers envisioned for the Hudson Yards district or whether the structures will come down but nothing will rise in their places, a waste of functional buildings.

Hudson Boulevard and the park comprise a mid-block open space that is planned to run from 33rd to 39th streets between 10th and 11th avenues, and be lined with large office and residential towers. The first phase of the park and boulevard, from 33rd to 36th streets, is slated to be completed in 2013. A design team is expected to be named in the next several weeks, city officials said.

The city-led Hudson Yards Development Corporation is overseeing the long-term project to redevelop the West Side.

The two large parcels that will make up the park and boulevard are now mostly occupied by buildings but also include vacant land.

The three buildings that are coming down are a six-story, red brick residential building at 545 West 34th Street, and a seven-story commercial building at 524-542 West 36th Street, both between 10th and 11th avenues, in addition to the FedEx building.

Joe Restuccia, executive director of the West Side advocacy group Clinton Housing Development Company, which helped tenants from 545 West 34th Street find new apartments, said the weak private development market would likely assure that the land remained empty for years.

"Do you believe there is a speculative office building that will be built on the West Side?" he said. "My real concern is the land will be vacant for quite some time and there won't be any improvement in the area."

David Farber, vice president and general counsel at the Hudson Yards Development Corporation, wrote in an email: "The park and boulevard remain on schedule to be completed in 2013, and therefore we must go ahead with that demolition work."

Five demolition bids have been received for the two park and boulevard parcels, which are expected to cost approximately $6 million to $8.5 million each, said a spokesperson for the city's Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which is handling the demolition contracts.

The bids were closed October 24 and the city had 45 days to select a contractor, the HPD spokesperson said. The city may choose a contractor after the 45-day period, but the winning company is no longer bound by its bid.

Lecom Dec 9, 2008 4:19 AM


"This is my fault—the fault of the M.T.A.," he said. "This is not a product of either Related or Goldman or their lawyers."
Hot damn, a politician owing up to his missteps. That's a rarity.

NYguy Dec 9, 2008 12:46 PM

Meanwhile, Related continues to work on the railyard master plan...

High Line supporters ‘spur’ developer to save section

Vishaan Chakrabarti (at microphone), Related’s executive vice president of design and planning, and Jay Cross, president of Related Hudson Yards, address the crowd.

By Heather Murray
December 5-11, 2008

High Line supporters flooded a public meeting on Monday wearing matching red T-shirts and waving signs to lobby developers of the Hudson Yards to preserve the northern portion of the former elevated railway.

The meeting, held by Community Board 4 with the development team of The Related Companies/Goldman Sachs, intended to cover the developer’s request for a zoning amendment to add a building and limit on-site parking at the eastern portion of the rail yards. Instead, Related spent most of the evening rebuffing attempts from High Line advocates to obtain a clear commitment from the developer to protect the High Line’s 10th Ave. “spur,” where it abuts the yards along W. 30th St.

Supporters filled the Red Cross conference room on W. 49th St. donning “Save the Spur” shirts handed out by Friends of the High Line and holding signs reading “Spur of the Moment” to draw attention to the section, which represents a third of the entire High Line structure. The spur is located where the developer plans to build commercial buildings and an urban plaza, and discussions between the Friends and Related about the fate of the section have been ongoing since the developer was chosen this spring.

Several minutes before the meeting began, attendees filled every chair and the audience snaked around the back and sides of the room. FHL cofounder Robert Hammond, the first to sign up on the public comment sheet to speak, asked how many people in the room were High Line supporters—with more than three-quarters of the audience shooting up their hands.

“Ten, 20, 30, 100 years from now, no one is going to remember these discussions about the spur. It’s either going to be there or it’s not going to be there, and that’s all that really matters,” he said. “I think the city wants to be on the right side of history, and I think we have that opportunity … The High Line is going to be the only piece of history that’s visible on the site. It’s what will give this new development soul. Hopefully.”

Hammond added that he is still concerned about future buildings blocking the 30th Street view corridor on the Western Rail Yard.

Frank Sanchez, senior vice president of the Municipal Art Society of New York, said that the spur illustrates how the High Line weaves through the city and ultimately connects to the rail yards. “It’s not intelligible unless the entire High Line is preserved,” he noted, wondering “why we have to keep coming back at hearing after hearing to defend something that has proved itself so much.”

Congressmember Jerrold Nadler also came to the meeting to advocate for the High Line as a longtime supporter of the structure. He filed a lawsuit back in the 1980s along with other elected officials to keep the city from tearing it down. He commented that the High Line enhances property values located near the “very valuable and unique open space.”

“Why anyone would even think of tearing down the spur is frankly beyond me,” he added. Nadler then asked that the public be given assurance that the entire High Line be preserved. “We shouldn’t have to re-fight the battle we fought 10 or 15 years ago.”

He also supports the reduction in parking spaces and Related’s reintroduction of the street grid to the site.

Several residents also questioned the developer’s reasons for not committing to saving the spur. Related’s executive vice president of design and planning, Vishaan Chakrabarti, who is also a board member of the Friends of the High Line, reiterated that Related has made “no decision about the spur.”

“Many of us truly believe in the High Line,” he said. “The spur is very unique. It has a very specific location vis-à-vis our site. I think those discussions with Friends of the High Line have been very productive. We need to work together to solve the problem.”

Board 4 chairperson JD Noland had earlier kicked off the forum on a more humorous note. “Goldman Sachs wants to put a farm down there and raise corn and soybeans, so they will get at least some return on their investment,” he quipped, while the community would be delighted with “six-story brick buildings with 90 percent permanent affordable housing and each apartment to have a view of the High Line.”

Obviously, Related has different plans for the site, located roughly where Chelsea meets Hell’s Kitchen between 10th and 11th Aves. and 30th and 33rd Sts. The concept the developer presented had mostly been set in stone in the 2005 rezoning of the Eastern Rail Yard, where Related plans to build primarily office and retail buildings on roughly 6.27 million zoning square feet, including three residential buildings, several acres of open space, cultural and parking facilities.

“There’s a limited number of things we can persuasively comment on,” said Hudson Yards Community Advisory Committee chairperson Anna Hayes Levin, who is also a Board 4 member, adding that has never before stopped the community from letting its views be known.

Levin said that the City Planning Commission would put the minor zoning changes Related is seeking out for public comment later this week,
one of which seeks to lower the number of required parking spaces on-site—a move that many community members said they endorsed wholeheartedly.

The zoning currently requires a minimum of 2,000 parking spaces, and Jay Cross, president of Related Hudson Yards, said the developer is seeking to have that minimum removed entirely. Related does plan to have on-site parking, but would prefer to have a maximum of 1,000 spaces, 350 of which would be designated for commercial purposes. Cross said his team hopes to remove the potential for public parking at Hudson Yards, allowing only parking that is linked to residential and commercial uses.

The other change Related hopes the city will approve is to allow a building to go up on the southwest corner of the site at 30th St. and 11th Ave., adjacent to the proposed cultural facility, which Cross said would decrease the size of the facility.

Chakrabarti stressed that, “While we’re permitting a building where before there wasn’t a building, we haven’t increased the density in any way.”

Assemblymember Richard Gottfried offered four proposals for the developer to consider, suggesting first that a school be incorporated into the cultural facility. “It could be themed to take advantage of that co-location,” he said. A 120,000-square-foot elementary/middle school is already proposed for the western portion of the rail yard, but it would likely seat only about 800 students, and Gottfried felt “the current plan should be expanded and come online sooner.”

He also advocated for the spur’s survival, saying removal of the spur is unnecessary, would violate New York’s commitment to maximizing the revitalization of the High Line, and simply “is not acceptable.”

“It is hard to fathom why in the last six months there has not been a solution to this problem, as other issues have been resolved,” Gottfried said. “This can and must be worked out.” He also requested that Related pay special attention to open space and sustainability, and work to reduce traffic flowing into and out of the site.

Several residents asked for more details on the residential housing planned for the eastern portion. Chakrabarti responded that 1.7 million square feet of residential housing would be built, the maximum allowed in the current zoning, which works out to roughly 1,700 units. Related plans to make 20 percent of the rental units affordable, but hasn’t determined how many rental units will be included in the project.

Chakrabarti noted that out of the three residential buildings, it is “reasonable to assume one will be rental, but we haven’t made a determination yet.”

Christine Berthet, co-chairperson of CB 4’s Transportation Planning Committee, said that she hoped Related would commit to reduce parking even further than stated in its proposed text amendment. She noted that even in the richest areas of Manhattan, the highest level of ownership for cars is 31 percent. Lower-income people are much less likely to own cars, she stated, and pointed out that Related’s proposed number of parking spaces would still provide roughly 35 percent of potential residential units with a parking spot. “The average should be more around 25 percent,” Berthet added, noting that the federal Clean Air Act “suggested that 20 percent would be good.” More money should be spent on transportation infrastructure like the No. 7 subway extension and less on parking, she said.

Board 4’s Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen Land Use Committee will discussRelated/Goldman Sachs’s proposed text amendments at its next monthly meeting, scheduled for Dec. 10 at 6:30 p.m. at John Jay College.

NYguy Dec 13, 2008 12:58 PM


Representatives from The Related Companies’ Hudson Yards arm got the support they wanted from Community Board 4’s Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen Land Use Committee Wednesday night for two zoning changes the developer is seeking on the Eastern Rail Yard.

The first text amendment would create a predominantly residential building on the southwest corner at the site, thereby reducing the size of the community facility proposed there. Committee chairperson Anna Hayes Levin said the amendment gives the community two great benefits: It reduces the height of all on-site buildings and adds a residential element at that corner.

The second amendment would remove the zoning requirement for 2,000 on-site parking spaces, replacing it with a maximum of 1,000 spaces—350 of which would be for commercial use.

photoLith Dec 13, 2008 11:04 PM

Im not a big fan of all that green space in the renders. Tons of green space like that makes it feel suburban which sucks.

NYC4Life Dec 16, 2008 11:09 AM

More green, more NIMBYs rejoycing.

NYguy Dec 16, 2008 2:46 PM


Originally Posted by photolitherland (Post 3972174)
Im not a big fan of all that green space in the renders. Tons of green space like that makes it feel suburban which sucks.

It won't feel like that at all because it's in Manhattan, which has great public (and urban) green spaces (Bryant Park, Madison Square Park, Union Square Park, etc.). There's nothing quite like that in that area. And there's something about New York's parks that let's you know you're still in the city.

NYguy Jan 21, 2009 1:37 PM

Deal or No Deal Time on West Side Yards
Related confronts different financing climate than when it inked deal with M.T.A. in ’08; time frame faces tweaks

by Eliot Brown
January 20, 2009

Stephen Ross confronts a wildly different world than when his Related Companies was designated as the winning bidder for the 26-acre West Side rail yards last May, earning the opportunity to transform the far West Side with $15 billion in office and residential development.

Mr. Ross now faces his first major test on the project since the economy imploded last September, as the end of this month brings a key deadline with the Metropolitan Transportation Authority, the yards’ owner. Related is supposed to enter into a contract with the agency, plunking down about $50 million in an initial deposit and fees, and officially starting the clock for plenty more payments to come (the entire deal involves paying about $1 billion to the M.T.A.).

Related, for its part, has said it is committed to the project and clearly views it as a long-term investment. But as the deadline for the contract approaches, there are signs of trouble amid the global financing drought, suggesting the deal between the M.T.A. and the developer might not work out quite as swimmingly as imagined, or perhaps not in the initial time frame envisioned.

Related has recently expressed worries about financing to numerous real estate executives and others familiar with the project, saying that the company has had trouble raising new money, according to those people.

Although such credit problems are hardly unique, Related, not known for doing much on a shoestring budget, has also cut back its payments to contractors. The firm stopped paying its architects, according to people familiar with the developer. And just as the public review is beginning for zoning changes integral to the project, Related has cut by half the amount it is paying its lobbying firm Capalino + Company, according to lobbying records. The lobbying firm specializes in guiding projects through the public review process.

Statements from the two parties were hardly brimming with optimism.

“Discussions with Related are at a sensitive point, so we will not be commenting substantively on them,” said M.T.A. spokesman Jeremy Soffin.

A Related spokeswoman, Joanna Rose, said that the project “continues to move forward.”

“We remain focused on the various governmental and required reviews that continue to progress,” she said.

Based on the terms of the deal struck in the less inclement climate of May 2008, Related would seem to benefit from putting off any contract execution, as it would acquire more time to observe the economy’s effects on office rents and apartment prices. The developer is also better positioned to negotiate concessions now than it was back in May, when other bidders were vying as well; and the agency would presumably be reticent to just break off the deal with Related if the developer wants any changes, as it did when the initial winner, Tishman Speyer, tried to change the terms of its initially victorious bid last spring.

Related must start paying rent three years after it closes on the deal—M.T.A. documents issued to bidders last year set the timing of the deal’s closure at three months after the contract is signed—though it could push those payments off for an extra two years based on the terms of the initial agreement with the M.T.A., as construction could easily be put off due to a dearth of commercial tenants desiring new office buildings.

NYguy Jan 23, 2009 6:31 PM

MTA in Rail Yard trouble

by patrick arden / metro new york
JAN 23, 2009

The MTA is still counting on $1 billion from the sale of its West Side rail yards. But the centerpiece of the city’s Hudson Yards development plan now faces an uncertain future, just nine days before a contract deadline.

“Very sensitive” is how MTA CEO Elliot Sander described negotiations with the Related Companies on Wednesday. Related is supposed to put down a $50 million deposit next week, at a time when banks have grown increasingly tightfisted.

Related’s Stephen Ross, chair of the Real Estate Board of New York, was lobbying lawmakers last month in Washington, D.C. REBNY President Steven Spinola said developers want help from the $350 billion remaining in financial-industry bailout funds to refinance their loans.

“If [new] loans are not available, it could have an even more devastating impact on the nation's economy than the mortgage crisis,” Spinola said.

This week Ross completed his purchase of the Miami Dolphins, leading one Florida newspaper columnist to marvel, “What a country we have, where Ross can ask for hundreds of millions in welfare with one hand and plan to buy a $1.1 billion football toy with the other.”

A Related spokeswoman said Ross isn’t involved in the bailout effort and the Hudson Yards “continues to move forward.” In 2006, the city backed $2 billion in bonds to extend the 7 line to the Hudson Yards. Former Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff called it “the best investment in our future.”

NYguy Feb 2, 2009 11:36 PM

Talks to continue on Hudson Yards contract
MTA spokesman says negotiations with Related Companies are "constructive" over multibillion-dollar West Side project.

January 31, 2009

(AP) - The Metropolitan Transportation Authority and a developer will keep negotiating past a deadline for reaching a contract to overhaul a swath of rail yards on the Hudson River in Manhattan, an MTA spokesman said Saturday.

The transit agency and Related Cos. had set a Saturday deadline for a deal on the 26-acre, multibillion-dollar Hudson Yards project. It is considered one of the best development opportunities left in the city, but it comes as the credit crisis is hitting commercial real estate hard, leaving many developers without financing sources.

MTA spokesman Jeremy Soffin said the agency and company had "constructive negotiations" Saturday and agreed to continue talking Monday. A Related spokeswoman did not immediately respond to an e-mail message Saturday.

The Hudson Yards project is paired with a subway line extension that aims to create a media-based, western Midtown Manhattan district. Related, which is partnered with investment bank Goldman Sachs, has proposed 5.3 million square feet of apartments, 5.5 million square feet of office space, shops, hotels and a public school.

The company was chosen for the project in May, after developer Tishman Speyer Properties dropped out of the deal over price. Related bid just over $1 billion and will pay at least $2 billion more to build platforms over the rail yards.

The developer and the MTA extended a November deadline to close the deal by 90 days. Related would need to make a $50 million payment at closing.

NYguy Feb 3, 2009 1:22 PM

M.T.A. and Developer Agree to Delay $1 Billion Railyard Deal

February 2, 2009

Last year, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority struck a deal to sell the development rights for a 26-acre complex of office towers and apartment buildings on the West Side of Manhattan for $1 billion, much needed revenue for new trains, track repairs and the expansion of the public transit system.

But with a severely ailing economy and a lack of financing for real estate projects, the developer, the Related Companies, have reached an agreement with the transportation authority to delay closing on the project for a year. As a result, Related will not have to make a $43.5 million down payment immediately, although the company will have to pay a nonrefundable $10 million for the delay, according to two executives who have been briefed on the agreement.

Related is expected to sign a letter on Tuesday extending its designation as the developer for the site, which sits on both sides of 11th Avenue between 30th and 33rd Streets. The agreement needs the approval of the authority’s directors.

Stephen M. Ross, chairman of the Related Companies, said the new agreement was necessary because of the recession and the frozen state of the credit markets, which has brought construction projects in the city to a halt.

But, Mr. Ross said in an interview Monday evening, he remained committed to both the project and to New York.

“I’m excited about the future of New York,” Mr. Ross said. “I believe it’ll come back even stronger than before. But right now we’re going through a financial crisis.”

Gary Dellaverson, chief financial officer for the authority, confirmed that he had reached “an understanding” with Related, but declined to discuss the details until Related signed the agreement and his board approved it on Tuesday.

Under the new agreement, Related would sign the contracts in a year, instead of now, according to the two executives. The developer would not have to begin making the down payment until then, and it would be staggered over another year. The developer would still pay $1 billion over time, but the money would not get to the authority as quickly.

The authority selected the Related Companies for the project last May after another bidder, Tishman Speyer Properties, dropped out. Related agreed to pay $1 billion over 99 years for the right to build 5.5 million square feet of commercial space, 5,500 apartments and a park over the West Side railyards.

But the ambitious project requires Related to spend about $2 billion to erect platforms, columns and foundations over a working railyard before it can build the first tower.

Mr. Ross, who closed last month on his $1.1 billion purchase of the Miami Dolphins football team, was supposed to sign the contracts for the West Side project by Jan. 31 and make a $43.5 million down payment. He was to close within 120 days on the eastern half of the project and at the end of 2009 on the western half. In recent weeks, the developer asked the authority to delay the closings and payments.

Related has told city and state officials that it has spent about $30 million on architects, engineers and fees so far. It is seeking to rezone the western portion of the property, a public process costing about $7 million.

The transportation authority, which is under enormous financial stress, was not eager to forgo the payments. It is considering steep increases in fares and bridge tolls, as well as service cuts, to bridge a $1.2 billion shortfall in its operating budget. And it has pared more than $2 billion from its capital budget.

But transportation officials ultimately agreed, saying they would not have been able to replace Related given the current economic climate.

Goldman Sachs, Related’s original partner, declined to comment on whether it was still in the deal.

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