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Busy Bee Apr 6, 2007 2:28 AM

Is the pitched-roof building in the third photo still standing?

NYguy Apr 6, 2007 12:10 PM


Originally Posted by Busy Bee (Post 2746672)
Is the pitched-roof building in the third photo still standing?

I don't think that particular one is, but there are other, similar buildings...

NYguy Apr 24, 2007 7:12 PM

posted on

Astride the High Line, Big Ups for Balazs

Gulf Coast oil rig—or High Line hotel development? The latter, of course. Above, captured by photoblogger Will Femia, is the rising glory that is André Balazs' High Line-straddling Standard Hotel. As we said when we last updated construction on this thing, back in January, no one seems quite to know exactly what this place is going to look like (click through for one plausible rendering). So be it—in André we trust, forever and ever, amen.

NYguy Apr 30, 2007 9:32 PM

Very lengthy 8-page article in New York magazine...

Some quotes:

The High Line: It Brings Good Things to Life
The abandoned railroad that made a park ... that made a neighborhood ... that made a brand.

By Adam Sternbergh
Illustration by Andy Friedman

Someday, around a year from now, one of your friends is going to say to you, “Let’s go to the High Line.”

Now, this person might be talking about the High Line park, the well-publicized ribbon of greenery that’s being constructed on an abandoned elevated rail line in far west Chelsea, running north from Gansevoort all the way to 34th Street.

Or your friend might be referring to the High Line neighborhood: the new skyline of glittering retail spaces and restaurants and condos, designed by brand-name architects like Frank Gehry and Jean Nouvel and Robert A.M. Stern, with names like the High Line Building and High Line 519 and HL23.

Or your friend might mean the High Line Terrace and Lounge in the new condo tower at 245 Tenth, which promises prospective residents views over the High Line, along with “polished cervaiole marble floors.”

Or maybe your friend wants to go to the Highline Thai restaurant on Washington Street, or the High Line Ballroom, a recently opened concert venue, which, starting May 9, will be part of the High Line Festival, an event curated by David Bowie and showcasing such snazzy right-now artists as Ricky Gervais and Arcade Fire. Granted, a few of these events will be barely within yodeling distance of the High Line—you know, the railroad—but no matter: Two of the festival’s producers, Josh Wood and David Binder, chose the name less for a proximity to the High Line than for their philosophical alignment with the park. “The High Line is very much about aesthetics and design,” says Binder. “We’re trying to be as well.”

“Everyone in New York City has been so supportive of the High Line,” says Wood. “It’s probably the one public-works project that no one has anything bad to say about.”

Given all this activity, it’s probable that, like most New Yorkers, you’ve already heard of the High Line. It’s also probable that, like most New Yorkers, you’re only vaguely aware of what exactly it’s going to be. Maybe the last time you thought about it was in 2003, when Friends of the High Line—the nonprofit group that’s been fighting doggedly to save it for the past eight years—held an open design competition for creative suggestions as to its ultimate fate. The results were exhibited at Grand Central Terminal, and submissions ranged from a permanent nature preserve to a roller coaster. One of the winning entries was a 22-block-long elevated swimming pool.

So here’s an update.

First, the short version: The High Line is a brand-new park. In the sky.

Now, the longer, slightly more complicated version: The High Line is, according to its converts (and they are legion), the happily-ever-after at the end of an urban fairy tale. It’s a “flying carpet,” “our generation’s Central Park,” something akin to “Alice in Wonderland ... through the keyhole and you’re in a magical place.” It’s also the end-product of a perfect confluence of powerful forces: radical dreaming, dogged optimism, neighborhood anxiety, design mania, real-estate opportunism, money, celebrity, and power. In other words, it’s a 1.45-mile, 6.7-square-acre, 30-foot-high symbol of exactly what it means to be living in New York right now.

But first, let’s start with the park.

If New York were in the practice of erecting statues to living people, you could make a good case that Joshua David and Robert Hammond should be cast in bronze tomorrow. You can almost picture their monument, too—perhaps the two of them smiling, arm in arm, hard hats on their heads—which you could unveil next spring at the projected opening of the High Line park. Or, instead, you could place that statue in the lobby of Craftsteak, the cavernous, warmly lit restaurant at the corner of Tenth Avenue and 15th Street, where I met Hammond and David for dinner on a recent rainy April night.

Walking along 15th toward Craftsteak, you’ll find as good a tour of the new Manhattan, pressed up shoulder to shoulder with the old one, as you’re likely to find. In one block I passed an auto-repair shop (“Foreign and Domestic”), the display windows of Jeffrey department store, a car wash right under the High Line, and a jam-packed opening at Milk Gallery, where well-dressed art-world attendees were lit up sporadically by the pop of flashbulbs. On Tenth, Escalades and limos sat idling with their blinkers on, outside Morimoto, or Del Posto, or Craftsteak, the massive restaurants drawing diners to their tastefully humble façades. As it happens (and this story has a lot of “as it happens” moments), Hammond, who is a part-time painter, has three of his works hanging in Craftsteak, and a huge painting by Stephen Hannock of the High Line, as seen from a nearby rooftop, is displayed in the restaurant’s main dining room. “We took him up on the building to help him get that vantage point,” says Hammond. “And we used an old photo taken from the same place in the thirties as a reference. It’s amazing that, besides the Gehry building”—which is visible in the painting as a skeletal shell full of lights, mid-construction—“how little in the neighborhood has changed.”

NYguy Apr 30, 2007 9:40 PM

More quotes..(from page 2of 8)

The tower proposed for 200 Eleventh Avenue will enable residents to take their cars up an elevator and park right next to where they live, just like in the suburbs.
Rendering: Hayes Davidson

Together, the pair is unfailingly gracious and quick to deflect praise. They refuse to even really acknowledge what is essentially their victory lap. They share a bemused ambivalence toward all the profiteers now benefiting from the High Line’s prestige. Early on, they looked into trademarking the name “High Line,” but found they couldn’t, any more than you could trademark “Central Park.” Besides, they say, eight years ago, an overabundance of enthusiasm for the idea of the High Line was the least of their problems. David recalls an early City Council meeting they attended, along with socialite Amanda Burden, where their pie-eyed plan was so roundly ridiculed that, he says, “You really did feel like you were getting pissed on.” Then Burden rose to speak. “She rallied the most incredible response about how great it is that there are still dreamers in New York,” says David.

“Since when is dreamers a dirty word?” says Hammond.


quotes, page 3

Nearly everyone involved in the Save the High Line effort—from Gifford Miller to Amanda Burden to Edward Norton to Diane Von Furstenberg—will tell you about their hallelujah moment. The idea of a park on a railbed in the sky can be a little hard to get your head around, especially if your only vantage point is looking up from street level at its rusted, pigeon-shit-scarred underbelly. “But the moment Robert got me up there, I fell in love with it,” says Miller. “You’re in the clouds, as it were—on the level of the Jetsons.”

I first truly understood this phenomenon when I ducked through a hobbit-size door in the backside of a Tenth Avenue warehouse—and stepped directly out onto the High Line, between 25th and 26th Streets. Here, the railbed stretches off in both directions, resembling a lush, weedy boulevard unspooling over the city streets. I was accompanied at the time by Douglas Oliver, who owns the Williams Warehouse, along with a silent partner. A trim man in his early sixties, with curly, salt-and-pepper hair, Oliver was wearing a collarless black peacoat and a black-and-white ascot. Currently, his warehouse is used to store sets for soap operas; as we walked among the stashed sofas and upended, ornate lamps, he shouted to his superintendent, “Hey, Felix, where’s my favorite coffin?”

Then we all stooped through the door he punched in his back wall three years ago, and boom, there we were, on the High Line—a moment that felt like stepping through the back of the wardrobe, out into Narnia.

The High Line has always been closed to the public, so from the beginning, Hammond and David understood that—fancy brochures and professionally produced videos aside—they had to find a way to bottle and sell this hallelujah moment. A friend recommended they contact the photographer Joel Sternfeld, who had shot ruins in Rome. They invited him up for a visit. Sternfeld remembers his own High Line epiphany. “Suddenly, it’s green! It’s a railroad! It’s rural! Where am I?” he says. As he stood out on the railbed, mouth agape, Hammond whispered to him, “Joel, we need the money shot.”

As it happens, Edward Norton, the actor, whose grandfather was a visionary developer who helped save Boston’s Faneuil Hall, read Gopnik’s paean, and decided he should lend his name and support to the Friends of the High Line effort. He phoned them up and, later, became a public face for the group, appearing on Charlie Rose and speaking at events. “He’d say, ‘Look, there are a lot of people who want your money,’ ” Hammond recalls. “ ‘There are a lot of causes out there doing more important things—saving lives or educating kids.’ Then he summed it up in a way I always liked: ‘This is about optimism. This is about New York reinventing itself.’ ”

NYguy Apr 30, 2007 9:49 PM

More quotes, (page 4)

In fact, even before the city announced, in June 2005, that it had approved the rezoning plan that would preserve the High Line and allow for new construction projects all along its length, savvy real-estate speculators had grasped the potential of a “High Line” neighborhood.

The developer Alf Naman, who’d been circling the area since the mid-nineties, bought up about a half-dozen properties. “I saw what happened in Tribeca,” he says, “and I didn’t want to miss out here.” He’s now developing three properties, including a hotel that will look out directly on the High Line and a condo tower by architect Jean Nouvel at 100 Eleventh Avenue, with a bistro-style restaurant on the main floor. (Danny Meyer is rumored to be the eventual tenant.)

André Balazs, the hotel impresario, who was also an early donor to Friends of the High Line, purchased two plots of land on either side of the track, near 14th Street, where he’s building a Standard Hotel. “We started construction before it was even clear who owned the High Line,” he says—a gamble that he says now is “looking brilliant.” His hotel will literally straddle the High Line, and in his ideal vision, Balazs will offer his guests direct access through a stairway from the hotel to the park—though the details of who can or can’t build entrances to the High Line, and what exactly those entrances might look like, and whether you can put patio chairs or café tables out on the High Line grounds, are all still being hashed out with the city. But Balazs is confident he’ll get his staircase. “This is going to happen,” he says.

Farther north, the architects Della Valle Bernheimer are building two new projects, one on 459 West 18th and one at 245 Tenth Avenue, and Jared Della Valle is still looking for other opportunities. “But there’s been a frenzy in the neighborhood,” he says, “to the point that properties are trading at a rate that doesn’t make any sense.” Some mid-block parcels are still coming on the market, as leases run out or reluctant sellers are swayed by the arrival of the money truck. “But the majority of the A locations”—meaning ones right on the High Line—“have already traded hands.” He mentions the one crown jewel that’s still available—a huge lot at 18th and Tenth Avenue, right next to Gehry’s building. “We put an offer on that,” he says, “but we dropped out when prices went through the roof.” Prices in the neighborhood have gone up 30 percent in the last year, and are now among the highest in the city, with some lots going for over $500 a developable square foot. I ask Della Valle how those numbers compare with other Manhattan neighborhoods. He pauses. “There’s not much out there. You’re talking Central Park West.” For developers, investing at those prices, he says, is “like Russian roulette, except there are four bullets in the gun instead of one.”


quotes (page 5)

The second irony is that, despite all the good vibes and upbeat statements from politicians at every level of the food chain, the stretch of the High Line that runs from 30th to 34th Street, fully 30 percent of its total length, is still in danger of demolition. Its fate is more or less in the hands of the MTA, which owns the Hudson Rail Yards. The MTA wants to sell its land for maximum profit and, by all indications, is not planning to make preservation of the High Line a condition of the sale.

The last irony is that the rest of the High Line—the one that Sternfeld photographed, the one that sparks that reliable hallelujah moment in the hearts of one goggle-eyed visitor after another—isn’t being saved at all. In fact, it was doomed from the start. Hammond and David knew that, in order to rally initial support, they had to convince people that the High Line was worth preserving in the first place, and they did so with Sternfeld’s bucolic images of an untouched pasture in the sky. But now the High Line, by necessity, is being stripped to its foundations. The Friends of the High Line spent a long time trying to figure out if that original park could be preserved, but it just wasn’t feasible. “That landscape existed because nobody could go up there,” says David. “And to get people to go up there, you have to do something different.” The architects Diller Scofidio + Renfro, who are designing the new park along with landscape architects Field Operations, initially submitted a plan using “flyovers”—basically, plankways that would sit over the existing High Line flora—but discovered there was too much industrial contamination on the site. “To let people go up there,” says Ric Scofidio, “we had to strip it.”

So when the new park opens next year, it will offer visitors a very different, essentially artificial experience. The park will ideally evoke the feel of the old, untouched High Line, which is now preserved only in Sternfeld’s loving photographs.
Many of the same plants are being planted, some of the old rail track will be reused, and a concrete pathway will gently nudge visitors toward a similarly meandering experience as they travel from one end to the other.

As for the new buildings around the High Line, that’s out of Scofidio’s hands. “Right now, a lot of the buildings along the High Line have blank walls, because there’s been no reason to open to the High Line,” he says. “If those blank walls suddenly become filled with balconies and windows, that’s going to change the atmosphere. But that’s going to happen. You can’t avoid it.” Hammond and David are more upbeat about the flourishing neighborhood. They react to concerns about all the radical changes with only a slight hint of weary defensiveness—like two researchers who’ve spent ten years trying to crossbreed a unicorn, and now they have to endure complaints about all the hot-dog stands popping up around the unicorn’s stable. “It’s very important for me to understand everything that’s happening here in the context of this much broader movement happening all over the city,” says David. “It’s just happening in a slightly different way here, because of the High Line.”

I asked Sternfeld if, having spent a year documenting the High Line in his own private park, he now felt mournful about its passing. He said, “Yes, no question about it. I feel really sad. It was beautiful. It was perfect. It was authentic. I wish everyone could have the experience that I had. But you can’t have 14 million people on a ruin.”

Since the High Line that you’ll walk on a year from now isn’t going to feel like the High Line you couldn’t walk on a year ago, let me try to lay out for you what your future hallelujah moment might feel like.

At the south end, near the meatpacking district, the Standard Hotel, with its maybe-or-maybe-not staircase, will rise, bowlegged, with its trademark upside-down signage, eighteen stories above the park. There will be a satellite branch of the Whitney museum nearby. From the street, you can ascend the stairs to the High Line park and head north along a pathway of interlocking concrete planks. You can probably even bring a dog—as it stands, pets will be allowed on the High Line, but not bikes. (“The Hudson River Park is a fast park,” says Scofidio. “We envision this as a slow park.”)

In early designs for the park, slim and stylish visitors are illustrated wandering idly through the sculpted grounds, among such oddball imagined details as a cantilevered grandstand on which people are seated watching 2001: A Space Odyssey. (Those elements—the grandstand, a proposed “water feature” that would have featured an urban beach—have since been discarded.) And as you walk, from time to time you’ll stand above an intersection, where you can enjoy a unique, unbroken vista from one side of Manhattan to the other; basically, the view you might get if you could stand in the middle of the road, not get run over, and be 30 feet tall.

NYguy Apr 30, 2007 10:00 PM

More quotes (page 6)

As for the rest of the view, you can expect a veritable Disneyland of starchitecture, with ten new buildings currently rising and roughly fifteen more in development—some with access right to the High Line, some simply hugging its edge; some scaled humbly to the surrounding historical blocks, some potentially as high as 40 stories, and some that are new buildings built on top of existing buildings, like crumpled crystal top hats.

One of the new towers, at 200 Eleventh Avenue, will offer “en suite parking” to tenants (basically, an elevator that will take your car from street level and park it directly outside your apartment), pending community-board approval; Madonna’s rumored to be sniffing around. Another planned tower will tilt over the High Line, stooping slightly at its midsection like a butler ushering you through a door. And all of these buildings, as you pass them, will feature walls of condos and lounges and restaurants with windows full of people looking down from their sparkling new towers at the High Line, and you.


quotes (page 7)

As it happens, the High Line arrives at the exact moment when the legacy of Robert Moses—the imperious former New York City parks commissioner who had his own visions for the city—is being rehabilitated, or at least exhumed. Three separate museums this year mounted exhibits asking visitors to revisit his grandly imagined, and subsequently vilified, plans to remake New York into an expressway-laden megaplex, efficiently absorbing the daily swarms of auto-bound commuters. The most notorious of these schemes is the one that never got built: The Cross-Manhattan Expressway, an elevated highway that would have wiped out much of Soho and torn through the heart of Greenwich Village. Jane Jacobs, the feisty, elfin champion of small-scale urbanism, opposed, and eventually defeated, Moses, and her theories on lively neighborhoods with bustling sidewalks, with dry cleaners and diners and greengrocers, have been entrenched as conventional wisdom ever since.

Whatever you think of Moses’s legacy, there’s one thing Moses and the High Line have in common. We can look back now and see Moses’s work as an artifact of its time; a result, right or wrong, of his idea of the city, of what New York could, and should, become. The High Line, too—by which I mean the park, the neighborhood, the festival, the ballroom, the lounge—will one day look to us like a monument to the time we live in now. A time of great optimism for the city’s future. A time of essentially unfettered growth. A time when a rusted railbed could beget a park, and a park could beget a millionaire’s wonderland. And a time when the city was, for many, never safer, never more prosperous, and never more likely to evoke an unshakable suspicion: that more and more, New York has become like a gorgeous antique that someone bought, refurbished, and restored, then offered back to you at a price you couldn’t possibly afford.

NYguy May 10, 2007 11:58 AM

Save The High Line?
Plans May Doom Northernmost Blocks of Future Park
Photo: Courtesy of Hudson Yards Development Corporation
Looking west over the railyards.

by Matthew Schuerman
May 9, 2007

State and city officials said Tuesday night that they would try to save the three northernmost blocks of the High Line when they choose private developers for the western rail yards, but they made no promises.

The Metropolitan Transportation Authority, which owns the six blocks worth of rail yards in the West 30s, will be asking bidders to submit two plans: one in which the sections of elevated track along 30th Street and 12th Avenue would be preserved and the other in which they would be removed, according to city officials. The M.T.A. would determine whether the lost profit from maintaining the train track would be worth it.

“The M.T.A. and the city support retaining the High Line,” William Wheeler, the M.T.A.’s director of special project development and planning, told the more than 150 residents who packed an auditorium rented for the unveiling of the West Side rail yard plans. “But what the M.T.A. has to do is understand the assessment of risk and reward from the developers to understand how it impacts or doesn’t or benefits or doesn’t the returns we are going to get from the properties.”

Mr. Wheeler received a healthy applause, and speakers from Friends of the High Line, a nonprofit organization that has successfully campaigned to turn the southernmost 19 blocks of the unused track into a park, thanked the M.T.A. for its support. But officials said that preserving the High Line would likely add to the developers’ cost because it would require them to have to work around it. If the track was torn down, however, it would be replaced by a narrow raised park just like the High Line in order to open up 30th Street.

Affordable housing was the other major issue that arose during the meeting, which gave the public its first public glimpse of the city’s plans for the former Jets football stadium site. Regina Myer, a senior vice president at the Hudson Yards Development Corporation, the city agency overseeing the project, said that developers would devote “up to 20 percent” of the rental units they built for low-income families, and that two other publicly owned sites on the West Side, which would accommodate hundreds of additional affordable apartments, were “under very very serious consideration for affordable housing.”

About half of the 21 community members who spoke afterward complained that the affordable-housing commitment was not great enough, because it would only come out to be one-fifth of rental housing while condominiums would likely be entirely market-rate.

“We just want to live in our city,” said Marisa Redanty, the president of the Manhattan Plaza Tenants Association.

But city officials said afterward that it would be better to put affordable housing on other sites because it will cost so much for developers to build a platform over the rail yards. They also did not want to detract from the proceeds that the M.T.A. would earn from the sale of the development rights.

The two halves of the rail yards—the eastern half was rezoned two years ago—will accommodate between 2,400 and 5,800 new apartments, according to the proposed zoning, and between 6 million and 9.4 million square feet of office space. Officials said they had not figured out the limit to the height of the office towers, but they spoke freely about towers that are between 40 and 60 stories tall.

The buildings would likely be placed on the northern and southern edges of the rail yards because an Amtrak tunnel goes through the center.

NYguy Jun 8, 2007 10:53 PM

Gehry building offers cutting-edge stage for HL talk

Ric Scofidio talked about the High Line while standing in front of a screen with projections of the park project last Thursday at the IAC Building on W. 18th St.

By Albert Amateau

Ric Scofidio and Liz Diller, the unconventional founders of the Scofidio Diller + Renfro team transforming the High Line — a 1.5-mile elevated railroad — into a park, spoke last week to a rapt audience gathered in a building designed by another unconventional architect.

The venue for the May 24 Friends of the High Line program was the imposing ground-floor space of the Frank Gehry-designed, angular, glass-enclosed Interactive Corp (IAC) building on W. 18th St. and the West Side Highway, which was completed earlier this year a scant block west of the elevated railroad.

“I was concerned about what it would be like to talk from this stage — or platform — in front of this incredible screen. I found it quite enjoyable,” Scofidio said in response to a question at the end of the program.

The luminous wall that serves as a presentation screen stretches more than 50 feet so that the same image can be shown side by side almost directly in front of every one in an audience seated on chairs no more that 10 rows deep.

The High Line forum was one of the first public events in the building that serves as headquarters for Interactive Corp., which comprises about 60 interactive brands, including Ticketmaster, Citysearch, Evite, and

“It’s actually a pretty good building,” said Diller, who said she passes it frequently on the West Side Highway.

The forum audience got a detailed look at the Scofidio Diller partners’ glass intensive design for the recently completed Boston Museum of Art, which cantilevers over the water of Boston Harbor. The partners also showed the development of their design for the reconstruction and enlargement of Lincoln Center’s Alice Tully Hall, currently under construction, which also has a prominent cantilever.

But they also presented some projects and installations not usually associated with architects — “to show you the perversity of our thinking,” Diller said.

They showed a glass ashtray that looked like it had a chimney and a weird dress made with strange material. Then there was their Whitney Museum exhibition of men’s shirts folded and ironed in bizarre configurations.

For an exposition in Switzerland in 2002, they devised a structure of pipes above the surface of a lake with 35,000 nozzles that created an amazing mist.

“Their buildings department wanted us to install a sprinkler system to conform to regulations and we had to show them that this was the world’s largest sprinkler system,” Diller said.

The partners are interested in “breaking down the notion that nature and nurture are opposite,” Diller said. “For us, the space is not the main concern, it’s what happens inside if it.” It was an observation especially apt for the High Line project.

“What is amazing about the High Line is being able to see the city in incredibly different ways from 30 feet in the air,” Scofidio said. He recalled the public competition in 2003 that elicited far-out suggestions, including a mile-long swimming pool.

The design team, which also includes Field Operations, the landscape firm headed by James Corner; the Dutch garden designer Piet Ouldorff; and Olafur Eliasson, a designer in Berlin, strongly feels that the High Line Park is a companion to the Hudson River Park to the west, Scofidio said. The High Line is conceived as a slow park, strictly for pedestrians, with Hudson River Park a fast park that accommodates bicycles and skates.

The challenge was to keep the viaduct’s wild look — which evolved as weeds and grasses covered it since the last boxcar of frozen turkeys rolled down the rails in 1980 — and at the same time allow people to enjoy a unique experience.

The solution was a series of concrete planks that can be added or removed at various locations to allow people to walk among planted areas. The boundary between planks and planted areas would never be hard edged and benches would grow out of planks that slope up to seating level. At places where people tend to gather, planks could be added.

Most access locations are to have stairs and ramps, while a few would include elevators. All access would be public; any access from a private development adjacent to the High Line is required to end at a public access point.

Construction of the first segment of High Line Park between Gansevoort and 20th Sts. is on schedule for a 2008 public opening, said Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line. The second phase, between 20th and 30th Sts., is expected to open in 2009.

But one-third of the line — between 29th and 34th Sts., where the line loops around the rail yards between 10th and 12th Aves. — is still threatened, Hammond acknowledged.

“The M.T.A. originally wanted to tear that part down,” Hammond said. “But they decided to allow developers to come in with proposals [to develop on platforms over the yards] that would tear it down and proposals that would keep it as it is,” Hammond said.

“We chose [Scofidio Diller + Renfro] because they like crazy ideas and are really able to solve problems and turn crazy ideas into economic realities,” said Hammond.

NYguy Jun 18, 2007 10:17 PM

Fujifilm Joins Friends of the High Line, Launches High Line Portrait Project
Hundreds of photographs will be displayed in unique outdoor galleries to raise awareness of High Line park, projected to open in 2008.

High Line Portrait Project outdoor gallery as seen at 10th Avenue & 18th Street. The project is supported by Fujifilm.

June 18, 2007

NEW YORK--(BUSINESS WIRE)--As the High Line park takes shape above the streets of New York City, construction fencing in the neighborhood will feature improvised outdoor art galleries covered with photographs of High Line supporters from the local community and beyond, Friends of the High Line (FHL) announced today. The group will also launch a Web site featuring the portraits,

Dubbed “The High Line Portrait Project” and made possible with a $50,000 donation from Fujifilm, the photographs capture the spirit of the inventive new park that is being built atop the High Line elevated rail structure, which runs through the Manhattan neighborhoods of the Meatpacking District, West Chelsea and Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen.

Fujifilm’s contribution to FHL will help support community outreach efforts, including the Portrait Project, in the final year before the Park’s opening. The first section of the Park (Gansevoort to 20th Street) is slated to open to the public in the summer of 2008.

“Set atop an out-of-use freight rail trestle, the High Line will be a park like no other. It shows the creativity and innovation that makes New York City great,” said Robert Hammond, Co-Founder of FHL, a non-profit grassroots organization dedicated to the preservation and reuse of the High Line. “What started as a few people's dream turned into a community project, gained worldwide support and is finally becoming a reality. The High Line shows what can happen when we dream big.”

What's Your Dream? The High Line Portrait Project

The Portrait Project is driven by the enthusiasm and dedication of the Friends of the High Line, with support from Fujifilm and noted event and fashion photographer Tom Kletecka (whose client list includes designer Marc Jacobs, Travel + Leisure magazine and Cartier). Kletecka volunteered his time to photograph High Line supporters in front of a backdrop of the High Line as photographed by Joel Sternfeld, whose images of the High Line were instrumental in bringing public attention to the project in 2000. Each participant at the photo events received a commemorative copy of his or her portrait to take home, courtesy of Fujifilm’s digital printing technology.

The portraits will be displayed in several locations surrounding the High Line during the summer of 2007.
The High Line is proof that the most far-fetched imaginings can come true, and each person who is photographed for the Portrait Project was asked, "What’s your dream?" after their picture was taken. Their answers will appear with their photos on the Portrait Project web site, The images will also be compiled in a commemorative publication.

"The High Line Portrait Project is a unique way to showcase the dynamic group of supporters who have guided the project from dream to reality," said Adrian Benepe, Commissioner, New York City Parks & Recreation. "The High Line itself is a work of art and there is no better way to celebrate its supporters than through this exciting exhibition."

In the summer of 2006, the High Line and Fujifilm collaborated on another photography project. Two hundred children who live in the local community received Fujifilm QuickSnap one-time-use cameras and were asked to take pictures of things they thought were important and interesting. The photos were then exhibited along the concourse gallery of Manhattan's Chelsea Market. Originally the National Biscuit Company and a stop on the High Line, Chelsea Market is now home to small shops that sell gourmet food. You can see these images at:

“The need to find, protect or create greenways, particularly in such a unique, visual way is so important as part of a global effort to maintain a balance with the environment,” said Camilla Jenkins, Vice President, Corporate Communications, FUJIFILM. “The ideals and project fit perfectly with Fujifilm's global commitment to preservation, conservation and community cultural efforts. This effort has succeeded tremendously already and we hope this project will remind other companies and individuals that there continues to be a great need for community support for the High Line now and into the future.”

NYguy Aug 28, 2007 3:30 PM

Posted on

High Line Construction Chronicles: Standard Anything But

Tuesday, August 28, 2007, by Queens Crap

Hotelier Andreé Balasz' Standard Hotel that's rising astride the High Line in the Meatpacking District will be anything but standard—even when compared to some of Manhattan's latest daring architectural excursions. It'd been a few months since Curbed stopped by to check it out, but come Andrew Fine, who reveals how the project is taking shape (above). Eventually, it will look like this:

Or at least, that's what we think it will look like; Balasz has never released final renderings of the building, but what's taking shape sure looks a lot like this rendering. Andrew Fine summed it up: "One word, wow!" And that just about sums it up for me, too.

More pics...

NYguy Aug 29, 2007 10:03 PM

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More Standard Porn: The High Line's Perpetual Lap Dance
Wednesday, August 29, 2007, by Joey

Friends: Today is Hotel Day at Curbed HQ, meaning that over the course of our whirlwind Wednesday adventure, you will be reading several items regarding ... hotels. Blame it on our transient nature. Hope you enjoy!

Following yesterday's photo update of Andre Balazs' Standard Hotel in the Upper MePa, a Curbed reader sends along a couple more shots of the High Line-straddling hotspot-to-be. There's something a little terrifying about the way the Standard just dangles up there, waiting to collapse on the heads of all those taking in a nice Sunday afternoon with a little stroll on the High Line (those who will be allowed to, anyway). Maybe that's just our batophobia. Another thing that could be just us is the Standard Hotel look-alike that immediately popped into our heads after having a glance at yesterday's picture.

At left, the Standard Hotel. At right, the Star Wars AT-AT All-Terrain Walker. Separated at birth?

John F Sep 20, 2007 11:22 PM

LOL at the Emperial Walker comparison! I was just thinking over and over again that the building is horrid and yet here we go -- the best comparison out there

NYguy Oct 8, 2007 8:01 PM


Originally Posted by John F (Post 3065914)
LOL at the Emperial Walker comparison! I was just thinking over and over again that the building is horrid and yet here we go -- the best comparison out there

I think it will be an interesting focal point on the walk. The views of the high linefrom the hotel itself will be great.

NYguy Oct 8, 2007 8:05 PM

Taking a Sneak Peek at the High Line

Touring the High Line.

By Jennifer 8. Lee
October 8, 2007

As part of the voyeuristic Open House New York over the weekend, the public was allowed for the first time to (legally) walk along a section of the High Line, 1.5-mile derelict strip of elevated train tracks along the West Side of Manhattan that has become an urban architectural Cinderella story, starting with demolition and ending (as many New York stories do) with glitzy brand-name real estate development.

City Room tagged along with 700 other people in half-hour tours to walk through the lush, weedy overgrowth along the northern segment of the High Line, from West 30th to West 34th Streets. That section, which has not been turned over to the city, is still owned by the CSX railroad corporation and its future remains in flux.

The southern section of the High Line, from Gansevoort Street to West 20th, is currently under development and is scheduled to open as a park for the public next year. (Those parts of the High Line currently look as charming as an expressway on-ramp.)

Impressions: First you had to sign two disclaimers, including one that warned about poisonous plants. There is also a lot of toxic stuff there, from a construction era when environmental consciousness was not particularly high. The crumbling wooden ties are soaked in creosote and the handrails along the side were originally covered with lead paint.

That said, the long stretch of rambunctious weeds, Manhattan skyline and crumbling industrial past is even more stunning in person than it is in pictures.
The renovation involves removing everything (plant life, iron rails, wooden ties) to repair the damaged concrete underneath the High Line.

In an effort to preserve the native horticulture, seeds from the wild plants along the High Line were taken last fall and stored in the Greenbelt Native Plant Center on Staten Island, a sort of Noah’s Ark for the plant kingdom, to be replanted later. Or as City Room saw it, it’s sort of like freezing embryos.

NYguy Oct 23, 2007 10:08 PM

Highline Update: Now with Cool Benches

October 22, 2007

Wow-- things are really changing fast up on the Highline. Since we last visited a couple of weeks ago, new benches have been installed, and holes seem to have been cut for new stairwells leading down to the street. The entire platform bed south of 30th Street has been cleared of brush and coated with a new layer of concrete, giving the rail-bed an eerie surface-of-the-moon look. The buildings along the line have also grown-- especially the new Standard Hotel near 12th Street.

More photos...

NYguy Oct 30, 2007 7:24 PM

Getting Glassed: The Standard, Soho Mews

Tuesday, October 30, 2007, by Joey

In certain circles, Andre Balazs' Standard Hotel on the High Line is the most important building to ever be constructed in Manhattan. To others, architect Charles Gwathmey's stately and refined Soho Mews is a breath of fresh air in the condo scene. Today, both sides can get excited and exist in harmony, because the two anticipated buildings are getting their glass on. Hooray!

NYguy Nov 2, 2007 10:28 PM

[The Standard cometh; photo via Danny L./Curbed Photo Pool]

NYguy Dec 6, 2007 11:18 PM

Preserving the High Line’s northern section
Robert Hammond, co-founder of Friends of the High Line

By Lawrence Lerner
November 30 - December 6, 2007

In 1999, Robert Hammond and Josh David founded Friends of the High Line (FHL), a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and reuse of the High Line, a 1.5-mile-long historic elevated rail structure that runs through Chelsea and other neighborhoods on the West Side of Manhattan. The pair, bolstered by widespread support, managed to get the city onboard and in 2005 save the southern section of the High Line, between Gansevoort and 30th Sts., which is currently being transformed into a park in two phases, due to open in September 2008 and 2009, respectively.

But with the proposed Jets stadium plan recently defeated and the future of the Western Rail Yards in doubt in 2005, the city and High Line owner CSX Transportation left the High Line’s northern section—which loops around the Hudson Rail Yards between 10th and 12th Avenues from 30th to 33rd Streets—out of the deal and vulnerable to demolition by developers, the city and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA), which owns the rail yards. Now that developers, bids for the yards have been made public, we sat down with Hammond to get his thoughts on the prospects for this northern section of the High Line.

From the beginning, you had an uphill battle to save the High Line from demolition. What’s been FHL’s approach?
Yeah, I thought we had only a slight chance at first. But we never wanted to be a group that had to throw itself in front of a bulldozer. We felt that if it came to that, you’ve already lost. All along, we wanted to make arguments beyond just, ‘Save it.’ We wanted the High Line to make sense from both economic and urban planning standpoint—and come up with an alternative use for the rail line—not let it be just about preservation, because ultimately, we see this as a great resource and an opportunity, this mile and a half of elevated Manhattan.

Who were your allies in the fight to save the southern section, and now as you attempt to preserve the northern section?
The core base is our supporters, along with the city, the City Council and elected officials like Christine Quinn, Scott Stinger, Tom Duane, Jerry Nadler, Chuck Schumer and Hillary Clinton. And the state and MTA have come around. The Bloomberg administration has been a big supporter, which has been key. We probably wouldn’t be having this conversation if the city wasn’t behind this.

Who in the Bloomberg administration has been key?
[Deputy Mayor Daniel] Doctoroff has said he wants to keep the High Line. But there was concern at first, since this came about in the wake of 9/11, and the Bloomberg didn’t have enough money to pay for the parks the city had. Dan didn’t want to see pretty pictures; he wanted hard numbers back in 2002. That’s when we did our first economic feasibility study to show it made planning and economic sense for the city. Dan got more and more excited when he saw the economic potential for the High Line.

Tell us more about that study, since it has a bearing on your arguments for preserving the northern section now amid the recently released Hudson Yards bids.
We did a study that said that over a 20-year period, the city would get more tax revenue than it would cost to rebuild it, even though the city wouldn’t be required to pay for all of the construction. John looked that the natural increment in value that will happen in the neighborhood, assuming it’s rezoned and real estate values go up, and he looked at how much the city would reap from that. Then he factored in the addition of the High Line and found three areas of benefit: It creates more light and air for properties adjacent to it; when you’re close to parks and open space, your property values go up between 10 and 14 percent over nearby properties; and third, it made good urban planning sense, because the High Line makes for a better neighborhood, and I think it’s encouraged developers to use interesting architects nearby.

What specifically have you found regarding real estate values and benefits to the city?
We also talked to consultants who said the way to create real value is to create a marketable district, like the Gramercy Park neighborhood. Apartments listed in that area fetch a premium. Likewise, we’ve seen listings for “High Line apartments” that have no view of the High Line but are close enough to reap that benefit. Last year’s Lonely Planet travel guide has five references to the High Line, and it’s not even open. It becomes a destination, something people want to work and live near and visit. In 2002, we estimated it would bring incremental tax revenue of nearly $200 million. John updated that study, and the conservative figure is now over $400 million. Dan [Doctoroff] did a study that said the High Line has already created $950 million in real estate value. That can only bode well for the northern section of the High Line and Hudson Yards.

Now, you’ve made a strong economic argument. What about the High Line from an urban planning standpoint?
The High Line is not a wheat field in Kansas. To me, the power of the High Line is that it’s in the city. There are a million miles of train tracks in this country with wildflowers growing on them. But it’s only on the High Line that you can see the Empire State Building and meander through a corridor of buildings that are in constant flux, with new buildings next to old ones. It will not be a static experience. And it’s not a park with a key; it’s a public park for people of all income levels.

Trace the main arguments for demolition of the northern section of the High Line.
The MTA was concerned that preserving the High Line was going to add complexity to the Hudson Yards development and make it cost more, and they needed to get maximum return on the land, which is public. We argued to the MTA that it would add some complexity and cost more, but not of the magnitude they were predicting, where it would really impact the project. So, we did another study to show why it made economic sense.

The main issues fall under three categories: construction feasibility and related cost, real estate values and retail/parking potential, and urban planning/historic preservation.

With construction, MTA and developers argued that you couldn’t get machines necessary to build the pilings for the rail yards platform underneath the High Line, but we showed that you certainly can. And they could also use the High Line itself as a staging area for cranes and other machinery—that is, both above and below it.

How about retail and parking?
Well, the MTA also argued that they could tear down the High Line and rebuild something better, since it would be easier for developers to construct the platform and buildings, and that way you could get two floors of retail space underneath the new structure, instead of one, and make it easier to build around it because it would require fewer columns than the High Line has. Our argument is that underneath the High Line makes for a much more interesting retail space, lending itself to high-end boutiques. Sure, it makes it much more difficult to put big-box stores underneath because of all the columns, but there is lots of space in the Hudson Yards development for big-box, and the developers proposals show that.

The MTA also wanted to put parking under the High Line and said you couldn’t do that because of its deep pilings underneath the columns. We estimated that you’d lose about 20 percent of the parking spots by preserving the High Line, since a new structure would require shorter pilings, leaving more space for parking. But you could still put in below-grade parking with the High Line in place, and you could do two levels of parking just inside the 30th St. side of the High Line, where there’s 160 feet between the High Line and the rail Yards. We also think that to tear down the High Line for parking would be, well, a big mistake.

And urban planning?
That 160-feet buffer I referred to means that the High Line creates an important set-back along 30th Street. Remember, developers are going to want to build out where they can to make their money back. If you tore town the High Line and built right up to 30th Street, you’d create avenue-like density on a side street, which, from an urban planning perspective, would be disastrous.

Along the same lines, the MTA also argued that because the rail yards platform running along 12th Avenue would be higher than the High Line, it would be difficult to connect the two and would be better for the platform to go right up to the road. We argued that the High Line would actually act as a soft-edge buffer to the road and be much more visually appealing and decrease density by creating another set-back, and you’d have two viewing platforms from which to look out onto the Hudson River. And it would be easy to mediate the two with ramps. Ultimately most of the developers agreed with us—and it shows in their plans. Furthermore, along 12th Avenue side, you could connect the High Line with Hudson River Park by creating walking causeways over the road. All the plans showed this, too, since the city always wanted that as well. Then there’s the connection a contiguous High line makes with the other neighborhoods it runs through. All of this makes good urban planning sense.

What’s your historic preservation argument?
It’s pretty simple: We’re going to have over 12 million square feet of new development in Hudson Yards. Let’s keep something that’s actually original. This is a rail yard; don’t we want evidence of the rails there? The High Line is a reminder of the history there. Finally, the last thing we want to do is let the High Line go the way of the old Penn Station. We have a chance to get it right this time, and we should capture that opportunity.

Are there any big outstanding issues you’d like to see resolved in the Hudson Yards bidding process?
Right now, MTA has no plans to divulge any of their financials behind the bids. So, we don’t know the difference between the bids that include the High Line and those that don’t for each developer, which may sway the MTA’s decision. Also, we would want to know the thinking behind the numbers. You can ascribe a cost to a plan, but we want to look through those numbers to make sure they’re right and are using accurate information on the High Line.

We’ve seen this movie before, when we were saving the southern portion: People made many specious arguments, some involving numbers. And people tend to believe developers more than us, thinking we’re dreamers trying to save the High Line, even though we’ve proven we’re more than that. So, we’d like complete transparency.

How do you size up the new Hudson Yards proposals just unveiled?
The good news is that the MTA and state have said they support saving the High Line, and I think most of the developers see the High Line as an asset, as reflected in their proposals and their conversations with us. But just because they show it in their plans doesn’t mean they’ll preserve the High Line. There’s no requirement in the RFP for that, so we want the MTA to mandate this.

Extell, Related and Brookfield’s proposals kept the High Line in its entirety. The first two build right up to it and connect to it; Brookfield leaves some space and lets the High Line stand apart. I think it’s interesting that Extell and Brookfield didn’t conform to the RFP’s zoning guidelines. Every developer and architect has told us that the RFP was a bad example of urban planning, in general, to try and work under. The open space stipulated by the RFP would create a dark wind tunnel. Hopefully, MTA will be open to those proposals that deviated from their plan.

The Durst plan calls for demolition of the High Line all along 12th Avenue and the spur over 10th Avenue; all they keep is part of the line running along 30th Street. Tishman-Speyer keeps all of it except the spur; I hope they’ll reconsider that. Brookfield is the only one that doesn’t have buildings spanning over the High Line at 12th Ave and 30th Street. It’s a plan that allows sun into the open space. And Extell’s designer, Steven Holl, has a real sensitivity for the High Line: His office has overlooked the High Line for 20 years.

Which proposal does FHL like the most?
We’re going to do a study of all five proposals and how they interact with the High Line. I also want to hear the upcoming architect presentations [at Cooper Union on Dec. 3] before commenting on that. The point that we want to make is that a lot of these innovative ideas can be incorporated into whoever’s plan is chosen. We don’t want to pick a favorite developer. We want to work with whoever is chosen and encourage them and the MTA to pick the best ideas from all the projects. And remember, the selection is not the end of the process; it’s the beginning, since this will all go under public review. And none of the developers wants to cut us out of the conversation. They want to work with us, so that’s good news as well.

Will you be relieved when the fight if finally over and FHL can shift full-time into conservancy mode? What will you do with yourselves?
Yeah, part of me will miss the battle. But then we’ll have to concentrate on the real thing: maintaining the High Line and keeping it safe. That’s why we’ve started a membership program—to help fund ongoing maintenance and operations—just like Central Park Conservancy. It’s a less dramatic battle but equally important, since no park that isn’t maintained and kept safe with Park Enforcement Police will thrive.

What portion of maintenance and security will FHL pay?
Central Park Conservancy pays 70 percent of the costs for that park. We’re going to have to pay our fair share as well. So, we’ll need to keep raising money for a long time to come.

NYguy Dec 12, 2007 10:54 PM

Jay-Z Gets $66M Site for Five-Star Hotel

By Natalie Dolce
December 12, 2007

Entertainment mogul Jay-Z has earmarked a Chelsea development site as the location for J Hotel, an upscale five-star 150,000-sf luxury hotel. The hotel will be the flagship for his new hospitality brand, which he intends to roll out in select cities following this New York City debut.

J Hotel, in the heart of the gallery district between 10th and 11th avenues at 510 W. 22nd St., also known as 511 W. 21st St., will be a prominent new addition to the burgeoning High Line neighborhood, according to Eastern Consolidated, who exclusively represented the seller. An Eastern Consolidated spokesperson tells that they cannot disclose the identify of the seller at this time; however, they did note that the seller is a private locally based investor who has owned the property for a long time.

Eastern Consolidated director David Johnson, with executive directors Ronald Solarz and Eric Anton, represented the seller of the prime block-thru site, and also procured the buyers. The site was purchased by Jay-Z partners Charles Blaichman of CB Developers and Abram Shnay, along with son Scott Shnay, of SK Development Group in two separate transactions, namely the acquisition of the base site for $51 million, followed by the acquisition of the air rights for $15.4 million, totaling $66.4 million.

“West 22nd Street, between 10th and 11th Avenue is arguably the heart and soul of the West Chelsea High Line district and is a perfect location for an upscale life style-oriented five-star hotel,” notes Solarz. According to Johnson, “we were able to obtain a benchmark price for M-zoned land in the High Line district.”

Currently the site is occupied by a five-story 88,000-sf warehouse and parking facility net leased to Time Warner Cable Inc., which will vacate. Joseph Hershkowitz of Frenkel, Hershkowitz & Shafran represented the seller, and the buyers were represented by Larry Drath of Holman & Drath LLP.

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