AN was live blogging from the Megaprojects Conference at the McGraw Hill Conference Center on May 11. The conference/symposium, sponsored by Columbia University’s Center for Urban Real Estate, took a close look at a few of New York’s biggest real estate projects. The World Trade Center, Hudson Yards, and Times Square. London’s Docklands was also discussed.
The panel from Hudson Yards was the last up at today’s conference, though Related’s Stephen Ross, who sat on an earlier panel was no longer in the house. Oxford Properties’ Dean Shapiro estimated that the project would be completed over the course of two economic cycles. MTA’s real estate director Jeffrey Rosen once again echoed the Port Authority transit theme with “Our paramount concern is running the rail road.” Rosen said that flexibility needs to be a part of any plan, adding that the High Line was not even on the radar when Hudson Yards planning began. As a result the project’s anchor tenant was a luxury fashion company.“Who would’ve thought that this would become Meatpacking North,” he said.
Vishaan Chakrabarti who opened the conference with the statement, “Cities can cure many of the world’s ills” closed the session by explaining how and why. He said major private investment needed to be paired with greater public flexibility and more investment at the federal level. He added that a more nimble public process (that’s you, ULURP) needed to be figured out. “We’re taking too long to build these kind of projects,” he said. But then he zeroed in on the major plus of the megaprojects. “They can address the alarming rate of suburbanization,” he said. “The only way to mitigate that is far denser urbanization with transportation.”