Yesterday the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved Gehry Partners’ and Related Companies’ long-stalled Grand Avenue Project, all but assuring that it will go ahead after years (and years, and years) of delay. The only remaining vote comes later today as the Grand Avenue Authority, the city-county agency overseeing the project, votes on the project.
This week, Friends of the High Line revealed the design concept for the third and final section of the High Line with a tantalizing set of renderings from James Corner Field Operations and Diller Scofidio + Renfro. Beginning at the intersection of 10th Avenue and West 30th Street, the latest addition, known as the High Line at the Rail Yards, will wrap westward around Related Companies’ impending Hudson Yards mega-development before culminating on 34th Street between 11th and 12th Avenues.
Back in 2004 it seemed like Downtown Los Angeles would be getting one of the largest developments in the city’s history: the $1.8 billion, 3.8 million square foot Grand Avenue Project. Overseen by a city/county entity called the Grand Avenue Authority and developed by the Related Companies, the project would insert residential, retail, hotel, and park spaces into the city’s long-struggling core. Just a week ago it seemed like that dream was dead, when the Grand Avenue Authority voted unanimously to reject new architectural plans by Related, which included a sharply reduced scope, and a whole new team of designers. (Gone is Frank Gehry, in for the master plan is Gensler.) But on September 30 the Authority voted to give the developer a four month extension to adjust the plans. Whether the authority will move ahead after is still very much in doubt. The only sure things at this point are the 16-acre Grand Park, across from The Music Center, and Arquitectonica’s 19-story residential tower, just south of The Broad, which broke ground several months ago.
The Chicago Spire site, currently the city’s most-watched hole in the ground, has had false starts before. This week The Wall Street Journal reported that Related Cos. of New York signed on to buy the stalled project’s debt, raising suspicions that development might proceed on the riverfront site.
Santiago Calatrava’s twisting tower design was to stand 2,000 feet high and house condos, but the $64 million land bordering Lake Shore Drive in Streeterville sat idle after the recession hit in 2008. The troubled project has been tangled up in litigation ever since.
Ireland’s National Asset Management Agency put the project’s $93 million in debt on the market earlier this year. While Irish developer Garett Kelleher’s firm still holds title to the parcel, and Related’s reported deal remains up in the air, speculation swirls around the site which not long ago was prepared to house the nation’s tallest building.
While everyone is transfixed on SHoP’s dramatic unveiling of its new plan for the Domino Sugar Factory on the Brooklyn waterfront, another SHoP-designed project began construction to the north on the Queens waterfront. The first two towers of the Hunters Point South development, what will be New York City’s largest affordable housing project since the 1970s, broke ground, and the $332-million first phase could accept its first residents as soon as 2014. The first phase includes 925 permanently-affordable housing units, 17,000 square feet of retail space, an already-under-construction 1,100-seat school, and a new five-acre park.
The plan to relocate Pennsylvania Station to the James Farley Post Office across the street has been slow in coming. The developers, Related Companies and Vornado Realty Trust, are now revisiting a previously-rejected proposal to move the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) to what will be Penn Station’s new home, called Moynihan Station—named after Senator Daniel Patrick Moynihan who first introduced the idea in the 1990s.
The New York Times reported that the college would theoretically occupy 1.1 million square feet of the building, and in return, the developer would take over BMCC’s campus downtown. But, it looks like government officials still have their reservations. Some progress has been made, however. The state has provided around $300 million for the construction of a new passageway and two new entrances leading to Penn’s train platforms. Skidmore, Owings and Merrill designed the plans for the renovation of the station.
Los Angeles supervisor Gloria Molina has confirmed what we suspected all along. The Grand Avenue committee—chaired by Molina—has granted the Related Companies a third extension on its lease to develop The Grand, a multi-billion dollar, mixed-use development on top of the city’s Bunker Hill. The project’s Civic Park, designed by Rios Clementi Hale Studios, opened last summer, and the first built project, an apartment by Arquitectonica, broke ground earlier this month. But the rest of the project, including 9 acres encompassing at least 2,100 residential units, a hotel, shopping, and dining, still remains dormant. Related would not commit to its original designer, Frank Gehry, when AN talked with them last year, nor would they confirm his continued involvement in a recent interview with the LA Downtown News. More images of Gehry’s perhaps-defunct plan below.
Tuesday morning, New York’s top power brokers gathered in a muddy lot on Manhattan’s west side to mark the official groundbreaking of the 26-acre Hudson Yards mega-development. The dramatic addition to the New York skyline will comprise a completely new neighborhood of glass skyscrapers at the northern terminus of the High Line. The South Tower, the first structure to be built and the future headquarters of fashion-label Coach, will rise on the site’s southeast corner at 30th Street and 10th Avenue, where Related CEO Stephen Ross, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, and others celebrated the first turning of dirt as a large caisson machine bored into the ground.
In what may seem like a backhanded vote of confidence for Related Companies’ Hudson Yards development, Extell’s Gary Barnett has revived plans to build on their parcel at Eleventh Avenue between 33rd and 34th streets and he’s unabashedly naming it “One Hudson Yards.” Like Related’s new Coach tower, Extell’s Kohn Pedersen Fox-designed tower will sit on terra firma, while the majority of Related’s multi-use plan will be built atop the functioning rail yards. The proposed tower would rise 56 stories above the No. 7 line entrance. The compliment missed: Related’s Steve Ross told the New York Post that the name was an attempt to “deceive tenants and the public.”
Mayor Bloomberg evoked Fitzgerald today when he announced the deal between Sterling Equities and Related Companies to revamp Willets Point. “Today the ‘valley of ashes’ is well on its way to becoming the site of historic private investment,” the mayor said in a statement, referring to the gritty midpoint between Gatsby’s West Egg manse and Manhattan. The plan pegs its success to a mega entertainment/retail hub just west of the stadium, that sounds very much a part of a trend in projects that used to be called malls, but are now called retail/entertainment attractions (see also the aptly named American Dream in NJ).
Tonight, the design team from the High Line will present plans for Section 3 to the community. Parks Commissioner Adrian Benepe will introduce James Corner from the project’s lead team, James Corner Field Operations, and Ricardo Scofidio from Diller Scofidio + Renfro. High Line co-founder Robert Hammond will moderate a post presentation discussion.
Unlike the last two sections of the High Line, Section 3 will be intimately integrated with one major developer, as opposed to a variety of property owners and stakeholders. From 30th to 34th Street, the High Line wraps around Hudson Yards, the 12 million square foot office and residential district being developed by Related Companies. Much of the new section will be built cheek by jowl with Related’s construction. At the westernmost section overlooking the Hudson River, an interim walkway will span the existing self-seeded landscape, so as coordinated design efforts alongside Related’s development and give Friends of the High Line time to raise more funds.
The estimated total cost of capital construction on the High Line at the rail yards is $90 million. Construction is expected to be complete by the end of 2013 with a full public opening in spring 2014.
Mayor Bloomberg and top city officials joined executives from the Related Companies, Oxford Properties, and fashion label Coach underneath the northernmost spur of the High Line on Tuesday to announce the first anchor tenant at Hudson Yards on Manhattan’s West Side. “Today we announce Coach as the anchor tenant at Hudson Yards,” said Related CEO Stephen Ross. He told the crowd that construction could start in a few months. Coach will relocate 1,500 employees currently scattered across three buildings nearby into a sleek glass and steel KPF-designed tower overlooking the High Line, occupying about a third of the planned first tower.