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Jeremiah Budin reports for Curbed. When Brooklyn hostel owner Juan Figueroa purchased the Williamsburgh Savings Bank for $4.5 million in 2010, the rumor was that he planned to convert the historic bank building into a hotel. That would have been difficult, though, since the structure is an exterior, interior, and national landmark. The actual plan, it turned out, was to meticulously restore it and turn it into an event space and banquet hall, and place a 40-story hotel right next door. Now, after two and a half years and an additional $18.5 million of work, the restoration part of the project is nearing completion (the hotel is still in the process of looking for funding), and we got inside to take some pictures of the transformed space. According to Carlos Perez San Martin, Figueroa's cousin and the project manager, the bank was a complete wreck before the restoration began. The oculus skylight from the 6,500-square-foot main room had been in storage for 75 years and was in a state of complete disrepair. Three quarters of the mosaic marble flooring was missing or unsalvageable. Walls were covered with multiple layers of white paint, the woodwork with a sickly shade of green, and the intricate mural on the inside of one of the two domes—one of the last known murals by architect/designer Peter B. White—was so covered in dirt that parts of it appeared black.
In order to clean a century's worth of grime off the walls and ceiling, the restoration team used a special latex product, which is applied and then peeled off, as Perez San Martin put it, "like waxing for ladies." What couldn't be saved was replicated, to exacting standards. The replacement mosaic marble flooring for the main room (the salvageable 25 percent was moved to the restrooms) was quarried in Italy, then shipped to Lebanon, where every piece was hand cut. The floors in the smaller rooms are Victorian-style encaustic tiles from the same quarry in England that had supplied the original construction. Every door hinge and piece of hardware (25 percent original), each bearing the original bank logo, was cast in bronze. The wallpaper patterns—different in every room—are all original designs by Peter B. White.
Two complete original elements are the Napoleon III-era bank vault door, with a coin bearing the face of the first French president embedded in the center, and the Otis bird-cage elevator, one of only three remaining in New York City. Replacing all of the building's mechanicals was another huge undertaking. The space will be heated by four miles of serpentine tubing below the floor, and cooled by around 20 room-sized AC units in the basement. The lower level, which currently houses a woodworking studio for the restoration team, is slated to become a gallery for local artists at some point down the road—but not when the event space opens late this year or early next year. They're also renaming the building Weylin B. Seymor, for some weird reason.
Julie Strickland reports for The Real Deal. From left: Andre Balazs and JFK's TWA terminal From left: Andre Balazs and JFK’s TWA terminal Hotelier Andre Balazs has been tapped to develop the historic TWA terminal at John F. Kennedy International Airport, to be called the Standard, Flight Center. The terminal is to be overhauled and turned into a hotel and conference center with food and beverage, retail space, a spa, fitness center, meeting facilities and a flight museum. Pat Foye, executive director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the terminal, confirmed that the agency is only talking with Balazs. “The Port Authority is committed to preserving the essence of [architect Eero Saarinen’s] iconic design and to continuing to work with [Balazs Properties] on a plan to transform the historic TWA Flight Center into a one-of-a-kind hotel and conference center in the heart of JFK’s central terminal area,” Foye told the New York Post. Balazs did not give the Post a time frame for the project. The hotelier’s Standard brand has been actively wheeling and dealing lately, with plans to create a beach club venue at Pier 57 and 15th Street, as well as a search for buyers for his Standard High Line hotel.
Hiten Samtani reports for The Real Deal Michael Stern (inset), a rendering of 107 West 57th Street (Credit: SHoP Architects). and Kevin Maloney (inset) Michael Stern (inset), a rendering of 107 West 57th Street (Credit: SHoP Architects) and Kevin Maloney (inset) Michael Stern’s JDS Development and Property Markets Group are planning a skinny skyscraper condominium on West 57th Street which will be 100 feet taller than the Empire State Building and even soar over Gary Barnett’s One57. The joint venture submitted plans last month to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission that call for a roughly 1,350-foot building that, akin to a series of steps, sets back from the street as it rises higher, according to the Wall Street Journal. It is still unclear if the venture has obtained financing for the project, to be located at 107 West 57th Street. A JDS spokesman declined to comment on the financing to the newspaper, but said that the developer was looking to break ground early next year. Stern purchased the West 57th Street in 2012, and was initially planning a building of under 700 feet. Earlier this year, he and his partners opted to up the project’s scale by buying additional air rights from a nearby property and by buying a neighboring building, as The Real Deal reported. The venture has dished out over $250 million on acquisitions for the project, the newspaper added. The planned tower would be covered with bronze-and-white terra-cotta stripes, Vishaan Chakrabarti of SHoP Architects, who is designing the building, told the newspaper. The lot is just 43-feet wide, so many of the floors would be only 4,000 to 5,000 square feet, Chakrabarti added. Stern is best known for his Walker Tower condo conversion project in Chelsea. He recently sold his Gowanus luxury rental project at 202 8th Street to Werber Management for $37.75 million, as The Real Deal reported.  
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529 Broadway plans revealed: PHOTOS

Adam Pincus reports for The Real Deal. Cayre, Sutton, Sitt, Adjmi propose six-story retail building at Soho site. A rendering of the Broadway façade of 529 Broadway A detail of the proposed tiling around the windows Rendering of the Spring Street Façade with neighboring buildings A detail of the Spring Street façade Rendering of 529 Broadway looking north on Broadway A detail of an upper floor corner window at the Broadway and Spring intersection A rendering of the Spring Street façade A 1934 photo of the former Prescott House hotel, built in 1853   A group of high-powered investors that includes Bobby Cayre and Jeff Sutton is planning to clear the lot at 529 Broadway in Soho and put up an eye-catching six-story retail building that resembles a hotel that stood there in the mid-1800s, The Real Deal has learned exclusively. The site, at the intersection of Broadway and Spring Street, has a two-story commercial building from 1935. The developers want to replace it with a 34,000-square-foot, glass-and-brick structure that has window details adapted from the Prescott House, an 1853 hotel demolished during the Great Depression. TRD filed a request with the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to review the application, which has not been published before. The panel must approve the plans first because the location is in the Soho Cast Iron Historic District. The developers filed the LPC paperwork, prepared by BKSK Architects and preservation consultants Higgins Quasenbarth & Partners, within the past two weeks. They filed city Department of Buildings plans in July for a six-story structure with just over 34,000 square feet, TRD reported. The new application includes a series of photographs and illustrations of the Prescott House as well as neighboring buildings to put the new design in context. The proposal updates several of the hotel’s window motifs into a modern design, which morphs and twists along the Spring Street façade from a more traditional look on the western portion to an angular and sleeker finish at the corner with Broadway. The developers’ tight control over their application reveals the sensitive nature of the city’s development review process, which in this case involves a presentation to the local community board as well as the LPC. The project is on the agenda for the LPC’s Sept. 10 hearing. Cayre, who is leading the development process, declined both to comment, and to provide digital versions of the images in the slideshow accompanying this article; TRD photographed the images. The developers — Cayre, head of Aurora Capital Associates; Sutton, president of Wharton Properties; Joe Sitt, CEO of Thor Equities; and the Adjmi family — acquired the building in 2012 for $147.9 million, a record for a Soho retail property.
Lisa Santoro reports for Curbed New York. big CSBnow_8_13    big 031-ansonia3-1910 Banking and commerce are integral to the city's livelihood, so it's no wonder that New York City's banking institutions are designed to look important. This is certainly the case with Central Savings Bank, which stands out even among the noteworthy classical structures that are its neighbors. The building is easily accessible to the public and warrants a closer look. The Central Savings Bank (currently Apple Bank), located at 2100-2108 Broadway at West 73rd Street, was built between 1926 and 1928 by the architecture firm of York & Sawyer. The bank had been founded in 1859 and was originally known as The German Savings Bank in the City of New York, with its first location inside the Cooper Union building. Just five years later, in 1864, the bank would move a bit uptown to Fourth Avenue and 14th Street, eventually occupying a new bank building that was constructed in 1872. Decades later, during World War I, the bank changed its name to "Central Savings Bank." Though the name change may have been due to anti-German sentiment, the bank continued to flourish and the trustees banked (sorry) on the Upper West Side's business and residential development and chose to open an uptown branch. York and Sawyer was an obvious choice for the new building. In addition to both working for the prolific firm of McKim, Mead and White, York and Sawyer were experienced in designing other noteworthy banking institutions, such as the Federal Reserve Bank of New York on Liberty Street and the Bowery Savings Bank on 42nd Street. The Central Savings Bank commission would be especially stately given its unique location atop a trapezoidal lot adjacent to Verdi Square. With the latitude to design a building free from the confines of adjacent structures, and complemented by nearby open space, the designers were able to create a unique, iconic structure. big CSBdoor_8_13 That structure was a six-story freestanding building designed in the style of an Italian Renaissance palazzo. Constructed of rusticated limestone, the building was adorned with decoration that would in fact be very fitting for a palazzo. This included the two lions surrounding the clock above the main entrance, cartouches featuring the heads of classical figures and shields containing the caduceus motif and two snakes ensnarled around a staff—which has become the modern symbol of commerce and negotiation. In addition, the exterior features stunning wrought iron doors, gates, grilles and lanterns designed by Samuel Yellin, considered the country's master iron craftsman during the 1920s. The building is still not as highly decorated and elaborate as its Parisian-inspired neighbors to the south, the Ansonia and the Dorilton, but is instead serious and refined. The building stands like an imposing fortress, exuding strength and stability, qualities that very much befit a financial institution. And the building is even more majestic inside. Upon initial entry, the visitor is transported into the cavernous and vaulted main banking hall, in which the building's tall arched windows provide natural light. The 65-foot coffered ceiling is based on the ceiling of Florence's Davanzati Palace. The main hall also showcases Yellin's interior ironwork, specifically the bank screens, grilles, mailboxes and signs. And don't forget to look down, or you might miss the intricate multi-colored marble floor, which has sustained nearly ninety years of wear. CSBinterior_8_13-thumb The bank's executive offices located on the mezzanine level are also highly stylized. According to Christopher Gray, the offices were "decorated by the Barnet Phillips Company" and "included double-height meeting rooms with large fireplaces flanked by iron torcheres, beamed ceilings, wooden paneling and elaborate faux wall painting with imitation garlands and spirals of fabric." In order to make some profit from the large building, the upper floors were designed to be rental office space. And although these offices on the upper floors are considered plain and less decorative than the rest of the building, there is elegance in their simple design. These offices feature "solid metal doors with inset panels and an upper section of frosted glass," brass signboards and "walls wainscoted with marble." The Central Savings Bank stands as a monument to commerce, consumerism and finance. Through its design, the building fosters a sense of safety and security—a prime example of how architecture can be emblematic of its building's purpose and function. The architects sought to create a building in which people would be comfortable investing and depositing their hard-earned money. And what better way to represent strength, stability and success than to have the bank designed in the style of a Renaissance palazzo? The words spoken at the bank's 75th anniversary in 1934 still ring true: "The Central Savings Bank is housed in truly a noble building, its lofty interior and its massive exterior typifying all that the Bank has represented in the past—all that the future may bring to us in the way of health and happiness."
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Trinity Church to Build 32-Story Tower

Matt Chaban reports for Crain's New York Business. Trinity-Church-tower1 A rendering of what Trinity Church's new mixed-use building could look like. Courtesy of Pelli Clarke Pelli.
 From 1846 to 1890, Trinity Church downtown ranked as the tallest building in the city. Come 2017, Trinity Church will top its own early record by erecting a 32-story office and residential tower directly across Trinity Place on the site of the church's old parish offices. The decision to go ahead with the new building, which will be designed by architects at Pelli Clarke Pelli, comes after a decade of planning."You've got an old building that required quite a bit of capital for code compliance and deferred maintenance," said Jason Pizer, president of Trinity Real Estate, which controls the church's considerable land holdings in the city. "It was decided that the best way to help cover the costs of this project was through the creation of a new mixed-use building."The new structure will replace Trinity's current parish building—Trinity's name for its administrative offices—and its well-attended nursery school, located at 74 and 68 Trinity place, respectively. Replacing them will be a seven-story podium, which will house the new parish offices and above that will rise an 18-story apartment tower.Trinity is now seeking a developer to help undertake the project, so the exact number and make up of the units has not yet been decided—nor has a price. The selection is expected to be completed by the end of the year. Officials expect to break ground for the project in the fall of 2014. Trinity's selection of an architect before it lined up a development partner is unusual. But officials said it was because the church, despite controlling 14 acres of land in Manhattan—mostly in the area of Hudson Square in SoHo—considers its 167-year-old home its most important asset. "The idea is to build an iconic building, but not an extravagant building, one that will complement Trinity Church and the view when you walk up Wall Street," Mr. Pizer said. "It's been a view for the ages and will hopefully continue for the ages, so since this building sits right behind Trinity, it should enhance Trinity, not overwhelm it." Trinity-Church-tower The church held a small competition, inviting six architects. That group was then narrowed down to two, Cook + Fox and Pelli Clarke Pelli, which presented their ideas to the church's board of directors in early July. "Pelli's vision just meshed with the current thinking at the church," Mr. Pizer said, noting that the parish wanted a bright, glassy building that would suffuse the work spaces with light while reflecting the sky, reducing its impact on the neighboring church. Pelli prepared a trio of plans for the project, including those shown here, but Mr. Pizer stressed they were simply conceptual drawings "to help give us a feel for what they were thinking and what they could do." "Once a development partner is selected, it'll be back to the drawing board," Mr. Pizer said.
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Un-Cloistered View

Nicole Anderson Reports for The Architect's Newspaper. palisades_02 Hok's Design for LG Electronic USA. Courtesy Hok & Neoscape. For nearly 75 years, the view from the Cloisters—a branch of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in northern Manhattan—overlooking the verdant cliffs of the Palisades in New Jersey, has remained unmarred by new development. Now the silhouette of LG Electronic USA’s 8-story headquarters will likely extend above the tree line and permanently alter the natural landscape. After a hard-fought legal battle by community members and environmental groups, the court has ruled in favor of LG’s plans to build an 8-story HOK-designed office complex, giving the company the green light to move forward with construction on the 27-acre site. “Clearly we are disappointed with the results. We view this as one step or one battle in a long and multipronged effort to get LG to lower the height of its headquarters,” said Hayley Carlock, the environmental advocacy attorney for Scenic Hudson. “It can be a win-win situation: LG can still provide as many jobs on that site while still preserving the iconic vistas of the Palisades.” Critics, public officials, and advocacy groups have been calling on LG to consider a redesign of the 143-foot high building that they say wouldn’t interfere with the historic vista. Officials at LG, however, have stated that their opponents have exaggerated the scale of the building, which is being designed by HOK. palisades_01     palisades_03 Proponent (left) and Opponent (right) renderings of how the project would look. Courtesy of Hok & Neoscape/ Courtesy Protect The Palisades. “It is really hard to understand why the tall building is so important to them,” said Edward Goodell, Executive Director of New York-New Jersey Trail Conference. “They argue that the building just peaks above the tree line when it is more than double the height of the tree-line.” Two Englewood residents filed a lawsuit in March 2012 contesting the decision by Englewood Cliffs Zoning Board of Adjustments to grant LG a variance change to exceed the 35-foot height limit in the area. Several groups, including Scenic Hudson, the New York-New Jersey Trail Conference, and the New Jersey State Federation of Women’s Clubs, came to the aid of the litigants this winter to provide legal support and guidance. The two opposing parties had initially attempted to settle this dispute outside of court with the help of a mediator, but negotiations failed after several meetings. Carlock said that the groups plan on the appealing the decision within the next 45 days. “We have to band together and map out a strategy. We intervened after the trial took place unfortunately. But our whole reason of intervening at this point was to reserve out rights to appeal.” Meanwhile LG is already prepping for the demolition of the existing structures on the property to jump-start the construction process. "LG is not concerned about threats of the appeal,” said John Taylor, vice president of public affairs at LG. “Municipalities have the authority to determine the best zoning decision. LG did everything correctly during the approval process and we plan to proceed.”
resize_armory A plan to build the world's largest ice sports in the Kingsbridge Armory has the support of developers, the city and a coalition of community groups. Jordan Moss reports for the Bronx Bureau. For 20 years, community groups and the city wrestled over the Kingsbridge Armory. The latest and most likely proposal includes a landmark community benefits deal that could be a national model. Almost a century ago, in 1917, the Kingsbridge Armory opened for the National Guard. But the longest battle related to the landmark was launched in 1993 when the soldiers left the building as the state handed it over to the city. Twenty years later, peace is at hand. A proposal to turn the 575,000-square-foot landmark, on Kingsbridge Road in the northwest Bronx, into a widely unexpected athletic ice-skating center is just at the beginning of a six-month approval process, but it's widely expected to get the go-ahead. But already, the Armory saga offers a critical policy lesson for ordinary New Yorkers and grassroots organizations working to achieve the greatest degree of community influence on significant projects using public property. Over the past 20 years, the Armory has been the subject of proposals by school superintendents, who sought to relieve overcrowding, and neighborhood organizations, who wanted school space and community facilities—all shot down by the city. Mayor Giuliani proposed a sports and retail complex. That flopped. Mayor Bloomberg backed a mall, but that proposal failed amid a dispute with a community alliance over whether tenants would pay a living wage to their workers. Almost four years after the Bloomberg proposal's defeat, it now looks like an ice center boasting nine athletic skating rinks – the largest such facility in the world – is headed for approval, thanks to support from the community alliance (called KARA, or the Kingsbridge Armory Redevelopment Alliance) the borough president, mayor and councilmembers. There appears to be zero organized opposition. The Kingsbridge National Ice Center would be the first permanent ice skating facility in the Bronx, a borough with thousands of immigrant families who've never skated in their lives. Some might scratch their heads wondering why the plan is considered a win by so many activists and community leaders. The reason, supporters say, is the Community Benefits Agreement the leaders of KNIC, KARA and other Bronx organizations signed. Its strength is unprecedented in New York City, according to experts. And it could be the model for other projects. A 20-year saga National military cutbacks and the structure's growing deterioration caused the state to vacate the Armory in 1993 and hand it over to the city. Between 1993 and 1996, two consecutive school superintendents had forums and armory tours with the public, hoping there was a shot at creating schools within the massive facility in a desperately overcrowded District 10, the second worst in the city. And while that didn't go anywhere, in 1998 leaders of the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition got to work, laying out their ideas with the help of the Pratt Center for Community Development. That led to an ambitious proposal for a project including three 800-seat schools, a sports complex, an exterior park and green market, restaurants, a bookstore and a community center. Despite years of meetings and rallies, that plan was essentially put aside. The city ruled out schools in the inner part of the building, claiming problems with lighting that community advocates were certain could be remedied if the Giuliani administration had committed to the idea. In January 2000, Giuliani picked RD Management and its partner, Basketball City, to replicate at the Armory their large sports facility in Manhattan. In addition to sports, the companies proposed setting it up a mall that included a movie theatre. But they never came through with a completed plan to push through the approval process. Officials like Adolfo Carrion, Jr., then a councilman, said the developer balked at a high redevelopment expense they didn't expect. Unlike Bloomberg, Giuliani never even issued an RFP (request for proposals). For almost five years after Bloomberg came into office in 2002, there were meetings, discussions and tours by officials that led to nothing. Many focused on where to relocate the National Guard, even though they were in separate buildings behind the Armory. So it wasn't until the fall of 2006 that the city's Economic Development Corporation released an RFP. It took three years for the city to choose Related Companies' proposal for a giant shopping mall, much like its controversial re-do of Bronx Terminal Market. But KARA, with strong support from the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., decided to vigorously oppose the plan unless Related guaranteed that everyone who worked in the Armory mall when it was done got a guaranteed minimum salary — $10 an hour with health insurance or $11.50 without. They argued that Related was receiving about $50 million in city and state tax breaks and paying a miniscule purchase price of $5 million (just replacing the roof years earlier cost the city $30 million). RWDSU and local, unionized supermarkets were worried about competition from new shops in the proposed mall that would pay lower wages. Diaz, Jr., who had just become Bronx borough president, took the political lead on pushing these efforts. “I want to do business in the Bronx,” Diaz said at a big Coalition/KARA gathering in 2009 when Related was pushing its plan. “[But] it is not radical to simply say, a) we should protect surrounding businesses and b) we should have jobs and livings wages.” He added, “You want to do business, we can do business. But business has to be good for everybody.” In his consistent mantra on this issue, he added: “If you want to create a mall on your own dime, [then go ahead and pay what you want]. If you want a subsidy, then the community deserves a subsidy as well.” front Councilman G. Oliver Koppell (D-Riverdale, Kingsbridge, Norwood, Woodlawn, Wakefield)—whose district borders the armory—was flexible on the specifics, but unwilling to let a mall go through with significant public funding but no benefit to workers. “If Related had living wage jobs, we would have gone through with it,” he said. Related, a large corporation — with mall projects throughout the city and country — wasn't new to including the living wage (they do just that in Los Angeles where it's required) but Bloomberg clearly didn't want to set a Big Apple precedent. “From early in the planning process, we made clear we would never add mandatory wage requirements which would make the project unviable, and that was a line we were never going to cross,” he said in a 2009 statement. “It's not the role of the public sector.” In a rare defeat of a project reaching the end of the public process (it had achieved Community Board 7 approval) the Council voted the ULURP down 45 to 1 in December 2009. Ice comes to the Bronx After the Council defeat, the Bloomberg administration did little on the Armory. Diaz commissioned a large study of options for the building; it was criticized for reflecting hope more than realism. But the mayor and city's Economic Development Corporation (EDC) did finally put the armory back on the policy play list in early 2012, launching another request for proposals. Early on, the city announced it was considering two finalists, the Kingsbridge National Ice Center, which proposed the world's largest ice facility, and a flexible market, planned by Youngwoo and Associates, with entertainment, recreation and business incubator space. EDC took its time – 14 months after the proposal was launched in early 2012 —to announce they were going with the Ice Center, which, if approved by the City Council, will be the world's largest with nine rinks. KARA didn't get to decide what the Kingsbridge Armory would become. They weren't invited to promote a vision at the beginning of the process but they met with both Youngwoo and the Ice Center before EDC made a decision. “Ultimately [KNIC] offered a CBA so we started working with them [more closely] to make sure that was going to happen,” says Elisabeth Ortega, an active KARA negotiator, who got involved with the Coalition eight years ago as a youth leader. Kevin Parker, KNIC's CEO, discussed the impact of KARA's efforts at a June press conference in front of the armory. “If the community wouldn't want us here, then we wouldn't come,” he said. CBAs raise questions Several New York City projects—Yankee Stadium, Columbia's West Harlem project, Atlantic Yards, and others—have included CBAs but advocates have often detected a key flaw: the lack of a robust enforcement mechanism if the developer goes back on his or her promises. In early 2006, many Bronx elected officials hailed the CBA attached to another deal with the Related Companies—turning the Bronx Terminal Market into a mall—as unprecedented. Related signed off on investing $3 million in job training and other programs and reserve space for local and minority-owned businesses. “This agreement should serve as the benchmark for doing business in our borough and throughout the city,” said then-borough president Carrion in his state of the borough address. But most of the 18 groups that participated in the process said they were not invited to play any role in the final decision. And groups criticized the fact that Related would only have to pay a fine of $60,000 if they didn't do what they promised and that their employment promises only affected their own hires, not those that would occupy the Bronx Terminal Market over the long term. The supporters of, and experts on, strong CBAs say agreements led by politicians are simply not CBAs, since elected officials get to vote up and down on the agreement and their decisions may be determined by issues other than the development project at hand. The KNIC CBA promises to be different. Brokered by community groups, its admirers say it includes a remarkably broad array of benefits—and a tough enforcement clause. A broad set of benefits If approved by the City Council, the Armory will have nine ice rinks including one that can seat 5,000 people “and be used to host national and international ice hockey tournaments, figure and speed skating competitions and ice shows,” according to EDC. KNIC also promises that its investment of $275 million will create 890 construction jobs and 267 permanent positions. In addition to living-wage salaries, KNIC has agreed to a variety of detailed community support: a focus on local hiring and contracting; construction of 52,000 square feet of community space; developing a small-business incubator; $1 million of community in-kind services including giving northwest Bronx residents a discounted rate and priority access to the ice-skating facility; free or discounted tickets for seniors, students and low-income families. There's also an agreement for a remarkable 27 “greening” efforts for the project including providing healthy working conditions for employees and contractors; discouraging the sale of sugary drinks, high-fat and highly processed food; collaboration to promote asthma awareness; and ensuring that 20 percent of the project's space stays undeveloped and is accessible to the public. NWBCCC and KARA have provided only a summary of the formal CBA (a more substantial, but unofficial “Execution Draft,” is here') until a press conference later this summer—making it impossible for Bronx Bureau to confirm that the deal includes a strict enforcement mechanism. But those directly involved with the negotiations cite their success with certainty. “We think it's a landmark agreement and it's an amazing victory for people in the northwest Bronx,” says Harvey Epstein, a project director of the Community Development Project at the Urban Justice Center, who cited the CBA as “a legally enforceable contract.” If necessary, you “go to court to enforce it. It's like any contract. You don't pay me back, I go to court.” Julian Gross, a San Francisco-based attorney who works closely with Partnership for Working Families on community benefit issues, agrees. “What makes it a strongly enforceable CBA is that it is legally enforceable by a broad range of independent community organizations and they had a good legal counsel while they were drafting it,” he says. “And it resulted from an inclusive community driven process. [These are the] three things that make it a strong CBA.” ‘Organizing works' Ronn Jordan, 48, got involved in the Coalition's armory efforts from the very beginning. He joined up with the grassroots group when, thanks to severe overcrowding, his kindergartner got bused from PS 56, the small public school a couple of blocks from his apartment in Norwood, to the most southern part of District 10. In June, Jordan proudly came up to the KNIC announcement from Daughters of Jacob, a Mt. Eden nursing home where he now lives. He wouldn't have come if he wasn't proud of where things are finally headed, but he's still keeping his eyes on what put him to work in the first place. One CBA section addresses this concern directly. KNIC has vowed to seek approval to de-map the area behind the Armory on East 195th Street, still occupied by the National Guard, to provide school space. They've also promised to spend up to $100,000 to achieve that. “We pulled a lot more stakeholders into this and the final result,” Jordan says. “Whether the ice center makes it or not, the end result is: organizing works. If you never take no for an answer, sooner or later the answer becomes yes.” In 1993, when the Guard vacated, Koppell highlighted a potential model for the Armory: Lake Placid's ice skating facility with four rinks. He doesn't claim that something he stressed a couple of decades ago, without much support, is relevant to what's happening now. But he believes vigorous opposition to city policies teaches mayors, and all city officials, a key lesson — that the community's efforts should be relevant in all such significant projects. “The key thing is to work actively with the community and try and meet the legitimate demands of the community when you're putting together a project,” Koppell says, adding, “You can't always accommodate every community need but you should try, and not try and push something through just because it's feasible.” Gross, the attorney from Los Angeles, says that as strong as the Armory CBA is, it's critical that community groups stay engaged. “I'm optimistic that groups in this CBA can monitor access but I would also like to see broader community involvement in CBA implementation,” he says. “It should be a shared task.” Lessons learned To get things to this point, it took 15 years of the Coalition’s devoted activism and nine years for all the groups under KARA. That raises the question of whether the vast time and effort on behalf of so many community residents and paid organizers, was worth it. “If the impact of this project was just limited to one community, then I would have a serious question about the utility of a fight that was that long,” says Mary Dailey, who was the Coalition's executive director from 1994 to 2005. But, thanks to the persistence of the organizers, they were able to achieve an unprecedented fusion economic justice and environmental sustainability into the final CBA deal. “That can have a positive impact on projects beyond the scope of this individual project [and] around the country,” Dailey says. For all the excitement over KARA's achievement, CBA experts wish residents could play even more of a key role—as the Coalition pushed for early on—in determining what was going inside the massive landmark. “There should have been more representation before the [city's] RFP [Request for Proposal] goes out,” says Good Jobs New York project director Bettina Damiani, who has shared her expertise with the Coalition. “We're still at a place in New York City where major development decisions are made without the communities at the table. The community is still left to react to a proposal that is designed by officials. What KARA managed to do was really insert itself as strongly as I've seen in that process.” Joan Byron, the director of Policy for the Pratt Center for Community Development who worked with the Coalition for many years after their push began, hopes Giuliani's failure, and Bloomberg's still-pending, but likely, success has an impact on how the next mayor handles similar planning. “'We're still going to have stuff to build,'” she envisions him or her announcing, “'but we're going to ensure that it has benefits for the community.'”
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In Place of an Eyesore

Julie Satow reports for The New York Times. Countless New Yorkers have driven by the construction rubble that lines the Franklin D. Roosevelt Drive from East 35th Street to East 41st. The eyesore has lingered there for more than a dozen years, the target of virulent community opposition, fraught City Council hearings and a lengthy approval process. Now the first shovels have hit the ground, and the block-front on First Avenue between 35th and 36th Streets will soon be transformed into two curving, copper-clad residential towers, creating some 800 new high-end rental units. “These buildings will really be a game-changer for the neighborhood, which is one of the most underdeveloped in Manhattan,” said Pamela Liebman, the president and chief executive of the Corcoran Group. A division of the company, Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group, is working with Citi Habitats to market the project. The neighborhood, a slice of Midtown East sandwiched between Kips Bay to the south and Turtle Bay to the north, is ripe for development. The Second Avenue subway will eventually make it more accessible by mass transit, and the massive Midtown East rezoning — when and if finally approved — will probably result in new office buildings. Some builders have already taken notice, with the Zeckendorf brothers, for example, recently topping off an 88-unit condominium nearby at 50 United Nations Plaza. In many ways this strip along First Avenue, which has long been considered a medical corridor with anchors like Bellevue Hospital Center and N.Y.U. Langone Medical Center, is comparable to the Far West Side. That neighborhood, which also hugs the water, has undergone fairly extensive development since the Hudson Yards rezoning and the extension of the No. 7 subway line. As for the copper towers, at 616 First Avenue, their protracted saga began in 2000. That was when Sheldon H. Solow, the developer best known for his many lawsuits and prickly personality, partnered with the Fisher real estate family to buy 9.2 acres in three parcels from Consolidated Edison for around $600 million. Over the years the partnership dissolved, and Mr. Solow proceeded alone, cajoling politicians and negotiating with various city agencies to rezone the land for residential and commercial use from manufacturing, and spending millions of dollars for design work and environmental clean-ups. In 2008, Mr. Solow won approvals for a $4 billion development comprising seven towers, with designs by Richard Meier and Skidmore Owings & Merrill. But work never proceeded, and earlier this year Mr. Solow sold one of the parcels — just slightly more than one acre — for $172.5 million to JDS Development — which is now in talks to acquire the two remaining parcels, according to sources with knowledge of the deal. After having fought to get city approval for rezoning, Mr. Solow has a property worth far more than when he acquired it. (Calls to him seeking comment were not returned.) His decision to sell part of it to JDS raises intriguing questions. Mr. Solow, who shuns the spotlight, is well into his 80s, with a storied career in New York real estate as the builder of the tower at 9 West 57th Street and other iconic structures. In many ways he is a foil to Michael Stern, JDS’s managing partner. A Long Island native who did not graduate from college, Mr. Stern, 34, is often quoted in the press. He is a relative newcomer, having embarked on his New York City real estate career in 2004 after a stint with a developer in Florida. It wasn’t until 2011, with the start of marketing of Walker Tower, a high-end condominium in Chelsea, that he broke into the mainstream. But he has become one of the city’s most prolific developers, racking up high-profile projects including the 1,000-foot-tall condominium he is building with Property Markets Group at the former Steinway Musical Instruments building on West 57th Street. “I had known about the assemblages on the East Side,” Mr. Stern recalled, “and when the opportunity came up, I saw it as a unique chance to make a large impact on the skyline.” He added that he “pursued it aggressively.” The First Avenue development, which has not yet been named, broke ground in July and has an expected completion date in early 2016. At 49 and 40 stories, respectively, the towers can be built “as of right,” being the same size as in the plan proposed by Mr. Solow, although their designs differ significantly. “This area hasn’t seen any great architecture since the development of the United Nations” in 1947, said Vishaan Chakrabarti, a partner at SHoP Architects, which is responsible for both exteriors and interiors in the project. “This could be a harbinger of things to come in terms of getting more innovative design along the East River.” 04deal-2-popup The two buildings bend and connect via a sky bridge, billed as the showstopper, which will feature an indoor lap pool and a lounge area. The development will also have a rooftop deck with an infinity-edge pool, a fitness center, a boxing gym and a squash court. Other amenities include a children’s playroom, a screening room, and a demo kitchen and dining area. “The buildings are modern and fresh,” Mr. Chakrabarti said. “They dance with each other, not like Ginger Rogers and Fred Astaire, but like Shawn and Beyoncé,” Shawn Carter being better known as Jay Z. The copper curtain wall that is to cover the northern and southern facades is a nod to the artist Richard Serra, whose torqued metal sculptures provided design inspiration. “It is not just the metal itself,” Mr. Chakrabarti said, “but the feeling of the electrons that move between the metal, the tension between the two forms.” The other sides will be glass. The site flooded during Hurricane Sandy, so the developer plans to put all building mechanicals on the second floor; he also envisions eight-foot floodgates, backup generators and a special outlet in each unit that will work in the event of a blackout. The development includes plans for a privately owned park, still contingent on the approval of the city’s Department of City Planning, and for a public elementary school that will open this fall. Twenty percent of the apartments will be listed below market rate, and in exchange the developer will be eligible for a 20-year real estate tax abatement. “We really wanted an iconic design,” Mr. Stern said. “This is a large-scale site, one of the largest residential developments to hit Midtown East in a very long time, so it is important not to miss the mark and to push the envelope.” Luxury Rentals Take the Stage Increasing numbers of developers are pursuing luxury rental buildings like JDS Development’s new towers under way at 616 First Avenue. The concept is especially popular in up-and-coming neighborhoods, where it is often easier to attract rental tenants than condo buyers. Developers have been encouraged to pursue the trend by the success of buildings like the Related Company’s MiMA on the Far West Side and Forest City Ratner’s 8 Spruce Street in the financial district. Now joining the party is the institutional investor Invesco, which is rolling out a luxury rental brand in New York. Known as Instrata, it will be applied to several of the company’s rental products here, including Mercedes House on the Far West Side. That building, on West 54th Street, was originally built as a rental with condominiums on the upper floors. Invesco bought the condominium portion earlier this year, and will rebrand those top 11 floors, or 162 units, as rental units and name them Strata at Mercedes House. “Instrata is going to be our strictly luxury assets in New York,” said Michael Kirby, a managing director at Invesco Real Estate. To be included in the brand, buildings must have condominium-level finishes and offer plenty of amenities. The landlord will offer free concierge service to all tenants of Instrata buildings, he added. Other properties being similarly repurposed include the former Madison Belvedere on East 29th Street, to be known as Instrata NoMad; the Elektra on Third Avenue, now called Instrata Gramercy; and 75 Clinton Street, to be renamed Instrata Brooklyn Heights. Some of the buildings were conceived as condos; those built as rentals will be retrofitted with higher-end finishes or additional amenities. “Over the past several years,” said Rob Neiffer, a director at Invesco Real Estate, “there has been an influx in the number of high-end rentals. Before that, anyone who wanted to rent in a luxury building had to go to a condominium, so we identified this void in the market and are hoping to fill it.” This article has been revised to reflect the following correction: Correction: August 2, 2013 An earlier version of this article, using information provided by Invesco, misstated the street where Instrata Belvedere will be located. It is East 29th Street, not East 44th. A version of this article appeared in print on August 4, 2013, on page RE1 of the New York edition with the headline: In Place of an Eyesore.
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The Washington Monument Illuminated

Kriston Capps reports for The Washinton Post washmonument0081373334305 The Washington Monument is broken — and it hasn’t looked so good in years. Put in place after the structure was damaged by an earthquake in 2011, the scaffolding creeping up the 555-foot stone obelisk like kudzu has overtaken the memorial. Let’s keep it that way. On Monday evening, the National Park Service held a special ceremony to illuminate the monument using more than 400 lights. Lit up like a spectral tower, it has a new civic purpose. “It is a way of saying, ‘We are here, and we will always be here,’ ” National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis said at the ceremony. The scaffolding does more than that. It gives us an opportunity to reconsider our least enlightening memorial. Although we fawn over other patriotic marble, we don’t get mushy about this monument. In the summer action flick “White House Down,” for example, Jamie Foxx, playing the president, asks the pilot of Marine One to execute an illegal maneuver just so he can get a glimpse of the Lincoln Memorial’s seated statue — the memorial where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his “I Have a Dream” speech in 1963 and President Richard Nixon debated student war protesters in 1970. Meanwhile, on film, the Washington Monument has been destroyed by an earthquake in “2012” and by aliens at least three times — in “Earth vs. the Flying Saucers” in 1956, in “Mars Attacks” in 1996 and in the only season of the NBC sci-fi series “.” But under scaffolding, the monument is — quite inadvertently — newly relevant. Because Americans broadly agree that governance in this nation is broken, there is a casual elegance to the symbolism of a monument to national unity under construction. We are a work in progress, the cracked memorial reminds. Our union is not perfected. The same can be said for the Mall. Its defining feature is its indefinability. It represents the vision of no single planner, politician or architect. Rather, as Thomas Luebke, secretary of the U.S. Commission of Fine Arts, writes in “Civic Art,” the monuments “are the conscious creations first of political will, translated through the work of design visionaries who sought to communicate the political ideals of the nation.” The Washington Monument, at the center of an ever-changing landscape, is always in progress. It belongs under wraps. Today, the obelisk looks like Germany’s Reichstag in 1995 when, after three decades of debate, the German Parliament allowed artists Christo and Jeanne-Claude to wrap the building in fabric for two weeks. Just five years after the nation’s reunification, this was an artistic accomplishment, but a civic one, too. The Washington Monument looks like it has been encased in an animated version of itself, lines drawn in blue fabric to evoke its brick pattern if that pattern were drawn by, say, the pop artist Roy Lichtenstein. The monument wore this same armor once before: The National Park Service and Target commissioned architect Michael Graves to design the scaffolding and fabric for a restoration between 1998 and 2000. He managed to encapsulate the world’s tallest stone obelisk in scaffolding that does not actually touch it. It looked cool then, and it looks cool now. It makes aesthetic sense — and fiscal sense, too. Recession and austerity have led architects to reconsider, reuse and rethink buildings. Consider the “Bubble”: a proposal to build a temporary inflatable pavilion on the plaza of the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden right up through the doughnut-shaped building. An unprecedented piece of inflatable architecture, the plan nevertheless ran out of air. Still, for all its novelty, the Bubble was typical of a new instinct to reinvent even things that seem immutable. It’s too bad that project failed. Washingtonians and tourists might have greeted the seasonal inflating of the Bubble the same way they have received the Washington Monument under scaffolding: with utter delight. At Monday’s ceremony, as officials turned on floodlights level by level, starting from the base, iPhone-wielding videographers turned out in force. Flickr and Instagram are chock-a-block with pictures of the enmeshed memorial. That’s nothing new for the monument, maybe — but it is rare for anything obscured by scaffolding to get so much love. Washington yields too few opportunities for this kind of “Mission: Impossible” design. We should envy New York for its High Line, a new kind of park built on a former elevated rail by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the same architects who proposed the Bubble. Our neglected civic infrastructure feels no less abandoned than that elevated line once did. For every controversy like the one over a proposed Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial designed by Frank Gehry that some criticize as underwhelming, there are a dozen monuments that go unnoticed. Doughfaced President James Buchanan has a memorial, but how many people know it’s in Malcolm X Park? We don’t want to pave over our history, but we’re allowed to reimagine it. Surely some will balk at the notion of mucking with the Washington Monument. But history shows that the meaning of even this singular structure has been negotiated over time. Construction, begun in 1848, was completed in 1884, interrupted by a civil war that broke the notion of national unity. The monument’s stones feature inscriptions from the bible, but when Pope Pius IX contributed a block of marble to its construction in the 1850s, members of the anti-Catholic Know-Nothing Party reportedly threw the stone into the Potomac River. And when the monument was completed, it was hardly thought of as an anchor to an immutableMall. In 1897, philanthropist Charles Carroll Glover, of Glover Park fame, succeeded in having the entire Mall designated a park. President Grover Cleveland had suggested that the strip be dedicated to residents’ vegetable gardens. The Mall is nearly full. Even looking past our political impasse, the space to build isn’t there. Fortunately, an emerging crop of American designers is used to working under difficult circumstances. Adaptive, sustainable design belongs on the Mall because the Mall serves as a record of the times — from the faux Norman-style revivalist Smithsonian Castle to the poured-concrete brutalist-designed Hirshhorn. And as a nation built on a living Constitution, we should not hold a memorial, even one that honors George Washington, too sacred for future generations to monkey with. The illuminated monument will continue to dazzle spectators after sundown for six months or so. But even after its cracks are repaired, we should leave it as is: enmeshed by brackets and cross-braces, wrapped up like a sword in its sheath. Let’s make it last. What if we agree to take down the scaffolding when Congress can pass a bipartisan bill declaring it finished? Then we’d know that some national healing had taken place.