New renderings have been released for the massive redevelopment of Lower Manhattan’s St. John’s Terminal, and a lot has changed since the City Council initially approved the $100-million air rights sale from the adjacent Pier 40 for the project.
While a mountain of pixelated residential towers were initially slated to bring nearly 1,600 apartments to the three blocks across from Hudson River Park (30 percent of them affordable), the future of the former rail terminal now appears to be a 12-story office building.
The shift is reportedly due in part to a slowdown in New York’s residential market. Canadian developer Oxford Properties, which purchased the southernmost 550 Washington Street site from Westbrook Partners and Atlas Capital for $700 million last year, has retained COOKFOX Architects to transform St. John’s Terminal into high-quality office space.
550 Washington, a low-slung, three-story brick building finished in 1934, will gain a nine-floor topper and most of the original facade will be converted into a thin “envelope” that the glassy base will sit recessed inside of. COOKFOX also plans on blowing out the 1.3-million-square-foot office building’s interior walls and creating open floorplates of up to 100,000 square feet, a hot commodity as tech companies continue to snatch up open office space in Manhattan.
The conversion, which under the zoning approval granted in 2016 can proceed as-of-right, will dramatically lighten up the currently-enclosed building by recladding the west-facing side in glass. The 28-foot-tall first and second floors, and 16-foot ceiling heights everywhere else, will both give tenants views across the Hudson River as well as let in plenty of natural light. Referencing the plot’s industrial past, COOKFOX has included steel accents and large multi-mullioned windows but will also be adding a landscaped roof and a large amount of accessible terrace space.
Housing isn’t entirely off the table across the rest of the site. Atlas and Westbrook still own the 420,000-square-foot northern portion, and the developers are reportedly looking into building 200 to 230 large, market-rate residential units. Perhaps 150 to 200 units of affordable housing for seniors could also be in the works, but the potential parking garage, recreation center, and existing elevated rail overpass will be scrapped.