Posts tagged with "Development":

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So Long SCI-Arc

"I hadn't even heard about it," Ray Kappe told us when we called him to find out about an item in Curbed the other day noting that the Santa Monica City Council had overturned a ruling by the Landmarks Commission that would have designated SCI-Arc's original home as a historical icon worthy of preservation. Kappe, who founded the school in 1972 at a 1950s industrial building at 3030-3060 Nebraska Avenue [map], actually sided with the council in its decision, calling the building "messed up completely." He said it used to sport "a pretty good 30s modern look. It had good character, but now it's got dumb character." That's because at one point the landlord replaced the ribbon windows with generics, among other changes. According to Curbed, "The city's Landmarks Commission made the site a landmark in February 2008 based on its relationship with SCI-Arc and Kappe, its reflection of the neighborhood's development, and its architectural merits, which include what the Commission's action says is a 'late Bauhaus, mid-century fenestration pattern.'" But now, the council has overturned that decision because, according to a staff report, "The structure is a common example of a utilitarian, vernacular industrial building that has been significantly altered. It is not unique in design or rare architecturally." With appeal in hand, Curbed speculates new owners NMS Properties are going to build apartments on the site, which Kappe thought was a fine idea. "The building was good and it served its purpose, but I don't think it should stand in the way of somebody's development," he said. Might we suggest a certain Southern California architect educator for the job of building NMS' new apartments?
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Atlantic Yards Money Pit?

When Forest City Ratner released new designs by SHoP Architects of the Barclays Center yesterday, it was seen as an effort to right a listing ship. But no sooner had those copper-hewed renderings hit the presses than the city's Independent Budget Office released a report [PDF] today noting that the arena will cost the city $40 million in revenues over the next 30 years as a result of financial incentives granted to the developer. Furthermore, the city lost a potential $181 million in lost opportunities through tax breaks and incentives provided to the developer, which cost the state $16 million and the MTA $25 million, though the report also notes both will release a net gain of $25 million and $6 million, respectively, if the deal goes through.
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Never Surrender Admirals Row

Having lost its political fight to preserve most of Admiral's Row in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, the Municipal Art Society has hit upon a novel idea and is now focusing its energy on the developers who are vying to redevelop the old naval officers’ houses into a grocery store. The RFP was recently released for the project, and through that process, MAS is hoping to persuade prospective builders where the Army National Guard and the city were not. "We hope that our experience and information will be helpful to responders looking to create an exciting new development at Admiral’s Row that combines both new construction and the preservation of the incredibly-significant historic buildings," Melissa Baldock, a preservation fellow at the MAS, recently wrote on the group's blog. The effort seems like fighting a nuclear submarine with cannon balls, but who knows. In these cash-strapped times, a developer might look favorably upon some pro-bono design work and the imprimatur of one of the city's leading civic groups.
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Two Strikes for Chiofaro

After the recent mixed reviews of his KPF-designed Boston Arch project, local developer Don Chiofaro has been told within the last few days by both state and city officials that his proposal is considerably too large and may take years of regulatory review and planning to get off the ground. No worry, as the infamously forthright developer has taken his project to the people, counting on concerts and blaring signs like the one above to show that it is the mayor and the BRA that are bullying his grand vision and not the other way around.
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Trouble for Chiofaro?

A double whammy came last week for Boston developer Don Chiofaro's Boston Arch project, which we first wrote about last month. On Thursday, The Boston Business Journal ran a story suggesting Chiofaro was stuffing the BRA's mailbox with letters supportive of his KPF-designed project, while the following day it reported that the aquarium the project was meant to improve feared for the worst. The letters are part of the redevelopment authorities public comment period, and among them was one from the president of the Boston Aquarium who wrote that, according to the Journal, "the project threatens the long-term viability of the Aquarium." As we noted in our June report, officials at Massport were concerned about undue impacts on Logan flight paths, something Chiofaro told us was being addressed. But maybe note, as the Journal turned up the following comment in a Massport letter:
“Massport strongly supports the continued economic development of the City of Boston and the Commonwealth of Massachusetts,” the letter stated. “However, as owner and operator of one of the Commonwealth’s most critical transportation infrastructure assets, Massport cannot condone and urges you to help prevent any degradation of the airspace surrounding Boston-Logan by tall structures proposed as part of this project.”
Chiofaro did not comment for the story, but what he had been doing was far more intriguing:
In total, there were 381 letters and postcards submitted in support of the Harbor Garage project, compared with the 252 letters opposed to the project. [...] Of the 266 postcards in favor of the 1.5 million square foot mixed-use project, 144 were signed by people who do not live in Boston, according to the BRA.
Then again, most of those letter opposing the project came from residents of the neighboring Harbor Towers apartment buildings, who obviously have a stake in the project not going forward. Looks like it's up to the BRA on this one, though if that is any indication, Chiofaro may just be out of luck.
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Real Estate Without Us (+Rendering)

There have been countless symbols for the end of the real estate boom, both literal--the collapse of Countrywide, the Fannie & Freddie takeover, the unfinished tract homes and decaying "For Sale" signs--and figurative--the Eastside crane accidents, the TVCC Fire. But we think this back-to-nature scene spotted over the weekend in Williamsburg takes the, uh, mortgage. Perhaps the only thing more amazing than a Red-Tailed Hawk alighting upon an I-Beam of a half-finished condo a few blocks from the Graham Avenue L-stop is the scene it induced: two Italian women straight out of Scorsese and two bike-hipsters straight out of Quicksilver, all gawking at the same raptor. It even stopped traffic on Manhattan Avenue. The perfect tableau of a neighborhood that never was and never will be again. The project is 123 Skillman Avenue, designed by Robert Scarano Architects. It had lain dormant for years--becoming affectionately known as Skillman Ave. Pool of Death--but city records show the site very much back in action after a million dollar sale in August. Combined with the fact that red-tailed hawks are a rather common sight in the city, what seemed like a Weismanian dream on a brisk, sunny Sunday turns out to be just another Brooklyn condo project plugging along come windy, fluorescent Monday. Still, it was pretty badass when he swooped down into the pit and nabbed a rodent snack. UPDATE: Robert Scarano kindly sent along the following rendering of the building planned for the site. He also joked that the hawk was his and meant to keep meddlesome bloggers away.
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Atlantic Yards Gets Contextual

The Atlantic Yards has been through a number of iterations, including one by the Post entitled Atlantic Lots, which was developed with the MAS. But today's rendering by the paper is perhaps its slyest yet, taking a proclamation by "biggest cheeleader" Borough President Marty Markowitz, who called for the project to be clad in brownstone as a cost-saving measure. The comment came after rumors circulated that not only was Frank Gehry's staff off the project, but so was the architect himself. Bruce Ratner, the project's developer, admitted that a cost-engineering firm had been hired--though as much of the press incorrectly presumed, this has little to do with the employment status of the project lead--and said later that he would consider Markowitz's proposal. And yet, neither agreed to comment on the Post's renderings when contacted by the paper. (Reporter Rich Calder said in an email that a firm in the city did the mock-up, though he would not identify which one, at the architect's behest.) Dan Goldstein, head of anti-Yards group Develop Don't Destroy Brooklyn, was happy to fill the void, calling the project's demise once again.
"With its substantial legal and financial obstacles, the Atlantic Yards proposal is on life support," Goldstein said. "It is time for the Paterson Administration to pull the plug.
Naturally, Curbed had its own Romantic ideas about the whole affair. And if the whole brownstone saga weren't strange enough, No Land Grab picked up an interesting tidbit from a profile of retiring Miami Heat center Alonso Mourning, who said that after being traded to the Nets, where he expected to win a championship, the team subsequently took a nosedive. When he asked Ratner what was going on, Mourning said the Nets owner and Atlantic Yards developer told him that moving the team to Brooklyn was his sole priority, not winning games. (h/t AYR)
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Rogers Goes Terminal

AJ got word two weeks ago that Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners had been chosen to develop a new 42-story tower atop the Port Authority Bus Terminal in Midtown Manhattan. What our colleagues across the pond did not have was the new rendering released yesterday by the PA when it made the announcement official. Lord Rogers beat out KPF and Pelli Clarke Pelli, which had also been in the running for the commission. Notably, RSHP's original presentation consisted simply of a model shot of the firm's daring design, while the challengers proffered sexier (if more conventional) offerings. But more than just another green, 1.3-million-square-foot Midtown skyscraper, perhaps the tower's greatest achievement, at least for everyday New Yorkers, is the renovations it promises to the notoriously ramshackle, labyrinthine terminal. From the announcement:
  • better pedestrian circulation with new escalators from gates to the ground floor;
  • the renovation and creation of approximately 40,000 square feet of bus terminal retail;
  • 18 new bus gates and upgraded existing gates, enabling an additional 70 buses containing approximately 3,000 bus passengers to be accommodated during each peak hour at the bus terminal, increasing the capacity by 18 percent; and
  • an improved and modernized appearance throughout the terminal
If this all sounds familiar, that's because it is: Nine years ago, Vornado Realty Trust won the right to undertake the very same project, but then the dot-com bubble burst and the firm backed off. The PA tried to find another developer, but Vornado sued to retain its development rights. Only last year did the two sides come to a settlement, which basically picked up where they had left off. Hopefully, history won't repeat itself.