The major redevelopment of the Kushner Companies' 666 Fifth Avenue building by Zaha Hadid Architects (ZHA) may be stalled for good. According to Bloomberg, Kushner's partner on the project, Vornado Realty Trust, has decided to simply renovate the site's existing structure. Kushner's original plan, with designs by ZHA, was to strip the current building down to its steel core and extend it up into a 1,400-foot-tall slender cigarette of a tower. The building would have included luxury condos and office space as well as a five-story mall. Currently the property, a 1957 Carson & Lundin-designed aluminum panel building, is a sturdy 41 stories with its unforgettable address displayed in huge numerals at its peak. In ZHA's plan, the development would have been rechristened 660 Fifth Avenue, distancing itself a bit from the connotations of its current address. When the renderings for the new tower were released earlier this year, finding investors for the project proved difficult. Some were concerned by a potential conflict of interest as Kushner Companies' former director, Jared Kushner, left to serve as the senior advisor to his father-in-law, President Donald J. Trump. Anbang Insurance Group, a Chinese conglomerate, pulled out of investment negotiations with Kushner in late March, dealing a significant blow to the development's progress. Now that Vornado has refocused its attention as well, ZHA's design is on hold. Both of the partnering organizations have vastly different stakes. Vornado spent $80 million for its share of the project with money drawn from a secure portfolio of properties. Kushner Companies had to withdraw the costs for their share–$30 million–from the property itself, having struggled to find investors since the beginning of the Trump presidency. Politics aside, it looks for now like Midtown Manhattan won't be getting Hadid's steel-frame torpedo. Those interested in renting an apartment at 666 Fifth Avenue (which were estimated to go at $6,000 per square foot) can perhaps plead for a condo exchange at ZHA's new residences in Chelsea at 520 West 28th Street.
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Last week, ODA: Architecture unveiled a dramatic rendering of a megaproject for Gowanus, Brooklyn, featuring a cluster of semi-transparent stepped pyramids. But almost as soon as the design was released, the site's owners stepped in as buzzkills, disavowing any connection with the ODA proposal. After the sleuths at 6sqft identified the future home of the ziggurats as 175–225 Third Street—thanks to a bit of graffiti pictured in the renderings—the owners, Kushner Companies and LIVWRK, released a statement indicating that they had already passed on ODA's pitch. "The developers are not working with ODA on this project and these designs do not represent our vision for this site or the Gowanus," they said. "We are committed to putting forth an outstanding plan that respects the context of the neighborhood and responds to the voices of local stakeholders." While we now know that ODA, which is currently working on other New York City projects including 10 Montieth Street in Bushwick, will not be bringing their pinwheel of Mesopotamian-inspired structures to the canal front, much about the future of the site remains uncertain. Last June, The Real Deal reported that the parcel could be rezoned to allow a mixed-use development of over one million square feet, to include 150,000 square feet of retail. The immediate area is ripe for commercial growth, with a Whole Foods located across the street and other large residential complexes going up nearby.