It's a big week for big Brooklyn skyscrapers. Yesterday, SHoP Architects and Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates unveiled plans for towers within a block of each other, in the Brooklyn Tech Triangle. KPF is developing the 400,000 square foot office and retail project at 420 Albee Square in partnership with JEMB Realty and the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC). At 600 feet tall, the tower will be 400 feet shorter than SHoP's, but it will still reign as Brooklyn's second tallest building. Plans for tall towers in Brooklyn are years in the making. In 2004, the Downtown Brooklyn Development Plan rezoned the district bounded by Flatbush Avenue, Fulton Mall, and Willoughby Avenue to spur the development of office space and academic facilities (the area includes parts of the Brooklyn Tech Triangle). Blocks adjacent to this commercial core were rezoned to accommodate denser residential development and ground floor retail. The city has invested $300 million in open space and infrastructure improvements in the Tech Triangle. In a statement, KPF claims that 420 Albee Square is the "first ground-up construction of commercial space since the re-zoning." The effects of the zoning changes in the city's third largest commercial district are especially noticeable on Fulton Mall, where longtime businesses catering to low- and middle-income shoppers are being replaced (homogenized, some say) by upscale national chains. The NYCEDC claims that, to remain competitive, the city needs 60 million square feet of office space built by 2025. How the additional office space catalyzes change in downtown Brooklyn remains to be seen.
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Even as New Yorkers throng to the beaches in the Rockaways, the remnants from Hurricane Sandy still linger. One such vestige is the damaged boardwalk that once stretched from Far Rockaway to Rockaway Park in Queens. The New York City Department of Parks and Recreation with the help of the New York City Economic Development Corporation (NYCEDC) issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) in July seeking designs for the 4.7-mile boardwalk, and now the August 14th deadline is nearing. The RFP calls for a multifaceted approach that incorporates a range of flood protection measures such as seawalls and dunes: "The design shall provide for protective structures that are more resilient and able to withstand storm and tidal forces that may impact the coastline in future years." The proposals will focus on the coastal area from roughly Beach 20th to Beach 126th. The Parks Department anticipates that they will select a group of finalists within the next several weeks, and present the designs to the public and Community Board 14 sometime in September.
After nearly five years at the New York City Economic Development Corporation, Seth Pinsky (pictured) is leaving public life for a position at RXR Realty. As president of the EDC, Pinsky ushered in a number of major real estate deals including Atlantic Yards, Hudson Yards, and the Cornell Tech Campus. He also was charged with the task of heading up the Special Initiative on Resiliency and Rebuilding after Hurricane Sandy, which gave birth to “A Stronger, More Resilient New York." Mayor Bloomberg has nominated Kyle E. Kimball, currently the executive director of NYCEDC, to take on the role of President. (Photo: Courtesy NYC EDC)
Attention developers! It's almost time to prepare your visions for one of the largest redevelopment projects in Manhattan, the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area (SPURA), now that all the approvals are in. While an official Request for Proposals (RFP) won't be issued until early next year, the NYC Economic Development Corporation is getting a jump start on soliciting interest with a new informational brochure issued today including a panoramic new rendering of the SPURA site, marked in orange. The project calls for up to 1.65 million square feet of mixed-use space built from the ground up on a site covering eight city blocks in the Lower East Side that Robert Moses leveled in the 20th century. The project also calls for a reconstructed Essex Street Market and a new 15,000 square foot park. The notice comes with a warning that the RFP process "will have an aggressive timeline," between January and May 2013. Watch for the official RFP to be released at the NYCEDC website, and get ready to rev those rendering engines, architects!
The New York City Economic Development Corporation sent out an RFP for a forward thinking urban farmer to run a 200,000 square foot rooftop farm atop one of the city's major food distribution centers at 600 Food Center Drive in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. Talk about cutting out the middleman. Once harvested the veggies merely have to make the trip downstairs and down the street for distribution at the City's 329-acre Food Distribution Center. The Bronx would be joining the ranks of Bright Farms with its plans for 100,000 square feet in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Brooklyn Grange is planning 45,000 square feet in the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and Gotham Greens has plans for expansion. With the newly passed Zone Green allowing for rooftop greenhouses for food production, the venture will no longer will need to clear arduous zoning hurdles should they choose to grow year round. The zoning also requires that the greenhouses capture rainwater, lightening the load on overtaxed sewers. The locale at the distribution point will also cut down on idle truck traffic and shipping costs. "With the potential construction of a new rooftop farm, the Hunts Point industrial area will be able to better provide greater quantities of produce to consumers while generating new employment opportunities for New Yorkers," Council Speaker and likely mayoral candidate Christine Quinn said in a statement. If NYCEDC finds a taker, the Bronx could become home to one of the largest rooftop farms on the planet.
A massive new urban farming project in Sunset Park, Brooklyn was announced last week by New York City-based Bright Farms, a company dedicated to building hydroponic farms close to supermarkets. The Sunset Park project will be the largest rooftop farm in the city, and possibly the world. At 100,000 square feet, it could potentially yield 1 million pounds of produce a year and joins several other agricultural projects in Brooklyn. Brooklyn Grange, another rooftop farming operation located in Queens, is planning to open a 45,000 square foot urban farm at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and farm-developers Gotham Greens will be opening a new location in the borough as well. The three new Brooklyn farms join a host of existing and planned farms around the area. The farms in operation now are Brooklyn Grange's facility in Long Island City, Gotham Greens' existing Greenpoint location, and Brightfarms' Long Island location in Huntington. Several other projects by these same three developers are in the works across Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. Bright Farms' Sunset Park hydroponic project will use no dirt. This has advantages over traditional soil-based farming, as it prevents extra strain on the sewer system by harvesting rainwater, and also allows light weight rooftop greenhouses to be built without large-scale structural additions to buildings below. Brooklyn borough president Marty Markowitz is excited about the project, and is even supporting changes in zoning laws to promote this type of urban rooftop farming. To make commercial ventures like these easier to develop, height and floor-area restrictions would exclude rooftop greenhouses. Often, tailoring regulation is the best way to change the ways in which we live, and in this case, simply changing zoning law could provide a wave of fresh fruits and vegetables produced blocks from the grocery stores in which it will be sold. Brooklyn doesn't have much open space, but it does have plenty of flat rooftops. While some cities seeks to utilized vacant lots, New York is in a great position. Unlike vacant lots, rooftops could mean extra, 'bonus' production, since the roofs are already serving a purpose: shelter. The new legislation would essentially increase the usable "density" of the city through the increased economic performance of these buildings without altering existing structures, only adding to them. This collapse of the rural and urban is exciting for a number of reasons. Localized food delivery systems could eliminate "food deserts," neighborhoods where fresh food is unavailable. Salmar Properties, who purchased the building from the NYC Economic Development Corporation in May 2011 for $10 million, will be required to use the building for industrial purposes for 30 years. Read more about the Sunset Park urban farm at The New York Times.
There's an old expression that perfectly describes the current condition of the Loew's King movie palace on Flatbush Avenue: "regal rot." There's beauty in the decay, yet no one wants to see the the rot take the upper hand. At the moment the dank smell foretells the considerable work that lies ahead for the Houston-based ACE Theatrical Group, the developer selected by NYCEDC and Borough President Marty Markowitz to restore and operate the 1929 building. Despite the deterioration, many of the original decorative elements remain, from a surprising amount of plaster detailing, to crystal strands hanging form the chandeliers, wrought iron on the sides of the chairs, and gorgeous woodwork in the lobby. On completion, the $70 million project will open the Loew's doors for live theatrical events in 2013. Video courtesy NYCEDC:
The New York City Economic Development Corporation announced Wednesday that the former Taystee Bakery site in Harlem will be redeveloped into a green, mixed-use structure featuring light manufacturing, artists and not-for-profit spaces, a local bank, an ice skating rink, and a local brewery. Project developers Janus Partners and Monadnock Construction asked LevenBetts Architecture to create a design that merges the eclectic program to create an economic and social center for the neighborhood. Called the CREATE @ Harlem Green, the new building will incorporate the masonry walls of the Taystee Bakery facility and add a new modern structure hovering atop the historic buildings. "We're rethinking the industrial building," said David Leven, partner at LevenBetts and director of graduate studies at Parsons. "What's left are big, heavy, dark buildings that have been abandoned or disused for some time. We're preserving what's left but opening the facades up to the street." Plans call for 100,000 square feet of new manufacturing space, 90,000 square feet of office space, 40,000 square feet of retail space, and 10,000 of community facility space, in total estimated to cost $100 million. Renderings revealed by LevenBetts may change as plans for the site are further developed, but Leven told AN that they represent a "well developed concept." The new structure, clad in perforated metal panels, mediates the scales of surrounding buildings, stepping down its height along 126th Street. Leven said the neighborhood expressed support for the massing of the new structure. A continuous band expressing a structural truss and its sawtooth rhythm was originally conceived as a mechanism for hanging lower floors above the historic facades. While the expression will likely remain, its may not have a structural component. "We must think realistically about the budget," Leven said. Green roofs and walls abound throughout the new building, including a wall along 125th Street covered in hops to be used by the Harlem Brewing Company which will operate a brewery in the new building. Harlem Brewing will offer tours of their new facility and run a tap room and gift shop. More traditional green roofs including a landscaped courtyard for Carver Federal Savings Bank, the nation's largest African-American-operated bank, can be found on the larger building. Councilman Robert Jackson praised CREATE @ Harlem Green in a statement, “I am thrilled that this development, which is consistent with the vision of the community for this neighborhood, is moving forward. It will re-activate an important site in our community, and bring hundreds of good jobs to the people of Harlem.” Before construction can begin, the project must move through public review. Developers must also complete assembling their team and evaluating conditions on the site to help with foundation design.
It's not too late to join community leaders from the Carroll Gardens, Cobble Hill, and Columbia Street Waterfront neighborhoods along with the New York City Economic Development Corporation to discuss the future of the Bronx-Queens Expressway. The third and final BQE Community Design Workshop takes place this evening and will cover refined designed proposals aimed to reconnect areas surrounding the urban expressway. Act quickly, as the final Community Design Workshop takes place this evening from 6:30PM until 8:30PM at the Long Island College Hospital (LICH), Avram Conference Center, Rooms A and B located at 339 Hicks Street in Brooklyn. Attendance is free and open to the public, but an RSVP is requested at BQE@nycedc.com. Among topics to be discussed are noise reduction, pollution mitigation, beautification, connectivity, and pedestrian safety. The BQE Enhancement project target area is bounded by Hamilton Avenue and Atlantic Avenue and is planned to be built in the next five to ten years.
Astroland may be gone, and much of Coney Island with it, but it least its most iconic symbol will be saved. (No, not the Tilt-a-Whirl.) As per a press release we just received, Carol Hill Albert, a co-owner of Astroland, has donated the amusement park's namesake rocket, which once rested atop Gregory & Paul's hot dog stand (an AN favorite).
"This one of a kind Rocket simulator was the very first ride to arrive at Astroland Park, when it was founded by my late father in-law Dewey Albert in 1962," Hill Alpert said in the release. "My husband Jerome and myself are donating this in his honor and on behalf the Coney Island History Project. It is especially fitting that this Rocket, which was the first to arrive, will be the last item to leave Astroland Park. On the sad occasion of closing Astroland, which has been Coney Island's largest amusement park for 47 years, my husband Jerome and I are heartened to know that the City will be displaying the Rocket in a prominent location as part of the new Coney Island where it can continue to educate and entertain."The release also said the city has agreed to afix a bronze plaque to the rocket to honor Astroland. And here's a video of its removal a few weeks ago:
Though some people were more than happy to see Olafur Eliasson's New York City Waterfalls dry up a few weeks ago, one person who will dearly miss them is the mayor. Standing beneath the Scandinavian artist's massive mirror installation at P.S. 1 yesterday, Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced with great excitement that, according to a study undertaken by the city's Economic Development Corporation, the falls generated $69 million in economic activity, exceeding the $55 million initially expected and countering criticism that the $15 million project was wasteful. "Art also has the power to invigorate neighborhoods, as you know, and catalyze new investment" Bloomberg said. "That's why we've made investing in culture a major part of our efforts to diversify the economy." He added that this would be especially important in the wake of the collapsing financial sector--long the bedrock of the local economy. While it will likely never reap the dividends Wall Street once did, it is good to know we can put our art to work for us, rather than simply embracing art for art's sake. Other findings of the report include:
- An estimated 1.4 million people visited the Waterfalls in the 13 weeks it was up this summer. Of those, 79,200 would not have visited the city or otherwise extended their trip, and 590,000 people from the metropolitan area made special trips to view the falls. They drew people from all 50 states and 55 countries.
- As part of the administration's plan to revitalize the Lower Manhattan and Brooklyn waterfronts, 23 percent of visitors, or 320,000 people, visited those areas for the first time. Of them, 44,500 were residents of the five boroughs.
- About 95 percent of all out-of-town Waterfalls viewers participated in at least one other cultural attraction during their stay. About 43 percent of visitors attended one or more Broadway shows; 42 percent attended a visual art, photography, or design museum; 34 percent visited a history museum; and nearly 27 percent viewed a public art installation other than the Waterfalls.
- Circle Line Downtown offered between 25 and 30 tours a day, with sell-outs on many tours, particularly during its evening cruises. Between June 26 and October 13, more than 213,000 passengers bought tickets for Circle Line Downtown's Waterfalls tour, Zephyr and Shark boat tours that all went past the Waterfalls.
- The Public Art Fund's official Waterfalls website, nycwaterfalls.org, received more than 512,000 visits between January and October 2008. More than 6,000 photographs were posted to Flickr, 1,200 blog posts were written, and 200 videos with 235,000 viewers uploaded to YouTube. [Here's a personal favorite because, you know, who doesn't love models.]