In two weeks the biggest real estate development in mid-town Manhattan since the creation of Lincoln Center will go before City Planning for approval. What? You haven't even heard of it?
That's because the Good Gray New York Times, The Daily News and the NY Post have hardly whispered a word about it. The World Trade Center site? All over it. Atlantic Yards? Ad nauseum. The largest remaining undeveloped plot of land near Lincoln Center, Columbus Circle and Central Park? Nada.
Oh wait! I think I hear the Gray Lady lifting her sleepy head off the desk. "Huh?" she snorts. "You mean the march of Soviet style architecture coming down the Hudson River from Trumpville? So what's new?" Yes, Good Gray Lady, the invasion will soon be complete. It will extend all the way to 59th St. And here's the catch - it won't just stretch down the riverfront, it will continue back two long city blocks to West End Ave. The biggest development in 50 years.
Let me see. Is there anything else the 4th estate in NYC might notice? Oh, yes. The site is being developed by Extell and its new partner, the Carlyle Group. (You know, the guys who just paid $20M to resolve their role in an influence-peddling scandal involving the state's pension fund.) And here comes the newsflash, boys: according to Extell's own admission at a presentation before Community Board 7 on Wed. night, they can only legally build 570 apartments on the remaining land (in addition to the 4500 or so already built north of it). The City figured, with input from the prestigious Natural Resources Defense Council and several community groups, that was plenty of density.
But Extell wants to build just a little bit more. How much more? Maybe 20 or 30%? Nope. Twice as much? Un-uh. Three times as much? No, Gray Lady & Co. Let me do the math for you. They're asking for nearly 5 times more space for apartments - amounting to at least 2,500, instead of 570. Because after all, we should reward them for the overbuilding they've already done, right? And it doesn't end with 2500 more apartments. Then there's the auto dealership, the hotel and 1800 parking spaces.
Well, what do you think, Gray Lady & Friends? Time to wake up and wipe the drool off your mouths.
(In the interest of full disclosure: I live in the neighborhood adjacent to Extell's Riverside Center.)