Manhattan West project now needs to market apartments
Steve’s breakdown: It’s been a long time coming but the Manhattan West project on the westside is going up but now with residential tennants it needs to sell. We’re calling it a “brand launch”.
NEW YORK, NY: After six years of promises, Brookfield Office Properties has finally started to build a deck over the exposed Amtrak rail yard for its planned Manhattan West development project.
The platform is a long-awaited breakthrough in Mayor Bloomberg’s dream to create a vast new Hudson Yards District in the once-forlorn far West 30s that will be home to major companies, residents and a wealth of public amenities.
It’s also crucial to publicly traded Brookfield’s plan for a $4.5 billion, five million-square-foot project on five acres anchored by two tall office towers and an apartment building.
The deck was first announced in 2006 but held up by caution over the real-estate market, changes to the original mix of towers and delays in negotiating agreements with Amtrak over use of the rail lines through the yard.
Manhattan West spans the irregular rectangle bounded by Ninth and Dyer avenues and West 31st and 33rd streets. Most but not all of it consists of the exposed train yard 65 feet below street level.
Brookfield CEO Dennis Friedrich told The Post, “Excavation started a while ago. This is the formal launch of the next phase.”
Giant machines will soon appear on-site to erect a street-level surface comprised of 16 “bridges.” The deck will occupy 50 percent of the entire site.
Friedrich said the platform will be finished in late 2014 and the site will be ready to receive tenants by 2016.
He estimated Brookfield’s land and platform costs at a total $700 million. The deck is to be financed with a five-year, $340 million construction loan from a bank consortium including HSBC, Bank of New York Mellon and four others.
Brookfield will invest more than $300 million of its own capital with no public subsidies.
The details are to be announced tomorrow at a photo-op. Bloomberg, Friedrich, Brookfield co-Chairman John Zuccotti, Port Authority Executive Director Pat Foye and Hudson Yards Development Corp. President Ann Weisbrod are expected to attend.
“Our initial plan was for all offices,” Friedrich said. “But we got excited about residential because the market was so heated. So in our current plan, we replaced what was the third office building with apartments.”
Manhattan West lies just east of Related Cos.’ much larger Hudson Yards project. Each giant enterprise can now claim its own bragging rights.
While Related is raising its first tower for Coach Inc. without first building a deck over its own rail yard site, Brookfield is plunging ahead with a deck before it puts up a building — which it won’t do until it lands a tenant. Cushman & Wakefield has been tapped to find one or more.
Manhattan West was originally to have three office buildings. Now, it will have two of them at the yards’ Ninth Avenue corners of West 31st and 33rd Streets, and a high-rise apartment tower between them and Dyer Avenue.
Brookfield also owns 450 W. 33rd St., the massive, million-square-foot office address on 10th Avenue, which stands between the Brookfield- and Related-controlled portions of the sunken rail yard.
While Brookfield has long owned development rights above the tracks, Amtrak still controls the right of way through the yard.
So the two parties — as well as the MTA, Long Island Rail Road and the Port Authority, which also hold easements through the site — had to work out arrangements that will allow the deck and the towers to be built without interfering with the train routes, which terminate at Penn Station.
Despite a popular myth that the deck will support the towers, they will actually rise from bedrock at the sites’ corners and in effect be thrust through the platform. But the deck is needed to create a welcoming location for commercial and residential users.
Brookfield has committed to creating a 100 foot-wide park running east-west through the site, effectively forming an extension of 32nd Street. The public space will be designed by James Corner Field Operations, which designed the High Line Park.
“The platform is needed to create the land to create the plaza,” Friedrich said.
The High Line, which now ends at 30th Street, is to be extended along the old trestle’s loop westward to curl around Hudson Yards, and eastward along a spur toward Ninth Avenue.
Meanwhile, Related has begun work on the first office tower at its own Hudson Yards site — which is not to be confused with Extell’s One Hudson Yards, a 1 million square-foot tower to be developed by Gary Barnett’s company just north of Related’s land.
Brookfield’s portfolio includes 77 million square feet in New York, Washington, Houston and other US cities, as well as in Canada, Australia and London. It owns the World Financial Center downtown as well as trophy properties such as One New York Plaza.
“The new district is going to be successful for everybody here,” Friedrich predicted.
He said Related’s coup in signing Coach as an anchor tenant is “also great news for us. It creates a perfect bookend” for Manhattan West.