New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community

Habitat Magazine Business of Management 2021

HABITAT

TRIBECA

Staples of New York City life are shuttered to make way for more luxury condos.

It rose on lower Broadway in the 19th century as headquarters for the New York Life Insurance Co. More recently it housed New York City Criminal Court. In 2013, this 13-story, 419,000-square-foot behemoth became the single largest building ever sold by the City of New York – for the princely sum of $160 million.

Now it’s being converted – shocker! – into luxury condos.

Miami-based Peebles Corp. has secured a $334 million construction loan from Bank of America to convert the structure – also known as the Clock Tower Building – into 151 condo apartments, plus a 7,210-square-foot communal facility and 2,200 square feet of commercial space, reports Commercial Observer. The conversion is being designed by Beyer Blinder Belle, with a penthouse apartment that will include the building’s iconic rooftop clock.

The building is a city landmark and is also on the National Register of Historic Places.

The city has filed a lawsuit against a glossy Tribeca condo tower, claiming its shoddy construction is causing sinkholes in a public school playground and adjacent dog run.

The builders and owners of 200 Chambers Street are at fault for sinkholes caused by “defective pile driving and sheet piling” during construction of the building, according to the suit filed in Manhattan Civil Court, as reported by DNAinfo

The city sold the property behind P.S. 234 to developer Jack Resnick & Sons in 2005. Sinkholes began appearing during construction, from 2005 to 2007. Repairs were made, but the problem recurred after Hurricane Sandy hit. The city says in its suit that it has made “repeated demands on the condo and the board” to fix the problem, without success. As for damages, the city is asking for “an amount to be determined at trial.”

 

Speaking of Tribeca, check out 5 Franklin Place. Work there is finally reaching the end, reports YIMBY. But it's what's on the inside that counts, and despite the outside showing "the cladding and window installation are complete, interior work appears to be ongoing." It shouldn't be long, however, for this 20-story building with 53 condominiums to be finalized. Wonder what the ticket price will be.

Photo of 5 Franklin Place by Tectonic

Despite it being in Tribeca, 149 Church Street isn't exactly memorable or remarkable. "With a bland façade featuring windows pockmarked by inefficient air conditioning units," writes YIMBY, "its demolition will usher in a brighter and more productive future for the lot, and while its use is still the same, 30 Warren will certainly be both denser and better than what existed before." That's right. It was so meh, that it's not just getting demolished to make way for new shiny condos. It's getting a new address: 30 Warren Street. According to YIMBY, "Cape Advisors is developing the site, while Post-Office Architectes is serving as the project’s design architect. The building will stand 12 floors tall, and will have 44,830 square feet of condominiums and 5,578 square feet of ground-floor retail [and] takes up the entire blockfront on Church between Warren and Chambers Streets." So, what do you think? The extruded elements, which YIMBY compares with 12 Warren Street, another condo rising just a block away, make the building look like a Jenga tower. But maybe that's just us. 

Rendering by Post-Office Architectes

It looks like a 154,000-square-foot luxury condo development is heading to Tribeca. Citing property records filed with the city early this week, The Real Deal reported that Related Cos. secured $200 million in funding from Bank of America for the development at 70 Vestry Street. "The Jeff Blau-led firm sealed two separate construction loans from the bank, valued at $161 million and $39 million, late last month. The funds will help Related develop the Tribeca site, which it acquired from Ponte Equities for $115 million last year," according to TRD. Unlike other developers who double their buildings' heights (or try to), there's been no move by Related to make the structure taller than 13 stories. No new renderings have surfaced since YIMBY got a first look in late July.

The landmarked clock that sits atop the historic 14-story building at 346 Broadway is more than 100 years old. When developers Peebles Corporation and El Ad Group bought the building from the city in May 2014, many worried about the clock's fate. As 2014 came to a close, the Landmark Preservation Commission gave developers the green light to convert the building into upscale condos. Developers said at the time that they intended to keep the clock functioning. But it didn't change the fact that the clock would be closed off to the public and become part of a new luxury penthouse for one super-rich, super-lucky buyer. And then there were the developers' plans to electrify the beloved landmarked clock. For decades, it has been hand-wound by two retired city employees, Marvin Schneider, 75, and Forest Markowitz, 63. At the time, the Historic Districts Council and the Society for the Architecture of the City were reportedly considering legal action. But no suit came about… until six months later, that is. The New York Daily News reports that a group of preservationists and clock enthusiasts has filed suit to stop the developers from taking the public landmark and completely fencing it off from public view. The group has also criticized the developers' plans to dismantle the clock's historic non-electric mechanism: "The move to electrify the mechanism would completely destroy the landmark character of the clock and kill off one of the few remaining such purely mechanical public timepieces in the country." That's a pretty solid point. Preservationists are especially concerned about "the privatization of public assets," adding that it sets "a dangerous precedent for future landmarking disputes." 

What do you do after purchasing a collection of buildings along West Broadway, between Warren and Murray streets? Knock them down to make way for a super-duper, mega-ultra, luxury condo, of course. According to Crain's, Cape Advisors purchased the "high-end TriBeCa properties for $1,000 per square foot, a price that underscores the eagerness among builders to deliver luxury housing in the city's most exclusive neighborhoods." For those doing the math, it's $50 million total. The new condo will be approximately 46,000 square feet, and Crain's anticipates that, to turn a profit, Cape Advisors will have to sell the apartments for at least — at least — $3,000 per square foot… or more. They'd better hope that there's no pause or drop in the market. As for word on the street, well, not surprisingly many lament the loss of the buildings, which, though dilapidated, some argue could have been renovated. Instead, we lost another bit of Old New York character and charm for the sake of massive shiny glass and steal. One commenter on the Tribeca Citizen blog nails it: "TriBeCa is done. Welcome to the Upper East Side 2.0." 

When developers Peebles Corporation and El Ad Group bought the historic 14-story building at 346 Broadway from the city in May, many were afraid that time was running out for the 116-year-old landmarked clock that sits atop it. Early last week, reported DNAinfo.com, the Landmark Preservation Commission gave developers the green light to convert the building into upscale condos — which means the public landmark will become part of a private luxury condo. The good news is that developers promise to keep the clock functioning. And according to the article, the lucky duck who ends up owning the condo will be expected to keep the clock in good working order; officials will be inspecting. The catch? They will electrify the massive clock, "which for decades has been hand-wound by two retired city employees, Marvin Schneider, 75, and Forest Markowitz, 63." You can't make everybody happy all of the time — the Historic Districts Council and the Society for the Architecture of the City certainly aren't and are reportedly considering legal action — but it could be worse. Who would take over the hand-wound crank once Schneider and Markowitz aren't around anymore? At least this way, the clock carries on.

The average price of an apartment in certain Brooklyn neighborhoods is now higher than that of Manhattan co-ops and condos, according to a StreetEasy study cited by Crain's New York Business. While the magazine notes the "obvious caveat" of comparing neighborhoods with an entire borough — where apartments in Inwood and other upper-Manhattan locales sell for far less than in such luxury area as Central Park South or Tribeca — at least two Brooklyn spots blow Manhattan's $890,000 median out of the water: DUMBO (Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Underpass), at $1.5 million, and the Columbia Street waterfront, running through Cobble Hill and Carroll Gardens, at $1.147 million. DUMBO, in fact, averaged less than just a half-dozen Manhattan nabes. On the bright side, Kensington is still very affordable.

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