by Lauren Davidson and Property Editor, The Daily Telegraph, October 31, 2016
New York is well known as the city that never sleeps, but an area of Manhattan is currently experiencing a flurry of activity unprecedented even in its own industrious history.
Over the next eight years, a 28-acre plot of low-rise, industrial land on the riverside in west Manhattan, spanning seven city blocks, will be turned into Hudson Yards, a new neighbourhood built entirely from scratch. It claims to be the one of the largest private real estate developments in American history.
The $20 billion effort is being backed by Oxford Properties, and funded by developer Stephen Ross’s Related Companies, the real estate business behind the revamped Time Warner Center near Columbus Circle.
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“Traditionally, New York is a series of older neighbourhoods that gentrify or reinvent themselves over time,” says Jay Cross, president of Related Hudson Yards. “For the first time since maybe the Sixties, we’re building new from scratch and of significant scale. There’s a hunger for modern standards now in New York. That’s a fundamental shift.”
By the time it is completed in 2025, Hudson Yards will offer 4,000 homes across nine buildings, as well as offices, a school and a luxury hotel branded for the fitness group Equinox.
The area will host more than 100 shops and restaurants, and it will be the flagship location for the cult-like spinning class SoulCycle. And, crucially, the area will have 14 acres of public gardens, walkways and squares, connecting with the recently revamped High Line, an elevated park built on a disused railroad.
Cross says Hudson Yards is the largest development in New York City since the building of the iconic Rockefeller Center in the Thirties – but unlike its predecessor, it will include residential homes as well as commercial and retail space.
The entire complex is being managed by one developer. “That allows us to prioritise where we want public space and how it interacts with offices and residences – how do we maximise the integration of live, work, play,” Cross says. “When you have different developers working side by side, the common domain becomes an afterthought, but for us it’s the centrepiece.” He says the public area is “the glue that holds everything together”.
Last month the British architect Thomas Heatherwick unveiled his plans for the public structure that will reside at the heart of the neighbourhood.
Currently being built in Italy before being assembled on site next year, the £114 million bronze beehive comprises a 16-storey high staircase with 154 individual flights of stairs, 80 landings and 2,500 steps.
The unveiling ceremony doubled as a launch party for 15 Hudson Yards, the area’s first residential tower. It rises 900ft in height from its orthogonal base, gradually transforming into a cloverleaf shape at the top. It offers 285 one- to four-bedroom homes, with prices ranging from $2 million to $30 million. At the most expensive end are the duplex penthouses on the 88th floor, which each occupy one of the tower’s four clover leaves. Each has more than 5,000 sq ft of living space, curved floor-to-ceiling windows yielding 270-degree panoramic river and city views, and living rooms with ceilings of up to 26ft.
A 51-storey commercial building at 10 Hudson Yards is already operating at 100 per cent occupancy, and a second residential tower – 1,000ft tall 35 Hudson Yards, which will have 130 large residential units as well as offices and the Equinox hotel – will launch in the first half of next year, followed by seven more buildings offering living space.
It is currently home to taxi garages, rail yards and the stables for the horses that pull carriages through Central Park. With these tall buildings popping up, the area will look unrecognisable a decade from now.
“It’s a very old part of New York – some of the landowners there are Europeans dating back to when the city was called New Amsterdam,” Cross says. “In the mad old days of New York crime, this was not an area of town where people wanted to be. To some degree, it’s a landfill project.”
Cross says there had been a view since the early 2000s that the west side of Manhattan could be opened up – house prices in Chelsea were soaring, and more people were moving out to New Jersey and commuting into New York. The city’s transit network will expand further west with the extension of the No 7 subway line and a new tunnel across the Hudson River.
“The whole area was under-served in every way and New York had run out of places in which it could grow,” says Cross. So when the huge plot went up for sale, it was “an extraordinary opportunity” he says. “It’s a chance you rarely get, to create a new area from scratch. There are just so few opportunities to do this.”
It’s important to Cross, however, that Hudson Yards does not become just an extension the increasingly wealthy area of west Manhattan; it will have up to 500 affordable rental units. “It’s got to be seen as democratic. We want everyone to go to Hudson Yards. It should be a destination for all New Yorkers.”
This article was written by Lauren Davidson and Property Editor from The Daily Telegraph and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network.