CB4 and HYCAC’s Discussion Document

Manhattan Community Board 4 and HYCAC developed this document to synthesize information about the MTA’s guidelines for the rail yards site, as well as overviews of the five proposals. It was intended for discussion at the December 10 public forum, but serves as a good reference for comparing the plans side-by-side.

Download the PDF (Be patient: It’s 9MB)

Weekly News Roundup, December 11-18

  • Related Companies announces a $1.4 Billion investment by firms including Goldman Sachs and MSD Capital. While the firm’s release remarks that this news does not impact any of their current plans, including their West Side Rail Yards redevelopment proposal, the timing of their announcement is certainly convenient. The Times reports on this here.
  • Gothamist also picked up on the Crain’s story from yesterday, emphasizing the irony that the two developments that seem to have gotten the most public support so far in the review process (Brookfield and Extell) appear to be on the early chopping block due to their lack of anchor tenants.
  • New York’s Daily Intelligencer created a rather nifty grid detailing the various projects that outgoing economic-development mayor Dan Doctoroff is leaving in the lurch, including the extension of the No. 7 line to 11th Avenue and 33rd Street (described by many as a project that “must happen” in order for West Side Rail Yards redevelopment to proceed). They deem the prognosis good.
  • Another nearby project that will help create the vaunted West Side of the future is the long-discussed, little-developed Moynihan Station project, which seems to be picking up some steam with the Empire State Development Corporation’s adoption of a Related/Vornado partnership to implement the plan. Chelsea Now reports on a recent scoping hearing on this project here.

From Crain’s: Developers with Anchor Tenants Have the Edge

Crain’s New York Business reports today that the three developers who have lined up anchor tenants for the rail yards site, Related, Durst/Vornado and Tishman Speyer, have an advantage in the eyes of the MTA.

Crain’s’ Theresa Agovino reports:

The three leading contenders have each bid about $1 billion for the yards, sources say, and all have the deep pockets to finance the project. But insiders say the MTA may push for the three to join forces so it can keep all the tenants and avoid disappointing any of the politically connected developers. The MTA plans to make a decision in the first quarter, although that deadline could be extended, according to a spokesman for the agency.

“I think they will try to get us all to work together, if possible,” says an executive at one of the developers.

 While it’s apparent that the rail yards site will look different from any of the proposals unveiled in November, it’s hard to picture how a collaboration between the three frontrunners might pan out.  The new rail yards would be  new mega-corporate district developed from scratch, housing Conde Nast, News Corp and Morgan Stanley, and a host of architects and planners with competing visions.

Complete article (unavailable online to nonsubscribers) after the jump.  Continue reading

Update on Community Forum Breakout Sessions

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As promised, here’s a quick discussion of the break-out sessions moderated (in some cases) by members of Friends of the High Liine at the community forum presented by Community Board 4 on Monday. The graph above represents some of the main concerns expressed by the various groups (there were 13 groups in all, so you can get a feel for what concerns people most). Some surprises: That the parking and traffic issues generated by a project of this scale fall so low on the list of priorities for its neighbors, and that job creation (surely not something that is the responsibility of real estate developers?) gets almost as much attention as does that of affordable housing. One thing that’s not shocking in the least is the fact that the pure size of the project gets so much attention and concern, although one might argue that at this point there’s no stopping the behemoth on that score. You can view the Working Group Conclusion Summaries for more detailed information about the conclusions the break-out groups reached. Please do tell us where your priorities lie in the comments.

Developer Exhibition Ends Friday

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Friday is the last day of the public exhibition of all five developer proposals, in a storefront near Grand Central. The exhibition includes design boards, models, and last time we checked, a representative from each developer on hand to answer questions. Those details again:

Rail Yards Proposals Exhibition
335 Madison Avenue
(Northwest corner of Vanderbilt Avenue and 43rd Street)
Across from Grand Central Terminal
Daily, 8:00 AM– 8:00 PM Until December 14

The exhibition frequently runs out of comment cards, so if you’re heading there, make sure you bring your own paper.

The MTA has been a bit ambiguous on when the public input period officially ends (the exhibition was extended by two weeks due to demand). If you can’t make it to the exhibition tomorrow, you can still view the proposals and comment online.

Kicked to the Curbed

Like all New Yorkers of a certain age who are mildly obsessed with urban planning and real estate, we spend a lot of time curled up by the fireplace with Curbed. What’s more, the city’s premiere site for snarky commentary on the business of building has been a great resource for information about the rail yards redevelopment process so far. So it was nice to see that they shouted us out today. But hey, Curbed – who said anything about getting scorned? Though it’s true that we’re living in an era of problematic large-scale projects, there’s still time to be optimistic that the process will be more open and transparent, and productive, than those other yards. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves with the doomsaying.

1930′s Rail Yards

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(click photo to enlarge)

A view looking Southwest at the working rail yards, taken shortly after the High Line was built (date and photographer unknown). Note the boxcars; the rail yards were originally used for freight, but are now used for Long Island Rail Road trains. The Miller Elevated Highway can also be seen, to the right.

Plans Aired to the Community at the Hudson Guild

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On Monday night, over 200 interested members of the community (as well as political figures such as New York State Senator Tom Duane) gathered at the Hudson Guild at an event sponsored by Community Board 4 and the Hudson Yards Community Advocacy Coalition that included presentations from the five developers who have submitted plans for the rail yards. After the presentations, attendees had the opportunity to break into small groups to discuss the plans and give their feedback in a formal way.

Photos of the event can be found here

CB4 prepared a handy info sheet (PDF) comparing each plan by the numbers. A summary from the community discussion will be available soon.

The developers’ presentations were short and business-like, as they labored mightily to conform to a time limit of ten minutes per proposal. That was still plenty of time for lots of shiny pictures (and in the case of the Durst/Vornado plan, a snappy video), as well as for some revealing rhetorical moments. A brief digest after the jump.

Continue reading

Media Round Up, December 3-10

Into the Box video

Interesting video primer on the rail yards site from intothebox.tv.

from vodpod.com posted with vodpod

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