Robert on Crain’s 40 Under 40

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Crain’s came out with their annual 40 Under 40 list  yesterday, and the High Line’s own Robert Hammond made the cut.

He’s profiled on the site  with a quick video (and enough studio photos to turn heads over at the Daily Intelligencer.)

Robert Hammond, 38 [Crain's 40 Under 40]

Crain’s: MTA Should Pick Most Financially Sound Developer

Unsurprisingly in the wake of the subprime crisis and general market shakiness, much of the Rail Yards dialogue has turned away from design and towards financials.

Of course, guessing is a bit tough, given the MTA’s refusal to make the financial bids public (which the HYCAC called for as part of its summary of top community concerns).

Background on the financial situations of each of the developers has led to a lot of speculation over which one would be the surest bet for the MTA, an agency that knows its way around fiscal headache.

A Crain’s editorial recently endorsed Related and Tishman Speyer for the site, pointing to anchor tenants to add heft to the deal:

There are no more resourceful, experienced or financially solid real estate companies in New York. Their tenants—News Corp. for Related and Morgan Stanley for Tishman—offer a strong likelihood the project will get off the ground.

The Crain’s site is for subscribers only, but the complete editorial is after the jump.

The MTA still plans to announce a decision by the end of March.
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News Roundup February 1-7

The January 28 MTA letter to developers generated a bunch of speculation on what the new guidelines will mean for developers, and it’s been a busy week for the various other developments around the Yards.

And in developer news,

Crain’s has more on the MTA’s Strings Attached

Crain’s has the latest on an increasingly complicated set of requirements for developers, as outlined by the MTA in their January 28 letter.

According to the article by Theresa Agovino, the winning developer will be contractually obligated to create a set of seperate funds that will go to the MTA for Rail Yards expenses and earmarks for other MTA projects (including a $9.2 million fund to improve the MTA’s LIRR facility near Shea Stadium).

None of these expenses would be paid back if the deal should fall through. Given the uncertain economic climate and fear of a national recession, it looks like the MTA is raising the bar to safeguard the site against developers pulling out later. Essentially, the agency is transferring risk onto the developers.

The MTA will also require developers to front “transaction payments” to back any condo sale or other transaction on the site once it’s built out. The tricky part is, the MTA doesn’t specify a set amount for these payments– bidders have to come up with their own maximum figure.

Full text after the jump.

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MTA Pushing Developers to Lease the Rail Yards

According to Crain’s,  it now looks as if the MTA would prefer to lease the Rail Yards site to developers for 99 years, rather than sell it.   

A source at one developer said the MTA was caving in to public pressure not to sell the property, which includes active MTA rail operations. But the MTA spokesman says that under a 99-year lease agreement the developer would still control the site.

 In this plan, the MTA would also recieve a portion of the profits from individual building leases, but the agency has not made any numbers public.

On Monday, the MTA sent a 60-page financial questionnaire to the five developers, so it could compare the proposals. The document outlined the MTA’s ideal financial structure, and the developers now have three weeks to respond with additional information, or alter their proposals in response. The MTA has acknowledged that it will still consider proposals to buy the site, though its preference is to lease.

The agency hopes to possibly narrow down the field once the questionnaires are returned, and have a developer selected by the end of March.

 MTA Prefers Leasing Hudson Yards (Crain’s)

Crain’s Video: Rail Yards Developers at REBNY Gala

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Crain’s caught up with four of the five Rail Yards developers at the 112th annual Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) gala.

Ric Clark from Brookfield, Stephen Ross from Related, Douglas Durst from Durst/Vornado, and Jerry Speyer from Tishman Speyer all make the case for why their development plan was the best.

News Roundup January 7-14, 2008

The Times reports that ad firm Ogilvy-Mather plans to take over a building at 11th Avenue & 47th Street, making them pioneers on the Far West side. Though, it must be noted, their building is not really all *that* close to the Rail Yards site.

Andrew Berman (he of many community activist organizations) takes out the big guns for the current status of the planning process in Chelsea Now – making a number of excellent points in the process.

Crain’s notes the HYCAC’s open letter, giving special attention to the organization’s implicit support for the Brookfield site plan.

The New York Observer’s real estate blog suggests that Merrill Lynch’s decision to renew its lease on current offices at the World Financial Center (owned and administered by Brookfield Properties) could potentially work in favor of the Brookfield plan… although the suggestion that Brookfield could conceivably talk Merrill into becoming the anchor tenant they currently lack seems unfounded at this juncture.

And, to file under “Old but worthy:” Stephen Holl discusses his strategies to make the Extell plan “9/11 proof” in New York’s Daily Intelligencer.

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

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