Better Know a Developer: Tishman Speyer

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Over the next few weeks, we’ll be providing you with some quick-hit style background information on the various developers who have submitted bids for the West Side Yards site. Today, we’re starting with Tishman Speyer, whose bid is pictured above.

Founded in 1978 in New York, Tishman Speyer (“TS”) has managed 77 million square feet of real estate assets since its inception. In the last three years, the company has been involved in three of the largest real-estate deals in American history. TS is traded publicly and has around 1100 employees in 25 offices worldwide. They recently spearheaded (along with Lehman Brothers), a takeover of Archstone, which was at the time the third largest Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) in the country.

After the jump, check out the details of some of Tishman Speyer’s notable developments and properties.

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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.

Ada Louise Huxtable Attacks Rail Yards Planning Process

Wall Street Journal Architecture critic Ada Louise Huxtable takes the Rail Yards planning process to task today. She’s skeptical of a process she sees as offering too much to the developers to the utimate detriment of the public good, because

it is hard to believe that teams with this much financial heft and assembled star power could come up with something so awesomely bad.

Notably, she singles out the possible preservation of the High Line as a rare triumph of public opinion in this process:

This section of the High Line was considered expendable by a number of the developers until public opinion made them think otherwise; it appears in all of the schemes, usually as a kind of peripheral trim. Or worse, a device for enhancing commercial properties by allowing direct exits onto the elevated park, a terrible idea.

Huxtable suggests the lack of visionary (or even sensical) planning is due to the City’s focus on financial incentive over public benefit:

The most disturbing aspect of this high-stakes game is the default of the city and the public agencies involved: their failure to create — or is it simply disinterest? — a coordinated plan for a West Side bursting with development from Penn Station and Madison Square Garden to the Javits Center, allowing these cobbled up investment schemes to substitute for any appropriate, larger solutions.

The city thinks like a developer; that vision thing, the long-term overview, the balance of private investment and public utility and amenity, is just not there.

Read the complete article after the jump.

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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)

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.

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.

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Video: Cooper Union Architect Presentations

On Monday, architects from the five development teams presented their designs to the public at Cooper Union. Videos of each presentation are now available. Please note these videos have been edited down for length, and the sound quality is not great.

Steven Holl for Extell

Robert AM Stern, Bernardo Fort Brescia, Eugene Kohn and Claire Weisz for Related

Dan Kaplan and Margie Ruddick for Durst/Vornado

James Corner and Gary Haney for Brookfield

Francisco Gonzalez Pulido for Tishman Speyer

Two ways to tell the MTA what you think about the developer proposals

The MTA is taking public input for the five developer proposals until December 14. After the designated public comment period, a committee made up of representatives from the MTA and the HYDC will make a recommendation to the MTA Board, who will then be responsible for selecting the developer. This is a very short window of time to make your voice heard, and it’s crucial that the agency know the public demands accountability in this process.

You can comment directly to the MTA in one of two ways:

The MTA’s Web site. You can view the proposals and comment on each individually.

View displays of each proposal, including models, at an MTA-owned storefront near Grand Central Terminal.

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

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