Home Hudson Yards Hudson Yards groundbreaking set for November, but…

Hudson Yards groundbreaking set for November, but…

by Benjamin Kabak

Renderings of Hudson Yards, on a hazy day.

It’s been a while since our last Hudson Yards update. Two and a half years ago, amidst a slow economy, Related Companies hammered out a deal for the Hudson Yards space with some string attached, and in May of 2010, they and the MTA signed the contract. With closing dependent upon some various economic benchmarks, it seemed that construction at the site would be slow to move forward.

Now, amidst vague rumors that Related wants to restructure its deal with the MTA, the company is planning a November ground-breaking for the project. Still, as Eliot Brown reports in The Wall Street Journal, the portions over the railyards are a long way off:

New York developer Related Cos. has assembled a new group of financial backers and said it plans to break ground in November on the initial 46-story office tower of the 26-acre Hudson Yards project, a sign that the dormant market for U.S. commercial development is showing early signs of life. “This will be the Rockefeller Center—the heart of the city—for the 21st century,” said Stephen Ross, Related’s chairman. “We are going to build a truly world-class site.”

Commercial construction has been slowed by a lack of financing but that market gradually is returning. McGraw-Hill Construction, which analyzes construction data, estimates that building will commence on 272 million square feet of office, retail, hotel and warehouse space in the U.S. this year, more than in any year since 2008. Still, new construction remains slow by historic standards and tends to be limited to a few major cities…Related is trying to finalize deals with its partners by year-end. The talks are far enough advanced, according to Related and others involved in the project, that the company feels comfortable starting on the first building, which it hopes to finish by 2015.

For future phases, the costs grow and the schedule may again be thrown off by the economy. Related needs to build an $800 million platform over half the rail yards for the second phase, and another platform for the third phase. Related would start the second phase if it secures a large tenant.

Meanwhile, a small item in today’s Post drew a raised eyebrow. Steve Cuozzo reported that Related has asked the MTA to revise its deal. Cuozzo’s report is short on details, but apparently, Joe Lhota had this to say: “Related has approached the MTA to amend the existing deal. I am willing to entertain it so long as the MTA’s interests are fully protected.” Related denied the report, but where’s there smoke, there’s often fire.

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SEAN October 23, 2012 - 3:52 pm

Related denied the report, but where’s there smoke, there’s often fire.

Lets cut through the BS, Related is skittish on this whole deal & is trying to find a way out. After all financing for such projects is much harder to come by than it use to, regardless what you read in the press.

Jerrold October 23, 2012 - 4:15 pm

Its Far West Side location means that it cannot possibly become the new “heart of the city”. Just like at the present time, people sometimes are considering visiting some exposition at the Javits Center, but then decide to forget about because of the inconvenient location.

Bruce M October 23, 2012 - 7:06 pm

Isn’t the point of the #7 Line extension to make the site convenient?

Justin Samuels October 23, 2012 - 4:32 pm

People said the WTC Center was a waste, but it and the WFC eventually filled up with tenants. I’ve been in the area, you can see the construction crews prep the sites. Work has already started. And that area is actually a transit hub, penn station is there, meaning its accessible to the NJ Transit, LIRR, Port Authority Buses from NJ) two IND lines, the West Side IRT, and the Broadway. Like people in NYC are so fragile they’ll break if they walk two or three blocks. Its nothing, its a very convenient location. In the past it had industrial use, Bloomberg rezoned it for commercial use.

Oh, didn’t people complain about Atlantic Yards? The Barclay’s stadium is a big success.

J B October 23, 2012 - 10:37 pm

It doesn’t matter that people can walk two or three (long) blocks, it’s that they won’t if they can avoid it. There’s a good reason the far west side isn’t as bustling as midtown. Atlantic Yards and even WTC were closer to far more transit than the Hudson Yards, you can’t even compare them.

Justin Samuels October 23, 2012 - 11:20 pm

The reason the far West wasn’t bustling is because it was designed for warehousing and shipping.

Lower Manhattan, where the WTC and WFC stand, was also an industrial area until the Port Authority decided to demolish it and build the twin towers. That was the far West Side, and it became bustling enough when people had to go there for WORK.

Office tours are being built in Hudson Yards. Yes, when they are paid too, people will walk two or three long blocks, and as another poster pointed out, the 7 train extension opens in a year or so anyway.

Walter October 24, 2012 - 3:36 am

The WTC was built atop the terminal for the Hudson Tubes, which was, before the Twin Towers, simply two smaller twin towers. That land was always office space, and was located right next to one of the world’s premier financial centers, not to mention mere blocks away from most of downtown’s subway lines that you can actually take somewhere. There’s a reason the PA took over what is now PATH, and it was because they knew the land was very valuable and they could find more than enough tenants for those two huge buildings.

If the Hudson Yards were such a great location, the New York Central would have figured out a way to suck money out of it around the time they tried to wring money out of all their city properties.

As for the WFC, that was actually part of the Hudson River until the 1980s.

And I don’t see how the Barclays Center is a huge success after just a few weeks of operation. Especially compared to what was promised years ago it’s pretty much a letdown. When the 14 towers go up over there, then it can be evaluated.

Justin Samuels October 24, 2012 - 10:58 am

Money was made off the far West Side in the early 20th century. Ships docked there, and the area was used for industrial usage. Employees were able to WALK or otherwise get to their jobs in the shipping, warehousing, and industrial industries. That all closed by the 70s or so, when the city lost its industries.

Again, they always walked or three blocks to that area. For that matter, a number of the buildings in downtown Manhattan are a walk away from either the Wall Street or the Broad Street locations. Big deal, people walk to where their JOBS are, especially if you’re being paid good money.

Hudson Yards is basically a project looking for corporate tenants. And yes, people can walk 10 blocks if they’re being paid 60k-300k or more (depending on the position within said company, and depending on the industry).

Back to industrial areas, LIC was the same way, no office buildings save the first Citibank building until recently. Once those buildings were built (even before) developers were able to find tenants for the buildings. Once you have tenants, people go there because that’s where their JOBS are.

I wonder if some of you guys have ever had a JOB.:)

J B October 24, 2012 - 11:03 pm

I wonder if you’ve ever been to Manhattan… you realize that there is a huge variation in block size, right? The key point here is that Hudson Yards is half a kilometer from the nearest subway station at its closest point, and will be directly over 1, while WTC was directly over 3 subway stations and a half kilometer walk from 4 more, as well as City Hall and Wall Street. There are no comparable destinations near Hudson Yards; at best the far end of midtown is also half a kilometer away.
Similarly, Barclays Center is over or near nearly every subway line in Brooklyn aside from the L, JMZ and Franklin Ave Shuttle.
As for walking to work, yes, people will do it, but they will favor short walks as much as possible. That’s why New York’s CBD is centered around the area with the most subway lines.

Peter October 23, 2012 - 7:34 pm

Referring to that area as a “transit hub” is a stretch. Penn and the nearest subway are two-to-three avenues distant, depending on whether you’re coming from 10th or 11th. The new 7 terminus will obviously help, but most riders will be required to make an annoying transfer to another connecting line, and it will be particularly annoying for people headed downtown, who will need to head north to go south. It’s a good thing the MTA appears to be overbuilding the new 7 station because once all those towers are up, it’s going to get crowded.

Extend the L up to Hudson Yards from the south and you’ve got a lot better connectivity,

SEAN October 23, 2012 - 7:58 pm

Oh, didn’t people complain about Atlantic Yards? The Barclay’s stadium is a big success.

The issue with Barclay’s is one of padestrian safety. I don’t think you really want to cross Flatbush or Atlantic Avenues if you can help it, since the traffic volume is so high around there. That’s why transit useage is strongly encouraged & there’s no onsight parking.

Compare this to Yankee Stadium, as the onsight parking garages & nearby lots are bearly used & the subway & MNR trains are full constantly. Also where do you park when you go to MSG? In all these cases transit is the way to go.

Bolwerk October 23, 2012 - 8:23 pm

What’s the word on parking and things like that?

Someone October 23, 2012 - 10:27 pm

Before groundbreaking for Hudson Yards, the MTA should seriously consider 2 new stations at 10th Avenue-41st Street and 26th Street-11 Avenue.

Benjamin Kabak October 23, 2012 - 10:29 pm

They’ve repeatedly seriously considered the former, but no one has stepped forward with the money. By now, it’s not going to happen any time soon unfortunately. I’ve written extensively about that station and the bad decision-making surrounding it over the years.

Jerrold October 23, 2012 - 11:19 pm

And let’s not forget all the money that has been wasted on the two unnecessary above-ground buildings at the Fulton Center and the WTC Transportation Hub.
I wonder how many stations on the #7 line and on Phase 2 of the SAS could have been built with that money.

Justin Samuels October 23, 2012 - 11:22 pm

The Fulton Street complex was funded initially with money that was ONLY supposed to be spent in LOWER Manhattan, as a result of the 9/11 devastation. Therefore it COULD not have gone to the Second Avenue subway, which had not yet gotten approval to start.

Matthias October 24, 2012 - 10:12 am

It could have begun the stage of the SAS in Lower Manhattan. Still, most of the Fulton St improvements were/are needed, in my opinion.

Jerrold October 24, 2012 - 1:30 pm

The BELOW-GROUND ones, maybe. When they did a massive renovation of the Times Square station, they did not see any need to construct a fancy, very expensive, and unnecessary headhouse.

Justin Samuels October 24, 2012 - 2:59 pm

The below the ground ones were definitely needed. I used to work downtown, and the station under Fulton Street was a horrible maze. They straightened it out. Its much better.

As for the expensive headhouse, well, it was federal money allocated for downtown. They could not have spent it on the Second Avenue Subway downtown, as it wouldn’t have connected to anything. The Upper East Side portion of the second avenue subway, approved later, connects to the Q tunnel at 63rd street. Building a second avenue subway tunnel that connected to nothing and that would sit empty for decades would be a repeat of the 1970s.

Henry October 24, 2012 - 7:44 pm

They could’ve probably spent it on a Lower Manhattan streetcar or Phases 3 & 4 of the SAS or something.

TP October 24, 2012 - 10:53 am

Whether or not the Far West Side will/can become a desirable neighborhood, it’s basically the only place in the city where there doesn’t seem to be much organized opposition to new construction of moderately dense development. The city needs to grow, and given that even people who live in places like Murray Hill and Downtown Brooklyn think that new big buildings will destroy their quality of life and “block sunlight” and “views” and other such NIMBY nonsense, if not Hudson Yards, where?

Yeah, we could up the density on underutilized transit corridors, but the people living in the single family homes in Brooklyn with a subway stop on their corner will be ready with pitchforks for the first one to suggest it.

Simon October 24, 2012 - 2:42 pm

Can we get some attractive towers instead of phallic glass hedrons? The contrast between the ESB and Chrysler in the foreground and those wedges in the background is striking.

BBnet3000 October 24, 2012 - 11:43 am

Indeed, Related talks a lot about being near Chelsea and all of the art galleries, but without extending either the L north or the 7 south I see that being a bit inconvenient. At least another station at 23rd st on the 7 would have made that much more of a reality. An intermediate station at 10th ave would have helped the extension as well.

Justin Samuels October 24, 2012 - 3:02 pm

The city was barely able to afford the one additional stop. They paid for it buy issuing bonds, whch must be paid off by area real estate taxes……..So how would any additional bonds for additional stations be paid off, and would the city be able to do it without a major increase in taxes and fees?

Look at what the MTA issuing lots of bonds has done it, fares are going up big time next year.

Bruce M October 25, 2012 - 1:21 pm

A wealthy financier just donated $100 Million to the Central Park Conservancy…not $1-million, 100 million.
I wish Bloomberg, who started this whole project, would decide to be philanthopic on his way out of office and donate to pay for the 10th Avenue Station. Would $100 Million cover it? How much of a shell did the MTA supposedly leave behind here in the event that someday they would really build it?

Benjamin Kabak October 25, 2012 - 1:24 pm

Provisioning is in place — which means that the tracks are level enough to eventually build two side platforms on either side of the tracks and construct a station. Current cost estimates put that at somewhere between $500-$800 million.

Nathanael October 26, 2012 - 11:28 pm

Hopefully the design will be arranged to provide stub tunnels for the New Hudson Tunnels, as Schumer is pushing for — anything else would be a disaster etched in steel.


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