Deadline nears for Solow’s $4B plan to build on vacant lot

August 20, 2013 12:00PM

The clock is ticking for billionaire developer Sheldon Solow and his long-dormant, six-acre lot between East 38th and East 41st streets on First Avenue. He could lose his permits and public approvals for a $4 billion project if he does not build a foundation for the office building or one of several apartment towers by November, the New York Times reported.

His development team regrouped in May to discuss starting work, but they have not met again since, unnamed executives told the Times.

The parcel is the larger of two plots totaling nine acres overlooking the East River that Solow bought in 2005 from Con Edison for $630 million. Solow sold the smaller plot to JDS Development Group for $200 million in January. (Earlier this month, JDS expressed interest in buying the remaining acres.) He spent nearly $100 million on demolition of a power plant and chemicals cleanup. In 2008, he earned city approvals for a project including seven towers, five acres of public gardens and walkways, a public school and affordable housing. Skidmore, Owings & Merrill was tapped to design, and Richard Meier was going to work on a semicircular public pavilion, the Times said.

But the city was stuck in a recession and Solow became mired in various legal battles, thus stalling the project.

“He bought the land cheap,” architect Edward Rubin told the Times. “The rental market is really hot. Why it’s still a hole in the ground, I don’t know.” [NYT]Mark Maurer