The Real Deal New York

Hudson, Related nearing $105M loan for world’s biggest “passive house” at Cornell Tech

Wells Fargo in talks to finance 26-story resi building on new 12-acre campus
By Mark Maurer and Damian Ghigliotty | March 21, 2016 01:00PM


Renderings of the passive house at Cornell Tech (credit: Handel Architects) and Hudson’s David Kramer

The Hudson Cos. and the Related Cos. are close to securing a $105 million loan for a 26-story apartment building on the new Cornell Tech campus now under construction on Roosevelt Island, The Real Deal has learned.

The building is particularly significant in that it will be the largest – and the tallest – structure in the world to employ a “passive house” design, which can cut energy costs by up to 90 percent. The apartment building will house 530 graduate students, faculty and Cornell Tech staff.

Wells Fargo is in late-stage negotiations to provide the construction loan for the 350-unit, 270-foot-tall residential high-rise, according to sources familiar with the talks. The bank would serve as the sole lender for the building.

The loan deal is expected to be finalized in the next week or two, sources told TRD. It is unclear the sources of financing for the other nine buildings on the 12-acre Cornell Tech campus, which has an estimated cost of $2 billion. Former Mayor Michael Bloomberg donated $100 million to the project last year.

Representatives for Hudson, Related and Wells Fargo declined to comment.

Hudson and Related’s proposed apartment building, designed by Handel Architects, is expected to cost about $115 million to construct.

A “passive house” design refers to a building’s lack of active cooling or heating systems. Instead, a ventilator system that exchanges outdoor and indoor air, as well as an airtight envelope, sustain a comfortable indoor temperature. The world’s tallest existing passive building is a 20-story office property in Vienna.

The Cornell Tech project has several developers and architects. Hudson and Related are developing the passive house building, while Forest City Ratner is developing a co-working building called the Bridge at Cornell Tech – both in partnership with the Cornell Tech graduate school. In addition to Handel, the architects include Thom Mayne of Morphosis Architects, Weiss/Manfredi Architecture, and Skidmore Owings & Merrill, which designed the campus master plan.

In New York City, buildings account for 71 percent of carbon emissions and 37 percent of that figure comes from residential buildings, according to the Carbon Challenge Progress Report of 2013.

“There are four general contractors working on that project,” Hudson CEO David Kramer told TRD last year. “To make sure we all play well in the sandbox, there’s a lot of coordination.”

Part of the 2 million-square-foot campus is projected to open in summer 2017, but the three-phase project is not expected to be complete until 2043. Construction began on the campus in June 2015.