The Daily Dirt: Who needs City Hall?

TRD New York /
Oct.October 08, 2019 11:00 AM
Morningside Heights (Credit: Wikipedia)

Morningside Heights (Credit: Wikipedia)

The de Blasio administration doesn’t want to rezone Morningside Heights. That isn’t stopping a community group from pursuing zoning changes anyway. 

Last month, the Department of City Planning rejected a community-led proposal to rezone the Manhattan neighborhood, which is all of 15 blocks. The community group, the Morningside Heights Community Coalition, argues that something must be done to rein in massive development that is out of step with the character of the neighborhood. The neighborhood stretches roughly from West 110th to 125th streets and west of Morningside Park. But from the city’s perspective, the proposal wouldn’t create enough affordable housing to justify a major zoning change. 

That doesn’t mean the idea is dead. Speaker Corey Johnson recently pledged to commit City Council resources to creating a rezoning proposal for the neighborhood. Council member Mark Levine, who represents Morningside Heights, is helping to lead the charge. So, if this ultimately goes to a vote, and member deference doesn’t somehow disappear before then, the rezoning has a good chance of passing. Of course, the proposal is still a long way away from being put to a vote. 

The old journalism adage goes that three of something makes a trend. The Morningside Heights rezoning would mark the second time in recent memory that a community group, rather than City Hall, steered a rezoning into being. In 2017, the Council approved the rezoning of 10 blocks on the Upper East Side. That effort, led by Council member Ben Kallos and the East River 50s Alliance, was triggered by the Bauhouse Group’s planned 1,000-foot tower in Sutton Place.

The project was eventually taken over by Gamma Real Estate and scaled down slightly. Though the Council decided against exempting the tower from the new zoning rules, the city’s Board of Standards and Appeals ultimately ruled that the old regulations should apply to Gamma’s project.   

Billionaires’ Row may soon be home to an office tower. 

Alchemy Properties and ABR Partners are teaming up to buy Calvary Baptists’ properties on Billionaires’ Row, Rich Bockmann reports. The partnership, dubbed Alchemy-ABR Investment Partners, plan to build a 230,000-square-foot commercial building at 123-141 West 57th Street. The tower would include 180,000 square feet of office space, along with some retail space and a condo for the church. 

ABR and Alchemy — which led the condo conversion of the Woolworth Building — first teamed up in 2015. 

“When this site was originally brought to us, Billionaires’ Row was already a phenomenon, but this just didn’t click as a condo project,” said ABR Partners’ Brian Ray. “We started talking about what this market really needs is an office building, and it really started to make sense.”

The project is expected to break ground in 2021 and has an estimated price tag of $350 million.

What we’re thinking about next: Will Adam Neumann find a welcoming co-op board? Doesn’t he already have a few different places to live? Send a note to[email protected]

CLOSING TIME
Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded on Monday was for a co-op unit at 45 Gramercy Park North in Gramercy Park, at $5.3 million.
Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for two apartment buildings at 469 and 473 Fourth Street in Park Slope, at $10 million.

BREAKING GROUND
The largest new building filing of the day was for a 153,964-square-foot residential building at 449 Chester Street in East New York. L&M Development filed the permit application. 

NEW TO THE MARKET
The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a condo unit at 40 Mercer Street in Soho, at $9.5 million. Brown Harris Stevens’ Rachel Zerbib Bakhchi has the listing. — Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…
The Crown Building was once owned by Philippines dictator Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda. According to a New York Times story from 1991, Marcos secretly purchased the tower in 1981 through a number of international companies. Thank you to Kevin Sun for providing this tidbit.

Top stories from our other markets:
NATIONAL
Blackstone just sold a 100-building portfolio valued at $3 billion to Nuveen, the real estate investment arm of the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association of America. The deal follows Blackstone’s purchase last month of a 179 million-square-foot logistics portfolio from GLP for $18.7 billion, making it one of the largest real estate deals ever. Nuveen was among the lenders that helped finance that transaction.

CHICAGO
Golub and partner CIM Group are close to an agreement with the city to build a skyscraper next to the Tribune Tower, Crain’s reports. If built as planned, the 1,422-square-foot building overlooking Michigan Avenue would be the second tallest in the city. It would include 560 residential units and a 200-key hotel.

LOS ANGELES
Just three months after expanding their team to Los Angeles, Eklund and Gomes have lured a top broker from the Agency. Stacy Gottula is moving from Mauricio Umansky’s firm to Douglas Elliman. The Agency has been losing top producers over the last two years or so, many of them to Compass. Former Agency brokers Brendan Fitzpatrick and Sean Landon also recently departed for Elliman.

MIAMI
Suffolk Construction, Skidmore, Owings and Merrill and Virgin Trains have agreed to pay steel maker ADF International $10.5 million to settle claims of mismanagement, project delays and $22.4 million in unpaid work. ADF sued the parties, accusing Suffolk and SOM of critical mistakes and plan revisions during the construction of the Virgin MiamiCentral train station. According to ADF, as a result of the mistakes, the steel company increased its workload without compensation.


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