Planning a new development project in New York City is not for the faint of heart, but some builders remained undeterred in 2020 — even in the face of the Covid-19 pandemic, as well as rising anti-development sentiment.
This year saw the defeat of the Industry City rezoning, which would have transformed Sunset Park, as well as the Olnick Organization’s Lenox Terrace expansion. There was a near-miss with the Special Flushing Waterfront District, which was ultimately approved, and in November, the highest court in the state rescued the Inwood rezoning from ruin.
But some major projects moved forward without much incident. Industrial and logistics space commands a premium in the post-Covid world, making the biggest new filing of the year — RXR Realty’s 770,000-square-foot, four-story logistics center in Maspeth — all the more attractive. RXR reeled in a big tenant with Amazon, which has been on an expansion spree in the city, despite abandoning its plans for a second North American headquarters in Queens in 2018.
Other big projects include massive residential properties in Brooklyn and the Bronx, an affordable housing development in Queens and a life sciences building in Manhattan. And all but two were filed in the first half of the year.
Here are the 10 biggest projects announced in 2020, according to an analysis by The Real Deal:
1. 55-15 Grand Avenue, Queens
RXR filed plans in May for a 770,822 square-foot last-mile warehouse in Maspeth, making it the biggest new project filed this year. The warehouse, which Amazon is reportedly leasing, will stand just 75 feet tall. Its location in Maspeth puts it near dense residential neighborhoods in both Brooklyn and Queens. The architect of record is BL Companies, which also designed the Whole Foods in Gowanus.
2. 700 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn
In May, Greenland USA filed plans for a 587,200-square-foot building that’s part of the larger Pacific Park megaproject. The 41-story residential building, which will be located just east of the Barclays Center, will have 682 apartments and a small amount of space on the ground floor set aside for retail. The architect of record is Dattner Architects. Pacific Park — once known as Atlantic Yards — was first proposed by Forest City’s Bruce Ratner in 2003, and has been slowly chugging along toward completion.
3. 355 Exterior Street, Bronx
Lightstone Group, led by David Lichtenstein, will transform two parcels in the South Bronx — an empty lot and a former bus depot — into a 2,000-unit residential development. In October, Lightstone filed plans for 710 of those units, to be located in a building at 355 Exterior Street. The 566,212-square-foot project will be split between 70 percent market-rate units and 30 percent affordable units based on area median income. The project, designed by Hill West Architects, will also have a retail component.
4. 90-02 168th Street, Queens
BRP Companies is doubling down on Jamaica. The firm, founded by Meredith Marshall and Geoff Flournoy, filed plans in October for a 12-story, 492,987-square-foot mixed-use building designed by Perkins Eastman. The development will have 614 units of mixed-income housing and 127 parking spaces, as well as bike storage and an art gallery. BRP is also developing a 24-story mixed-use tower and the 669-unit Crossing at Jamaica Station, both on Archer Avenue.
5. 180 Ashland Place/98 DeKalb Avenue, Brooklyn
Rockrose Development, led by father-and-son team Henry and Justin Elghanayan, is best known for towering residential buildings in Manhattan and Long Island City. But the family firm made an entrance in Brooklyn this year, with plans filed in April for a mixed-use tower on the edge of Downtown Brooklyn and Fort Greene. The 418,092-square-foot project will rise 47 stories and contain 619 units, with retail on the first floor. SLCE Architects is the architect of record.
6. 500 East 30th Street, Manhattan
The life sciences sector has been booming this year, and a project for NYC Health + Hospitals serving that purpose was one of the year’s biggest projects. The 417,734-square-foot office property in Kips Bay will rise 21 stories, and form part of the third phase of the Alexandria Center for Life Science, which is being developed by Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. The architect of record is Marvel Architects.
7. 17-21 Redfern Avenue, Queens
Phipps Houses, New York City’s oldest affordable housing developer, filed plans in May to erect a 354-unit residential building in Far Rockaway. The architect of record for the 12-story building, part of the firm’s Rockaway Village complex, is Marvel Architects. When complete, the eight-building, 850,000-square-foot complex will bring 1,700 subsidized affordable housing units to the seaside neighborhood, as well as community and retail space.
8. 55 Suffolk Street, Manhattan
In April, Gotham Organization filed plans for a 389,790-square-foot mixed-use project on the Lower East Side. The 30-story development, designed by Dattner Architects, will include 378 residential units, as well as commercial and community space. Gotham is developing the project with the Chinese-American Planning Council as part of a two-building apartment complex that will eventually have nearly 500 apartments, including affordable units and ones reserved for seniors. The site of the project was formerly the landmarked Beth Hamedrash Hagodol Synagogue, which was destroyed by a fire in 2016.
9. 180 East 125th Street, Manhattan
Gary Barnett’s Extell Development filed plans in May for a low-rise office building spanning about 354,000 square feet in East Harlem. When completed, the project will stand nine stories and 120 feet tall — a big change from Extell’s luxury skyscrapers — with community space and retail space on the ground floor. Extell spent $70 million to assemble the block-long parcel, which was previously home to a Pathmark grocery store. The project drew community opposition when the Abyssinian Development Corporation sold the site to Extell.
10. 2440 Fulton Street, Brooklyn
Rounding out the list is a commercial project from the Leser Group, founded by Abraham Leser, which filed plans in May for a roughly 325,437-square-foot commercial building in Ocean Hill. The building, designed by Marvel Architects, will stand six stories and 100 feet tall. Leser acquired the development site in 2015 for $33 million. The developer was one of the first in New York City to tap the Israeli bond market for fundraising in 2007.