Moinian revives plans for 42nd Street tower

From left: Anthony Kammas, president of Lyons General Insurance, Jeffrey Levine, chairman of Douglaston Development Group, moderator Lou Katsos, owner of Jekmar Associates, Taso Pardalis, a partner at Mavromihalis Pardalis & Nohavicka, Joseph Moinian, founder of the Moinian group, Bernard Tyminski, manager of construction for Bank of America, Chuck Olivieri, senior vice president of Minskoff Equities, George Liakaris, a principal at Masterpiece Construction and Barbara Koudellou, assistant vice president at TD Bank

Joseph Moinian, founder of the Moinian Group, is ready to dust off his plans for a 1 million-square-foot rental tower at 605 West 42nd Street, a 61-story high-rise planned by the company for the northwestern corner of 11th Avenue, he said last night at a panel discussion organized by the Hellenic-American Chamber of Commerce and attended by former Gov. David Patterson.

“We have approved plans and a building permit. We waited three to four-and-a-half years on the stalled site program,” Moinian said of a Bloomberg initiative that allows developers to renew active work permits for up to four years in return for following an in-depth site safety maintenance plan and keeping the site clean. “We’re going to go back and build rental apartments, which is the best kind of property right now. Banks have a listening ear for that kind of thing.”

Rental buildings are the future of New York City development, the panel, which also included Douglaston Development Chairman Jeffrey Levine, Carlos Olivieri, senior vice president of Edward J. Minskoff Equities, and Bernard Tyminski, vice president and manager of construction services for Bank of America, agreed.

“We have a market that is very thirsty [for rentals],” Levine said to the crowd, “because nothing is being built. Rentals are hot.”

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As for an overall view of the New York market, none of the panelists seemed particularly despondent, even as the stock market took a tumble earlier in the day.

“New York has risen from the ashes,” Levine said, “though it was never really in the ashes. I call New York ‘fantasy island.’ It saw corrections of no more than 20 percent for condos and co-ops. Thin supply and high demand maintained its values.”

He did say, however: “Condos are impossible to finance with the market. People don’t want to subject themselves to that kind of absorption.”

All of the executives reported that prices, demand and occupancy had almost returned to pre-recession levels.
Olivieri, speaking of 51 Astor Place, a new 400,000-square-foot office tower between Third and Fourth avenues and 8th and 9th streets that his firm is building, said there were monster-sized firms out in the leasing world, looking for millions of square feet of space. They’re rethinking their configurations, he said.

With other developers avoiding risks as the economy continues to fluctuate, Minskoff Equities is betting that 51 Astor will attract tenants once built, saying it will be superior to Manhattan’s comparatively shabby office stock.

“I have grande cojones,” Olivieri said.

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