Extell files permits for long-awaited Diamond District supertall

Gary Barnett undecided between office and hotel/resi for Fifth Avenue project

Gary Barnett and plans for the 1,100-foot supertall at 570 Fifth Avenue (Extell Development)
Gary Barnett and filings for the 1,100-foot supertall at 570 Fifth Avenue (Extell Development)

Gary Barnett’s Extell Development is finally moving ahead with its third development in the Diamond District.

The developer filed permits last week for an 1,100-foot supertall at 570 Fifth Avenue, according to Yimby. The project would join the firm’s other jewels in the block-long neighborhood: the International Gem Tower and a planned 534-key hotel along West 48th Street.

Barnett’s filings offer two visions for the project, which would span a 13-lot assemblage on Fifth Avenue at 46th and 47th streets. The larger option is a 1.5 million-square-foot residential and hotel tower with 1,524 hotel rooms and 468 apartments. It would stand 1,100 feet tall and, in keeping with the neighborhood’s typical offerings, include 76,000 square feet of retail at the base.

A second option would ditch tourists for workers, rising 860 feet tall and offering 1.4 million gross square feet of office space. The project would also include about 77,000 square feet of retail and a 20,000-square-foot event space.

Construction at 570 Fifth would start in 2023 and take five years, according to New York Yimby. The filings include few architectural particulars, but the project’s size alone would mark a stark departure from the brick walk-ups that characterize much of the Diamond District.

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Barnett already shook up the neighborhood in 2013 when he finished the International Gem Tower, a 500-foot office building with state-of-the-art security and an eye-catching glass façade. This new tower could stand more than twice as tall.

Under current zoning, Extell’s tower would be limited to around 645,000 square feet. (The parcels are zoned C5-3, which allows for a commercial floor-area ratio of 15.) But few firms have shown more creativity in working around zoning restrictions as Extell, and even fewer such verve for a good rezoning battle.

Barnett has spent over a decade assembling his holdings in the Diamond District. In 2016, Extell received demolition permits for a string of buildings at the development site, but only followed through on a handful along 46th Street.

Meanwhile, as the Diamond District has battled pandemic blues and an e-commerce revolution, Barnett-held storefronts from 2 through 10 West 47th Street have sat vacant. The one building on the corner he couldn’t nab, 576 Fifth Avenue, sold this summer for $101 million to an unknown buyer. Extell’s filings show a new tower wrapping around that corner lot. No architect has been revealed for the project, and Extell declined to comment.

Barnett spent years as a diamond dealer before entering real estate. Now, with much of the district in his hands, he stands to shape the arena he never truly left behind.

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