Manhattan dev site with haunted past rises from dead

Developers file to build apartments on embattled Hudson Heights property

Bizzi Partners' David Bizzi and Alessandro Pallaoro; 524 Fort Washington Avenue (Bizzi Partners, Getty, Google Maps)
Bizzi Partners' David Bizzi and Alessandro Pallaoro; 524 Fort Washington Avenue (Bizzi Partners, Getty, Google Maps)

Just in time for Halloween, developers filed for a major apartment project on an Upper Manhattan development site with a haunted past.

Shell company Bennett Property Owner filed permit applications for a 23-story building at 524 Fort Washington Avenue in Hudson Heights. The LLC traces back to Milan-based developer Bizzi & Partners. The firm’s other New York properties include the Langham Hotel at 400 Fifth Avenue and 125 Greenwich, a luxury condo project designed by Rafael Viñoly.

Bizzi plans 164 apartments across 141,000 square feet of residential space. The firm is also planning a 133,000-square-foot community space, which would earn the project a zoning bonus. At different parts of the filings, Bizzi writes the project will span either 333,000 square feet or 275,000 square feet.

The filings do not disclose whether the project will be condominiums or rentals, but Bizzi’s three residential projects in New York to date are all condos. Nearly all apartment projects in the city that do not qualify for the 421a tax break, which expired in June, are expected to be condominiums.

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The development site has faced a stop-work order from the city since 2018, before Bizzi acquired the land, according to Department of Buildings records. Troubles at 524 Fort Washington date back to 2006, when developer Rutherford “Ruddy” Thompson acquired the site and borrowed $95 million to build condos on it.

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Construction began the following year, but screeched to a halt after the project’s lender, Amalgamated Bank, pulled funding during the financial crisis. The site went to auction and Thompson filed for bankruptcy.

Property records show Bizzi acquired the property for $6 million in January, but Crain’s reported it sold for $12 million. Bizzi did not immediately respond to request for comment.