Property Grunt

Sunday, June 12, 2005

Return of the Westside

In a recent entry of the Property Grunt, the Grunt lamented of the loss of the west side stadium and the potential loss of the Olympics. However the Grunt held hope that something would be waiting in the wings. Hope springs eternal.

According to a recent article in the NYT, developers are busting through to the westside like Orson Welles at an all you can eat Chinese buffet.

Jules Demchick of the J.D Carlye group places some of the credit on rezoning.

"It's ironic, because Bloomberg wants to be remembered for the Olympics," said Jules Demchick, president of the J.D. Carlyle Group, who is building a 478-unit apartment tower on 42nd Street, between 11th and 12th Avenues. "But he accomplished the Hudson Yards rezoning. That's going to be memorable, because it's going to be a major, major area that will be developed."

The article gives a laundry list of developers who throwing tons of cash like a rabid Christian Slater at Scores, for property to develop on.

Steven C. Witkoff of the Witkoff Group is in the process of buying a large parcel across 11th Avenue from the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, between 36 and 37th Streets, where he wants to build a 1,500-room hotel on a platform over the Amtrak railroad tracks.

The Rockrose Development Corporation, which has become the largest property owner in the district in recent years, is putting together three large development sites, including both sides of 10th Avenue between 37th and 38th Streets, for as many as 1,400 apartments. The company told community board officials it hoped to begin construction this fall.

According to real estate executives, developers Douglas Durst and Gary Barnett are among the bidders for a site now owned by Verizon, on 11th Avenue, between 34th and 35th Streets, where zoning allows for a large commercial building with apartments in the tower.

Brookfield Financial Properties owns a large development site on Ninth Avenue and 31st Street that is zoned for 2 million square feet of office space, plus apartments, and the company says the loss of the stadium project has not reduced the number of phone calls it is getting from housing developers.

"We're going ahead with the project," said John Zuccotti, Brookfield's chairman. "We have interested developers who want to build the residential right now. They're still as anxious today as a week ago."

Its not all smiles and sunshines though. On a propsed extenion of the 7 train from Times Sqaure there is concern that it might suffer the same fate as the westside stadium.

However there are those who feel that a great step has been taken despite the downfall of the stadium.

In general, though, developers say they are upbeat about the area, no matter what gets built on the stadium site. H. Henry Elghanayan, a principal in Rockrose, the largest landowner in the area, said the administration is taking the wrong approach in lamenting the stadium.

"They're viewing this as a defeat," he said. "They should look at where we are and what we have accomplished, with the zoning and a beautiful master plan. It can and should go forward."