It is now certain that within the next 10 years, the Manhattan skyline will look very different. Plans for a spate of significant high rise buildings appear to be moving forward now as the economy slowly un-locks.
Developers are readying two residential towers that will rise above most of Midtown. The massive mixed-use development planned west of Penn Station would transform Manhattan’s skyline as viewed from New Jersey. Downtown, the transformation is already happening, with the warped, metallic skin of Frank Gehry’s Beekman Tower looming over the neighborhood around City Hall and, at Ground Zero, 1 World Trade Center already rising to 36 stories.
Some of the proposed alterations to the city’s skyline have been opposed. Vornado Realty Trust’s plan to build a tower near Penn Station attracted criticism from people wanting to preserve the Empire State Building’s iconic spot.
But the new projects are being propelled by powerful forces. The City Council’s near-unanimous approval of the Vornado project is a sign that elected officials are much more concerned about producing jobs than aesthetic concerns. “They were saying New York needs new buildings,” says Carol Willis, director of the Skyscraper Museum. “Before that, I would’ve said that New Yorkers like their city just fine the way it looks right now.”
“Politics trumps everything in development,” says Leonard Steinberg, managing director of Prudential Douglas Elliman and leader of the LUXURYLOFT team. “When politicians need to create jobs, huge buildings that employ thousands become desirable, something that also caters to the Unions. Remember the midtown Jean Nouvel tower that was proposed a few years ago? Jobs were not a political issue then, so the Tower was scrapped.”
From a residential perspective new towers are definitely in demand, especially in the Midtown area: they offer the views, services and amenities that this buyer craves. Aside from the Bloomberg Tower and the Time Warner building, there are not too many options.
From the commercial perspective, businesses are demanding super-efficient high-tech spaces with high security and quality space. It is very difficult to retrofit existing buildings to achieve this.
And if you don’t think this will happen, look at West Chelsea to-day compared to 10 years ago…..100 Eleventh Avenue, 456 West 19th Street, 200 Eleventh Avenue, 231 and 245 tenth Avenue, Gehry’s IAC building, HL23, The Caledonia, all viewed from the Highline Park…..