By Steve Dwyer
We’re always in a New York state of mind, and with summer arriving and locals and tourists arriving to walk the busy, bustling streets of NYC’s five boroughs, we thought it was an opportune time to spotlight six redevelopment efforts that caught our attention for their various characteristics along the lines of redevelopment best-practices.
This narrative pushes the envelope on the idea of destination-oriented place-making—if you build it they will come. The spotlight on these mega-projects puts an emphasis on the architectural innovations piece to redevelopment as well as real estate, both mission-critical but often components we don’t chronicle enough in these pages.
The time has come to give some props to these new development with an architectural twist. Entire stretches of land are giving rise to new and re-created neighborhoods, as seen with Hudson Yards and Hunters Point South. These megaprojects will not only bring many thousands of apartments—priced at and below market rate—to the city, but also bring along new cultural attractions and retail.
Following is a small sample-size of several examples we’ve curated:
Essex Crossing, 145 Clinton St., New York
The Seward Park Urban Renewal Area’s Moses-era legacy of failure is finally a thing of the past, as Essex Crossing continues its steady stream of progress. The 1.65 million-square-foot project includes 1,000 apartments in buildings designed by SHoP, Handel, Beyer Blinder Belle and Dattner. Residents began moving in to the megaproject in 2018 and 2019 will be a big year: Openings this year is a Regal movie theater, new and improved Essex Street Market, an enormous food bazaar called the Market Line, bowling alley, and outpost of the International Center of Photography.
Hudson Yards, New York
This 28-acre mega-development is the product of a 2005 rezoning that paved the way for Special Hudson Yards District. Now, 14 years later, the megaproject’s first phase—with towers designed by the likes of Kohn Pedersen Fox, SOM, and Diller Scofidio + Renfro with David Rockwell—is about to make its public debut. This first phase, part of which opened March 15, includes a condo tower, office buildings, NYC’s highest observation deck (due to open later), a high-end mall and a multi-disciplinary arts venue. The centerpiece is Thomas Heatherwick’s beehive-shaped “public landmark,” a 150-foot series of interconnected staircases.
Cornell Tech, 2 W Loop Rd., New York
Truth be told, I have a soft spot for Cornell Tech, having established a nice working relationship with Cornell Dining Services. In 2017, Ivy League university Cornell opened the first phase of its glassy, sustainable, public-space-prioritizing tech campus to a southern portion of Roosevelt Island. The first three buildings that opened include the world’s largest passive house residence, designed by Handel Architects, and the Bloomberg Center, designed by Morphosis. The multi-use development will eventually cover 2 million square feet and include academic and residential buildings, hotel designed by Snøhetta, and “tech walk,” or central campus.
Bronx Point, 145th St Bridge, New York
Bronx Point, the residential and retail project by L+M Development Partners and Type A Projects, is poised to break ground later this year. The large affordable housing development along the Harlem River in the Lower Concourse will bring 1,045 new units of permanent affordable housing, new waterfront esplanade and park connecting to Mill Pond Park, public plaza and multiplex movie theater to the site. The project is being built out in two phases, the first of which is expected to be complete by 2022.
Domino Sugar Refinery, 325 Kent Ave, Brooklyn
The Domino Sugar Refinery was once lauded as the face of megaprojects in New York City—and when it comes to Brooklyn it might still hold title to that distinction. SHoP replaced Rafael Viñoly as project architect in March 2013. Their plan for the site will bring five towers with 2,800 apartments—700 of which will be priced below market rate—and 631,000 square feet of office space to the South Williamsburg waterfront. James Corner Field Operations designed the expansive waterfront park, which opened in 2018, that includes an “artifact walk,” playground, bocce court and more perks. Its first rental building, 325 Kent Ave., welcomed residents in 2017.
Flushing Commons, 138-35 39th Ave, Queens
After a decade of delays, a giant municipal parking lot at the corner of 39th Avenue and 138th Street is finally giving rise to Flushing Commons. The 1.8 million-square-foot megaproject will bring 600 apartments, YMCA, 1,000-space underground parking garage, 1.5 acres of open space, and 350,000-square-feet of commercial space to the area. The buildings were designed by Perkins Eastman, Thomas Balsley Associates is the landscape architect, and Shim Projects is the interior designer. The entire project is slated to wrap up by 2020.
Perhaps several of these gold-standard mega-projects are ones that can wring inspiration for your next mega-project initiative!