S K Y S C R A P E R   P R E S S

Cedar Street canyon view

(30 Jan 2000)

Here will be collected (or at least that's the intention...) press clippings that are connected with NYC skyscrapers. And rather than being one of those directly connected with new building developments in the city or other issues that would warrant a treatment of their own in the Additional Info sections, these will be more of news-in-brief type clippings or of even lighthearted nature.
The dates on top of the entries refer to the addition of the clipping, rather than the actual release of the news.

2000 | 2001 | 2002 | 2003 | 2004 | 2005


24 JUNE 1999

The large Swedish contractor firm Skanska made in 1998 a survey of over a thousand Americans about their 10 favourite buildings home and abroad (a similar survey was conducted in Sweden).
Interesting in the US buildings list was the fact that, along with such "objective" views as the surveyees' own house ranking overall second, the fifth and seventh places went to the critically lambasted Sears Tower and World Trade Center, respectively. Looks like the (nationwide) public know better than the architecture critics... ;^)
Oh, yes... and a building called the Empire State Building took the Americans' number one slot.
In the worldwide lists the only "modern" skyscraper (along with the Eiffel Tower and the "leaning" Pisa Belfry) was the Empire State, ranking eighth in the Swedes' worldwide list.

Source: RIA magazine - 3/99


30 JANUARY 2000

On 25th of January an elevator in the Empire State Building fell 40 stories (approx. a distance of 400 feet) from the 44th floor, stopping only at the 4th floor.
The two passengers, employees working in the building, were not seriously hurt. It was said that the elevator had passed an inspection on May 19, 1999. All 64 elevators were scheduled for inspection on the week of the incident.
(Now, this is news that will make all Empire visitors assured -- not that there would have been a shortage of visitors anyway. ED)

Thanks to H. Brown for the info


1 APRIL 2000

Donald Trump announces the World's Tallest in New York City.
Yesterday a deal was finally made between the City and developer Donald Trump to bring the title of World's Tallest Piece of Swaying Office and Apartment Property to New York City. (So far the title has been held by two flagstaffs in Malaysia.) The planned tower will be 2001 feet high, "to commemorate the year the construction starts and to signify the yearly amount of announcements by mr. Trump for projects 'certainly to be carried out'", the developer's representative said.
From unconfirmed sources it has been informed that the deal was struck on the condition that Donald restrains himself from buying the new 50-foot long limousine that he had been eying. As the representative of Mayor Giuliani stated: "a limousine that long can pose security problems to the City Hall and also render the zero-tolerance policy useless -- that is, no tolerance for limos longer than Mayor's present 49-foot Chrysler..."

[P.S. For all I know, some people have taken the above for a real occurrence(!). In case that the tone of extreme sarcasm or the meaning of the date posted above have not revealed it: the above is a joke. Not true. Not, well, anything.]


15 JULY 2000

Commercial Mortgage Alert Newsletter: Billionaire Sam Zell's Equity Properties Trust agreed to buy one of Manhattan's largest office buildings for $715 million. Credit Lyonnais Bldg. (former Penny's Bldg.), 1301 Ave. of the Americas.
((image - the one on the right) Talk about silly money -- for that price you could have gone the French Way and make a 4.5 meter post-completion extension on the flight deck of their new nuclear A/C carrier... ED)

Thanks to H. Brown for the info


28 JULY 2000

The news about the impending United Nations renovation (link) state that the costs could be up to $1 billion dollars.
"...the United Nations � is in disrepair. Asbestos tiles violate building codes. Electrical wiring is antiquated. Inefficient windows drive up heating bills. Sprinklers to guard against fire don't exist."
"...the complex [...] hasn't had a top-to-bottom renovation since Harrison and Trygve Lie, then the secretary-general, laid the U.N. cornerstone on Oct. 24, 1949 � and it shows."
"organization would have to spend $1.6 billion including energy costs over 25 years if the United Nations continues with its current, inefficient ways and slowly replaces equipment as it wears out."
"Other proposals include building new office space or even adding extra floors onto the existing library or main office tower � although the latter is not being recommended, the diplomats said."

A once-and-for-all renovation is planned to take six years, but where the money comes, is open at the moment:
"Washington, which is already $1.6 billion in debt to the United Nations, is a tough sell on new U.N. costs."
"Hays, the deputy U.S. ambassador, said possible payment options for the U.N. renovation included interest-free loans, increasing the budget allotment over time for U.N. member states or securing a bond from private firms. "The United States will want to do the right thing," he said, noting that the renovation was part of the U.S. campaign to streamline and reform the United Nations' bureaucracy. "It's part of the reform process."

Well, that could be one way to finally make amends of the giant US debt...

Source: Associated Press article online, 22 July 2000



In a city where the ones looking up are labelled as tourists, maybe the locals should also take a peek up once in a while:
"A motorized scaffold on a building across the street from Grand Central Terminal collapsed last night, leaving three workers dangling from safety harnesses 20 stories above the sidewalk until an aerial rescue by firefighters.
"As onlookers watched from the Grand Hyatt Hotel across the street, firefighters attached ropes to columns and lowered Firefighter Dan Duddy three stories to the stranded workers, who were half-perched on a ledge of the building at 125 Park Avenue, and supported only by their harnesses.
"The debris from the scaffold hit a car on 42nd Street whose 26-year-old driver was taken to Bellevue Hospital Center, where he was in stable condition with glass in his eye. The police halted traffic on 42nd Street after the collapse."

The fall was attributed to a stuck pulley system, stones falling from the top, or a snapped support cable, depending on commentator's opinion.
"According to Department of Building records, the building, which occupies the entire east side of Park Avenue between 41st and 42nd Streets and also fronts on 42nd Street, has 19 unresolved violations."

Source: The New York Times, 1 December 2000


13 DECEMBER 2000

Connected to the previous UN renovation article, The Man himself has been drawn into the vortex:
"The Swedish ambassador to the United Nations, PIERRE SCHORI, sent Mr. Trump a three-page letter last month inviting Mr. Trump to a meeting in Mr. Schori's office at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza."
He invited Trump to discuss the possible renovation and expansion of the headquarters, estimated to cost about $1 billion.
"I want him to start thinking seriously about his neighbor, the United Nations," Mr. Schori said yesterday. "Ted Turner, Bill Gates, a lot of people like Trump are doing something about world affairs, too. I would like to talk to him, not in a confrontational way, to see if he ever thinks of those things. I have some ideas that are quite obvious. The U.N. building is in need of refurbishing if he wants to."
Ted Turner and Bill Gates? Not maybe the first examples to come to mind as altruistic world affair figures...
"I cannot for the life of me figure out how they can be spending more than a billion dollars in order to renovate and enlarge a building," he [Trump] said. "I would love to work with them so that they could save a tremendous amount of money.
"Then, a brainstorm that only Mr. Trump could have had: "Perhaps the amount of money I save could be decucted from the amount the United States owes" the United Nations. "It would be a tremendous amount."

Spot on. Even if nothing comes of it (not unheard of...), seems that I made the right move when I saluted The Man's portrait in the lobby of the Trump Tower... ;^)

Source: The New York Times, 8 December 2000


22 DECEMBER 2000

According to an NYT Article, Rockefeller Center is about to change hands (at least some of them) in spring. The combined bid of $1.85 billion by Lester Crown's family and one of the current owners, developer Jerry Speyer of Tishman Speyer has gained them the ownership of the 22-acre center.
The deal also means eventually the end of any Rockefeller family's involvement (at least direct) with the center:
"Under the terms of the pending deal, Mr. Speyer and Lester Crown's family from Chicago, which together owned 5 percent of the complex, will be acquiring the interests of their partners: David Rockefeller, the former chairman of Chase Manhattan Bank; the Goldman Sachs Group; the Agnelli family of Italy; and the estate of the Greek shipping magnate Stavros Niarchos."
The economy, at least in the NY real estate, seems to be still able to absorb its share of transactions:
"It is unlikely that there will be any major changes at Rockefeller Center when the deal is completed next spring. But the sale is another indication of a booming real estate market in New York, where over the last four years the giant financial services and media companies expanded and tourists flocked to the city. Rockefeller Center itself has doubled in value since the Goldman Sachs group bought it in 1996 for the equivalent of $900 million. At that point, Rockefeller Center had slipped into bankruptcy and the Japanese company that owned the complex had walked away from what it thought was a losing investment."
Goldman Sachs, in fact, expected $2.2 to $2.5 billion for the center, although bidders had other views:
"In recent weeks, the Fishers, Mr. Zell and Mr. Zuckerman, who said he would not go as high as $1.8 billion, dropped out of the bidding. "We felt we could invest our money elsewhere at better returns," Mr. Zuckerman said.
(Now with the 1985-1996 owners Mitsubishi, the new owner Crowns' General Dynamics (in which they have commanding share) and the General Electric in its namesake building, the center is becoming a combination of fighter (and jet engine) manufacturer names...)

Source: The New York Times, 22 December 2000

18 JANUARY 2001

According to an NYT article, a 2.4 to 2.5 magniture earthquake shook the city on Wednesday.
"Dan M. Davis, a professor of geophysics at the State University at Stony Brook, said there are 100,000 earthquakes each year around the world that are as big as yesterday's quake or bigger, and most of them do not warrant a mention. The only reason it got attention is it was shallow and felt in a high- intensity area."
The good old cross-river rivalry never fails to materialize:
"Even the epicenter was a point of contention. When early reports by seismologists put ground zero across the Hudson River in New Jersey, Mr. Giuliani appeared on television from outside a courier company in Long Island City, Queens, where some heavy shaking had been reported, and proclaimed that the earthquake occurred first and its effect was biggest beneath his city."
"The seismologists placed the epicenter somewhere on the Upper East Side, first identifying Second Avenue and 75th Street and later moving it farther uptown to 83rd Street between Second and Third Avenues."
There were initially sidewalk theories about the cause of the shaking, ranging from a manhole explosion to a covered-up disaster, but the closest one must be:
"There was also talk of God punishing a city of sinners, as one woman on the Upper East Side put it."

Source: The New York Times, 18 January 2001
27 Oct:
God certainly seems to punish with liberal supply then, as six weeks after 9/11 another one struck the city, this time, moreover, in Midtown Manhattan.
"The United States Geological Survey, in a report posted on its web site, said it recorded an earthquake at 1:42 a.m., centered in midtown Manhattan just south of Central Park. It said the earthquake measured 2.6 on the richter scale, making it one of the more powerful to strike New York City."
The jumpy atmosphere in the city was not helped the least by the occurrence:
"Rumbling from the earthquake was heard and felt distinctly across the city, and sounded to many alarmed residents like the sudden shock that struck lower Manhattan and parts of Brooklyn when the World Trade Center was attacked on Sept. 11. The police and fire dispatchers fielded a torrent of phone calls from worried residents in Long Island City, Queens, Williamsburg, Brooklyn, parts of the Bronx, the Upper East Side of Manhattan, Greenwich Village, and other locations across the city."
The material effects were, however, very small:
"Carolyn Bell, a spokeswoman for the geological survey, said that very little, if any, damage is expected even thought the rumbling was felt as far away as eastern Long Island and western New Jersey."
After all these events and uncertainties, if there's a city in need of a sports championship, it's NYC. So the NY Yankees have a huge order to fill...
Source: The New York Times, 27 October 2001


25 JANUARY 2001

Those with fear in their hearts don't play, seems the Hadar family think as they acquire the Citigroup Center. NYT reports:
"Eric D. Hadar and his father, Richard, bid $725 million for the silver tower at Lexington Avenue and 53rd Street, pre-empting other prospective buyers at the very moment many real estate executives were holding their breath, worried that the economy would slow, ending a spectacular real estate boom."
As with Rockefeller Center, another Japanese connection:
"The Hadars are expected to sign a contract to buy the office tower this morning from Dai-ichi Life Investment Properties, a Japanese insurance company that has owned a major stake in the building since 1987."
"[Then the then-]Citicorp sold Dai-Ichi a two-thirds interest in Citicorp Center and a one- third interest in the bank's former headquarters at 399 Park Avenue for $670 million."
After this transaction, Citicorp/group will move their HQ back to the 399 Park Avenue which they acquired fully back from the insurance company.
A major reason for the transaction taking place even as the US economy is undergoing a period of uncertainty stems from the prestige reasons and NYC real estate dynasties' rivalry.
"For me and Dad, this is a multigenerational asset," Eric Hadar said in an interview on Monday. "If you look back at the legendary New York real estate families, they've always built their empires by agreeing to pay up. A building like this almost never comes on the market."
Although the vacancy rate in the city doesn't (yet) cause insomnia for the owners -- even those buying with $700 million -- the slowing economy may lead to falling rates and vacant space in office towers (similarly, apartment rents have come down, at times even radically).
"Mr. Riguardi of Colliers ABR said there was still very little vacant space and new buildings under construction already had tenants, although he expected rents to fall by as much as one-third on the far West Side of Manhattan and in other once- industrial areas that had become fashionable for now struggling e- commerce and technology companies."
Indeed, the speculative purchases by funds and trusts have (again) been replaced by the wealth and long-term ownership of the developer families.
"Eric Hadar said that he moved quickly in mid-December when he heard that Citigroup Center was about to go on the auction block. He notified Dai-ichi that he wanted to make a pre-emptive offer for the building, before the Japanese company accepted any bids."
Although other bidders cringed at the asking price, with financial backing from the German Deutsche Bank, Hadars are now ready to brandish a $40 million deposit in order to complete the deal and take their place in the NYC real estate owners pantheon.

Source: The New York Times, 25 January 2001
26 Apr: Update:
The deal is closed, but with a twist:
" Although the terms of the deal to sell Citigroup Center have not changed since the contract was signed in January, the relative position of the buyers has. Mr. Hadar had signed the deal after making a pre-emptive offer for the tower three months ago.
"But instead of buying the property himself as he had originally planned, Mr. Hadar acquired a partner, Boston Properties. In subsequent weeks, the two sides wrestled for control of the joint venture, according to real estate executives involved in the deal.
In the end, Boston Properties took a controlling 65 percent interest in the venture, while the Hadars got a 35 percent stake for $35 million."

A tax-dodgin' hint for you small investors:
"Mr. Hadar recently sold a 15-story building at 1 East 57th Street, at the northeast corner of Fifth Avenue, to LVMH Mo�t Hennessy Louis Vuitton, the luxury goods retailer, for $200 million, $143 million more than the Hadars paid for it a year ago. To avoid a hefty tax bill, the Hadars had to invest a major part of the proceeds in a venture like Citigroup Center."
Source: The New York Times, 26 April 2001


16 FEBRUARY 2001

Partisan Office War rages on in the City.
Not only is Rudy a protector of decency and proper artistic values, but also of the sanctity of rental contracts: after Bill Clinton's plan to occupy a high-rent space on the 56th floor of the
Carnegie Hall Tower was severely criticized, he went for renting a space in an office building on 125th Street in Harlem.
With the 14-storey building top floor already occupied by the city's child welfare agency, Mayor Giuliani hinted of being ready to receive "an offer that they can't deny".
"Mr. Giuliani said that he had no desire to block Mr. Clinton's move to the office, at 55 West 125th Street, saying instead that it was a "good thing for him to be in Harlem." But so far, the mayor said, the building's landlord, Cogswell Realty Group, had not met the conditions the city had set to turn over the 14th floor to Mr. Clinton in exchange for other space within the building."
"The mayor said that before the city would agree to accept alternative space within the building, the landlord would have to compensate the city for giving up the top floor, with its panoramic views."

Breakin' News: Seems that just as I'm writing this, the cease-fire, I mean: deal, has just been completed on the issue.
"In addition to giving him a base among some of his strongest supporters, an office in the building with a marble lobby and panoramic views will likely cost Clinton about $500,000 less in annual rent than offices he had considered on 57th Street. The cost of that midtown address had drawn widespread criticism."

Source: The New York Times, 12-16 February 2001
18 Apr: Epilogue:
"Yesterday, officials from the United States General Services Administration signed a 10-year lease that makes the former president a tenant on the penthouse floor of the 14-story building at 55 West 125th Street in Harlem. The lease allows Mr. Clinton to occupy 8,300 square feet at the top of the building between Lenox and Fifth Avenues, paying $261,450 per year � or $31.50 per square foot, said Viki Reath, a spokeswoman for the G.S.A."
Source: The New York Times, 18 April 2001


22 FEBRUARY 2001

First time, second time, sold?
It wasn't Leona after all, to be featured here next as yet another developer paying the big money in acquiring another NYC landmark (and this time I really mean the landmark of landmarks):
"Vornado Realty Trust has emerged as the high bidder for the largest commercial real estate complex of all: the 110-story
Twin Towers and World Trade Center in Lower Manhattan."
Although the price has now doubled from the 1998 estimate for the 99-year lease, to about $3.25 billion (hum), the other two bidders were also asked to counter and raise their offers.
"Silverstein Properties, whose partners include Westfield America and GMAC, is now within $30 million of Vornado, the executives said. At the same time, Boston Properties and Brookfield [Financial Properties], once considered the sure winner, raised their offer to about $3 billion."
"As a result, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the World Trade Center, is still checking the fine print in the offers and may not complete its review in time to designate a winner at its board meeting tomorrow."
The Port Authorities, the WTC complex's owners since its inception in the late 1960s, decided to sell their real estate three years ago. But there is pressure to end the Center's long history of tax abatements:
"Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has insisted that the authority put the World Trade Center on the city's tax rolls. The authority gives the city a payment in lieu of taxes, about $29 million last year, but city officials say that is only a fourth of what the property taxes would be.
"But rather than negotiate with Mr. Giuliani, authority officials decided to wait to deal with the mayor's successor, and in the meantime will be responsible for any increase in the payments."

Source: The New York Times, 22 February 2001
23 Feb: It's been fulfilled:
The World Trade Center lease transaction will be completed for a tidy sum of $3.25 billion, with even the first installment estimated at staggering $700 million.
The deal between the Port Authority of NY and NJ and Vornado Realty Trust is expected to be completed on March 14, when the largest office complex in the world changes hands for the largest sum ever.
"At $325 per square foot, the World Trade Center is more valuable than Rockefeller Center, the landmark Midtown complex that sold last December for $1.85 billion, or $284 per square foot. Steven Roth, chairman of Vornado Realty Trust, set his sights on the World Trade Center after being deeply disappointed in losing out in the bidding for Rockefeller Center, according to real estate executives."
"Because the building was financed with Port Authority bonds, which place restrictions on any sale, Vornado would actually lease the complex, rather than buy it. But the deal would effectively give the publicly traded company full control of the the 110-story Twin Towers and two other office buildings, 4 and 5 World Trade Center, for the rest of the century."
In other words, the deal excludes the WTC Marriott hotel, the low-rise U.S. Customs Building on the north-western corner and the 7 WTC across Vesey Street.
As well as the Hadars of the Citigroup Center deal, Vornado is another relative newcomer in the NYC office market:
"It would also be an enormous plum for Vornado, which had until recently owned a collection of shopping centers across the country. But in 1996, Vornado plunged into the Manhattan market when it bought a group of office buildings. The company now owns or manages 66 million square feet of real estate in the United States, including 23 office towers in the New York region."
The office high-rise market in the city has been recently far from stagnated: in addition to new construction, also the existing large towers change hands.
"Mary Ann Tighe, vice chairwoman of Insignia/ESG, a real estate company [...] "All the great landmarks of the city have changed hands," she said, "each at a price more extraordinary than the last.""
To alleviate fears about Vornado pulling out at the last moment, due to its current extensive commitments,
"the authority has told another bidder, a joint venture of Boston Properties and Brookfield Financial Properties, that it would resume discussions if it could not agree on a contract with Vornado within 20 days."
The Authority has been criticised about selling a profitable money-maker in the Center (producing annual profit of $120 million), but by leasing the property it will still get income from the complex, without having to get involved in its upkeeping.
Dramatic increases in the current tax payments to the city could of course reduce these profits:
"Under the deal, the Trade Center's new operator would pay the city under the old formula, and any increase resulting from a new arrangement with the city would be covered by the Port Authority."
Source: The New York Times, 23 February 2001
15/17 Mar: Or not quite:
Seems that the "elbower", Vornado's Stevie Roth, is in the process of adding another group of opposing negotiators to the users of the (semi)famous T-shirt "We Survived Talks With Steven Roth", printed after a past slugging match of negotiations.
"The Port Authority had given Vornado until yesterday to sign a contract for the Trade Center, after selecting the publicly traded real estate company as the winning bidder on Feb. 22. But several days ago, Vornado tried to make substantive changes to what was supposed to be a 99-year lease for the property, according to three executives involved in the negotiations."
That is, changing the 99-year lease to a 39-year one, with possibility for renewal(s) after that.
"The authority refused, and yesterday morning it decided to end its talks with Vornado and to reopen negotiations with the second place bidder, Silverstein Properties. The Silverstein company's offer last month was only about $30 million less than the $3.25 billion bid from Vornado. The authority's real estate advisers also notified the third-place bidder, a joint venture of Boston Properties and Brookfield Financial Properties, that the deal with Vornado had collapsed."
After retracting its 39-year lease requirement, Vornado then returned to negotiations, retreated from them and restarted again after requests by the top officials from the Authority.
Source: The New York Times, 15/17 March 2001
20 Mar: Manual recount time:
Is the thriller over already? Steven Roth's Vornado has been ousted from the race.
"The authority failed to complete the deal with Vornado because "seven or eight substantial issues" remained unresolved yesterday, according to several authority commissioners. One sticking point was the company's refusal to put up $100 million in a show of good faith as the contract was signed but before the deal closed, two commissioners said."
Steven Roth stated that the Vornado board first vetoed his concessions, but even a weekend of restarted negotiations produced nothing.
"It's both a surprise and yet completely predictable given Vornado's historic negotiating approach," Ms. Tighe [chairwoman of real estate brokers Insignia/ESG] said. "These guys know how to win a bid, but they also know how to attempt to restructure the deal to make it more favorable."
It now seems that the Silverstein Properties, which already owns the off-the-complex 7 WTC, is going to add also the main WTC buildings to its roster.
Source: The New York Times, 20 March 2001
27 Apr: To count dimpled chads or not? Apparently not.
Also the second-highest bidder, Silverstein Group, has now extended the negotiations by trying to change the conditions and details of the deal.
"The developer, a group led by Larry A. Silverstein, had been negotiating with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey for the last 36 days over a 99-year lease for the 110-story towers and the Trade Center.
"But in recent days, Port Authority officials became increasingly concerned about the group's financial viability, especially as Mr. Silverstein appeared to retreat on a number of issues, including reducing his $800 million down payment. The four Port Authority commissioners in charge of the sale decided yesterday to end negotiations, but relented when Mr. Silverstein asked for a final opportunity to complete a deal."

Patience is apparently ending on the opposite side of the table:
"'I don't mean to sound na�ve,' said Charles A. Gargano, vice chairman of the Port Authority, 'but it's astonishing to me that they believe they can play a game of chicken with us.'"
- - -
"A group led by Larry A. Silverstein, a developer, and Westfield America Inc., an owner of shopping centers, signed a 99-year lease yesterday after working nearly 24 hours straight on the agreement. Still, the Port Authority delayed the start of its board meeting yesterday afternoon until the developer delivered a $100 million letter of credit, the first installment on a $616 million down payment. The group will then make annual rent payments to the Port Authority, manage and lease the complex and spend $200 million on capital improvements."
"In the end [...] there were various trade-offs. The Silverstein group lowered its down payment from $800 million to $616 million but raised its annual rent payment. Mr. Silverstein also had to post a nonrefundable letter of credit, which had many Port Authority executives holding their breath until shortly after 3 p.m. yesterday."
The third-highest bidder in the race was in fact originally the Authority's favourite:
"Some Port Authority executives said that the Brookfield group was considered the strongest contestant but that its bid was the lowest at $3.1 billion. The bistate agency did not want to open itself up to criticism for favoritism, so it opened negotiations last month with Vornado."
The hot question of tax payments is still open:
"Charles A. Gargano, vice chairman of the Port Authority, said the bistate agency would negotiate with the city over payments in lieu of taxes for the property. The World Trade Center paid the city about $29 million last year, but Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani has insisted that the number should be equal to full property taxes, about $100 million."
Silverstein at least was happy with the outcome.
"'I'm thrilled to pieces,' he said yesterday. 'I've been looking at the trade center for years, thinking what a great piece of real estate, what a thrill it would be to own it. There's nothing like it in the world.'"
Source: The New York Times, 26/27 April 2001

22 FEBRUARY 2001

Better late than never, seems the Hearst Corporation have thought, when they contacted the British archi firm of Foster & Partners about completing the Hearst Magazine Building at 595 Broadway.
"The current building � a landmark designed by Joseph Urban in 1926 � has only six stories. Marked by monumental pylons whose tops reach far above the roofline, the squat structure was intended as the base of a larger building, but the Depression and World War II got in the way."
Meant to collect the now-dispersed Hearst Corp. magazines under one roof, the building will also consolidate the company's long roots (and once-ambitious aspirations) in the area.
"The Hearst project would join a media row along Broadway, with the Random House headquarters under construction between 55th and 56th Streets and the AOL Time Warner Center soon to rise from foundations on Columbus Circle.
"But the other companies do not have Hearst's deep roots at Columbus Circle, which go back 106 years to the acquisition by William Randolph Hearst of The New York Journal, at Broadway and 58th Street. Hearst planned towers around the circle and imagined it as "Hearst Plaza.""

Except for 1946 plans for a nine-storey tower, there have been no serious attempts to extend the building's Art Deco and Vienna Secession-styled base.
"The project would undoubtedly be expensive. And it faces engineering challenges, governmental review, an uncertain real estate market and probable opposition from neighbors."

Source: The New York Times, 22 February 2001
30 Nov:
The design has now been unveiled and tentatively approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
"'It really does complete the building,' Ms. Paulsen [the chairwoman] said. 'The very theatrical aspects of Urban's design are realized.'"
The development was, overall, seen as a positive sign in the present situation:
"[...] the Rev. Dr. Thomas F. Pike, a member of the commission, said the timing of the proposal so soon after the attack on New York would send a hopeful sign that 'the creative process goes on' in the city.
"His enthusiasm was shared by the Municipal Art Society, the New York Landmarks Conservancy, the New York chapter of the American Institute of Architects and Community Board 4 in mid-Manhattan."

The official proceedings reflect that feeling too:
"The Hearst Corporation and Lord Foster had so carefully cultivated support for the project that the entire formal review lasted only 2 hours and 40 minutes, from the opening statement by Frank A. Bennack Jr., president and chief executive of Hearst, through Lord Foster's presentation, public testimony, questions and answers, commissioners' remarks and the vote."
There has also been resistance to the way the design turned out:
"'"Isn't it a neat building?" is not the question,' said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, which did not support the plan. 'The question is whether it's appropriate. We feel it's not an appropriate building. It does not respond to, respect or even speak to its landmark base.'"
For details, see the
New Developments entry.

Source: The New York Times, 30 November 2001


1 MARCH 2001

The investment bankers Goldman Sachs are planning to replace the elevated plaza at 55 Water Street with a new addition including several large trading floors. The development would use air rights transferred all the way from the South Street Seaport district.
"To build the new 13-story, 750,000- square-foot [69,700 m²] trading structure, designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, Goldman Sachs would eliminate the elevated plaza and alter the north tower, adding 35 feet to its height. The trading floors would have 56,000 square feet [5,200 m²], an extraordinary amount of room in the cramped financial district."
And as usual, the city and state will be milked for corporate welfare.
"The project's cost has been estimated at $850 million. The company might apply for financial incentives from the city and state. Completion of the building is expected at the end of 2004."
The banking firm has already leased spaces from a host of buildings across the Financial District.
"Besides the headquarters at 85 Broad Street, Goldman Sachs leases large blocks at 10 Hanover Square, 1 Liberty Plaza, 180 Maiden Lane, 1 New York Plaza, 32 Old Slip and 77 Water Street."
The company is proposing to provide funds for neighbourhood improvements.
"To make up for the loss of open space, Goldman Sachs would pay for $5 million in improvements nearby. It would furnish a 1,300-foot stretch of East River esplanade, from Old Slip to the Battery Maritime Building, with a bike path, a walkway and seating; landscape a barren public area in front of 55 Water Street; and contribute to the renovation of Vietnam Veterans Plaza on the south side of the tower."
A part of a futuristic plan, the plaza hasn't been a total success, not least due to owners' actions through the years.
"Fifty-four steps above street level � and even farther off the beaten path � the plaza is one of the largest privately owned public spaces in New York."
"Escalators to the plaza have frequently not worked in the past (and were not operating yesterday and Monday). In the 1980's, when 55 Water Street was owned by Olympia & York, stairways to the plaza were barricaded for years."
"Today, it is isolated, barren, usually deserted and sometimes downright scary. A concession stand has long since been boarded up and the fountains silenced."

(I can agree on the scary part, while taking the plaza image last May, I was definitely working faster than normally...)
But the residents in the 205 co-ops of the 3 Hanover Square are against the proposition, partly because of lost river views.
""It is somewhat ironic [...] that part of the reward for neglecting a public plaza is giving the ownership the right to not only eliminate the public space but to add a 750,000- square-foot building on the site.""

Source: The New York Times, 28 February 2001
7 Mar:
The tower plans have been swiftly reversed and Goldman Sachs will let the lease fall through.
"The company's withdrawal puts 1.38 million square feet at 55 Water Street back on the market � more space than in the entire Chrysler Building. It will be vacated in 2003 by J. P. Morgan Chase & Company."
The owner of the building is expecting to get the space easily sold nevertheless:
"Other prospective tenants have already spoken up since Goldman Sachs made its decision known on Monday evening, said Edward J. Kulik Jr., the head of real estate for the Retirement Systems of Alabama, which manages the state's pension programs and owns 55 Water Street."
The owners haven't, however, completely ruled out a later-day tower addition to the plaza.
Source: The New York Times, 7 March 2001


5 MARCH 2001

Another Speyer news, again.
Jerry Speyer's Tishman Speyer has closed a $300 million deal, handing over a 75 per cent stake of the
Chrysler Building to a German investment group.
"The investment group, TMW, can now claim a hold on a 77-story skyscraper with an internationally recognized profile. But the current owners, Tishman Speyer Properties and Travelers Group, will retain control of the tower and the adjoining 32-story Chrysler East building."
The deal originated from an auction effort of the building last year -- as the expected $800 million offer wasn't forthcoming (the buildings had cost $220 million in 1997 + $100 million worth of renovations), a financing deal was struck instead.
As for where we're going now:
"Under the terms of the deal, the 1.2- million-square-foot Chrysler Building is valued at $400 million. The smaller tower, once known as the Kent Building, is valued at about $300 million."
The partners of the deal also co-own the Tishman Building on Fifth Avenue.

Source: The New York Times, 5 March 2001


6 APRIL 2001

Was already wondering which one they're gonna vacate...
Deutsche Bank is probably the next (and only second) owner of the
60 Wall Street, built for the J.P. Morgan Bank to Downtown Manhattan. After being vacated by the late-2000-merged bank of J.P. Morgan Chase (with the nearby 1 Chase Manhattan Plaza remaining in the bank's hands), the German bank will combine its operations within this one office building:
"Deutsche Bank has about 10,000 employees spread among its current headquarters, at 31 West 52nd Street, and 130 Liberty Street and seven other buildings, including three in Jersey City. An executive who had been briefed on the deal said, 'To have everyone in one location is a positive thing for a bank.'"
J.P. Morgan Chase vacated the building in favour of a Midtown location, an ongoing trend in the financial/banking sector (along with leaving for Jersey City, something that the bank has made with operations in the 55 Water Street).
"Deutsche Bank and its broker, Insignia/ESG, had been scouting sites for well over a year. Deutsche Bank finally latched onto 60 Wall Street after J. P. Morgan quietly began circulating sales information."
The deal also continues the series of heavy-duty NYC financial transactions:
"Real estate executives estimated the sale price would fall between $530 million and $640 million."

Source: The New York Times, 6 April 2001


27 MAY 2001

The practice of open houses, open-door presentations by real estate agents of apartments for sale, are only one of the many forms of peeping activities in The City, and also have their share of heavy-duty "activists".
"While estimates vary, a number of agents figure that at least 20 percent of their open house traffic is not serious."
In a way they are only a pre-virtual reality, lo-tech civic (or rather, private) activity:
"'For the everyday person who wants to see what a million-to-a-two-and-a-half-million-dollar apartment looks like, instead of looking at it in Architectural Digest, they can walk through,'"
The Man himself is however not so amused about the activity on his properties, including the new
Trump World Tower:
"'In a certain way, they're virtually professional con artists,' Donald J. Trump said. 'Sadly, I get more than anyone else by far.' Of all his properties, he said, Trump World Tower, on First Avenue and 48th Street, attracts the most 'false hunters,' as he calls them. 'It's the tallest residential building in the world,' he said. 'They all want to see it.'"
And finally a new sightseeing hint for overseas tourists:
"Even tourists find their way to open houses. Robert Gross, a senior vice president at Douglas Elliman, said he had some visitors from Japan last year. 'They came in with their guidebooks and the Sunday Times,' Mr. Gross recalled."
Mark my words & forget about Brooks's The Producers, this will be the next Big Thing in the Big Apple...

Source: The New York Times, 26 May 2001
10 Mar 2002:
What did I say? The new craze (even more so post-9/11) is indeed gaining momentum:
"It's 'the perfect post-9/11 activity,' said Frederick W. Peters, president of Ashforth Warburg Associates, a real estate brokerage. 'It combines the New York obsession with money and investment, and the post-September preoccupation with home and family.' And although there is no citywide record of open-house attendance, Mr. Peters estimates that the number of shoppers has quadrupled since last year."
Just like any other popular "hit", the Open Houses has expanded almost out of control:
"In past years, open houses were businesslike affairs with a few serious buyers and a curious neighbor or two inspecting the cabinets and pacing out the bedrooms. But things have changed. On Sunday alone, there were 408 open houses in Manhattan, attended by thousands of inquisitive visitors."
In the recent months the residential market has been characterized by the duality of, on one hand, the post-9/11 discount market in Downtown (especially in Battery Park City), on the other the hyperactive uptown market with heated activity.
"'It's madness, what's going on,' [buyer] Mr. Galper said with a smile. 'It's been like this ever since people lost faith in the stock market and have decided real estate is safer. And, from what we're told, there's not much available, and a lot of people looking for it.' He glanced around. The agent was racing up to the entrance. 'Hopefully, the market won't kill itself,' Mr. Galper said, following her through the mahogany double doors."
Source: The New York Times, 9 March 2002
9 Sept 2004:
In two years, the situation has turned into a headache for building residents and co-op boards:
"At a time when low interest rates and scant inventories of available apartments are helping sellers draw 100-plus crowds to open houses, their neighbors are becoming fed up with what they see as marauding hordes invading their privacy. They are tired of strangers clogging elevators, wandering halls, popping down to the basement to inspect laundry rooms and knocking on doors to ask pesky questions about pet policies and party rules."
And why stop there:
"At one Upper East Side open house, said Sam Elias, a broker with Halstead Property, some buyers knocked on neighbors' doors, asking residents if they were interested in selling."
This has led to an inevitable backlash in the way the open houses are now dealt with:
"Some co-op boards and condominium associations are now clamping down, limiting how many people may attend an open house at a time, demanding that brokers escort every buyer or, in some cases, banning open houses altogether."
A controlled presentation is the order of the day, although the changed policies may well have an effect on the financial outcome of apartment sales:
"Elaine Clayman, a broker with Brown Harris Stevens [...] said that without open houses, sellers 'are not going to get the energy of one buyer playing off the other, or buyers seeing offers being made in front of them.'"
The competitive atmosphere of the open house can help fetch offers that exceed an original asking price:
"By Monday morning, [seller] Mr. Sukenik said he had received three offers, all over the asking price of $989,000. On Tuesday, a buyer signed a contract for more than $1 million, he said.
"'Residents who encourage bans on open houses are shooting themselves in the foot. It's a double-edged sword, because if they don't want to see people in their lobby now, they're darn well going to want to see them when they go to sell their apartment.'"
Source: The New York Times, 13 May 2004


21 JULY 2001

The always unease marriage of developers and architects is now nevertheless getting a dose of counselling as the new, trendy wave of NYC residential skyscrapers clad by the Architectural Names is gaining momentum.
Donald is not the only one well-versed in making hyperboles; the developer of the new
425 Fifth Avenue has come forth with no less extravagant comments that will be boosted by the presence of the name of architect Michael Graves:
"The fact is that my building is going to become one of the Three Sisters, along with the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Building. This isn't grandiose. This is reality. It's going to penetrate the skyline. It will change every postcard of New York City."
The power behind the newly-found collaboration of the two professions has (usually) been the interest from condo buyers that the involvement of a well-known architect can bring to the sales market.
"'In the current glutted market, the signature name gets people through the door.'"
For a relatively bearable increase in architect fees, the increased sales -- as well as, sometimes, more streamlined application process in the hands of the city officials -- can be a valuable asset.
"'Basically, New York housing is designed by formula, with lots of restrictions.' And it's not just because of zoning. Between the bankers who lend the money and the developers, the notion of what will sell 'is so conservative, so tightly drawn, both by code and convention, that it's impossible to get anything approved.'"
And talking about Donald, the first major NYC residential project using a "name" architect, Philip Johnson's Trump International Hotel & Tower, was indeed a success on the market, even though not between the two major players:
"'Philip had a few ideas about the skin of the building � that's all,' Mr. Trump said last week. 'Philip added much more to the promotional value of the building than he did to the design.'"
And in the spirit of mutual friendliness the reply from Johnson was:
"'That's very funny. I said the same of him.'"
But not even a name designer like Johnson can ensure success with the officials; his planned residential tower at the West Village/TriBeCa waterside is likely to be snubbed:
"The building, which needs both height and use variances to be built, would be 26 stories high. 'I don't think we'll get it,' Mr. Johnson said on Monday, of the variances. 'The rules are that buildings can only be so high in that district, and we're double that.'"
Thank God.
But despite the aggravating working conditions, NYC is The Place to come and design a work:
"'When you're talked about here, it registers everywhere. It's the premier marketplace in the country. It's like a great big trumpet.'"
On the other hand, as the NYC developer maxim according to Don Trump (who rejoined his old designer C. Kondylis for the Trump World Tower) goes:
"'If I were a buyer, I'd much rather have a great developer than a great architect.'"

Source: The New York Times, 19 July 2001


18 AUGUST 2001

A loosened scaffolding for a construction elevator at the construction site of the Westin New York Hotel at Eighth and 43rd led to the closing of the street for five hours.
"Firefighters and police officers began closing off the block to pedestrians and traffic, while workers installed additional braces. Fire apparatus and rescue trucks at Eighth Avenue and 43rd Street snarled traffic before safety officials determined that the scaffold was not in danger of collapse. The block was reopened to traffic by 6 p.m."
If the incident seemed similar to the one that occurred at the nearby Condé Nast Building in 1998, also the supplier of the elevator, Universal Builders Supply, was the same.
"In the earlier accident, in July 1998, a 700-foot elevator scaffold at the 48-story Cond� Nast building in Times Square buckled and broke, killing a woman in a nearby hotel and paralyzing traffic for several days. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration later found that the scaffolding had been missing critical support braces on 10 floors and fined Universal $18,200."
The Buildings Department investigates the causes of the failure, but the company has already been fined $7,600 in February this year for safety violations.

Source: The New York Times, 17 August 2001


7 OCTOBER 2001

With the dust settling in Downtown Manhattan and the clearing of debris underway, Larry Silverstein -- the head of the consortium led by Silverstein Properties that leased the World Trade Center and also owned the collapsed 7 WTC -- is already planning a new development to the site:
"'I am obligated by my lease to pay rent for 99 years, I am obligated to rebuild, and I have the money to rebuild,' he explained, referring in an interview to his expectation that insurance companies would pay him more than enough money to build what he vowed would be "world class quality" office buildings. 'It seems to me I am going to end up rebuilding; the only question is how best to accomplish that,' he said."
With the situation being unbalanced and still very much clouded by uncertain economic future, prompt action is the developer's way:
"Mr. Silverstein's pledge � he said he wanted to erect an "appropriate" memorial to the 6,000 victims and resurrect ten million square feet of lost office space � also serves as a way for him to stake his claim early in a shifting landscape of loss, economic uncertainty, competition and clashing political interests."
Silverstein has wasted little time in getting the wheels turning and the connections and backing cleared for a redevelopment.
"Mr. Silverstein has attended memorial services and fund-raisers, and he has also met with his lawyers, advisers and government officials. Last week, he hired the prominent architect David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill. New York officials went to Washington to meet with the New York congressional delegation to press for more federal aid. So did Mr. Silverstein, in meetings yesterday with Representative Charles B. Rangel and others. Mr. Silverstein sought federal guarantees for construction loans and protection from lawsuits brought by the victims or their families, according to a government aide who attended the meeting."
As for the economic impact on Silverstein Properties:
"Mr. Silverstein said that he was entitled to $3.6 billion in insurance to cover the losses in each terrorist attack, and that since there were two, he was counting on $7.2 billion. He acknowledged that the insurance companies disagreed with his theory, but added, 'they are showing every sign of acting like statesmen.'"
One thing that I wasn't personally aware was the insurance for such a vast amount -- or that the insurance companies would be prepared to pay for such an occurrence... So, far from being broke, Silverstein Properties should be well-off for any kind of future redevelopment.

Source: The New York Times, 5 October 2001
24 Oct:
Not so fast. As can be guessed, the insurance settlement for the terrorist attack of September the 11th is actually far from settled, given the vast amount of payment in question:
"After trying unsuccessfully to negotiate a lower bill, the biggest insurer of the World Trade Center went public with a conflict yesterday. The insurer, Swiss Re, sued to limit how much it will pay to half of what the buildings' managers are asking."
The problem stems from the differing views on the issue of "separate terrorist attacks" as a basis for payment. According to the insurance policy -- that was, moreover, still under negotiations during the attacks -- the insurers (22 companies in all, with Swiss Re, the world's second largest insurance company, providing 22% of the pool) were to pay $3.5 billion for each terrorist attack on the center.
"The real estate executive whose companies hold a 99-year lease on the property, Larry A. Silverstein, has said he will seek $7 billion from insurers. He argues that each of the two hijacked airliners that crashed into the towers constituted a separate attack covered by $3.5 billion in insurance."
The company disagrees and adds:
"In its complaint, Swiss Re also suggested that Mr. Silverstein had significantly underinsured the center, taking out $3.5 billion to protect property and an income-stream from renters that was worth more than $5 billion over three years."
The lack of tenant income from the vast complex is indeed going to hit Silverstein's profits hard and make a dent in the developer's ability to re-develop the site.
"Mr. Silverstein � who, like many real estate developers, invested relatively little in the deal and was highly leveraged � has said he intends to use the insurance proceeds to construct new buildings on the site. But lawyers say that some of his lenders fear the insurance may be inadequate to cover both the loss of the buildings and the lost rental income that had been viewed as crucial to making the interest payments on the loans that were secured by Mr. Silverstein's company to acquire the lease last summer."
While the court battle goes on and the insurance companies seek financial federal support for payments of future terrorist acts, Swiss Re is starting payments:
"Mr. DuBois [a top Swiss Re exec] said yesterday that the company had begun to take steps to provide initial payments to Mr. Silverstein's companies and the Port Authority, the owners of the property. The insurers have agreed to make an advance payment on claims of about $75 million, and Mr. DuBois said the lawsuit was also part of the effort to swiftly resolve legal issues."
Source: The New York Times, 23 October 2001
6 Nov:
The battle has only just begun:
The loss of revenue income is getting critical for Silverstein Properties as time drags on:
"Mr. Silverstein paid about $6 million on his mortgage last month; [...] For now, he can cover that and other expenses � including $10 million a month in ground rent to the Port Authority � out of a pool of lease payments and security deposits paid in advance by Trade Center tenants. But even with the fund he can probably afford to hold out for no more than four months without receiving insurance payments."
The political and financial pressures also spur him to make moves to prepare for reconstruction on the site.
"A battery of architects, engineers and cultural experts is being consulted to draw up plans and blunt efforts by rivals to control reconstruction.
"At the same time, Mr. Silverstein is trying to hold together a coalition that includes the Port Authority, which owns the site, and his lenders and co-investors in the buildings that have been destroyed. It is a tenuous alliance, one which is certain to fracture should some members begin to sense that they will not be repaid by Mr. Silverstein or come to believe that he cannot get all the money he claims that the insurers owe him and cannot cap his liability."

The insurer counterparts naturally try to persuade the developer to let the redevelopment effort fall through -- less money spent on construction supports their view of smaller insurance payments and lessens pressure on full compensation.
"The suit by Swiss Re, the insurer with the most at stake in the Trade Center disaster, is a clear effort to put pressure on the alliance and possibly prompt some of the investors or lenders to pressure Mr. Silverstein to walk away from a rebuilding effort, experts say."
"If Mr. Silverstein's insurers pay him only $3.6 billion, his desire to rebuild could be frustrated. The value of the Silverstein group's remaining lease payments to the Port Authority is about $2.6 billion. The developer also owes about $30 million annually to the city in lieu of real estate taxes, and several hundred million dollars more to lenders."

As for the core of the debate, the "one or two instances?":
"Mr. Silverstein's lawyers maintain that New York state law, which governs the case, makes clear that each crash and collapse was a separate insurable event. In 1959, they note, the New York Court of Appeals found that the collapse of two walls in adjoining buildings owned by one person, 50 minutes apart, were distinct events."
Despite claims of under-insurance, the maximum of $3.6 was in fact dictated by the insurers themselves as a maximum they were going to go.
"When the Port Authority ran the trade center, it had $1.5 billion of insurance coverage. The Silverstein group of investors initially sought $2.3 billion in coverage, but lenders wanted more. So Mr. Silverstein's partnership raised the coverage to $3.25 billion and then, about a week after the closing, to $3.6 billion."
In any case, the fate of any redevelopment will be eventually decided by higher forces:
"Even if Mr. Silverstein ultimately wins the money he wants, any effort to rebuild inevitably comes back to the Port Authority and the governments of the states of New York and New Jersey and of New York City.
"They may not be interested in supporting Mr. Silverstein's ambitious desire to replace all of the trade center's 10 million square feet of office space and 500,000 square feet of retail space just now because of the slowing economy and potential tenants' concern about further terrorist attacks. If he duplicated the twin towers' size � whether in two 110-story towers or a combination of shorter buildings � many people involved in ongoing negotiations worry privately that no one would rent the space."
Source: The New York Times, 3 November 2001
28 Aug 2002:
The proposals about land swap of the WTC site to city control could affect Silverstein also, with him being ousted from the developer's seat:
"It remains to be seen whether a deal for a land swap will be struck. But as much as Mr. Silverstein wants to avoid the idea of his elimination, the insurance carriers with whom he is battling in court have rushed to embrace it. The insurers have bitterly opposed his claim that the attack on the trade center constituted two events � two planes, two towers � which would entitle him to a double payment totaling about $7 billion.
"The companies have described Mr. Silverstein's claim as extortionate. They recently offered to pay him $1.8 billion."

Which is interestingly only about half of the amount agreed on a single occurrence scenario... Those insurance companies, little rascals...
In the immediate aftermath of 9/11, the insurance claims and the presence of Silverstein in the redevelopment of the site were still secure:
"[...] Mr. Silverstein's 99-year lease with the Port Authority required him to continue paying rent and to rebuild what was there. Furthermore, few executives at the authority wanted to jeopardize Mr. Silverstein's $7 billion insurance claim, because that money would be used for rebuilding. If he is successful, the authority's share of the insurance proceeds would jump to $3 billion, from $1.5 billion."
In the recent months, however, Silverstein position has become precarious, with his role in the future of the site ranging from being a co-developer in a part of the original site (and perhaps on some nearby, off-GZ plot) to being completely ousted. In either case, he'd be likely to get only a portion of the total insurance claim.
"'Larry will need to save face in some way,' said one executive who has negotiated with Mr. Silverstein in the past. 'This was his dream, and he won it fair and square.'"
The case will be settled in two trials: the first one from 4 November onwards, to determine whether there were one or two attack occurrences, the second one (carried out if the first trial concludes there were two occurrences) to determine the amount of damage payments.
Source: The New York Times, 17/24 August 2002
7 October 2002:
The battle of forms:
"The trial over the multibillion-dollar insurance claims at the World Trade Center is likely to be delayed until at least next spring, so that the complex's leaseholder, Larry A. Silverstein, can file an appeal of a recent ruling involving 3 of the 22 insurance companies involved in the case.
"Judge Martin ruled on Wednesday that the Hartford Fire Insurance, Royal Indemnity and the St. Paul Fire and Marine Insurance Company are liable for only a single payout totaling $112 million in connection with the attack on the trade center, not the double payment demanded by Mr. Silverstein."

The other insurance companies involved in the WTC insurance deal will seek similar decisions that would effectively restrict their liability.
"On the advice of the Federal justice overseeing the World Trade Center insurance case, lawyers for the Port Authority and Silverstein Properties plan to ask the higher court make an expedited ruling on whether New York law would apply to the main Travelers' insurance binder, which has no definition of what constitutes an 'occurrence.'"
The appeal to the three-judge US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit will determine whether the companies were bound to the limiting WilProp form that limits losses in multi-occurrence mishaps or to no form at all. The appeal will likely postpone the decisive jury trial to March.
Sources: The New York Times, 27 September 2002 +
New York Post, 28 September 2002

22 December 2002:
The Federal judge has reversed his earlier decision and ruled that the three companies are, after all, required to treat the attacks as two separate occurrences.
" In September, [the Judge John] Martin sided with three insurance companies who viewed the Sept. 11 attacks as one occurrence - reducing Silverstein's potential payout even before a trial. The developer is appealing those rulings.
"Yesterday, three more insurers asked for the same ruling. But Martin turned them down."

Hearings will be postponed to March, with the trial set for mid-2003.
"The suit could affect rebuilding at the WTC site. Silverstein wants to replace the office space at an estimated cost of $6.5 billion, not counting lease payments to the Port Authority."
Source: NY Daily News, 20 December 2002
29 November 2003:
Oh how time flies. And oh how there's still no resolution on the insurance issue:
" Fifteen months ago, Judge John S. Martin of the United State District Court asked the two sides to reach a settlement in a last-ditch attempt to avoid a trial. Swiss Re offered $1.8 billion on behalf of the insurance companies, while Mr. Silverstein wanted $5.7 billion. And last month, the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit rejected Mr. Silverstein's argument that he was owed two insurance payouts as a matter of law, saying it was a matter for a jury trial."
Despite a successful "holdout policy" by the leading insurers, some have preferred to get out of the 9 percent interest to be paid on top of a payback:
"So far, the insurers have paid out $1.9 billion, $600 million of which has been spent on rent, debt service, legal fees and other items."
Holding their own, an offer from the main insurer doesn't seem like a great windfall for the developer:
" Jacques E. Dubois, chief executive of Swiss Re, said yesterday that his company remained 'ready, willing and able to honor its contractual obligation to pay its share of the $3.5 billion as expenses are incurred.' If Mr. Silverstein wants a lump sum payment, he said, the net present value of the claim would be about $2.3 billion. That is not a figure likely to win an agreement from Mr. Silverstein, downtown executives said."
If Silverstein loses the jury trial, he'd be short of funds for rebuilding, although he pledges to keep on construction schedule.
"A single-occurrence payout would provide "between 60 and 65 percent" of the total rebuilding cost, which he estimates to be 'in excess of $6 billion.'"
And there is to be yet more material for courtroom contention:
"Silverstein's lawyers will argue that Travelers, one of his insurers, successfully claimed in a California case that the near-simultaneous burnings of four different courthouses by a deranged man constituted 'multiple events.'
"'When a jury hears that Travelers is speaking out of both sides of their mouth, it will view [9/11] as multiple events, which New York deserves,' Silverstein said."

Silverstein, on the other hand, seems to have deserved to have a notable refund of the deal-making equity payment:
"Under a sweeping agreement between the developer and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, Mr. Silverstein and his partners, who include the investors Lloyd Goldman and Joseph Cayre, will get back $98 million, or almost 80 percent of the $125 million in equity that they invested in a 2001 deal that gave them control of the World Trade Center for the next 99 years. The Port Authority, which built and owned the trade center, valued the original deal at $3.2 billion."
In 2001, Silverstein collected a group of investors to grab the perhaps most prestigious concentration of real estate in NYC:
"He raised about $110 million from the Goldman real estate family and Joseph Cayre, an investor who made a fortune in the entertainment industry before shifting to real estate. His group borrowed $563 million from GMAC. For its part of the trade center deal, Westfield put up about $127 million.
"Mr. Silverstein's group then paid the Port Authority a $491 million down payment and together with Westfield agreed to pay about $120 million a year in rent. Six weeks later, terrorists steered two commercial jets into the twin towers."

In order to streamline the ongoing WTC rebuilding process in terms of fund availability, the lender for Silverstein's base funding for the 2001 bid is bought out:
"Mr. Silverstein's windfall is a byproduct of an agreement by both sides to use insurance proceeds to pay off his lender in the trade center deal, the GMAC Commercial Mortgage Corporation, at a cost of $563 million.
"When GMAC is paid off, the lender will turn over to Mr. Silverstein an escrow account with $130 million in insurance proceeds and a $98 million reserve account, according to three people involved in the negotiations.
"As part of his agreement with the Port Authority, Mr. Silverstein will use the $130 million sum for rebuilding, as well as any other business interruption insurance proceeds that are not spent on ground rent and other expenses. But he and his investors will keep the $98 million, the three people said."

Nice for the investors.
The removal of potential nuisances to rebuilding efforts includes also the original retail leaseholder:
"At the same time, the two sides agreed that the Port Authority would pay $140 million to buy out Mr. Silverstein's partner, Westfield America, which controlled the retail mall at the trade center."
There are also voices that dissent the financial proceedings:
"'Only in New York can a developer strike a deal with government to get his money back and still walk away with a prime piece of real estate,' said Harvey Robins, who was a top city administrator in the late 1980's and early 1990's."

Sources: The New York Times, 10 October 2003 +
New York Post, 14 October 2003 +
The New York Times, 22 November 2003

23 February 2004:
The gloves are off and the court battle on -- at the stake the ruling about whether the insurers would have to double the amount they are willing to pay as a coverage for the terrorist attack.
"Mr. Silverstein has lost a series of crucial rulings leading up to the trial, but both sides have expressed optimism over the ultimate outcome. Opening statements will come from a trio of shrewd and colorful lawyers, with Barry R. Ostrager and David Boies representing the insurers and Herbert M. Wachtell representing the developer."
The insurers will have to hope that Boies succeeds better now than in November-December 2000...
"Judge Michael B. Mukasey of Federal District Court, who is hearing the case, has tried to contain the issues. He threatened contempt charges if the two sides talked to the news media in an attempt to sway public sentiment. And he told the jury last week that he did not know if the verdict would affect the rebuilding effort, but he cautioned jurors that it should not 'enter into your decision in this case.'"
We'll see about that.
If the single occurrence ruling is the result, the insurers have already paid a considerable portion of their liability:
"So far, the insurers have paid out $1.9 billion, $600 million of which has been spent on rent, debt service and legal fees. (An additional $700 million was spent on paying off the mortgage on the property and buying out the trade center mall operator, Westfield America. But both Mr. Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey are required to replenish the rebuilding fund when the insurance case is resolved.)"
The issue of
differing forms will be vital in determining the outcome of the trial:
"This trial is to determine whether Swiss Re and 12 other insurers were bound by Wilprop, as they contend. Swiss Re's legal arguments have centered on one of Mr. Silverstein's insurance executives, Robert Strachan, the developer's risk manager. The day after the attack, Mr. Strachan sent out a memo indicating that the insurance language entitled Mr. Silverstein to one payment of $3.5 billion.
"But Mr. Silverstein's pretrial memo contends that Swiss Re never accepted the Wilprop form and that the company was later notified that the Travelers form was going to be used in the placement."

Some reinsurers are already out of the fray:
"The court has already ruled that three insurers, with a total coverage of $112 million, were bound by Wilprop, which regards the destruction of the trade center as a single occurrence. Early on, Mr. Silverstein settled with two other companies, with coverage totaling $365 million."
Source: The New York Times, 9 February 2004
9 September 2004:
It's all but over:
"A federal jury in Manhattan said yesterday that the single largest insurer at the World Trade Center was limited to a single payout of $877 million, not the double payment sought by the developer Larry A. Silverstein in his long-running legal battle over the downtown complex."
Despite Silverstein's claims that the form to be used in determining the "occurrences" in the attack was eventually switched to the double-payment Travelers form:
"The jury said yesterday that Swiss Re, like 13 other insurers, had committed to providing insurance based on a proposed policy devised by Mr. Silverstein's own brokers, which was known as the Wilprop form."
The decision was a big blow to the leaseholder, who had been expecting to finance the reconstruction through the insurance proceeds.
"The jury's latest decision reduces the maximum possible payout to $4.5 billion, if Mr. Silverstein wins every remaining legal battle, including a second trial that could start in August."
With the income from the insurers now severely reduced, Silverstein's ability to commit fully to the original promise of rebuilding the center has also been decisively reduced and his role in the redevelopment questioned.
"A city official who requested anonymity suggested that it was wiser to allow Mr. Silverstein to build the first tower, at an estimated cost of $1.5 billion. The other office sites could be sold to other developers when there are tenants.
'You've got to let him save face,' the official said. 'They've got to cut a deal where he remains the developer of the first building, with a profit interest, and then cut him loose.'"

Source: The New York Times, 4 May 2004
19 December 2004:
After the string of courtroom disasters, a small triumph for Silverstein:
"A federal jury has decided that the Sept. 11 attack on the World Trade Center was two occurrences for insurance purposes, meaning leaseholder Larry Silverstein stands to collect up to $4.6 billion."
The nine insurers (out of 24) involved in this court case were ordered to pay double their portion in the total WTC insurance package, $2.2 billion in all.
The ruling was a reversal of the
earlier lawsuit, in which the jury stated that no insurer was exempt from the single-payment Wilprop form.
"The trial, which ended after 11 days of deliberations, was the first in which jurors were asked to decide whether the terrorist attack that killed 2,749 people could be considered two attacks since two planes hit two separate towers."
The insurers claimed that just like this year's multiple Florida hurricane hits less than 72 hours apart were dealt as single occurrences, so should the 9/11 attacks and that the number of weapons used shouldn't determine the number of occurrences. To counter:
"On behalf of Silverstein, attorney Bernard Nussbaum said there was precedent in the insurance industry to find the terrorism was two events. A California case concluded that four separate insurance events occurred when an arsonist set four separate fires, including two six minutes apart in courthouses 200 yards apart."
The ruling could raise the maximum insurance payment from all insurers to a total of $4.6 billion (out of $7 billion originally sought), but even this victory is still no done deal:
"Silverstein still must go to a three-person appraisal panel to collect the money. The insurers are also expected to appeal the decision."
The ruling is expected to lead to rising premiums or other tightening of the policies especially in potential high-risk targets.

Sources: Associated Press, The New York Times, 7 December 2004
18 March 2006:
And appeal they will:
"Insurance companies asked a federal appeals court yesterday to reject a jury verdict that would enable developer Larry Silverstein to obtain an extra $1.1 billion to rebuild the World Trade Center complex."
That would have amounted to the $4.6 billion mentioned above, but Silverstein's side is not going to watch idly either -- their scope being on the verdict of the California arsonist case:
"Silverstein's lawyers also asked the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to order a new trial so he can try to recover more money from the largest insurers of the trade center, which was destroyed by terrorists on 9/11.
"Fighting the verdict in the first trial, Silverstein's lawyer, Herbert Wachtell, said the developer would have won against more insurance companies if the jury had been allowed to hear
[arsonist case-related] evidence that was excluded."
All this goes on while the World Trade Center rebuilding is falling even deeper into a quagmire:
"The collapse of the negotiations, an embarrassment to both Mr. Silverstein and Gov. George E. Pataki, is only the latest problem to cast doubt over the future of the ground zero site. Fund-raising for the World Trade Center memorial is going slowly and critics have questioned whether the $2.3 billion Freedom Tower should be built.
"The dispute between Mr. Silverstein and the Port Authority surfaced as state and city officials became concerned about the developer's ability to rebuild the entire site, at an estimated cost of more than $7 billion, when there is only $2.9 billion in insurance money available. Under Mr. Silverstein's lease at the trade center, he has both the right and the obligation to rebuild all the commercial space, at an estimated cost of more than $7 billion."

Sources: New York Post, 8 March 2006 and The New York Times, 18 March 2006


8 OCTOBER 2001

Like I've always said: "one day they'll see it with my eyes..."
In fact, after the 9/11 attacks and the subsequent mourning of the WTC, I wondered whether NYorkers would give other undervalued behemoths more lenient treatment as a part of their high-rise legacy. Seems that at least some people in the once-critical communities have reversed their view.
"In 1963 the
Pan Am Building, just north of Grand Central Terminal, was to many critics one of the biggest and ugliest things on the Manhattan skyline. Today, as workers are cleaning and restoring the white facade of what is now the MetLife Building, there are signs that a new generation is re-examining that decades-old verdict."
For me the only "proper" (and unabashedly elitistic) way to arrive in Manhattan has been by helicopter straight to the Pan Am roof helipad; a vision of a British Airways Chinook or Sea King whisking from JFK, past ground traffic congestion was one of the first about NYC in my childhood. The Pan Am was back then in fact the second building that I got to know from NYC -- after the Empire of course -- and I've thus never lost my "affection" to it, despite its undeniable shortcomings (seems like after the 9/11 I'm starting to lose my grip and start a batch of "confessions")...
"Helicopter service to the roof (discontinued after an accident in 1977) realized a futuristic dream. In a 1966 article in The Architects' Journal, the architectural historian Reyner Banham said: 'There is no other way to come into the island city of Manhattan. From now on, it has to be helicopter or nothing.'"
But indeed, lately several former detractors have started to give the building more credit:
"Frank Sanchis, executive director of the Municipal Art Society, has been involved in an unsuccessful effort to get MetLife to retain the Albers mural, "Manhattan," over the escalators leading to Grand Central. (The mural has been stored during renovations and MetLife has said it has no plans to put the mural back because it interferes with light and open access to the lobby.)
"'You have to put your personal response to it aside,' Mr. Sanchis, who is 58 and remembers the original dispute, said of the building. 'It involved some major figures, and there are so few buildings that actually try to integrate art and architecture. But I don't think the landmarks commission is going to designate it anytime soon.'"
You can say that twice.
"John Jurayj, 32, a painter in Brooklyn, has been involved in several preservation efforts and is a member of a preservation organization, the Modern Architecture Working Group of New York City. Mr. Jurayj, who was not born when the building went up, said he sees it as "very forward thinking and not antiurban in terms of bringing people back to the city � it's a very high quality building.
"'It seems that New Yorkers are emotionally connected to what were originally brutal interventions of our skyline. The loss of the World Trade Center shows that buildings that we may not think of as great architecture are important to our sense of ourselves and our city. Aesthetics are dependent upon the passage of time.'"

Source: The New York Times, 7 October 2001


17 OCTOBER 2001

The 1 Liberty Plaza next to the WTC, a building that was already reported as collapsed on live TV on 9/11 (adding to the feeling of total destruction conveyed through the evening of channel-hopping) is now due to open -- albeit to a greatly reduced clientele, strengthened security and an air of gloom (and acrid smell).
"Among the buildings in the area, 1 Liberty Plaza was unusual because of the numerous erroneous news reports, including one broadcast on CNN, that the building had collapsed. In fact, the building also had its own rumor mill and its own running joke, which made its way up from the street all the way to the Department of Buildings: 'Oops, Liberty Plaza just collapsed again.'"
The building has been reported as "structurally sound", but the hesitation to return doesn't stem from the fear of collapse:
"What scares many of those who will be moving back has nothing to do with structural integrity. It has to do with the emotion of doing business in offices practically atop ground zero. The building's lobby was an emergency triage center on the night of the attacks, and one of its stores was a makeshift morgue. The building is directly across Church Street from the trade center's rubble."
As for the owners' thoughts about the future of operations in the building:
"The building's management company, Brookfield Financial Properties, is gauging what occupancy will be after the attacks. The chief executive of Brookfield, Richard B. Clark, said he recognized that 'a number of firms that had to take temporary space have the latitude to take their time before coming back.' He added, 'I think it will take a month or so before people come back in.'"
For the time being the displaced companies are more committed to staying in their temporary locations or new permanent office spaces, something that may only change slowly.
"Mr. Mermel [chief executive of TenantWise.com] said he concluded from his surveys that only 12 percent of tenants who leased more than 10,000 square feet of space in destroyed or damaged buildings had committed to returning to Lower Manhattan. That might be because the logistics of working so close to ground zero present their own set of challenges."

Source: The New York Times, 17 October 2001


25 OCTOBER 2001

The hefty aid package of $54 billion requested from Washington D.C. to help New York state in the aftermath of the 9/11 is far from certain and will almost certainly be heavily cut; some of it has been nevertheless earmarked for the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan.
"Under the city's proposal, businesses that agree to return to or set up shop in Lower Manhattan would receive a $5,000 cash bonus for each employee, and developers would have access to tax-free bonds to help erect buildings in the area destroyed by the terrorist attack last month. The city estimates that the cost of reconstructing downtown at between $8 billion and $15 billion."
At the same time Senators Hillary Clinton and Charles E. Schumer are drawing from city officials' and businesses' guidelines, proposing an alternative package -- and one more likely to pass -- of tax abatements and subsidies for companies returning to Downtown Manhattan and for developers building there. (So, while the "heroes" of the city booed Clinton on/offstage during the MSG charity concert, she is doing her own part in getting the city back on track. But why let facts come in the way of good catcalling...)
The scheme would consist of tax abatements based on the number of workers for the duration of three years, with also the possibility of subsidizing NYC businesses moving outside Manhattan. The Downtown support proposal could reach a total of $750 million to refill approx. 2.3 million m² of new office space.
A variation by Clinton and Schumer would also extend the period of subsidies and possible not have a pre-determined maximum sum.
"However, city officials hinted that since it was unlikely that two huge towers would be built in the World Trade Center's space and that smaller buildings might go there instead, businesses that chose to set up shop in other boroughs might be accommodated by this plan if lower Manhattan became overpopulated."
And as for the construction subsidies itself:
"For some developers, who are loath to build in Manhattan because of high costs and bureaucratic hurdles, the city would like to offer access to tax-exempt bonds that would significantly reduce their costs of building. The city envisions developers going to its Industrial Development Authority to secure bonds on which purchasers would not be obligated to pay city, state or federal taxes, in turn lowering the interest rate for the developers.
"City officials argue that the benefit is attractive because although it would represent a loss of about $13 billion in tax revenues for the federal government, it would not require a cash payout to the city. Tax on bond interest was not anticipated revenue anyway, since there were no plans before Sept. 11 to do major rebuilding in lower Manhattan."

Source: The New York Times, 24 October 2001
11 Nov:
At least the US Senate Finance Committee has now approved the $5 billion stimulus package for Lower Manhattan, as championed by Clinton and Schumer. As part of a national aid package, it has to next pass the vigorous scrutiny of the Senate.
"Mr. Schumer and Mrs. Clinton introduced their proposal late last month, saying it would spur the redevelopment of Lower Manhattan by offering $5 billion in tax breaks and other incentives for businesses."
The package consists of employee-based tax credit for businesses ($2 billion), tax-exempt financing for WTC site reconstruction ($2.5 billion) and tax deductions for replacement of business equipment not paid for by insurance.
Source: The New York Times, 9 November 2001
7 Feb 2002:
Another $700 million added to the relief package tally from Washington, this one as a part of the Community Development Block Grant program, as requested by the state:
"Of the $700 million, $396 million is earmarked for loans and grants to small businesses. The next largest portion, $250 million, is to provide incentives for companies to stay in Lower Manhattan or relocate there."
With the amount of small businesses replaced running in thousands and with the financial heavyweights relocating and dispersing their operations to other parts of NYC or to New Jersey, there is a strong call for financial incentives to revitalize the area.
"Federal housing officials said they expected to approve another Community Development Block Grant for New York within two months. It would provide $2 billion for similar purposes."
Even with all the fulfilled and projected incentive packages provided by Washington, the total provided adds up to $11.2 billion which still falls short of the $20 billion promised after 9/11.
"Mr. Pataki unveiled a proposal for spending the money in December. The proposal for use of the $700 million was devised jointly by state and city officials, with advice from citizens and businesses affected by the Sept. 11 attack. But they have not reached a consensus on what to do with the trade center site."
Source: The New York Times, 3 February 2002
9 Mar:
A renewed pledge to provide the financial support for New York from Washington -- with a $1,5 billion extra:
"To date, the White House and Congress have set aside about $11 billion in emergency aid for New York. The deal outlined today would provide an additional $5.5 billion in direct federal money, along with the $5 billion in tax credits and other incentives to keep businesses from leaving downtown Manhattan."
The makeup of the direct federal rebuilding support:
"The plan includes $2.7 billion in disaster relief for cleanup at the site paid through the Federal Emergency Management Agency; $1.8 billion to rebuild the subway and PATH lines that were destroyed in Lower Manhattan; $750 million to reconstruct Con Edison and Verizon facilities, a cost that was going to be passed on to customers; and $167 million to repair roads, like the West Side Highway."
The $5 billion in the tax credit "Liberty Zone" program in the latest makeup of the aid package has divided the opinions.
"Part of the disagreement stems from the fact that no one ever laid out specifically how the president's $20 billion commitment would be paid. The supporters of the tax credit program said that it was as crucial in helping rebuild New York as direct federal aid is."
"That plan includes 13 additional weeks of unemployment benefits for people who lost jobs in New York and elsewhere as a result of the attacks."
Although the administration has now officially approved an enlarged aid package, it has to pass the Capitol Hill.
"These pieces of the package require approval by Congress, where lawmakers in both parties have been uneasy about increased spending when the nation is at war and the economy has weakened. And one element, the bailout for utilities, requires changing the rules for how emergency aid can be used."
Source: The New York Times, 8 March 2002



Back to the old days when the firefighters were in jeopardy only due to lousy machinery:
"Forty-two people were injured yesterday when part of a cooling and ventilation unit exploded in the basement of a downtown office building, officials said.
"The explosion occurred around 1:20 p.m. at
1 New York Plaza, officials said, while firefighters were preparing to leave the building after having extinguished a small blaze that broke out at a construction site there hours earlier.
"The construction crew had been dismantling a chiller unit that was part of the building's heating, ventilation and cooling system, officials said. After that fire had been put out, and firefighters were preparing to leave, there was a large explosion."
Although the exact cause of the explosion is unknown, it is known that sparks from a demolition saw was the initial cause. No structural damage to the building was reported.
"Although contained, the fire continued to burn into last night. That, said Chief Norman, was a necessary precaution because of the intense heat from the still-burning [5,000 deg.F] titanium rods that made up the chiller unit.

Source: The New York Times, 2 December 2001



Seems like these days New Yorkers are calling for a return of biblical proportions: the indomitable Moses himself: Robert Moses, the public works überherr in the city in 1934-1968, the forceful mind behind an array of highway, bridge, park and construction projects (many of which were blissfully left unrealized).
"Mr. Moses comes to mind increasingly as New Yorkers look to the rebuilding of the World Trade Center site and wonder how it will ever be accomplished, given clashing agendas and a large and ever- growing cast of characters, not one of them a leader with the kind of power and authority it will take to bring order to fragmentation, vision to necessity."
So, a Moses is what's seen as a necessity in that multitude of committees and bodies involved in the redevelopment of the WTC site:
"Consider the list so far: Survivors of the victims of Sept. 11; Gov. George E. Pataki and Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg; the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the land; Larry A. Silverstein, who bought control of the trade center complex two months before the attack and is already planning to rebuild 7 World Trade Center; the 11 members of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, 7 appointed by Mr. Pataki, among them its chairman, 79- year-old John C. Whitehead, and 4 by former Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani; an advisory panel to the development corporation that includes several state and city politicians; more advisory panels to be appointed by Mr. Whitehead; neighborhood representatives; and assorted interested parties from editorial boards to academicians."
Would there be a place for a Moses in the collective heart of the city's populace, even after an era that brought a multitude of personal and political clashes connected to Moses's plans? (After all, even Giuliani with, at times, similarly brash and unapologetic methods, redeemed himself in the eyes of the NYorkers before his departure...) Even though such a choice could well follow the pattern of Moses's ultra-utilitarian approach...
"A latter-day Moses could do it � a sensitive Moses, if that is not a contradiction in terms � with the vision to realize that there is more at stake than constructing an appropriate memorial and putting up new buildings. There is the larger task of reinventing a strategic section of the city."
A sensitive Moses? That indeed seems a contradiction of the greatest magnitude. So much for an office-dominated development then... Although when it comes to handling such large-scale plans that the WTC (and Lower Manhattan) redevelopment requires, Moses would relish, I doubt that he would much cherish views and wishes outside his vision.
"Robert Moses in his prime would have pretty much ignored all those players and done as he wished. Nobody would defend that today. But more than a few New Yorkers are asking if there is something halfway between a willful master builder and decision (or indecision) by committee."

Source: The New York Times, 4 February 2002


25 FEBRUARY 2002

Yes, this is another one with Don Trump.
The joint 50-50 ownership of the
ex-General Motors Building on Fifth Avenue is crumbling three years after the $878 million purchase:
"But the deal started to go sour after [CEO] Mr. Hilbert got tossed out of Conseco in 2000 when the company nearly collapsed under a mountain of debt. The new management team wanted cash, lots of it. Conseco negotiated for more than a year to sell its stake to Mr. Trump for $295 million before the deal finally fell apart."
The disparity of the owners' investments in the building is evident in the demand that Conseco gave Trump in January:
"Conseco notified Mr. Trump in January that he had until the Ides of March to buy out the company for $500 million (and take over, or refinance, a $700 million mortgage), or they would purchase his stake for $15.6 million."
After the office space market collapsed post-9/11, financing of such magnitude was almost impossible, even though Trump had got before that as much as $135 a square foot for office space. Trump now accuses Conseco of delaying the $295 million deal in order to get more money for their stake. Conseco, on the other hand, had refused to accept the collateral of Trump's financing through Deutsche Bank already in July 2001.
Both have incentives to go to the courtroom:
"If Mr. Trump wins his legal challenge to Conseco, he figures he will get the trophy at a discount, as well as hundreds of millions of dollars in damages. If Conseco wins, its chairman, Gary Wendt, and the insurance company say they will shed their partner, now unwanted, and gain even more money to put into a company that is still in desperate need of cash to pay off debts."
The value of the building has now in any case fallen notably from the high-rent days:
"Mr. Trump and Conseco put the value of the G.M. Building at about $1.2 billion, far more than most executives believe it is worth today. It is a valuable property, they say, but rents are down, not up, and the Midtown vacancy rate is near double-digits., and more than 40 percent of the tower is under long-term lease at below-market rents."

Source: The New York Times, 20 February 2002
21 Dec:
The battles for Donald over the building continue, naturally:
the renting of the building's Fifth Avenue plaza for CBS's morning shows continues to anger the residents in the neighbouring Sherry-Netherland Hotel:
"The hotel residents are so incensed about what they describe as the racket and congestion outside the studio, just across 59th Street, and what they see as CBS's attempt to turn the public plaza at the General Motors Building into a private stage, that they reinstated their long-simmering lawsuit against the network, abandoning efforts to reach a compromise through court-ordered mediation.
"It is the kind of melee between the haves and the have-mores that New Yorkers love to watch. But some urban planners say the lawsuit also raises some important questions about an all-too-common problem: the private appropriation of what are supposed to be public spaces. It is all the more intriguing because CBS's landlord at the G.M. Building, Donald J. Trump, has charged the network rent for a public space."

The use of supposedly public space (allowing the building developers to acquire more development rights) for private, commercial purposes is a large enough problem, even without the neighbours complaining about noise and disturbance.
"It is like what happens outside the NBC "Today" show studio in Rockefeller Center, which is private property, or ABC's 'Good Morning America' studio, which is ringed by sidewalks in Times Square. The difference, they say, is that CBS has taken over a public plaza in violation of city laws."
Despite the network's efforts of mediation like offering to re-glaze the Sherry-Netherland's windows facing the plaza, the residents are adamant; the city backs CBS although it hasn't, on the other hand, ever given the required permit for the commercial activities on the plaza. It follows the pattern found in numerous cases, where the, in-principal,
public space has been illegally taken over by commercial uses.
"'Each individual violation may not be the biggest deal,' Mr. Kayden [of Harvard School of Design] said, 'but the cumulative effect seems to give private owners the sense that they can privatize public space without a penalty. That's especially wrong when you think about the financial aspects.'"
For $25 million worth of publicity for the GM products, the studio deal with CBS was struck and the conversion was rapidly approved by the city.
"The Sherry-Netherland lawsuit asserts that the Planning Department approved the permit in an 'uncharacteristically expeditious' two days. The suit added that CBS had misled the city by asserting that the indoor studio would have little impact on traffic congestion or noise levels."
Source: The New York Times, 17 December 2002
9 Sept 2003:
Trump and Conseco may have dished out a healthy sum for the building six years ago, but a new deal rises the bar by almost half as much: Harry Macklowe -- who got fame in 1985 as he tore down four buildings on W 44th without a permit (later building the Hotel Macklowe on the site) -- has won a bidding for the marble trophy:
"To get it, Mr. Macklowe did have to outfight and outmaneuver more than two dozen other developers and investors for what is regarded as one of the best office buildings in the world."
The most notable thing about the transaction was, however, the price: Macklowe bid a record $1.4 billion (or $800 per sq.ft). A vast sum even in the company of recent record-breakers, including the ill-fated $3.25 billion WTC deal:
"The previous records were the $1.05 billion, or $630 a square foot, that Boston Properties paid to buy Citigroup's headquarters at
399 Park Avenue last year, and the $700 million, or $700 a square foot, that Lehman Brothers paid for 745 Fifth Avenue [Squibb Building] in 2001."
Many of the bidders offered $1.3 billion, but Macklowe pulled the rabbit out with his first large-scale transaction in a decade.
" The other bidders included Wells Real Estate Funds of Atlanta; Jerry Speyer, chairman of Tishman Speyer, which controls Rockefeller Center; a group headed by the investor Lloyd Goldman; Samuel Zell of Equity Office Partners; the investor Marvin Davis; Aby Rosen of RFR Holdings; a billionaire family from Mexico; and investment groups based in Germany like Paramount and Jamestown."
The number and value of bids are an indication of the desirability of the building in the NYC office market.
"Although office rental rates are down and vacancies up in New York, sales of first-class office towers have remained strong. 'This price is a testament to lower interest rates, a global belief in the Midtown market and the resilience of trophy buildings in any market cycle,' said Mary Ann Tighe, of the CB Richard Ellis real estate firm."
What about the ex-owner Trump, who lost the court battle with Conseco in June (see above)?
"'It's a great building in a great location,' Mr. Trump said yesterday. 'I did a great job in order to make it a great building.'"
Source: The New York Times, 30 August 2003
21 Sept 2003:
The sale of the GM Building is facing a major barrier in the form of a lawsuit:
" Sheldon H. Solow, a rival bidder, filed a suit in Chancery Court in Delaware on Sept. 12, seeking to block the scheduled closing of the sale to Mr. Macklowe next Friday. Mr. Solow contends that the seller, an entity controlled by Conseco Inc., rigged the auction to ensure that the building was sold to Mr. Macklowe."
The lawsuit claims that whereas the Solow bid, which was for the same amount than the winning Macklowe bid, was submitted before the submission deadline, the Macklowe one was in fact delivered only after it. The lawsuit will question the sellers' fairness and conduct in the auction process.
"'Far from being surprised by Macklowe's arrival after the deadline,' the suit states, 'defendants' broker knew that Macklowe would be delivering this untimely bid, and promptly ushered him into the brokers' office and back out before Defendants' lawyer arrive to open the sealed bids.
"Mr. Solow's lawyers have acquired a security videotape from the office building where the bids were delivered to back up his claim, according to one person who is involved in the lawsuit."

The deal was to be finalized on September 26th, but if the lawsuit is accepted in a hearing on the 23rd, the transaction will be at the very least delayed considerably.
" Mr. Solow contends that the unfair process was intended to establish a market price for the skyscraper in order to permit Mr. Macklowe to submit a bid that met that number."
Source: The New York Times, 20 September 2003


29 MARCH 2002

Donald once more. This time troubled by the Byzantine ownership wrangles of the Empire State Building, the once-more tallest in NYC.
"Peter L. Malkin, who leads a partnership that holds the master lease for the entire building, signed a contract to buy the 102-story tower for $57.5 million, real estate executives said. The deal is expected to close in early May, effectively buying out Mr. Trump and his Japanese partner."
The complex ownership of the building is divided into the building proper ("title"), the long-term (master) lease of it and an operating sublease. The holding partnerships of both the long-term lease and operating sublease have Malkin as an investor.
"With the contract, Mr. Malkin's partnership, known as Empire State Building Associates, will merge the lease and the title to the skyscraper for the first time since 1961."
Before the deal the title was held by the Trump Empire State Partners, led by Donald Trump and the daughter and son-in-law of Hideki Yokoi, the Japanese businessman who in 1991 gained the ownership of the building for $42 million. (Yokoi had to make a secret bid through a middleman due to a prison stint and lost reputation after a fire at one of his Tokyo hotels had killed 33...) The Empire State Building Associates' bid was then $32 million.
"It was not a lucrative deal for Mr. Yokoi [...] who brokered the transaction with Mr. Trump. Mr. Yokoi later accused her [daughter] of trying to steal the skyscraper from him. [The tumultous dispute was finally solved in 1999.] Under the terms of the 1961 lease, Mr. Yokoi's company has been getting only $1.97 million a year in rent, a sum that drops to $1.7 million in 2013."
The operating sublease is currently held by Malkin and the infamous Leona Helmsley, the widow of one of the original buyers of the building in 1961, real estate tycoon Harry Helmsley. After trying for four years unsuccessfully gain the control of the lease in court, Trump Empire State Partners finally put the building title on sale.
"Last year, the Japanese company and Mr. Trump announced that they would review offers for the tower. Several companies bid, but Mr. Malkin's partnership made the highest offer. According to executives, the Malkin group obtained a mortgage from North Fork Bank."
Although Trump claims to be gaining $15 million, the truth must be a bit more modest:
"Under the original terms of his partnership, Mr. Trump was to get half of the sale price above $45 million, which would be $6.25 million."

Sources: The New York Times, 19 March 2002 + The Wall Street Journal, 5 October 2001
11 Apr:
The plot thickens as new characters are introduced:
Now Leona Helmsley and her management partner Irving Schneider are suing Peter Malkin on the basis that he'd breached ethical obligations in his supervision of a number of buildings, as determined by a panel of arbitrators.
"The arbitration ruling a year ago, which is at the base of the lawsuit, arose from an effort by Mr. Malkin to remove Helmsley-Spear from managing a number of properties, including the Empire State Building. The panel barred Mr. Malkin from removing Helmsley-Spear unless he followed a specific set of procedures."
The lawsuit is not restricted to the Empire:
"Mrs. Helmsley and Irving Schneider, a longtime partner of Mrs. Helmsley's late husband and an owner of the Helmsley-Spear management company, also sought in two other lawsuits filed on Tuesday to remove Mr. Malkin and his law firm from involvement in two garment district buildings, at 112 West 34th Street and 1333 Broadway."
Schneider already sued Malkin last year to stop his partnership from gaining the title from the Trump coalition -- a feud in which Helmsley supported Schneider. Malking is now simultaneously going forward with the plan to oust Helmsley-Spear from the managing of several buildings, while at the same time trying to counter the allegations.
The main characters' partnership backgrounds tangle back a long way:
"They are bound together in a series of real estate deals constructed decades ago by Mrs. Helmsley's husband, Harry B. Helmsley, and Mr. Malkin's father-in-law, Lawrence Wien, now deceased. Mr. Schneider was a partner with Mr. Helmsley in many properties and a top executive at Helmsley-Spear, once the city's largest real estate company."
...And their feuding history resembles a complete mess:
"Even before Mr. Helmsley died in 1997, Mr. Schneider sued Mrs. Helmsley over her decision to close most Helmsley-Spear offices outside New York. Mr. Malkin later sued Mrs. Helmsley and Helmsley-Spear, alleging mismanagement in dozens of buildings. Mrs. Helmsley later invoked a truce with Mr. Malkin, while selling Helmsley-Spear to Mr. Schneider. Now she has rejoined Mr. Schneider against Mr. Malkin."
Now I've seen it all.
Source: The New York Times, 11 April 2002
7 Oct:
Still troubles for at least Leona:
"Management and leasing for the
Lincoln Building at 60 E. 42nd St., the Fisk Building at 250 W. 57th St., the Toy Building at 200 Fifth Ave. and 501 Seventh Ave. must be turned over to another firm in mid-November, a state Supreme Court judge ruled last week."
The voters -- investors in the respective properties -- voted in each case with over 60 percent majority for the change of management.
"In 1997 Mrs. Helmsley sold the management company to their friend and partner, Irving Schneider. Investor Peter L. Malkin of Wien & Malkin - the son-in-law of another late-partner, Lawrence Wien - has been overseeing capital improvements to the properties and has been trying to wrest complete control of the portfolio for many years."
The Empire was one building not affected by the decision, so the battle for its control between Leona and Malkin can continue unabated.
Source: New York Post, 25 September 2002
6 Dec:
Wien & Malkin has proceeded with reshuffling the management and leasing after Helmsley's appeal over the court ruling was turned down on October 31.
" Management and leasing for the Lincoln Building at 60 E. 42nd St. will be taken over by Newmark & Co. while Cushman & Wakefield will handle the Fisk Building at 250 W. 57th St. and the two International Toy Center buildings at 200 Fifth Ave. and 1107 Broadway.
"Another building at 501 Seventh Ave. is about 50 percent occupied, and Insignia/ESG will oversee its transition from fashion to office tenants."
Source: New York Post, 19 November 2002
27 Feb 2006:
Three years on and we have a resolution:
"In a big win for Leona Helmsley, her former company Helmsley-Spear can continue to act as leasing agents for the Empire State Building and four other properties, the state's highest court ruled.
"In a decision published yesterday, the Court of Appeals upheld a 2000 arbitration award in favor of Helmsley Spear and said an Appellate Division court erred when it did not agree with the arbitrators."

Source: New York Post, 23 February 2006


16 APRIL 2002

A double feature involving -- who else but -- Trump.
Trump has been forced to continue the selling of his own, high-ceilinged (6 meters), 1,860 m² duplex atop the
Trump World Tower, after a substantial offer wasn't forthcoming:
"Cem Uzan [...] a member of the Turkish family that owns the Telsim telecommunications group, was prepared to pay $38 million for the penthouse (that price would have topped the most ever paid for a Manhattan apartment: $37.5 million). Alas, the once high-flying Uzan defaulted on his contract and lost his $8 million deposit."
Trump's asking price of $58 million -- more than the abovementioned $57.5 for the Empire State Building -- has not so far been met...

The NYT article about urban decay "scavengers" (web site) in the city ends with a praising note about the brand new building's condition -- albeit with a gloomy prediction:
""We wanted to see if the Upper East Side was broken," Mr. Goldsmith said.
"And it was," Mr. Wondrich said, "except for that new Trump U.N. Tower. We spent 10 minutes looking at it."
"Couldn't find a single thing wrong."
"We were stunned."
"We crawled over every inch of that building."
"Donald Trump, man, he stuck it to us." Mr. Wondrich raised his glass in salute. "But I guarantee you, if we go back in two years to the Trump building ��"
"We'll find something broken.""
Source: The New York Times, 13 and 14 April 2002


28 JULY 2002

In the lack of other "vignettes" (the debt clock reopening wasn't an event enough), it's back to the always reliable one:
"The US boasts many real estate tycoons - from New York's Jerry Speyer to Chicago's Sam Zell to San Francisco's Walter Shorenstein. But there is only one mogul who has found a way to make money on properties without building, owning, managing or even investing in them."
I'm sure you already know who it is (and how easy it is to make money when you have The Touch):
"Donald Trump is not only a prolific developer but he is also a celebrity endorser, paid to put his name on other people's buildings."
Such developments profiting (along with Don himself) from the Trump "brand" include the Florida developers Dezer's condo buildings and hotels in Miami, like the modestly-named "Trump Grande Ocean Resort and Residences", and the 41-storey twin luxury towers "Daewoo Trump World" in Seoul, South Korea. Europe is also a potential target.
"For his name, and his advice, Mr Trump demands a percentage of the building's profits and sometimes a flat fee. His take can reach into the 'tens of millions', he said. 'I only put my name on places that are going to be great (and) we have a lot to do with the design of the building, the look of it.'"
The luxury draw of the name can have very concrete financial advantages, and not only for Trump who, for example, gets 45 percent of profits over the investment payback from the
Trump Place and 50 percent, depending on the outcome of the operations, for his $6.5 million investment on the Trump World Tower:
"'The name has brought tremendous value... because it connotes high quality and great location.' [...] 'He has established that Trump means luxury and you know what you get,' said Barbara Corcoran, chairman of one of New York's largest residential real estate agencies. The cache of Mr Trump's name is quantifiable. In the late 1990s Ms Corcoran was asked to estimate the value of the Gulf & Western building, which Mr Trump, Daniel Galbreath and the GE Pension Trust were negotiating to buy and recreate as a residential and hotel property. 'I was asked to calculate the sale value with the Trump name and without, and it landed somewhere close to a 20 per cent difference,' she said. 'There was no way GE could have considered going in with anyone but Donald.'"
With Trump's namesake buildings all over Midtown, the first one interestingly almost got a rather more effeminate epithet:
"'I was originally going to call it the Tiffany Tower' for the famous jewellery store next door, [Trump] said. 'But I asked my friend "Do you think it should be Trump Tower or Tiffany Tower?" And he said, "When you change your name to Tiffany, call it Tiffany Tower."'"
With the overseas, Miami, Atlantic City, Gary, Ind. projects, as well as the planned Trump Tower Chicago, the name has been spread outside the confines of NYC, where it may even flourish better:
"'Outside New York, the Trump name says luxury and sex appeal,' Ms Corcoran said. 'In New York, it says flashy, and flashy isn't for everyone.'"

Source: The London Financial Times, 28 January 2002


24 OCTOBER 2002

This is getting boring, but what else can you do when The Man provides all the best material...
In a brawl which, at least figuratively, pits the penthouse occupant Conan O'Brien against Donald Trump, the residents in the West 72nd St. apartment building the Chatsworth are battling to get a change to the building permit that allows the latest addition to Trump's
Trump Place to be built cheek to jowl with it.
"If Mr. Trump has his way, his latest condominium tower at Trump Place will cantilever over the 36-inch strip and block the unobstructed views of the Hudson from the Chatsworth's 350 or so west-facing windows. More important, the tenants say, a portion of the 31-story Trump tower will come as close as three inches from 102 windows of the 12-story Chatsworth, blocking all light and air from 82 rooms and rendering them uninhabitable."
In addition to making much of the external fire escape on the wall unusable, the construction is also feared to affect the foundations of the Chatsworth, completed in 1904 as a luxury apartment hotel and later landmarked.
"After years of community opposition and lawsuits, Mr. Trump obtained city approval in 1992 to build what he now calls Trump Place, which will have 16 apartment buildings with 5,700 apartments when finished, a 20-acre public park and an extension of Riverside Drive from 72nd Street to 59th Street. The developer's model clearly showed that the tower at 72nd Street would butt up against the Chatsworth, blocking windows and possibly making some rooms illegal for occupancy."
In best NY traditions, a retaining wall is in the center role in trying to reverse the planning permit -- the new building cantilevers over it to hug the Chatsworth and the residents try to make the NY Buildings Department to force Trump to change the design.
"So the Chatsworth owners are trying to force Mr. Trump to redesign his tower so it does not encroach on their property. They contend that they own the 36-inch strip of land atop the retaining wall at the edge of the two properties as a result of a 100-year-old deal with Chauncey M. Depew, president of the New York Central and Hudson River Railroad Company."
Trump maintains that he owns the space over the wall and can build the tower according to the original, approved plans. He expects to start construction in December, with ground already broken.

Source: The New York Times, 21 October 2002


29 JULY 2003

"So, whose Manhattan office market numbers do you believe?"
The Post hit the nail on the head by somewhat questioning the real estate industry's "habit" of providing market occupancy (or vacancy) percentages, accurate up to a decimal fraction.
An example of differing figures is presented:
"Cushman & Wakefield's latest data present an upbeat picture, especially downtown. The firm reports overall Manhattan availability (both direct and sublease) at 12.5 percent at the end of June, and downtown's as 12.6 percent - the latter a striking improvement over last summer's 13.5 percent, reported by the same firm.
"But Newmark's numbers look chillier, with overall Manhattan availability for the second quarter at 14.3 percent and downtown's at 14.9 percent"

One key to unlock the discrepancies is the way the tracking firms count a space as available:
"Cushman counts as available space due to be on the market within six months from now; Newmark counts space that will be free up to 24 months from now.
"Newmark CEO Barry Gosin stands by his numbers: 'In terms of availability, six months is too early' as a cut-off.
"For example, HIP will leave behind 500,000 square feet when it leaves 34th Street next summer. Newmark already counts it as available; Cushman does not."

With the post-9/11 Downtown market especially under the watchful eyes of real estate professionals, the mood of the industry may be significantly boosted even by differences as large as these:
"Nearly a whole percentage point difference between data sets is accounted for by one building: 15 Broad St., once meant to be razed for the aborted New York Stock Exchange tower scheme.
"Although it has been in contract since mid-May to be sold for residential conversion, Newmark included its 900,000 feet as available office space. Cushman did not."

Source: New York Post, 8 July 2003


20 DECEMBER 2003

(First, let's make one thing clear: I have absolutely no interest in the debate over the world's tallest or the different categories and classifications etc. that are clung to the issue. Paradoxically enough, I see the whole height thing as being rather irrelevant to the whole spectrum of related features (only some of them that are presented on this site), even though NYC had indeed reached its status as the premier skyscraping city through its record-breakers. But only after 9/11 have I felt that NYC should have the tallest -- which in my books is exactly what it's going to get. Period. ;^))

The issue of what's a "world's tallest building" has been unfalteringly brought once more to a lively debate with the unveiling of the design for the new WTC tower.
"No fewer than a half-dozen times at the unveiling yesterday, the Freedom Tower at the World Trade Center site was called the world's tallest building.
"But the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a recognized arbiter, has not yet ruled. And it may be a tough group to persuade.
"That is because the Freedom Tower will be a hybrid structure with several pinnacles: the top of its enclosed, occupied space is to be at about 1,150 feet; the top of the superstructure at 1,500 feet; and the top of its slender spire at 1,776 feet."
In other words, about one-third of the Freedom Tower will be more of a structural framework than a habitable building."

One can of course argue whether the height of the tallest occupied floor is then indeed what the council is looking for in a world's tallest or can other features (disconnected from the general use of the building) be counted into the height in question. Well:
"Then comes Taipei 101, a 101-story tower nearing completion in Taiwan, at 1,667 feet, with the top occupied floor at 1,470 feet. The council is inclined to award it the tallest designation, Mr. Klemencic said, but not until it is available for occupancy sometime in late 2004.
"That leaves as the reigning champion the 88-story twin Petronas Towers in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, which measure 1,483 feet at the top of their spires but only 1,229 feet at their top occupied floors.
"The fact that the bulk of these towers is lower than the Sears Tower in Chicago (1,450 feet over all but occupied to 1,431 feet) gave the council pause."

Ehhehe, how else. But now comes the punch-line of the joke:
"But it decided to recognize spires as the 'top of the architecture'; that is, a feature without which the building would look fundamentally different."
What the h-l is the windfarm-needle thingy in the WTC Tower other than a "top of the architecture" feature then?? And what is an "architectural feature" in a building? Is some council really going to determine what the architect has chosen as an architectural finial and what he/she has not? Is the new WTC tower's "artistic" windfarm(ie. mechanical floors)/observatory/spire combination above the "occupied floors" then different from the Chrysler's or Petronas's architectural endpoints? And what about the famous 1928-1930 race for the world's tallest -- wasn't
Chrysler Building determined as the tallest over the 40 Wall Street, even though the latter was clearly taller if its occupied (or, indeed, even reachable) space, as per Taipei 101 vs. WTC, is considered?
And finally for an unsavoury "parting shot" (well, the first piece of intolerant rant [pun, pun] on the site since 9/11, mind you); you've been warned:
"The Skidmore firm is in competition with itself in the perpetual world's-tallest race, since it is also designing a project known as Burj Dubai in Dubai."
Just as the US is scaling down its skyscraper developments out of fear for another 9/11-type terrorist attack (there is a general uneasiness for any tall developments, with a majority of people unwilling to work at WTC-type heights after 9/11, perhaps for good), "that part of the world" is well and truly now taking over after causing a (literally) disastrous effect in any US will to build truly high again. Funny how the US domestic urban planning is nowadays dictated by overseas extremism with an effect that even NIMBY community boards couldn't muster in curbing high-rise development.
Ann Coulter, who???

Source: The New York Times, 20 December 2003


29 FEBRUARY 2004

The Skyscraper Museum's openin' at last:
"TOMORROW - A cocktail party for the Skyscraper Museum will celebrate its planned reopening, which is scheduled for April 2, at 39 Battery Place. The party, which will be held at the Museum of Jewish Heritage, 36 Battery Place, begins with drinks and hors d'oeuvres at 6:30 p.m. Tickets, $500, from (212) 968-1961."
So, if pocket money's no objection, it's the place to be...

Source: The New York Times, 29 February 2004



Asbestos, lead paint and antiquated installations: the United Nations Secretariat building is a remnant from half a century ago -- literally.
"'The plumbing and electrical systems were real Rolls-Royce, top shelf for their time,' said Tony Raymond, a foreman who has worked at the United Nations for 25 years. 'But they were meant to last 30 years, and this building was finished in 1952. My people have kept it going way past its lifetime.'"
In addition to having an "in-house" machine shop to make the replacement parts for the original machinery (95% of the heating and cooling equipment is from the early 1950s), the equipment within the labyrinthine bowels of the building also has a value, albeit mainly sentimental:
"The delicate copper wire threading through the building in disciplined geometric patterns and the tubby electrical fan motors with their shiny brass plates noting their manufacturers and 1951 installation dates are so rare that many companies have told Mr. Raymond they want the pieces for their museums."
The mechanical museumpiece has its share of quaint anecdotes:
"East River water is pumped into the building as a coolant, and Mr. Raymond said workers had collected eels, blue claw crabs and bluefish from the basement filters to take home to cook."
"How to find a break in the estimated 150,000 miles of quarter-inch pneumatic tubing? "You hear a hissing, that's a leak [...] We like to track them down at night when it's quiet."
"In the rooms directly above the high voltage chamber, computers have been known to go into visual convulsions, and Vivian van de Perre, a management officer, said, 'We sometimes joke with each other that the only women we'll allow to sit there are the ones who've already had their children.'"
The long overdue renovation would be a one-billion undertaking lasting until 2012, with a federal loan from the 2005 budget crucial for its success:
"'The sole purpose of the dirty tour is to show people why we have to spend money,' said John M. Clarkson, program director for the United Nations' master plan to renovate the patched-together, aging interior of the landmark Modernist marble and glass tower.
'We like to take people here who aren't supportive of the U.N.,' he said. 'They come away saying, "You're right, something does need to be done."'"

Source: The New York Times, 20 April 2004



"Over $300 million over budget, only for you."
The renovation of the
2 Broadway, MTA's new headquarters (when it finally is completed), has been severely hampered -- in addition to the normal NYC problems like quality of work and legal battles -- by the involvement of its development executive and his mob buddies.
"Real estate executives say that complete renovation projects like 2 Broadway are almost always fraught with cost overruns, especially when contractors discover broken pipes behind a wall, previously undisclosed asbestos or ventilation problems. But prosecutors said the problems were compounded by the role of Mr. Contini and the Mafia."
Being "well-connected" isn't always a good thing for a developer (or his clients):
"The authorities said that the executive, Frederick J. Contini, 45, who was named the 1999 developer of the year for his work at the project at 2 Broadway, was actually working with the Gambino and Genovese crime families and had entered a secret guilty plea to racketeering charges earlier this year."
Contini's involvement in the project to this day has been a (cautionary) tale in itself:
"A small-time real estate executive, Mr. Contini was hired by Tamir Sapir, the owner of 2 Broadway, in 1996 to operate Mr. Sapir's burgeoning real estate portfolio. Mr. Contini ultimately played a key role in leasing 2 Broadway to the M.T.A. in 1998."
Also the ex-Senator and lobbying extraordinaire Alfonse D'Amato, "the King of Stealth", was a powerful force behind MTA leasing the building:
"In one brief legendary call, D'Amato was paid $500,000 by a real estate developer to persuade the MTA to lease the developer's downtown Manhattan building.
"The stakes were high. If the developer, Tamir Sapir, got the MTA lease, he would also get a $230 million bank loan.
"D'Amato called MTA Chairman Virgil Conway, a Pataki appointee. The MTA leased the building, Sapir got his $230 million loan and D'Amato got his $400,000 contingency fee. That fee was exempt from disclosure.
"'God bless Mr. D'Amato, because if not for him, my business would be broke,' Sapir said at hearings held by Brodsky on the deal."

Chairman Conway's handiwork on the current mess wasn't limited to the lease deal, despite Tapir's warnings of Contini's character (whom he'd himself fired):
"John B. Wood, a lawyer for the M.T.A. and a friend of its former chairman, E. Virgil Conway, hired Mr. Contini early in 1999 as the construction manager of the project."
As for the cash-milking scheme itself:
"According to the latest indictment, the criminal activity at 2 Broadway followed a simple pattern: Mr. Contini allowed subcontractors for various projects to use lower-paid, non-union labor, while billing at the union rate, which was often 100 percent more than the non-union rate. Sometimes Mr. Contini took a portion of the savings as a kickback, the indictment states; other times the mob-controlled subcontractors kept it all."
Sometimes, MTA was billed for work or labour that hadn't even been done or provided, and the checks for these cashed at the mob-connected City Check Cashing in NJ.
"Mr. Contini played a key role in siphoning off substantially more than $10 million from the work on the headquarters through inflated bills, extortion and kickbacks on demolition, fireproofing, asbestos and elevator contracts. The alleged wrongdoing involves 10 separate contracts at 2 Broadway."
In addition to this renovation, Contini has been working with (or rather, for) the Gambinos for 13 years in various projects in NY and NJ.
"[In 1998, the MTA] estimated the cost of renovating the tower at about $135 million, but the actual costs have grown to $440 million. And there is still about 100,000 square feet in the 1.6 million-square-foot building that has yet to be renovated."
And what's this got to do with the NYers in general?
"Prosecutors also revealed that the corruption at 2 Broadway was more widespread than previously disclosed and cost millions of dollars for the public transportation authority, which is struggling for cash and again raising the possibility of fare increases for buses, subways and commuter trains."

Sources: The New York Times, 16 September 2004 and
New York Daily News, 4 July 2004


20 NOVEMBER 2004

As if the redevelopment of the WTC isn't messy enough, a lawsuit for plagiarism has arisen over the design of the new 1 WTC, the Freedom Tower. The defendant, David Childs of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is alleged to have copied the idea for the twisting tower and its diamond-shaped facade texture from a Yale student's design.
"The lawsuit alleged that the Freedom Tower was 'strikingly similar' to [Thomas] Shine's designs for a Manhattan building for the proposed 2012 Olympic Games in New York.
"It said Childs saw the designs when he served in December 1999 on a panel of jurists invited by the Yale School of Architecture to evaluate the students' work."

Childs was very complimentary about the model design and Shine recalls that
"Childs spoke with him individually about the Olympic Tower design after his presentation and asked him to visit him upon graduation from Yale. Shine said he was 'stunned and surprised' when he saw Childs' design for the Freedom Tower in a newspaper in December 2003.
"'When I first saw it, I was thinking that it looked a lot like my building,' Shine said."

The architectural firm remains, well, firm about the merits of the lawsuit, calling it "specious":
"'This is a high-profile project and a number of people have made claims that they were the inventor of specific elements of Freedom Tower's design,' [SOM spokeswoman] said. 'However, the team, with structural engineer Guy Nordenson, has combined these elements in a unique way that reflects the special nature of the building's site and its importance.'"
A fellow panelist and Yale architecture professor Alexander Garvin (who also is the development director for the NYC2012 Olympic bid) is not so convinced:
"'There is a similarity there -- a visible similarity,' said Garvin, who resigned in 2003 as planning director of the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which is responsible for building Freedom Tower. 'I have no way of telling whether it was intentional.'"
As for the aim of the lawsuit itself:
"While Shine is demanding monetary compensation and a judgment that Childs and his firm violated his copyrights, he is not asking Childs to change the design of Freedom Tower or to stop the skyscraper's construction, Baum said."
Well, that would have been a tall order indeed.

Sources: Associated Press, 8 November 2004 and
Yale Daily News, 10 November 2004

13 Aug 2005:
The case is now going to a trial after the federal judge ruled that the designs were similar enough for a courtcase:
"Comparing Olympic Tower and Freedom Tower, Judge Mukasey said any lay observer would notice that each tapered and twisted; each had an undulating, textured, diamond-patterned facade; and each had a diamond pattern at the base. That combination, he said, gave them a 'similar "total concept and feel" that is immediately apparent even to an untrained judicial eye.'"
The defendants do have a fair point about the general background of the design that Shine made in 1999:
"In their motion to dismiss, Mr. Childs and Skidmore said, 'In the late 1990's - around the time Shine was at Yale - there was a virtual tidal wave of twisting tower projects.' They added, 'While Shine may have decided to ride this wave when he began his studio project at Yale, he was not the progenitor of the concept.'"
In addition, the architect Richard Meier has his own views about the merits of the case when it comes to the facade treatment as well as the copyrightability of a design in general:
"'It is ironic, to say the least,' Mr. Meier wrote, 'that the plaintiff should claim rights over a mode of construction - the perimeter structural diagrid - that was effectively invented and developed by S.O.M.'"
If he's referring to the 1970 John Hancock Center in Chicago, then Meier must be rather off the mark if he sees that (notable, no doubt) innovation having, in the end, just about anything to do with the visual appearance of the two designs involved in this courtcase. The bands of huge "X" trusses on the Center's facades don't very much resemble the filigree-like treatment of Shine's (and Childs's) design, more akin to the Russian Constructivism of the 1930s or pre-WW2 USN battleship masts...
Source: The New York Times, 11 August 2005


20 FEBRUARY 2005

Testing, testing.
The once-tallest and once-largest office towers may soon hit the market:
"After mulling and ruminating, Met Life has decided to again test the market and possibly sell its magnificent twin towers at
200 Park Ave. and One Madison Ave. that could bring in nearly $2 billion towards its $11.5 billion purchase of Traveler's Life & Annuity from Citigroup."
The company has long pondered about selling its two most visible assets; in 2003, the buildings were estimated to fetch $800 million to $1 billion.
"If they sell in this superheated sellers' market, they will now get more. Woody Heller, who heads Studley's Capital Transactions Group, said he thinks the company will grab $1.8 billion for 200 Park Ave. while One Madison could bring in between $400 million to $500 million, based on the recent sale of 11 Madison Ave. at $300 a foot."
The sale, if it materializes, would be one of the largest deals in the city's history.
"'For it to finally openly market the property through a public process clearly indicates it has a high degree of confidence in achieving its price target. No seller ever commits to a result until it receives the market's feedback, but clearly this is one of the country's most significant assets.'"

Sources: New York Post, 16 February 2005

And the deals indeed went through. See the building entries.


26 OCTOBER 2005

One hundred industry professionals was asked by the Skyscraper Museum about their favourite NYC skyscraper -- and the result was not totally non-predictable (admittedly not so certain at its time, though):
"Ninety of them named William Van Alen's Chrysler Building of 1930, which may come as close as any - despite or because of its ebullient eccentricity - to expressing New York's cloud-piercing ambitions."
Despite the quote, another non-surprise (given that the surveyees consisted of such a non-pedestrian group as "architects, brokers, builders, critics, developers, engineers, historians, lawyers, officials, owners, planners and scholars"):
"The surprising runner-up was Ludwig Mies van der Rohe's Seagram Building of 1958, which is the antithesis of Chrysler: cool, tranquil, rectangular and restrained. What they have in common is that both express the spirit of their times, Chrysler playing a jazz-age flapper to Seagram's man in the gray flannel suit."
The rest, except for #10, perhaps, was nothing unexpected either:
"Ms. Willis's [the director of the Skyscraper Museum] own favorite, the Empire State Building, tied with Lever House, behind the Flatiron and Woolworth Buildings. The most recently built of the Top 10 was Eero Saarinen's CBS Building of 1964."
And indeed, the Chrysler and Seagram, although representing rather conflicting design principles, nevertheless have been landmark fixtures of the city for decades and bound to gather attention:
"'These are irreconcilable choices if you try to evaluate them by one single system,' said Carol Willis [...]. Rather, she said, the voting showed that people judge some skyscrapers emotionally, others rationally."
Talking of rationality (and marketing), in an unsurprisingly hyperbolic manner, choices by some of the big-name developers shouldn't come as a surprise:
"For instance, the RCA Building at 30 Rockefeller Plaza (now the G.E. Building), was the No. 1 choice of Jerry Speyer of Tishman Speyer Properties [...]
"Donald J. Trump checked off none of the buildings proposed by the museum but instead nominated Trump Tower, Trump World Tower, Trump International Hotel and Tower and 40 Wall Street. Yes, that would be the Trump Building."

And a sign of return to post-9/11, hum, business-as-usual was the "WTC factor":
"The World Trade Center was not on the list and did not appear as a write-in on anyone's ballot. Leslie E. Robertson, a chief engineer of the twin towers, chose the Woolworth Building as his personal favorite."

Source: The New York Times, 1 September 2005


14 NOVEMBER 2005

Not skyscraper-related per se, but an integral part of Manhattan development nevertheless, the Second Ave. subway seems to be at long last reality.
"More than 75 years of talk about the Second Avenue Subway is finally leading to action, thanks to voters' approval of the Transportation Bond Act in Tuesday's election.
"Shovels will break ground next year on the new subway line's first phase, which will run down Second Avenue from 96th Street to 63rd Street, MTA Chairman Peter Kalikow said yesterday."

With talks with prospective contractors already underway, the line is expected to open in 2012 and carry 202,000 riders daily.
"The $450 million to be raised via the bond act will help the Metropolitan Transportation Authority garner enough federal money to build the subway's $3.8 billion first phase."
The method would follow the Federal Transit Administration recommendation of splitting the development into smaller portions to make both usability and funding easier.
"The new section of the subway line will allow the MTA to extend the current Q train uptown from its present terminus at 57th Street and Seventh Avenue to new stations on Second Avenue at 72nd Street, 86th Street and 96th Street.
Another $13 billion would complete the line to its northern terminus as well as all the way to downtown Manhattan, the first east side rail connection since the Second and Third Ave. Els were dismantled in 1942 and 1956, respectively.
"Ultimately, the Second Avenue Subway will run north to 125th Street and south to Hanover Square in the Financial District."
In addition to completing the subway, the $3 billion bond scheme would allow the realization of a LIRR connection to Grand Central Terminal as well as at least a study ($100 million) of the Brooklyn-Downtown rail link.
"The plan is to allow faster travel between Kennedy Airport and the Financial District, but transit watchers believe the project could end up taking other forms � such as extending LIRR service downtown."

See: Financial District rail connections

Source: New York Post, 10 November 2005
18 April:
Also the Federal government has now announced its involvement:
" The Federal Transit Administration plans to announce today that the massive project's first $5 billion section 'meets the criteria' for going into 'final development' - Washingtonspeak for approval of the initiative.
"With this new OK, design and engineering contractors can start spending the $1.3 billion in federal funds set aside for the first phase of a transit line that eventually will run from East Harlem to the Financial District."

The funding will, however, require continuous lobbying for the funding to materialize:
"While supporters see the new approval as the light at the end of a long tunnel, New York's congressional delegation will have to fight each year to ensure that the funding is provided. The state is kicking in $450 million, and the Metropolitan Transit Authority $3 billion."
With the first phase expected to be ready by 2012, the work will proceed along the lines
presented last year.
"The feds estimate that the first phase will take six to 12 years to complete. They also predict that, when completed in 2030, the new line will save riders a collective 62,300 hours per weekday by cutting their walk and transfer times.
"Eventually, the line will run 81/2 miles through its own tunnel down the East Side, from 125th Street to Hanover Square. The feds estimate the full project to cost in excess of $13 billion."

Source: New York Post, 17 April 2006


20 NOVEMBER 2005

Not wanting to tempt fate here (after all, the earlier light-hearted Vornado bit turned out very sour eight months later, on 9/11), but here goes:
In a piece of development that reminds why some past deal negotiators had printed T-shirts with the text "We Survived Talks With Steven Roth" (chairman of Vornado Realty Trust), the developer of the Bloomberg Tower has engaged in a trench coat season trench warfare with the NYC Transit since February:
"A feud between New York City Transit and Vornado Realty Trust will keep an entrance to one of the city's busiest subway stations - on the southeast corner of 59th Street and Lexington Avenue across from Bloomingdale's - closed this holiday season and for the foreseeable future."
No less than six lines converge on the station along the busy Lexington and 60th Street tracks and near the Bloomingdale's and a great number of offices.
"But officials at New York City Transit have kept the roll gate the size of a garage door shuttered and locked since the station entrance was completed in February, forcing all of the riders who use the uptown station to exit and enter one block north on the corner of 60th Street and Lexington Avenue.
"Transit official say snow and ice that sometimes blows off the 868-foot building make the entrance unsafe. The concern stems from two incidents this winter when an icicle fell from an upper story railing above the subway entrance and nearly hit a pedestrian."

The NYCT has declined to open the entrance and will keep the developer's $1 million bond until the issue is settled. Vornado, on the other hand, has declined to build a canopy over the entrance, calling it unnecessary and the ice occurrences rare. Vornado also states that the NYCT had approved the entrance design and that the developer had made $114,000 worth of construction changes not originally in the approved documents.
"The impasse in the heart of the city's retail district comes as the holiday shopping season gets under way and transit officials offer discount fares be tween Thanksgiving and New Year's, a giveback that will also serve to make the two staircases at the station's 60th street entrance exceedingly crowded."

Source: The New York Sun, 15 November 2005


28 NOVEMBER 2005

Penthouse arms race:
The NYC apartment price record has been broken for the second time in two years. The new figure of $45 million will be handed out by the aggressive fund-manager Daniel Loeb for a penthouse at the not-yet-built
15 Central Park West.
"Plans for the 10,700-square-foot, full-floor pad include eight bedrooms, 10 full bathrooms, two powder rooms, a large screening room, his-and-hers offices, a library and terraces measuring nearly 800 square feet. The 39th-floor apartment features 14-foot ceilings. It is to be completed by spring 2007."
Murdie was the Nr.1 for only a relatively short time, too:
"The towering sales figure beats the previous record held by News Corp. Chairman and CEO Rupert Murdoch, who paid $44 million earlier this year for the late Laurance Rockefeller's triplex co-op penthouse on Fifth Avenue. News Corp. owns The Post."
Personally, although the original sum was smaller than Loeb's, this should still be the wasteful benchmark of penthouses, given the additional coughing up of money. To me, $53 million seems like more than $45 million:
"It also bests the previous record condo price of $42.25 million that Mexican financier David Martinez paid at the nearby Time Warner Center. Martinez combined a full-floor apartment on the 76th floor with a half-floor residence above. He then recently purchased the other half of the 77th floor for about $12 million, giving him almost 17,000 square feet total after spending nearly $53 million."

Source: New York Post, 22 November 2005


23 DECEMBER 2005

Naming a high-end residential skyscraper is a delicate thing. Apparently very delicate and strenuous work, involving thoughtful input from branding specialists (undoubtedly very able in invoicing too):
"Suggestions weren't tossed out willy-nilly. Instead, a systematic discussion of positioning and marketing ensued; the differences in Real Estate Name Typology were explained via PowerPoint."
The balancing act between snappy memorability and catering to the, at heart, prestige and familiarity-seeking clientele is subtle but important...
"'Naming is the hardest part of any job,' says Jeffrey Katz, CEO of Sherwood Equities, the developers responsible for 1600 Broadway on the Square. 'You impart to the public their first impression of the building with its name. So you want to accomplish a host of things all in one stroke: You want the right image, you want it to stand apart, but not too far apart.'"
...And nothing says "prestige" better than the United Kingdom:
"'It's popular to associate your building with Britain - there are six Carltons, seven Mayfairs, four Trafalgars and the Wimbledon, which has no tennis court,' says John Tauranac, author of "Elegant New York." 'It seems that if the name is British it sounds grander; it has panache.'"
But when a prestigious or historical name seems too stuffy, you go with something wacky, like the MARC, or sweet, like the Helena, or a string of numbers that look good in a sales brochure logo...
"'A lot of people name their buildings something they find trendy or cute, but if it doesn't have a historical value or a true meaning, we prefer to go with an address. We try to pick numbers that roll off the tongue, 99 John Street, 45 Wall,' says Sofia Estevez, vice president for residential marketing at Rockrose."
...or make up the addresses altogether.
"Recently, this strategy's been taken one step further, with developers naming their buildings for addresses that don't even exist. One Beacon Court is on 58th Street; 120 Gramercy Hill sits at 120 E. 29th St., between Gramercy Park and Murray Hill."
Even (re)naming the cityscape may be a "quality of life" issue:
"'Real-estate interests often drive the naming of streets or neighborhoods,' says Sanna Feirstein, author of "Naming New York." 'Hell's Kitchen is a colorful name, but someone buying an upscale residence would prefer to live in Clinton.'"

Source: New York Post, 17 December 2005



The ill-fated United Nations' extension seems to have fallen victim of foul play not merely founded on the organization's public image in Albany. The tower was potentially blocking views to the north from developer Sheldon Solow's newly-acquired riverside plots.
"So Mr. Solow fought back. He lavished money on state Republicans and hired one of Albany�s best-connected lobbyists, whose clients have included Philip Morris and the New York Yankees, to block a bill in the State Senate that would have paved the way for the U.N. tower.
"The bill died, pummeled by anti-U.N. rhetoric led by Senate Republicans."

In late 2004, Solow tried to persuade the UN to either switch sites with one of Solow's riverside plots or rent space in the Solow-developed complex. Either way, it was in Solow's interests to see UN's own redevelopment foundered.
"That same fall, four companies that were either explicitly controlled by Mr. Solow or listed the same building address contributed $25,500 to New York Forward, a controversial political-action committee founded by Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno and used to fund state candidates. The contributions were all made on the same day, Sept. 16, 2004, in a move that would have maximized their impact."
The financial drive seems to have been supported by lobbying; the twist is that apparently the first contacts were done illegally:
"Also around that time, a lobbyist named Brian Meara talked with Steven Sanders, then the local State Assemblyman, about the Con Ed project."
"Mr. Meara wouldn�t say whether he was working for the East River development at the time of the conversation, and whether he spoke with other legislators. Mr. Meara didn�t sign a lobbying contract with Mr. Solow until Nov. 15, 2004, according to records online. He registered it with the Temporary State Commission on Lobbying on Nov. 23, specifically mentioning the Senate and Assembly bill numbers for the U.N. expansion."

It seems that Meara was lobbying for Solow's position long before the 15-day limit for registering his representation deal, an act punishable by a civil fine. Meara himself denies that the conversation was an act of lobbying as he claims that he didn't know of the existence of the bill, despite the United Nations Development Corporation having publicized its plans already two years earlier and with the bill being prepared as he talked with Sanders.
As the bill was going forward in the NY State Senate and seemed to pass, the big guns were called in:
"The New York Post�s Nov. 18, 2004, editions ran with the headline: 'Pols Give Hush-Hush OK for U.N. Expansion,' saying that legislative leaders from both parties had agreed to pass the bill, and that the Republican Senate was to vote on the measure that day. That morning, however, State Senator Martin Golden, a Brooklyn Republican, raised objections, alleging that the international body was incompetent and anti-American. His line of reasoning gathered steam: The New York Sun called the U.N. 'little more than an anti-Israel conspiracy,' and the New York Post called it 'an institution whose membership virtually without exception doesn�t even try to disguise its contempt for the United States.'"
Senator Golden denied that lobbying had anything to do with his position (and Meara having anything to do with the outcome).
"But Megan Quattlebaum, associate director of Common Cause, said that even a little lobbying can make an impact when the opposing side doesn�t put up much of a fight. The only registered lobbyist working on behalf of the U.N., Sander Lehrer, was paid $24,691 in salary and expenses for the latter half of 2004, according to filings online. Mr. Meara, by contrast, collected $67,500 from November 2004 until March 2005, when he said he abruptly lost Mr. Solow as a client."
And what would make an unavoidably ironic ending?
"As for finding a tenant, one of Mr. Solow�s attorneys, Sandy Lindenbaum, said that he�s trying the U.N. again. 'Nothing would make us happier than to have the U.N. as a tenant, or one of the tenants, in the commercial building at the north end of the site,' he said."

Source: The New York Observer, 2/6/2006
18 April:
Not so fast, junior.
Mayor Bloomberg is readying a plan to reinstate the UN development on the site as originally planned by the organization.
"Bloomberg aides say once the state budget is resolved, the city will make the U.N. project - which the state Senate killed in 2004 - a priority in Albany."
"The bill would also temporarily incorporate a nearby park within the UNDC district so the agency can plan for the construction of the 35-story office building on the park site."
The once-rejected plan will be sweetened with some hard-to-argue, hmm, arguments:
"The Bloomberg administration plans to argue that the project will not only create construction jobs, but will ultimately free up two city-owned buildings at 1 and 2 U.N. Plaza that eventually can be sold for big bucks."
Source: New York Post, 12 April 2006


11 FEBRUARY 2006

Oh dear, oh dear.
I guess it was only a matter of time for the waves of New Internationalism to wash over more and more of Manhattan and particularly this one. The term of course referring to the neo-blandness of facade cladding, exemplified by the "tomb stoning" of the
Chrysler Building East or the new 7 WTC, which the newest victim, the Midtown 1095 Sixth Avenue will be hardly distinguishable from (which is which).
Equity Office Properties obtained the building, halfway between the new office enclave of Times Square south and Fifth Avenue, in 2005 and are planning to renovate the building, including recladding it.
"Now EOP has unveiled extensive renovation plans for 1095 Sixth, budgeted at up to $260 million. The plans, designed by architects Moed de Armas & Shannon with Gensler, include a complete recladding of the 1 million-square-foot structure, possibly the largest such project ever in Midtown."
Albeit disparaged, the 1095 represents, for a while at least, the remains of a "graphic" 1970s facing, doubling as a distinctive vertical accentuation, something that most of the original and present Internationalism has effectively been able to avoid...
Undoubtedly, the new building will be "updated" to fit visually the stylistic language of the day as well as the neighbouring new 1 Bryant Park. Which isn't a bad thing, considering that the neighbour's main tenant happens to be Bank of America:
"Indeed, market sources say that one possible anchor for the Verizon Building is Bank of America, which is taking 800,000 square feet at the Durst project but is in the market for more space and may want to straddle 42nd Street to create a campus. 'Bank of America is in the market, and we're talking to everyone that is in the market,' acknowledges EOP's Don Huffner, who runs the Northeast and Atlanta markets for the company."

Source: The Slatin Report, 19 January 2006










lo-go © e t dankwa 23 March 2008