Changing landscape of Manhattan's West Side - New York News

Changing landscape of Manhattan's West Side

Posted: Updated:
The photo shows the planned Hudson Yards development project by the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan, as it would be seen from New Jersey. (AP Photo/Related/Oxford) The photo shows the planned Hudson Yards development project by the Hudson River on the west side of Manhattan, as it would be seen from New Jersey. (AP Photo/Related/Oxford)

By VERENA DOBNIK

NEW YORK (AP) -- It was once a gritty stretch of Manhattan known for rail yards, warehouses and aging industrial buildings, so desolate it was dubbed "The Wild, Wild West."

Now, one of the nation's biggest private construction projects is transforming a stretch of Manhattan's West Side into a cluster of 20 new buildings -- 17 of them high-rises -- so tightly packed that it has earned a new, not always complimentary, nickname: "Hong Kong on the Hudson."

"This is going to be the new heart of New York," says Michael Samuelian, a project manager for the $20 billion Hudson Yards -- a joint venture of Related Companies and Oxford Properties Group.

This development and the adjacent $4.5 billion Manhattan West complex comprise the city's most ambitious private real estate ventures since Rockefeller Center went up in the 1930s.

When fully completed in 2024, the two projects will offer more than 22 million square feet of space, including about 6,000 residential units -- more footage than the rebuilt World Trade Center in lower Manhattan.

That is being accomplished, in part, through a feat of engineering: the construction of massive concrete platforms that allow the buildings to rise above and around active railroad tracks and rail yards. Amtrak and New Jersey Transit trains will keep running from New Jersey and other locations to Penn Station, used by about 700,000 people daily.

"This is what keeps me awake at night," says Dennis Friedrich, CEO of Manhattan West developer Brookfield Office Properties, as he stands by "The Launcher" -- a $7 million, Italian-made hoisting machine created to lift 16 bridge-like concrete spans into place for the $300 million platform.

Each of the 240-foot spans -- weighing about 2,400 tons, or the equivalent of 187 city buses -- is inched into place in the middle of the night when train traffic is sparse.

Construction on Manhattan West's first, 65-story office tower will start after the platform is finished by year's end. Hudson Yards' wider platform relies on more traditional technology, requiring 253 columns to hold it up.

While the platforms are strong enough to support the weight of newly planned parklands and art-filled public spaces, the new high-rises themselves will rest on load-bearing steel columns planted into Manhattan bedrock.

The plan for Hudson Yards, occupying an area between 30th and 34th streets bordered by Tenth Avenue and the West Side Highway, features 16 buildings -- 14 of them skyscrapers.

The first, 52-story tower rising over the rail yards is expected to open in 2015, anchored by the Coach luxury retailer with tenants including L'Oreal USA and German software giant SAP.

Work also has begun on Hudson Yards' tallest building -- an 80-story skyscraper with an outdoor observation deck higher than the open-air one at the Empire State Building. It will be home to the corporate headquarters of Time Warner by 2019.

Manhattan West fills the block between Tenth and Ninth avenues with three towers -- two more than 60 stories -- a public plaza and walkway, shops, garages and a hotel. Tenants have yet to be announced.

Squeezed in-between the budding complexes is a nearly half-century-old, pyramid-shaped building that Brookfield purchased as part of Manhattan West. The 16-story building, which houses the world headquarters of The Associated Press among other companies, is to undergo a $200 million renovation with glass floor-to-ceiling exteriors by 2016.

New York University urban planner Mitchell Moss says the developments accelerate a shift of the city's high-end commercial heart away from the traditional stronghold of midtown Manhattan surrounding Rockefeller Center.

"They reflect New York's new economic center of gravity, shifting to the west and south all the way down to the World Trade Center," Moss says.

The neighborhood popularly called Hell's Kitchen to the east and Chelsea to the south had briefly been considered as the site of a proposed football stadium for the Jets meant to help win the city the 2012 Olympics. But those plans fell apart when New York lost the bid to London.

Even before the latest construction work, the area had seen something of a rebirth with its former elevated freight tracks transformed into the popular High Line park.

Some who live nearby are skeptical of what lies ahead.

"Something was going to be built over the rail yards -- that was inevitable -- and this would have been a nice opportunity to do something for the community," says resident Ann Warren, who owns a neighborhood cupcake bakery and was forced out of her apartment building on West 35th Street by eminent domain. "But all the developers want is to make money."

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

  • Manhattan NewsManhattan NewsMore>>

  • Cuomo orders investigation into Time Warner outage

    Cuomo orders investigation into Time Warner outage

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 12:48 PM EDT2014-08-27 16:48:25 GMT
    Time Warner Cable suffered a nationwide outage primarily impacting its Internet service on Wednesday morning. More than 11 million customers were affected.  Several hours later, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation into the outage. "I have directed the New York State Department of Public Service to investigate this outage as part of its review of Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner," said Cuomo.
    Time Warner Cable suffered a nationwide outage primarily impacting its Internet service on Wednesday morning. More than 11 million customers were affected.  Several hours later, NY Gov. Andrew Cuomo ordered an investigation into the outage. "I have directed the New York State Department of Public Service to investigate this outage as part of its review of Comcast's proposed merger with Time Warner," said Cuomo.
  • Landmarks to light up for StandUp2Cancer telethon

    Landmarks to light up for cancer telethon

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 11:21 AM EDT2014-08-27 15:21:16 GMT

    More than a dozen landmarks across the U.S. and Canada will light up to promote next week's "Stand Up to Cancer" telethon. Organizers say the buildings that will be illuminated starting Friday include Rockefeller Center, Toronto's CN tower and the Wrigley Building in Chicago. The hourlong cancer fund-raiser will air Sept. 5 at 8 p.m. on 31 U.S. broadcast and cable networks including FOX.

    More than a dozen landmarks across the U.S. and Canada will light up to promote next week's "Stand Up to Cancer" telethon. Organizers say the buildings that will be illuminated starting Friday include Rockefeller Center, Toronto's CN tower and the Wrigley Building in Chicago. The hourlong cancer fund-raiser will air Sept. 5 at 8 p.m. on 31 U.S. broadcast and cable networks including FOX.

  • Digital currency ATM in Greenwich Village

    Digital currency ATM in Greenwich Village

    Wednesday, August 27 2014 10:35 AM EDT2014-08-27 14:35:08 GMT
    The first ATM for BitCoin users in New York City is up and running in a store in Greenwich Village. The controversial, virtual currency is exchanged using a 'wallet' app on mobile devices. The ATM accepts cash but only returns virtual currency to the app. At the ATM in Flat 128, a store that sells UK-designed items, the fee for store owner Liz Dubois is less than that for a credit card transaction.
    The first ATM for BitCoin users in New York City is up and running in a store in Greenwich Village. The controversial, virtual currency is exchanged using a 'wallet' app on mobile devices. The ATM accepts cash but only returns virtual currency to the app. At the ATM in Flat 128, a store that sells UK-designed items, the fee for store owner Liz Dubois is less than that for a credit card transaction.
Powered by WorldNow
Didn't find what you were looking for?
All content © Copyright 2000 - 2014 Fox Television Stations, Inc. and Worldnow. All Rights Reserved.
Privacy Policy | New Terms of Service What's new | Ad Choices