Tuesday, January 15, 2013

In Manhattan, developer builds deck over railyard without tenant; in Brooklyn, a deck over railyard remains years away

Brookfield's planned deck
The news that Brookfield Office Properties held a groundbreaking today for a 2.6-acre deck over the Hudson Rail Yards on Manhattan's Far West Side--an enormous investment for office towers yet without an anchor tenant--brings up inevitable comparisons with Atlantic Yards.

After all, last October, Forest City Ratner executive MaryAnne Gilmartin said that the six planned towers over the railyard would not be constructed until seven other towers are built first, including four over the current surface parking lot.

The situations are not directly parallel, since there's no office market in Brooklyn, and Brookfield does have financing

In Brooklyn

However, because Forest City has no competition for the site, and the state gave it a long leash, with 15 years to build the platform, the developer can wait. That means deviate from the once-planned schedule to build towers over the railyard--a significant, blight-removing justification for the project--before building over the parking lot.

It sends one back to a couple of quotes from Marshall Brown, the young architect who helped devise the UNITY plan for the Vanderbilt Yards, advising that it be cut up into pieces to speed development. 

"When you sell a pizza by the slice, you get more value," he said at a workshop in December 2004.

"Bad things happen when you sell the City," he warned at a City Council hearing in May 2004. "Good things happen when you recreate the City."

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