Standing Tall

The City’s Tallest Building, at Hudson Yards?

The real estate industry sat wide-eyed in anticipation of the ruling by the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat in November that officially named 1 World Trade Center the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, beating out Chicago’s Willis Tower

But in the not too distant future the gleaming new tower could have competition in its own backyard – Hudson Yards, that is – as Massey Knakal is exclusively marketing the sale of a development site that it believes could spawn what the firm has dubbed “The Hudson Spire,” an 1,800-foot-tall super-skyscraper.  

A rendering of “The Hudson Spire,” courtesy of MJM+A Architects

A rendering of “The Hudson Spire,” courtesy of MJM+A Architects

“The interest has been overwhelming,” Bob Knakal, the firm’s chairman, said. “We’ve had more confidentiality agreements in two days than I can ever remember.”

The Rosenthal real estate family recently hired Mr. Knakal and colleague James Nelson to market a parcel at 435 Tenth Avenue, which runs block-through from 501-507 West 34th Street to 510-528 West 35th Street.

In turn Mr. Knakal’s firm hired MJM+A Architects PLLC to assess the parcel, determining that the 37,026-square-foot site could yield a 100-story, 1,800-foot-tall tower that would propel New York City out of the Western Hemisphere and into the global discussion among the “supertall,” with an accompanying rendering depicting a building that utterly dominates the Western skyline. In a prepared statement the architecture firm’s founder, Michael Macaluso, called the site “a commission an architect dreams of.” 

But is the Hudson Spire in fact just a pipe dream, or is it in the pipeline? Mr. Knakal said all he needs is a developer looking to cash in on the excitement, if not near-hysteria, that’s emanating from the West Side.

“It could be a major New York developer already in Hudson Yards, or someone who wants to be there,” he said, “Or a foreign buyer who wants to build the tallest building in New York… who wants to make a real splash with the building.”

It certainly wouldn’t come cheap. While Mr. Knakal declined to comment on the price tag for the site, industry sources said they wouldn’t be surprised if it yields $250 million or more.   

The site could encompass retail, office/hotel, and residential, which including all rights could yield over 1.2-million square feet of construction, which Mr. Knakal noted would be the largest single development site his firm has ever handled. Mr. Nelson said its centerpiece would include an observation deck as the “ultimate addition.”   

A building of the envisioned proportions would not only give the prospective developer bragging rights, but also a lucrative role at the center of Hudson Yards, which is being touted as the latest, greatest and most exciting neighborhood in the city. It will draw off the success of the High Line, with preliminary figures predicting 24 million visitors each year once the neighborhood is in business.

It would be the third tallest building in the world, far surpassing the CTBUH’s definition for “supertall” buildings, which must stand taller than 984 feet. But the “megatall” are those taller than 1,968 feet, a distinction currently reserved for just two structures: Mecca’s Makkah Royal Clock Tower, which just tops that figure at 1,972 feet, and the Burj Khalifa in Dubai, a stunning monstrosity that rises 2,717 feet.

Hudson Yards will include 26 million square feet of office space and 20,000 new residences. The High Line’s third and final phase, expected to open late this year, will loop around the development as it turns to the Hudson River at West 30th Street. 

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