Matt Chaban

An Arena Grows in Brooklyn

How Invested Is Bruce Ratner In Prefab? Oh, Only a Few Million

Raise high the roof beams, Mr. Ratner. (SHoP_

Last week, The Observer looked at Bruce Ratner’s plans for a prefabricated Atlantic Yards project—whether he was serious about the project and whether he could achieve the steep 20 percent savings he claimed for the modular building process. A number of real estate professionals were skeptical on both counts, but they all pointed to the developers out-sized investment in prefab technology as an indicator of his seriousness. Now we know just how much of an investment that has been. Read More

The Neverending Story

Take a Shine to It! 1 World Trade Base Will Be Pleated Rather Than Prismatic

8 Photos

At night, the base will be illuminated by LEDs behind the metal screen. Think of it as the reverse of the Empire State Building.

One of the enduring challenges at the World Trade Center—besides who will lease up the offices—has been what the base of Tower 1 would look like. Fears persisted that the 185-foot concrete shell demanded by the N.Y.P.D. would look like exactly that, a giant bunker. The solution, arrived at by a harried team of architects in less than a month back in 2005, was waves of crenelated glass that would turn the entire structure into a giant crystal.

The only problem was, that approach proved almost impossible to produce when the fabricators began creating mock-ups of the structure earlier this year. The glass would shatter too easily, a major issue for a high-traffic tower that could be susceptible to another attack. The architects at SOM returned to the drawing board and created a solution that is at once very similar to and totally different from their original proposal, a new plan that was approved yesterday by the board of the Port Authority.

The main goal was achieving an aesthetic solution to this ongoing challenge, though it turns out the biggest different between the two plans is economic—the new curtain wall will cost less than half the price of the original one, $37.2 million. Read More

Everybody Go Downtown

Downtown Looking Up: The Offices of Wall Street Are Occupied Like It's 2007!

New York City Skyline

All that clangor coming from Zuccotti Park, the chanting and beating of drums—what if it is not a protest of economic inequality and corporate malfeasance but instead a celebration? For there is good reason to revel downtown, as the office leasing market is having a bit of a boom. Wall Street may be occupied, but so are the commercial spaces surrounding it, according to a new report to be released tomorrow by the Downtown Alliance.

Lower Manhattan has seen a rise in office occupancies across a wide swath of industries, from the typical FIRE firms to media and healthcare concerns. The neighborhood is on track to have its best year since 2006, with 4.8 million square feet leased up through the third quarter of 2011. Read More

Week In Review

After Occupy Wall Street, Big Real Estate Would Like to See More Restrictions on Private ‘Parks’

Privately owned public spaces, or POPS, have been largely ignored by New Yorkers, even as they have reshaped the city over the past 50 years. Plazas, passageways and pocket parks have been carved out of giant new office and apartment buildings in exchange for considerable development bonuses (a few hundred thousand square feet here or there). This has led a band of urban activists to fight for awareness of and activity in POPS across the city. Read More

Week In Review

To Prefab or Not to Prefab: Atlantic Yards Design Decision Will Be Made This Year

Prefabricated buildings have not been such a hot topic of conversation since Buckminster Fuller passed away, but that is about all anyone can talk about at Atlantic Yards anymore. On the one hand, it could signal a paradigm shift in how New York City builds; on the other, it goes against many of the employment promises Forest City Ratner made when the project won support from politicians and labor unions. Read More

Week In Review

Related and the Wilpons Team Up for Willets Point Pitch

A handful of developers are competing to redevelop the so-called "Iron Triangle." (The NYC Economic Development Corporation)

While some people are hoping—futilely, perhaps—for a high-tech college at Willets Point, the official R.F.P. is also cranking along, with application filed this past week. Crain’s now has word of a handful of the developers competing to redevelop the Iron Triangle, and one looks to be a hit, if it weren’t already facing a few strikes.

The Related Companies has teamed up with Sterling Equities, which is controlled by Mets owners Fred Wilpon and Saul Katz, to submit a proposal to redevelop the 12.75 acres included in the project’s first phase, the sources said. Silverstein Properties, which is building three towers at the World Trade Center site, also threw its hat into the ring. None of the firms would comment. A source said Sterling had teamed up on bids with more than one firm. Read More

The Neverending Story

Zero Ground: 7 World Trade Center Now Fully Leased


In perhaps the final capstone to the 9/11 commemorations, Larry Silverstein has found his final tenant for 7 World Trade Center. Considered a boondoggle by many when Mr. Silverstein decided to rebuild the glass tower shortly after the attacks, it opened in May 2006 and was slow to find tenants, the first of which was the New York Academy of Sciences.

Slowly but surely more firms arrived, and now MSCI has joined them on the 47th through 49th floors of the 52-story building—it was the tallest structure downtown until recently being surpassed by its big brother. Read More

Troubling Developments

Make No Big Plans: The End of the Mega Project Era

We're missing our siblings. (Brownstoner)

Hudson Yards. Atlantic Yards. The Williamsburg waterfront. For the past decade, residential development has been defined by the creation and conversion of soaring condo towers across the city. From Extell’s Ariel twins on the Upper West Side to so many of the Financial District’s former office buildings, this was the way we built, the way we were to live. But the era of the condo project is over Read More

On the Market: No Hilfiger Hotel for Madison Clocktower; Mary Kate and Ashley's East End Adventure; Google's WTC Gaffe

Duh! Williamsburg getting a rock ‘n’ roll-themed day care. [Curbed]

Marc Jacobs moves into his Superior Ink townhouse just in time for Fashion Week. [Daily News]

Tommy Hilfiger will not be buying the Metlife Clocktower to turn into a hotel. [Crain’s]

Mary Kate and Ashley are looking for a home on the East End. [NY Post]

New mural enlivens a blank strip of the BQE in Clinton Hill. [Brownstoner]

A rendering of a possible bike share station across from the Atlantic Center Mall. [Streetsblog]

East Harlem, the last cheap piece of Manhattan! [NY Post]

Chinese artist carves map of Manhattan out of block of marble. [Archpaper]

Cleveland film critic compares Bruce Ratner to “a character somewhere between Darth Vader and Hannibal Lecter.” [Plain Dealer]

Light dances across the Manhattan Bridge in DUMBO art fest. [Curbed]

Awkward! Google lists World Trade Center as an airport in its new travel app. [NY Post]

Lost Colorado cat turns up in Manhattan. (It’s like that one movie…) [AP]


Load of Bullion! Trump Takes 40 Wall Street Deposit in Gold, Blames Obama

Maybe they should replace the copper with gold. (Wired New York)

Even though he left the presidential race four months ago, Donald Trump is still taking pot-shots at the president. The latest is an unusual lease agreement at one of his properties, 40 Wall Street in Lower Manhattan. For the $176,000 deposit on a new 10 year lease, the Journal reports that the tenant will be handing over three 32-ounce bars of pure gold each “about the size of a television remote control.” (Would that be one of those big, multi-system ones, like you get with the cable box, or something slimmer?) Read More


On the Market: St. Marks Books Closing?; Beating Back Starbucks; Surveying Columbus Ave. Bike Lane

Beloved St. Marks Books begs Cooper Union for rent breaks to stay open. [DNAinfo]

Up the block, East Village coffee shop fights back against Starbucks [NY Times]

It will be years before the 9/11 Memorial is really a part of the city, like 2014 maybe. [Journal]

Bumper crop! Neighbors dump construction debris onto garden in Prospect Heights. [Daily News]

Sony boss Tomy Mottola’s old Hamptons home on the market for $22 M. [Journal]

“American-Idol-style competition” will help Brooklyn pols pick community construction projects. [BK Paper]

Industrial real estate popular again. [NY Times]

9/11 hero spends anniversary helping clean-up from a flood. [Daily News]

Councilwoman Gale Brewer wants to survey UWS on Columbus Ave bike lane now that it’s a year old. [Streetsblog]

A controversy in Woodstock? Over affordable housing? What’s the world coming to? [NY Times]


The Closing: Stanford Really Wants NY Campus; "Carrie Bradshaw's" Townhouse; Old Skool Tagging Tour

Stanford really wants to set up that tech campus here in New York. [Crain’s]

Trump Soho brings that Fashion Week charm. [Daily News]

The Kleiers of reality T.V. real estate fame wrote a book… [Curbed]

Manhattan Aussie eatery opening an outpost in Prospect Height. [Brownstoner]

Amazon takes baby steps away from Midtown. [NY Post]

So-called Sex in the City townhouse hits the market on Perry Street. [DNAinfo]

City still ignoring animal sheleters. [Daily News]

The best old skool graffiti in town. [WNYC]

The Neverending Story

Mini 1 World Trade Center Discovered in Tianjin, China

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A detail from the top of the Tianjin tower.

David Childs, the design leader at SOM for three decades now—his first smash was the postmodern Worldwide Plaza in Midtown, his latest the union-busting 7 World Trade Center—has come under plenty of criticism over the years for his design of 1 World Trade Center. Not only did people find it to be a dumbed-down version of Daniel Libeskind’s heavenly spire, but its signature feature, those chamfered corners, were nothing new either.

Numerous predecessors were pointed out, including one official entry by two students to the master planning competition. Now, a China-based reader sends along another from his side of the world, and it looks like almost an exact replica, down to the circular array surrounding the antenna. Read More