Under Construction: Hudson Commons at 441 Ninth Avenue

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In New York City, developers usually knock down old buildings to construct new ones. Sometimes, however, owners use a little zoning magic to dramatically expand an older structure into a much larger tower.

SEE ALSO: Blackstone Provides $724M Refi for Cove Property Group’s Hudson Commons

Such is the case at 441 Ninth Avenue, an eight-story 1960s warehouse that’s getting an 18-story extension between West 34th and West 35th Streets next to Hudson Yards. Cove Property Group is developing the 700,000-square-foot building, two-thirds of which has already been leased by Lyft and Peloton. It has also been rebranded Hudson Commons.

Developer Harry Macklowe converted the 400,000-square-foot gray brick warehouse to offices in 1983 before selling it to EmblemHealth a decade later. The insurance company owned and operated the property until it sold to Cove in 2016 for $330 million. Now the development firm is adding 300,000 square feet of new office space to the property, which is expected to be complete in August. The original building has been completely overhauled, with a new lobby, mechanicals, HVAC system, elevators and amenity spaces.

Although the site came with some air rights, Cove was able to pull off the expansion by purchasing additional floor area from the Hudson Yards District Improvement Fund, a pool of air rights controlled by the city. Its construction team was able to construct a 420-foot-tall building by driving the steel shafts of the new structure through the columns of the old warehouse.

“We added 18 stories to this building but didn’t add a single column,” said Thomas Farrell, one of the partners at Cove. “That was part of our acquisition strategy: minimize the deconstruction of this building and find a way to add the new floor area in a super elegant, structural way.”

The extension creates terraces on nearly every new floor and features floor-to-ceiling windows, even in the bathrooms. The structure is set back from the original building, creating a large wrap-around terrace on the ninth floor, and gradual setbacks above create more outdoor space on the upper floors.

The new lobby, which was carved out of a loading dock, will have polished concrete floors and ceilings, walls and a reception desk made of white Portuguese limestone, a wall of black anodized aluminum surrounding the elevators, and a 20-foot-long, horizontal chandelier made of glass and translucent marble. The entryway will also feature the large, mushroom cap columns that run through the entire building.

“We’re paying homage to the industrial, factory aesthetic, and we’re trying to make sure the lobby materials will stand the test of time,” explained Kevin Hoo, the managing partner of Cove.

After the security turnstyles, there will be a seating area and coffee bar that’s being elevated a few steps above the rest of the lobby and separated with a short glass divider. Behind the seats will be flexible, open amenity spaces that can host all-hands meetings, fitness classes or parties. In addition, tenants will have access to a bike room with showers, an exciting and still unusual amenity for office buildings. Kohn Pedersen Fox handled the design of the lobby and the overall project, while Gensler is doing the rest of the interiors.