Development Boom in the West 90’s?

Towers Planned for Broadway, 90s: How High? How Many?


When the Riverside-West End Historic District was extended into the West 90s, Broadway buildings were not landmarked to discourage development. Now, a number of sites on Broadway and side streets nearby may see some towers in the sky.

Our West 90s neighborhood could experience within the next 18 months a wave of intense real estate development unseen in nearly 30 years. Development plans are in the works for multiple sites on or around Broadway, between West 91st to West 96th Street. Neighborhood In The Nineties is monitoring these plans closely as an advocate for the long-term health of the community. Among the projects that could sprout in 2018 are few that could exceed 30 stories, depending on how much a project is able to transfer unused air rights from adjoining properties.

When the West End-Riverside district buildings were placed in a landmark historic district in 2015, Broadway was not included in the district. Thus many new, tall buildings can be built “as-of-right” with little or no community input, if no variances are sought.


96th and Broadway

In the most high profile example, 262 West 96th Street – also known as 2551-2555 Broadway — now occupied by JPMorgan Chase, Gristedes supermarket and vacant stores, including a former Rite Aid and a tanning salon.

According to The Real Deal, a local real estate newspaper, the property alone has 126,000 buildable square feet, while the expected cost of buying properties and air rights is expected to exceed $100 million, resulting in a project with more than 200,000 buildable square feet.

When Extell was developing the two Ariel residential towers, which are 33 and 38 stories, on opposite sides of Broadway (99-100th), they acquired air rights from neighboring St. Michael’s Church and adjoining low-rise retail buildings to add more floors.

Extell has expressed interest in acquiring unused air rights from neighboring residential buildings that face 95th Street to create a taller building at 96th and Broadway


Broadway & 93rd

The sellers of the Gristedes supermarket site, Susan Carmel Lehrman and Kenneth Carmel, may sell another development site a few blocks south, one with 75,000 buildable square feet at 2503-2509 Broadway and West 93rd.

The site, also carved out of the historic district zoning, comprises three shuttered stores, Europan, Radio Shack and Payless Shoes. Developers could add more floors by purchasing air rights from the corner low-rise housing Hahn’s grocery and a laundry. The site adjoins 250 West 94th Street. Stores, including CapitalOne and Gotham Liquors, occupy half the block.

Goodbye Dangerous Camden, Hello Condo!

The 95th Street block between Broadway and Amsterdam may be home to a condo tower of at least 10 stories on the former site of the Camden Hotel and Hertz/Enterprise garage, 206-218 West 95th.

The Camden Resident Hotel, which the 24th Precinct on the Upper West Side once ranked as the area’s second most dangerous building, stopped operating as a single-room-occupancy in 2013.

United Management Corp. and Certes Partners bought the property in August 2014 for $15 million, and purchased the garage in 2015 for $26 million, and closed it, reported The RealDeal.

In the Spring of 2016, the parking garage and Enterprise Car Rental opened operations, but closed abruptly in January 2017, an indicator that the owners may move ahead and build. When the Camden was first purchased by this partnership, a plan for a smaller, 10-story condo with 18 units was announced, using RKTB Architects.

Little Man Parking Garage/Enterprise Rentals, next to Camden Hotel (left)  on 95th, closed in January.
The combined properties have a total buildable square footage three times larger than the Camden site, about 85,000 buildable square feet.

 Partial or Whole Block Tower?

A year ago Hampshire Properties purchased the six-story residential apartment building on Broadway and West 91st Street (home to a laundry service and Bank of America outlet) and an adjacent commercial building (law firm and Le Pain Quotidien restaurant) for a combined $37.6 million, The RealDeal reported. Hampshire is a Brooklyn-based owner-developer run by Tomas and Daniel Rosenthal.  The two properties have 54,000 square feet of buildable space, plus nearly 11,000 in a zoning bonus.

While Hampshire told The RealDeal that it planned to continue renting out the two properties, N90s has learned from neighbors that the Laundromat just got a six month extension of its lease through December, but is operating under the impression it may have to vacate if there is a development. With the north half of the block comprising two and three story properties, including Equinox and Petco, a nearly full block development is one scenario, or Hampshire could buy the unused air rights and build a tall, slender building using its 50 feet of Broadway frontage.

Synagogue, 212 West 93rd

With much ado, the financially-challenged Congregation Shaare Zedek signed a contract in 2016 with a developer to sell and demolish its 212 W. 93rd St. synagogue, which it’s inhabited since 1923, then occupy the first three floors of a proposed 14-story condo tower.

The proposal was greeted with substantial opposition from neighboring buildings. One group pushed to landmark the synagogue to prevent their light and air from being blocked out by the condo building.  They filed a Request for Evaluation (RFE) with the Landmark Preservation Commission, urging the LPC to hold an emergency hearing before the synagogue can be razed. The group also tried to make suggestions to the congregation about improving their fundraising potential.

DNAInfo reported that the synagogue is not landmarked and can be demolished as-of-right, and the synagogue told the community board that it’s not feasible to expand the existing structure or retain the façade for a new building.

Since last September, only crickets have been heard from congregation and neighbors. No new building applications have been filed with the Buildings Department.

Other Developments

The Williams Residence, 720 WEA, a home for seniors run by the Salvation Army, has been largely emptied in preparation for a complete interior rehabilitation, and is planned to become a luxury residential building a few years from now.

And finally there is the building proposed to be built atop an existing building, The Haswell, 707 West End (above the circa 1950s 711 WEA). The City has refused to allow two “separate” buildings on the same tax lot. Whether this development happens continues to be the subject of speculation in our neighborhood.

Past experience in our neighborhood tells us that developments do not always go forward as planned. Some of those discussed here may not happen so soon.

We urge our readers to stay tuned!

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