2 Major New Development Deals On 96th
2 New Residential Towers Side-by-Side
Flipped Like A Pancake! Extell Exits 96th & Bway Site With Handsome Profit
Extell Chief Gary Barnett, who often gets criticized for what he builds, threw the Upper West Side a curveball by bailing on the huge mixed-use tower he’d announced two years ago at 2551 Broadway A/K/A 262 West 96th Street.
Barnett had managed to secure control of the 12,588 square-foot (area) site formerly occupied by the Gristedes supermarket and Chase bank, in October 2017 for $80 million. He then bought the unused, development air rights from adjacent buildings. Extell built the 38-story Ariel East on Broadway and 99th Street, the tallest building on the Upper West Side, in 2006.
After demolishing the two-story buildings this past winter, Barnett turned around and quietly completed a sale to Paragon JV Partners II, an investment group headed by Bradbury Dyer for $114.4 million. The deal was registered with the City in early May.
Since Paragon JV is not a real estate development company per se, it is expected by real estate industry sources to partner with an experienced developer on the project.
Online residential development database BuzzBuzzHome states that 2551 Broadway will have 600 apartments plus retail stores. Local real estate professionals told N90s they expect the building to rise 25 stories or higher, depending on the tower’s design.
There is no information on the configuration of the apartments, or whether major facets of the project will be changed by the new development team, especially given the higher acquisition costs.
23-Story, 171-Unit Fetner Tower Planned At 266 West 96th Street; MTA Power Plant, NAACP, and Salvation Army Stores To Be Razed
While the adjoining site on West 96th Street sold for $114 million, the City sold the decommissioned subway power plant to the Fetner Group for just $1, with conditions.
Fetner has also agreed to buy two more adjoining parcels, the NAACP storefront and the Salvation Army storefront. Each organization will be given community space in the new 23-story tower that will occupy the three combined lots.
Of course, with the power plant’s low price there are strings, like the requirement for the developer to create 68 units of affordable housing for New Yorkers who earn 50, 70 or 130 percent of the area median income (AMI). The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) defines the 2019 AMI for the New York City region as $96,100 for a three-person family. Thus, 40% of the 171 units in the proposed tower will be affordable.
One of the possible community issues in the Fetner development is the plan to build more than 30 micro apartments to meet the requirement for affordable housing. Other than the fact the units will be “micro” in size, the term is not well defined. The other affordable units will be regular apartments. At a public “Scoping” meeting last Wednesday hosted by the developer and City officials, concerns were raised if these were little more than SRO units, which are not often equipped with individual bathrooms. Another issue is the source from which the City will be supplying prospective tenants, which questions involving the screening process and the need for social services, etc. This block connects PS 75 and its middle school to public transportation. It also provides access to Riverside Park.
Then there is the issue of razing the power plant which once supplied electricity to run the IRT Broadway subway. The City has been trying to unload it for at least 30 years, a task complicated by the fact that the plant is a toxic brownfield. Past electricity generation activity introduced polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the soil and air. At last week’s meeting, neighbors expressed concern about the environmental impact of disturbing the plant’s plume on nearby buildings directly downhill from the Fetner development. The power plant is set on a steeply pitched hillside on West 96th, which has long fueled neighborhood concerns about a toxic plume that runs from the former plant down 96th St., and across West End Avenue under PS 75. Under Federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) guidelines, the party responsible for causing the polluted brownfield (in this case, the MTA) foots the bill for remediation. Fetner is working with an environmental expert to address the issue. There is also a longstanding City restriction on development, which Fetner is in the process of addressing.
There’s one more twist to this Fetner project:
The transfer of the power station is now under a June 11, 1990 sale restriction imposed by the City Planning Commission. The developer must also get approval for the site to be in the City’s Mixed-Middle housing program (M2). A failure to meet these conditions would reduce the size of the project because the plant’s footprint is relatively large compared to the footprint of the two store buildings.
Under this scenario, Fetner would build only on the two privately held Salvation Army and NAACP parcels. This would produce only a much smaller 22-story (not 23) building, about half the square footage (SF) of the three-parcel proposal (roughly 75,000 SF vs. 150,000 SF), with only 19 affordable apartments for residents with 80% of the AMI.
Fetner is currently the developer of a 50-story tower on NYCHA land on East 92nd Street, a project vehemently opposed by Borough President Gale Brewer, who is suing the developer: https://ny.curbed.com/2019/4/22/18510921/gale-brewer-sues-nyc-over-private-housing-nycha
More details about the 266 West 96th St proposal:
** MORE IMPORTANT NEWS BELOW! **
HOLD THIS DATE:
WHEN: Monday, June 24th TIME: 6:15 PM to 7:30 PM
WHAT: Meeting of Co-op Board Presidents, Tenant Leaders, etc.
WHY: Major new developments and issues ranging from siting affordable housing and shelters to street parking and pedestrian safety.
HOW: We will be creating a new leadership structure for N90s to deal with these rising challenges throughout our beautiful West 90s neighborhood
WHERE: TBA depending on turnout, but it will be nearby. RSVP now!
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We ask that more people step up—individuals, building owners, business owners, co-op boards and tenants—and contribute to keep these two important efforts going.
Checks may be written to: Neighborhood In The Nineties, Inc.
Address: Neighborhood In The Nineties, Suite 1B, 310 West 94th Street, New York, NY 10025-6868.
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