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New School Tower

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Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP


southwest corner of 57th Street and Second Avenue




Neomodern architecture


Apartment Building


developer: World-Wide Group. A new school will occupy part of the new structure's 11-story base that will also include 166,000 square feet of retail space including a 47,00-square-foot Whole Foods store. The top 59 floors of the project will have residential bases. The glass-clad tower will have steeply-angled facades that will radically alter its appearance from different directions and will seem to have an extreme hour-glass pinched figure. About 20 percent of the 320 rental units will be affordable housing and the project will also utilize the Inclusionary Housing Program, according to developers World Wide Group, which will result in approximately 30 additional affordable units within Community Board #6 limits.


New Schools, 59-Story Tower To Rise at 57th St. and Second Ave.

By DAVID LOMBINO - Staff Reporter of the Sun October 9, 2006

Reviving a development model from the 1970s, the city will permit a private developer to build a soaring residential tower on a low-rise, under-utilized city-owned site in Midtown in exchange for hundreds of millions of dollars that will be used to build at least two new city schools.

The developer, the World-Wide Group, has made an agreement with the city for a 75-year lease of a 1.5-acre site on East 57th Street and Second Avenue, and it will make payments to the city worth $325 million. The developer will raze the two existing schools on the site, P.S. 59 and the High School of Art and Design, build two new schools that will accommodate more students, and develop a 59-story apartment tower and a long, four-story band of retail stores.

The city will issue about $130 million worth of bonds to build the schools through its educational construction fund, but the debt will be paid back with the developer's payments. The profit from selling the development rights is so great, according to city officials, that it will pay for capital improvements of other city schools around the five boroughs.

The executive director of the educational construction fund, run by the Department of Education, Jamie Smarr, said the city is now looking for additional, similar deals.

"Because our capital needs are so great versus the available resources, we are looking to greatly expand this model," Mr. Smarr said.

He said the conditions of the existing schools, P.S. 59 and the High School of Art and Design, are among the worst of any in Manhattan. Last year, with the support of the schools' principals, the city sought proposals from private developers to replace the schools and capture the development rights available at the site. World-Wide Group was the highest bidder, according to Mr. Smarr.

Because the planned development will occur on an as-of-right site, it does not require approval by the Planning Commission or the City Council.

The developer has met with the local community board and is in the final stages of planning and an environmental review. Construction on the schools is scheduled to begin in the first quarter of 2008, and should take about two years. The developer's lease payments will also pay for a temporary facility that will house the students during construction and will serve as a working school for about 20 years.

A partner at World-Wide Group, David Lowenfeld, said the developer was attracted to the opportunity to recreate "an eminently forgettable area," and he cited the value of having nearly 200,000 square feet of retail on one of Manhattan's busiest crosstown streets. One of the retail spaces could house a Whole Foods or another supermarket, according to the existing plans.

The residential tower, designed by architects from Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, would be about 450,000 square feet. It would contain 320 residential units with rental apartments on the lower floors and apartments for sale up above. The residential tower would be separated from the schools by a courtyard. According to the plans, 20% of the rental units would be "affordable" and the developer would build 30 "affordable" units off-site under the inclusionary housing program.

The planned development is just a few blocks from the headquarters of Bloomberg LLP and One Beacon Court, a project by Vornado Realty Trust that mixed luxury apartments with ground floor retail, and that was fantastically successful, according to real estate experts.

Mr. Lowenfeld, a former executive director of the city's Industrial Development Agency during the Koch administration, would not rule out switching to commercial development of the tower, but he said he favored residential. An office tower would require a zoning change and approval by the Planning Commission and the City Council.

World-Wide Group has built about 1,350 residential apartments in Manhattan, and was a partner in the development of the mixed-use Worldwide Plaza on West 50th Street.

This will be the 16th time the city has leveraged real estate assets to build schools using the educational constructional fund, but the model has been dormant since the 1970s. Last year, the city signed a 75-year lease with a private developer to build a junior high school and a residential building on 91st Street and First Avenue on the site of an old, vacant school.

In the 1970s, the city leased the site of 3 Park Avenue to a developer who built a 42-story commercial tower with a public school in its base. The Verizon Building at 375 Pearl Street and the adjacent Murry Bergtraum High School, near Police Headquarters, is also a product of the same program.

In the 1990s, a city study identified several possible sites suitable for similar development plans, including PS 9 on 84th Street and Columbus, PS 6 on 84th Street and Madison, PS 290 on 82nd Street between First and Second Avenues, and PS 51 on 45th Street between Tenth and Eleventh Avenues.

One of the problems with the program, according to Mr. Smarr, is that it only benefited schools in Manhattan, where real estate values are higher and zoning allows denser development. But in the last few years, real estate values have soared in the outer boroughs, and the city is now seeking proposals from developers for a school site in Park Slope, according to Mr. Smarr.

The local City Council member, Daniel Garodnick, said he would be closely following the project as it moves towards construction.

Mr. Smarr said that the public benefit should outweigh any concerns about the height of the building or disruption during construction.

"We are getting three new schools, and the affordable housing component," Mr. Smarr said. "The public amenity is so great, it overwhelms whatever natural concerns someone might have over the scale of the tower."

Deputy Mayor Daniel Doctoroff called the project a "win-win."

"It's a terrific example of what the public and private sectors can achieve when they work together for the benefit of the community," Mr. Doctoroff said. "At the same time, this project will generate a financial return for the city that can be used to support school construction and renovation elsewhere."

Latest News:

By Dana Rubinstein September 15, 2009

A developer’s vision for a stunning, hourglass-shaped skyscraper at the corner of 57th Street and Second Avenue is moving forward, albeit in an ill-defined form.

The city’s Educational Construction Fund, which is working with luxury residential developer World-Wide Group on the project, filed plans with the Department of Buildings on Sept. 10 for the project’s first phase: an 11-story building, containing 240,549 square feet for the two public schools originally located at the development site (P.S. 59 and the High School of Art & Design) and nearly 40,000 square feet of retail space.

Phase one is itself an amended version of the original plan, which called for the first phase to include 70,000 square feet of retail space. A spokesman for the developer acknowledged that the reduction is an adjustment to new economic realities.

Phase two remains largely in flux. The original plans, first unveiled at the close of 2006, call for a 59-story residential skyscraper to rise on the site. Both the scraper’s height and its composition are now up in the air.

“In terms of rentals or condos, it is too soon to commit one way or the other,” wrote World-Wide spokesman Lee Silberstein in an email. “This goes for the size, and therefore number of units.”

THE PROJECT IS a complicated public-private partnership that harks back to a more optimistic time.

When first announced in late 2006, The New York Sun reported that World-Wide would lease the 1.5-acre site from the City of New York for 75 years. The city would allow World-Wide to relocate P.S. 59 to a new school, to be funded and built by the developer. Then, World-Wide would demolish P.S. 59’s old digs and build a new school building in its place, adjacent to the high school. Once that building was complete, the high school would relocate next door, and its original building would be demolished. Then construction would begin on the residential portion of the project.

Essentially, the Department of Education would have emerged from the process with three new developer-funded school buildings, along with $325 million in rent over the course of the 75-year lease. For its part, the developer would be allowed to build a magnificent, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill–designed skyscraper in what was then a booming residential real estate market. Even better, the state would issue $130 million in tax-free bonds to help finance the schools' construction.

At first, construction moved forward according to plan. In August 2008, retail brokerage Robert K. Futterman & Associates announced that Whole Foods would anchor the project’s retail, opening an outlet there in 2012. By the end of 2008, World-Wide had finished construction of the temporary 63rd Street school for P.S. 59, the city’s first green school building. Industry trade New York Construction reported in October 2008 that construction on the new schools at the development site was to begin that fall. Nearly a year later, construction has yet to begin.

“The temporary site of PS 59 has opened and the school relocated; the rest of the timeline is being finalized,” Mr. Silberstein wrote.

The project’s future remains somewhat murky, but Education Fund executive director Jamie Smarr expressed confidence that the state would still issue bonds to finance construction, and the project would still be completed largely as planned. “The developer is still very much involved as this is [a] public-private venture,” Mr. Smarr said in an email.

“We are moving forward with the planning of this project and, other than some redesign, it remains the same as previously announced.”

Source- Courtesy NY Times




Dramatic 57th Street Tower Springs to Life (On the Internet)

December 22, 2009, by Joey

Big things are happening at the corner of Second Avenue and 57th Street, but how big remains to be seen. We're talking about 250 East 57th Street, the World-Wide Group's plan to replace a school building with a new school, a Whole Foods, more retail and, oh yeah, a 59-story residential tower designed by SOM that tapers and widens as it pierces the East Side sky.

Back in September it was reported that the tower is on hold while Phase I—the school and the retail in an 11-story base—proceeds. That still appears to be the plan, and a tipster points out that a slew of new permits related to the demolition of the current building at the site have recently been issued. Even if the SOM tower (it really needs a fun new nickname, btw) doesn't rise, we can still enjoy the renderings posted on the website launched to market the building's retail spaces. They're in the gallery above, and they're really making us crave some organic goji berries.


Phase one will include the construction of 38,000 feet of retail space for Whole Foods, which is scheduled to open in Dec. 2012. It also includes the new PS 59, which will be expanded to accommodate 730 students, versus the 400 the old school could hold, as well as the new 1,400-student public High School of Art and Design.

The two new schools will occupy approximately 360,000 square feet, and each will be significantly larger than their prior homes, World-Wide executives said.

The two schools, slated to open in Sept. 2012, will feature expansive open spaces for recreational activities.

PS 59 will boast a 7,000-square-foot outdoor play area on the sixth floor. Art and Design will include a 4,700-square-foot play area on the 11h floor.

Phase two of the project, slated to start in the fall of 2012, will usher in the construction of an additional 78,000 square feet of retail space and 350 units of luxury housing that will encompass about 450,000 square feet.