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  #61  
Old Posted Jun 30, 2010, 11:42 PM
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http://www.dnainfo.com/20100628/uppe...egadevelopment

Upper West Siders to Weigh in on Extell's 'Mega-Development'
Those opposed to the proposed Riverside Center will get a chance to voice their concerns this week.




June 28, 2010

Quote:
By Leslie Albrecht


UPPER WEST SIDE — After months of angry protests about Riverside Center, a billion dollar, five-building development on the Upper West Side, residents will get a chance this week to formally voice their concerns at a public hearing.

The blowback against Extell Development Company’s proposal reached a fever pitch recently when Huffington Post blogger Marta Hallowell called on Tina Fey, Alan Gilbert, Wynton Marsalis, Alex Rodriguez and Alec Baldwin to join in the fight and push for more parks, affordable housing and schools at the controversial development.

The entertainers could take Hallowell up on that offer Tuesday night when Community Board 7 hosts a public hearing on Riverside Center at 6:30 p.m. at 250 W. 87th Street.


Community groups have been sounding the alarm about the proposed development, which will include 2,500 housing units on the 8.2-acre parcel bound by W. 59th and W. 61st streets and West End Avenue and Riverside Boulevard.

Among other demands, Community Board 7 wants Extell to remove one of the five buildings it’s planning for the site and a guarantee that 20 percent of the square footage for residential units will be set aside permanently for affordable housing.

Plans to develop the site have been in the works since the early 1990s.

Extell says the project will result in a well-designed mixed-use district that will bring neighborhood retail and open space to the waterfront area.

Extell president Gary Barnett said at a public meeting earlier this month that Extell could make only so many concessions before the project becomes impossible to build.
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  #62  
Old Posted Jun 30, 2010, 11:47 PM
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http://dnainfo.com/20100630/upper-we...verside-center

Community Board Says City Backs Housing Demand for Riverside Center


By Leslie Albrecht
June 30, 2010

Quote:
UPPER WEST SIDE — Community Board 7 says its demand that Extell Development Company set aside part of the massive Riverside Center project for affordable housing is moving closer to reality, but progress is slower on the board’s hopes for a school at the site.

That's what board members called “the good news and the bad news” at a Tuesday night meeting to hammer out the board’s position on Extell's Riverside Center, the controversial development proposed for an 8-acre swath between 59th and 61st Street and West End Avenue and Riverside Boulevard.

Extell wants to build five residential towers, a movie theater, stores, an auto showroom, an underground parking garage and three acres of open space at the site. Some Upper West Siders have railed against the project, calling it an enclave for the rich that will add little to the neighborhood.

In the works since 1992, the development is now moving toward a final vote of approval at the City Council.

But before then, Community Board 7 gets to weigh in with a list of concessions it hopes to win from Extell. Among them: the board wants Extell to remove one of the five buildings to make way for more open space.

Affordable housing and a school big enough to handle at least 1,400 students are also at the top of Community Board 7’s wish list.

Extell has offered to set aside 12 percent of the project’s 2,500 housing units as affordable housing for 20 years. Community Board 7 says that’s not enough.

It wants 20 percent of the housing — in square footage, not units — to be made permanently affordable.

The city is backing that idea, board members say. Board member Ethel Sheffer said Monday that city planning officials are now negotiating with Extell to make 20 percent of the housing permanently affordable.

“The very good news is that our priority, and the community’s priority, has been taken up by the city,” Sheffer said Monday.

Developers usually get a bonus — they’re allowed to develop 33 percent more floor area — if they agree to provide 20 percent affordable housing. But Sheffer said Extell wouldn’t be eligible for that bonus.

The deal could yield roughly 450 to 500 units of affordable housing, Sheffer said.

The City Council has final say on whether the affordable housing requirement remains a part of the project.

News on the school front wasn’t as rosy. With Upper West Side schools already overflowing with students, Community Board 7 wants Extell to build a K-8 school big enough for six sections, or roughly 1,400 to 1,500 students.

Extell says it will set aside space for a 150,000 square-foot school. But the developer has agreed to pay for only the “core and shell” — four walls, roof and floor — on half of the school building. The remainder would be left for the School Construction Authority to build.

Community Board 7 member Mark Diller says Extell’s school plan would accommodate about 480 students. That’s not enough for an already overcrowded district, Diller said.

“There were five more kindergartens in our district than could fit last year,” Diller said. “We could fill this school today.”

Community Board 7 holds the next public meeting on Riverside Center on July 6, when the full board will discuss the issue.
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  #63  
Old Posted Jul 1, 2010, 1:38 AM
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I know we get caught up on height, but in this case I recognize the need for affordable housing and school expansion in the area. That being said, there’s no reason why there can’t be a compromise to accommodate both the needs of the developer and the community. The needs of both wouldn’t be fulfilled 100%, but that’s why it’s a compromise. What I don’t like about the community boards is the ‘my way or the highway’ approach.
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  #64  
Old Posted Jul 14, 2010, 1:22 AM
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Community boards can only give an advisory opinion -- they are not in a position to say
"my way or the highway." If they make a series of demands, that is only because they are following a prescribed dance. They state their position first, and whatever negotiation that follows takes place months later when the approval process move to the City Council.
     
     
  #65  
Old Posted Jul 16, 2010, 12:37 PM
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Originally Posted by Engineer View Post
Community boards can only give an advisory opinion -- they are not in a position to say
"my way or the highway." If they make a series of demands, that is only because they are following a prescribed dance. They state their position first, and whatever negotiation that follows takes place months later when the approval process move to the City Council.
Only in this case, the developer (Barnett) has agreed to some demands. The latest negotiation seems to be about school size from what I've been reading.
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  #66  
Old Posted Jul 17, 2010, 10:56 PM
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There are many players in this dance. Up to now the developer has been responding mostly to the demands of the Department of City Planning. Sometimes DCP takes its cues from community comments or concerns of the local City Council member or the Borough President. So some changes have already been made. The developer has included a school to accommodate children from the development, in accordance with an agreement reached with DCP and the School Construction Authority. The community thinks that overcrowding in the area requires a larger school, but hasn't convinced SCA. Now that hearings have started, further changes will probably be suspended until the final negotiations in the fall.
     
     
  #67  
Old Posted Jul 18, 2010, 9:34 PM
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  #68  
Old Posted Aug 27, 2010, 3:31 PM
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http://www.observer.com/2010/real-es...verside-center

Extell Ups Below-Market Rate Housing at Riverside Center

By Eliot Brown
August 26, 2010

Quote:
Extell Development has increased the level of below-market rate housing to go in its planned Riverside Center mega-development, a 2,500-unit project planned for the western reaches of the Upper West Side.

Based on Extell submissions to the Department of City Planning filed last week, the developer apparently intends to increase the level to 20 percent of the units, up from 12 percent. The paperwork filed shows that Extell plans to rezone the area, by the West Side Highway and 59th Street to qualify for the city's inclusionary zoning program, which gives an extra density bonus in exchange for low- or moderate-income housing.

The move is all part of the negotiating dance toward an approval. Extell is in the midst of the city's seven-month review process, and the community board recently weighed in with a large number of criticisms over density and other issues (notably, they want one of the towers to be removed).

The housing issue is one that was expected, given that 12 percent is rather low for developments these days (but was more customary back when the larger Riverside South area was initially planned). In addition, it was urged by City Planning director Amanda Burden.
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  #69  
Old Posted Sep 1, 2010, 3:02 PM
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http://blog.archpaper.com/wordpress/archives/8714

BP Stringer Throws Water on Riverside Center



8.31.10
Matt Chaban

Quote:
It has not been a good day for Gary Barnett and his Extell Development. First, the Post‘s ur-real estate columnist Steve Cuozzo gave Barnett a hard time for delays at his skyline-bursting Carnegie 57. (How come Tony Malkin didn’t complain about this one, by the way?) And this evening, Borough President Scott Stringer has announced he is giving the project his ULURP thumbs down. What more does everyone want? Barnett has promised to build a school, to up the affordable housing from 12 percent to 20 percent, and he has hired one hell of an architect. But this is far from enough apparently, given Stringer’s strongly worded announcement.

There are two schools of thought when it comes to ULURP: community boards and BPs who do not like a project can either approve with modifications or disapprove with modifications. Though there is an open debate as to which sends a stronger message to the City Council, which has ultimate say on land-use projects, Stringer tends to subscribe to the former school, saying “yes, but” far more than he says “no, but.” In other words, a “no” from Stringer is a rare thing (see: 15 Penn, Manhattanville, etc.) and should probably give Barnett pause. Here is the rationale, from Stringer’s announcement:

Riverside Center development is the largest development site remaining on the Upper West Side. The proposal includes five mixed-use buildings, 1,800 public parking spaces, an elementary/middle school, 135,000 SF of ground-floor retail, and an automobile showroom and service center. Its redevelopment has the potential to improve existing site conditions, create thousands of new jobs, and provide much needed neighborhood amenities. Riverside Center is also the last remaining undeveloped or unplanned piece of the Riverside South development, which failed to achieve broad consensus and resulted in detrimental impacts on the community.

[...]

While emphasizing that the “development of the [Riverside Center] site is desirable to the Upper West Side community,” the borough president’s recommendations identifies several areas that necessitate improvement and modification. The current proposal lacks good site planning, creates inactive streetscapes, and obscures access to the proposed open space. Additionally, the proposed project has many environmental impacts that require real mitigations. The borough president’s recommendation advocates for the inclusion of public amenities such as a public school of an appropriate size to meet the needs of the community and additional active recreational space.


Granted Stringer’s recommendations are wholly advisory, but they do point to the rough road ahead, not least because City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden aired her own reservations about the project when it was certified back in May. Local City Councilwoman Gail Brewer has also expressed skepticism and is not especially pro-development by the council’s standards.

Still, Barnett has repeatedly shown his willingness to compromise on the project. To see it built, he will almost certainly have to continue doing so.
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  #70  
Old Posted Sep 1, 2010, 4:59 PM
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How can so much crap be thrown at a project that appears to be nothing but a postive for the area? It's political BS and it makes me sick!
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  #71  
Old Posted Sep 1, 2010, 5:19 PM
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Originally Posted by Busy Bee View Post
How can so much crap be thrown at a project that appears to be nothing but a postive for the area? It's political BS and it makes me sick!
LOL, anything proposed for the site will anger the NIMBYs. It could be all "affordable" housing and a school, and they would find something wrong with it. Barnett should bring back Trump's old 80's proposal - Television City. I think the NIMBYs would be happy about what's proposed now.
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  #72  
Old Posted Sep 2, 2010, 12:25 AM
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Scott Stringer, Manhattan borough president a NIMBY?? Can't be. If he is, he should have run for office in Staten Island.
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  #73  
Old Posted Sep 2, 2010, 10:08 PM
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To play devil's advocate, Stringer's critiques don't mention the density of the project, but rather belie the, and I paraphrase, "poor site planning, inactive streetscapes, and obscured access to the proposed open space." Could the development not meet his needs by adding more retail - or more evenly distributing it, and improving access to the public open space by shifting buildings somewhat? He also makes a passive-aggressive snipe at the school being too small. I wonder if everyone could be made happy while still maintaining the density of the project? His concerns don't seem to be the usual NIMBY ones of "too much height, too many people." Could the "additional recreational space" he asks for create taller, thinner towers with similar density? It seems like while he doesn't like the way it is now, that it's not out of the realm of possibility of reworking the project to address those concerns while still maintaining the same density.
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  #74  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2010, 2:00 AM
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Originally Posted by colemonkee View Post
To play devil's advocate, Stringer's critiques don't mention the density of the project, but rather belie the, and I paraphrase, "poor site planning, inactive streetscapes, and obscured access to the proposed open space." Could the development not meet his needs by adding more retail - or more evenly distributing it, and improving access to the public open space by shifting buildings somewhat?
It's all bs. The people in the area don't want retail, and were up in arms when it was suggested there would be "big box" retail at the site. What they want is control over what gets built, what [/i]size[/i] it gets built, and who it gets built for.
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  #75  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2010, 2:15 AM
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To me this whole project is very reminiscent of the ConEd site in terms of public reaction and design overhauls. With the way things are going you wonder if it’s just a matter of time until this project gets battered to the point where Extell throws in the towel. If these revisions deviate from the intention of the project too much, then is it really worth it from Extell’s end? After what they did to get the site, the answer from them is most likely yes; but I think they took on more than they bargained for.
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  #76  
Old Posted Sep 3, 2010, 1:16 PM
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Originally Posted by Dac150 View Post
To me this whole project is very reminiscent of the ConEd site in terms of public reaction and design overhauls. With the way things are going you wonder if it’s just a matter of time until this project gets battered to the point where Extell throws in the towel. If these revisions deviate from the intention of the project too much, then is it really worth it from Extell’s end? After what they did to get the site, the answer from them is most likely yes; but I think they took on more than they bargained for.
It's a part of the long running saga to develop the land in this area of Manhattan, from Trump's Television City, and before then. Part of it has to do with the Upper West Side being a highly populated area (unlike the Far West Side and railyards). There's never gonna be a consensus on what should be built on the site, and when. At some point, you just have to say a thing is what it is, and move on.
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  #77  
Old Posted Sep 12, 2010, 6:28 AM
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http://www.archpaper.com/e-board_rev.asp?News_ID=4795

No End to Miller Time at Riverside South?
Extell tunnels onward in long-waited bid to bury West Side highway, but project may still take decades




9.07.201
Jeff Byles


Quote:
In recent years, New Yorkers have seen parkland burgeon along the Hudson River, nowhere more expansively than at Riverside Park South, where boardwalks, overlooks, and marsh grasses wind along the water’s edge. But the beauty of this new landscape between 59th and 72nd streets is blighted by an elevated stretch of the West Side Highway that spews noise, fumes, and debris onto the park below.

Unbeknownst to passing rollerbladers, Extell Development, which is completing the new park as part of its Riverside South complex, has quietly been building a whopping chunk of infrastructure to bury this noxious stretch of road: a $60 million tunnel shell between 61st and 65th streets. It is one of the first pieces of a decades-old plan to sink the elevated structure, known as the Miller Highway, and extend the park from Riverside South’s dozen-odd new towers to the river in a monumental, 3/4-mile-long public space.

The removal of the highway, which would be topped with park from roughly 61st to 70th streets, has been a dream of planners and community advocates since the project’s 1991 masterplan, led by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and based on a plan by Paul Willen and Daniel Gutman, with landscape design by Thomas Balsley Associates. That plan, devised for the Trump Organization, the original developer of the 77-acre Penn Central railyards site, calls for the highway to be buried below Riverside Boulevard, a new access road that runs west of the towers.

At the time of the project’s 1992 approval, it was understood that the highway relocation would ultimately require public transportation funds. But there was a catch: In order to secure certificates of occupancy for the first towers at the north end of the site, the developer had to deliver the waterfront park as called for in the masterplan. So instead of waiting around for public funds—and a public process that could drag on for years—Trump began building Riverside Boulevard and the new park.

Enter Extell, which acquired the remaining undeveloped land from 65th to 59th streets in 2005. To continue building its new towers, Extell needed to build the first section of tunnel—hence its $60 million investment. The developer is also working on an upland section of park stretching north from 65th street to be built atop a southbound portion of tunnel. Final plans for that segment are being completed by Thomas Balsley, who has designed all of the 26-acre waterfront park in a series of complicated maneuvers around the hulking Miller Highway.

“It’s a chess game,” explained Balsley of the design. “The point is not to build anything that would get ripped out later. So we had to design the upland park and design the waterfront park, knowing what would happen between those two things when we take the highway out of the equation. It was crystal-ball design work.”

A prime impediment was the 35-foot elevation change from Riverside Boulevard to the river, at the base of which the highway now runs. Balsley’s solution is to split the park into three distinct spatial experiences. On the upland section, a narrow ribbon of landscape overlooks the water. The riverfront segment is more adventurous, with naturalized riparian edges, lush plantings, and a variety of overlooks and coves. Connecting the two is a big, sloping lawn with wooded edges in the tradition of Riverside Park, creating a transition between the community-scaled upland and the more civic-scaled waterfront.

Completion of that middle segment, however, remains contingent on the Miller’s re-routing. Though an environmental impact statement for the highway relocation was finished in 2002 by the state Department of Transportation, and the move was subsequently authorized by the Federal Highway Administration, the Miller teardown still awaits engineering and design work, not to mention the estimated $400 million needed for the relocation, a sum certain to require federal assistance.

It also remains to be seen how Extell’s plans for the southern portion of the site between 59th and 61st streets, where it has proposed a cluster of towers designed by Christian de Portzamparc, might affect the highway’s fate. The project is currently undergoing public review and recently drew opposition from Borough President Scott Stringer



According to Daniel Gutman, the Miller’s predicament can be traced to the 1991 agreement between the city, state, developer, and civic groups, which called for the highway to be relocated concurrently with development of the new park. But it never stipulated who would fund the new highway, and the state Department of Transportation takes the position that the road has at least another 30 years of life left in it. “There’s no way this highway is going to get moved in the near future unless some other source of funds is found, and so far none is available,” Gutman told *AN.

“I don’t know if it will ever happen,” said Cheryl Huber, deputy director of New Yorkers for Parks, a member organization of the Riverside South Planning Corporation. “It seems like one of these debates that will possibly go on forever.”


Balsley's rendering of the park with the highway still intact.



The park after a stretch of the highway from roughly 61st Street to 70th Street has been buried and covered over with stepped parkland.
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  #78  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2010, 7:51 PM
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http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...rk_real_estate

Hearing Set for Riverside Center

September 13, 2010

Quote:
The City Planning Commission is set to hold a public hearing Wednesday on developer Gary Barnett's proposed Riverside Center on the Upper West Side.

The current $4.2 billion plan has been met with disapproval at the local community board and at the Manhattan Borough President's office. But Mr. Barnett, who already has reduced the project's scope, is likely to do so further to win city approval.

The project includes 2,500 apartments, 3 acres of public space and a new school. Partly because of tight financing and the weak economy, Mr. Barnett hasn't announced plans yet for breaking ground.
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  #79  
Old Posted Sep 13, 2010, 10:35 PM
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Let the development go foward, then bury that elevated stretch eyesore of the West-Side highway. They're both a win-win for the area.
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  #80  
Old Posted Sep 14, 2010, 2:51 PM
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The circus comes to town...

http://dnainfo.com/20100914/upper-we...center-hearing
Full House Expected for Riverside Center Hearing


By Leslie Albrecht
DNAinfo Reporter Producer

Quote:
Officials are expecting a packed meeting room at Wednesday's Planning Commission hearing on Riverside Center, the five-tower development that could bring as many as 3,000 new housing units to the Upper West Side.

Planning Commission spokeswoman Rachaele Raynoff said she expects every seat in the department's meeting room to be filled for the 10 a.m. hearing. An overflow seating area with video coverage will be set up to accommodate those who can't squeeze into the main meeting room.

"Buckle up and bring lunch," said Raynoff.

The public has plenty to say about the proposed five-tower development, which has come in for heavy criticism from Community Board 7 and Borough President Scott Stringer.

Some fear the eight-acre residential and retail complex will be an exclusive enclave for the rich. Others worry that Extell Develpment Corp. won't build a big enough school to serve the children who will live at the development.


Riverside Center would bring apartments, stores, an auto showroom, a movie theater, and an underground parking garage to the area between 61st Street and 59th Street and West End Avenue and Riverside Boulevard.

The City Council has final say on Riverside Center; it's expected to vote on the development late this year.

Before then, the Planning Commission will vote to either approve, modify or disapprove of the plan. Wednesday's hearing is the commission's chance to take testimony from the public. Commissioners won't vote on the project until late October, Raynoff said.

Though a crowd is expected at the hearing, Batya Lewton of Coalition for a Livable West Side said the morning meeting time means many won't be able to attend. With most people busy working at 10 a.m., Lewton said she expects only a dozen or so concerned citizens to show up.

"The fact that they hold these hearings during the day really precludes people who are working from attending," Lewton said. "It's not fair."

Lewton said she's asked community members to speak out about various concerns about Riverside Center. Among other requests, Lewton wants Extell to scrap plans for an auto showroom and limit underground parking at Riverside Center.
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