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Old Posted Feb 2, 2010, 2:04 AM
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Smile New York's Aging Buildings

http://www.observer.com/2010/commerc...dings?page=all

New York’s Aging Buildings


The Flatiron Building, born in 1902

By Roland Li
February 1, 2010

Quote:
Out With the Old ...

This older commercial stock may spur new development, as tenants demand new technology and greener features.

"It's going to push forward all the big development projects that are stalled at the moment," said Vishaan Chakrabarti, director of the real estate development program at Columbia University's architecture and planning school, and the onetime executive, on behalf of Vornado Realty and the Related Companies, in charge of the oft-planned Moynihan Station transit hub over the current Penn Station. He cites Hudson Yards and the World Trade Center site as major development areas over the next decade.

"I don't think the aging stock, in and of itself, is a problem," Mr. Chakrabarti said. "The current obsolete stock is just an awful lot that's very similar to each other."

Older office buildings generally have larger, pre-Web floor plates, which are usually unsuitable for modern, smaller companies, or simply not economically advantageous. Older buildings may also lack the heating, plumbing and new technologies that make newer buildings more energy efficient. "I think it's a no-brainer that you've got to do it LEED-certified," said Stephen Siegel, CB Richard Ellis' global brokerage chairman and a legendary commercial dealmaker. "It can be a windfall."

Malkin Holdings started a revamp of the Empire State Building right around the iconic tower's 75th birthday, in 2006, in an effort to make it greener and more attractive to tech-savvy companies. "In the building itself, even back in 1980, you had the long hallways, which seemed to have hundreds of doors on them, and it seemed as though it was a terrazzo floor and fluorescent overhead lights and most had frosted glass windows and gold lettering on them," Anthony Malkin, president of Malkin Holdings, told The Commercial Observer in January. "And it looked like a combination of a hotel and an episode of The Twilight Zone."

Demand for new, green buildings also has much to do with business realities. "As the job market comes around and employment returns, there is going to be a very significant need for new, state-of-the-art buildings," said Robert Knakal, chairman of investment-sales firm Massey Knakal, referring to the inevitable end of the Great Recession.

"The impetus to build new buildings is based on economic incentive," Mr. Knakal added. "I think the challenge for city planning is finding a balance between preserving the historic nature of the city while allowing for well-conceived and much-needed new development."

Conversion Opportunities

This new development might come through teaching old dogs new tricks.

Take 141 East 44th Street. It was built as a prewar residential building. It was later converted to office space, and the property was renamed Fitzpatrick Grand Central in 1997, and now serves as a 155-room hotel.

Or 636 11th Avenue. In January 2008, advertising company Ogilvy & Mather leased the entire 11-story building. The owner originally wanted to convert the property, a former chocolate factory, to a residential space, but then decided to make it office space, according to Joseph Brancato, a managing principal at architecture and design firm Gensler. "They wanted something cool," said Mr. Brancato, who was involved in the renovations. "There are things you can do with these older buildings that you can't do with a Class A office space."

The building's location, near the Hudson River and the Eighth Avenue subway lines, was also a boon. The West Side may be an area of great development in the next decade, not merely through Hudson Yards, but also through art galleries in Chelsea and along the High Line. The Chelsea Fine Arts Tower at 545 West 25th Street, a commercial condo completed in 2007, was leased quickly.

If all else fails, a developer can demolish an older building completely and start from scratch. As vacant lots continue to disappear, it may be the only way of creating new space. However, such demolition and redevelopment is costly, both financially and environmentally, especially compared to renovation.

Much of Manhattan also lies within a historic district, which means that any demolitions or significant alterations to a building's facade must first be approved by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission, which is typically a lengthy and controversial process. Even if a company ultimately does gain approval, they often attract the ire of local preservation groups and neighbors.

"Sometimes you need to take a second or third look before you bring in the wrecking ball," Mr. Brancato said.
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Last edited by NYguy; Feb 2, 2010 at 1:22 PM.
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Old Posted Feb 2, 2010, 2:51 AM
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And no matter their economic viability and disrepair, the NIMBY's will cling onto every last building like grim death. I would expect that not a single building will be replaced until they are literally a health hazard.
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Old Posted Feb 2, 2010, 1:24 PM
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Originally Posted by Duffstuff129 View Post
And no matter their economic viability and disrepair, the NIMBY's will cling onto every last building like grim death. I would expect that not a single building will be replaced until they are literally a health hazard.
Manhattan would be turned into a living museum before most of those people accept that change must come.
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Old Posted Feb 2, 2010, 9:37 PM
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what are those gorgeous domes buildings in the background of the pic? Are they still standing?
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Old Posted Feb 3, 2010, 12:43 AM
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If the new buildings look like the older ones and not some terrible edifice of glass and steel then I am alright with the plan.
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Old Posted Feb 3, 2010, 1:05 AM
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what are those gorgeous domes buildings in the background of the pic? Are they still standing?
yes.

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Old Posted Feb 3, 2010, 1:08 AM
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Originally Posted by jetsetter View Post
If the new buildings look like the older ones and not some terrible edifice of glass and steel then I am alright with the plan.
This is NIMBY thinking. "It only matters what I think looks good; progress and development can go screw themselves."

Glass is not going anywhere and ornamentation is not coming back.
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Old Posted Feb 3, 2010, 1:26 AM
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Originally Posted by Duffstuff129 View Post
This is NIMBY thinking. "It only matters what I think looks good; progress and development can go screw themselves."

Glass is not going anywhere and ornamentation is not coming back.
It's that new glass and steel that keeps the city alive. Unless of course, people would like to see all the businesses leave the city, and with them the jobs, finally followed by the people. Only then will people realize that glass and steel was not so terrible afterall.
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Old Posted Feb 3, 2010, 2:32 PM
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It's that new glass and steel that keeps the city alive. Unless of course, people would like to see all the businesses leave the city, and with them the jobs, finally followed by the people. Only then will people realize that glass and steel was not so terrible afterall.
I'm sure New York is in no danger of such, but that kind of thinking is why cities like Charlotte are what they are.
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Old Posted Feb 3, 2010, 6:03 PM
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I am no NIMBY, but I adore New York's stock of old skyscrapers, and would lament the loss of any one of them (Still sad over the loss of the Singer building...and that happened before I was born!).
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Old Posted Feb 3, 2010, 6:19 PM
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I am no NIMBY, but I adore New York's stock of old skyscrapers, and would lament the loss of any one of them (Still sad over the loss of the Singer building...and that happened before I was born!).
Yes, very sad.

In my opinion, it´s good to have an interesting mix of old and new architecture. Most other cities have only new buildings. NYC has both...
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Old Posted Feb 3, 2010, 9:38 PM
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What the hell is wrong with some of you people? What makes NYC so unique is its stock of old buildings. Its why a lot of people move there, to get away from the modern humdrum crap architecture we see in all of our suburbs and a lot of cities. It is very important to protect what is left, and the NYC historic commission is doing a very good job at ensuring that vast areas of the city remained untouched and protected. I am all for building new towers, but I also believe that historic structures should be protected at all costs. America has lost so much of its past with urban renewal and just bad upkeep of historic structures. NYC is unique and it needs to be protected.

NYGuy, it seems like you would want NYC to have very few historic structures and the rest just modern glass buildings.
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Old Posted Feb 5, 2010, 3:04 AM
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Originally Posted by Duffstuff129 View Post
This is NIMBY thinking. "It only matters what I think looks good; progress and development can go screw themselves."

Glass is not going anywhere and ornamentation is not coming back.
I do not think you realize that "modern" skyscrapers do not actually have to look like they do. Ornamentation can come back and the building can still be modern.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2010, 4:37 AM
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I sense this thread will be going down hill rather quickly.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2010, 5:05 PM
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I do not think you realize that "modern" skyscrapers do not actually have to look like they do. Ornamentation can come back and the building can still be modern.
It has to do with economics, there is no reason to waste money on ornaments, and very few companies are willing to do it.

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I sense this thread will be going down hill rather quickly.
Agreed. Progressive people who want the city to develope will never agree with people who want the city to become a museum for them to fawn over when they come once every 5 years.
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Old Posted Feb 6, 2010, 8:19 PM
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Agreed. Progressive people who want the city to develope will never agree with people who want the city to become a museum for them to fawn over when they come once every 5 years.
Or people like me who think it is important to reuse before demolition because once a building is gone, it is gone. I grew up in a city that erased much of its own history in the name of progress, now its downtown looks like it was built in the past 20 years, even though it is a city that has been here long before we were even a country.

The thing with this topic is that neither sound be taken lightly, we should not tear down buildings in the name of progress and we should not leave them be in the name of preservation. In other words, we shouldnt be reckless with our past.
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Old Posted Feb 8, 2010, 10:06 PM
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Or people like me who think it is important to reuse before demolition because once a building is gone, it is gone. I grew up in a city that erased much of its own history in the name of progress, now its downtown looks like it was built in the past 20 years, even though it is a city that has been here long before we were even a country.

The thing with this topic is that neither sound be taken lightly, we should not tear down buildings in the name of progress and we should not leave them be in the name of preservation. In other words, we shouldnt be reckless with our past.
As before, I agree with you. However, I think you misunderstand my stance. I'm all for the preservation of structures that are significant, were/are architecturally innovative, especially beautiful, or have some sort of noteworthy history. Preserving entire districts is another story. Manhattan in particular cannot afford to preserve all of SoHo, for example, just because it is old, anything worthy can and will be preserved, but we cannot fall into a short-sighted state of mind where we keep things just because they exist.
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Old Posted Feb 9, 2010, 2:09 PM
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I'm sure New York is in no danger of such, but that kind of thinking is why cities like Charlotte are what they are.


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Old Posted Feb 9, 2010, 7:53 PM
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As before, I agree with you. However, I think you misunderstand my stance. I'm all for the preservation of structures that are significant, were/are architecturally innovative, especially beautiful, or have some sort of noteworthy history. Preserving entire districts is another story. Manhattan in particular cannot afford to preserve all of SoHo, for example, just because it is old, anything worthy can and will be preserved, but we cannot fall into a short-sighted state of mind where we keep things just because they exist.
I can understand that to an extent, I would have to say that what it should be is that places like SoHo should be able to be put under a preservation district that makes it much harder to simply tear down a building. Sure it would slow down the process, but in cases like this, it would give much longer thought and debate to tearing down something...but that would be the extreme, NYC in general should not be under such strict guidelines.
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Old Posted Feb 13, 2010, 2:24 PM
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I think that NY should have some old buildings but not keeping them all for the sake of it when you can have progress.
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