Square Feet Column

Bon Appétit Moves to a New Home and Into the Kitchen You’ve Always Wanted

(The New York Times) The first thing Alison Roman does when she arrives at work is switch on the computer and check her email. But that’s where the similarities with many Manhattan office workers end.

After a few minutes at her desk, Ms. Roman clomps downstairs in her kitchen clogs and heads to her workstation. There, she puts on an apron, spreads her recipe on the white Calacatta marble countertop and begins slicing a tomato. Instead of asking colleagues where the stapler is, she searches for the microplane.

“We are obsessed with this,” she said, grabbing the rectangular metal tool and bowing her head over a lemon. “You can use it to zest, to shave Parmesan, you name it.”

Alison Roman, senior food editor at Bon Appétit, in the test kitchen on the 35th floor of 1 World Trade Center.      Credit  Pablo Enriquez for The New York Times

Alison Roman, senior food editor at Bon Appétit, in the test kitchen on the 35th floor of 1 World Trade Center. Credit Pablo Enriquez for The New York Times

Despite Record Prices, RFR Goes on a Manhattan Buying Spree

(The New York Times) Walking into Aby Rosen’s office on the third floor of the Lever House in Midtown, guests are greeted by several light installations hung above the elevator banks. 

They feature impish phrases like “You Forgot to Kiss My Soul” by the artist Tracey Emin, but also more provocative ones, including two pieces with vulgar language. It is, perhaps, the first indication that Mr. Rosen is not your typical, staid office landlord.

Mr. Rosen, a co-founder and principal of RFR Holdings, is one of the city’s busiest developers, buying buildings across Manhattan at a time when many other players are sitting on the sidelines, waiting for prices to come down.

Lower Manhattan Will Undergo a Retail Revival

(The New York Times) In Manhattan, where most of the city’s stores are small, street-level boutiques, mammoth shopping malls are rare. But next spring, the endless maze of cranes and construction pits that has enveloped Lower Manhattan for more than a decade will be mostly cleared away, making room for not one, but two, massive retail centers.

At the World Trade Center retail complex, centered on the transportation hub, or Oculus, 150 stores are planned to entice shoppers through sprawling corridors to browse $900 metallic leather pumps at Tom Ford or stock up on discounted toothpaste at Duane Reade.

Across West Street, hugging the Hudson River, is Brookfield Place, where visitors will find luxury boutiques like Hermès and Burberry, the French dining hall Le District and the foodie favorites Umami Burger and Black Seed bagel.

“There is a retail revolution that is underway in Lower Manhattan,” said Jessica Lappin, the president of the Alliance for Downtown New York, which runs the neighborhood business improvement district. “Most people haven’t fully wrapped their brains around the scale of the changes that are coming.”

Brookfield Place, across from the World Trade Center, will have luxury boutiques like Hermès and Burberry, the dining hall Le District and Umami Burger. CreditSasha Maslov for The New York Times

New York Property Managers Devise Survival Plans for the Next Disaste

(The New York Times) In the hectic days that followed Hurricane Sandy, the only place that John Ambrosini could find cell service was on a hill near his home on the North Shore of Long Island.

There he would sit, his phone plugged into the car lighter — the only available source of electricity — and run operations overseeing some 60 Manhattan office buildings, many of which were without power and inundated by corroding floodwaters.

Tax Break as a Not-So-Secret Weapon

(The New York Times) The tax break wars are heating up again, as New Jersey aggressively pushes a revamped program to encourage businesses to stay or move within its borders.

The retooled tax credit is called Grow New Jersey, a consolidation and expansion of several previous programs. Some companies, even those already in the state, might be eligible for as much as $300 million in tax credits per project.

The Legislature approved the Grow New Jersey program in September, and in December it announced its first round of recipients, including Valeant Pharmaceuticals, which is leaving its current home for another. Credit: Aaron Houston for The New York Times

Nonprofits With Sought-After Buildings Take Advantage of a Hot Market

(The New York TimesAfter 40 years, United Cerebral Palsy of New York City plans to move from its headquarters in the Gramercy Park neighborhood of Manhattan.

It is selling the building to Toll Brothers, a development company, for $135 million, more than twice what it was offered for the four-story property back in 2007, the organization said. Like a few other nonprofits, it decided to take advantage of a lucrative real estate market for some Manhattan sites.

United Cerebral Palsy of New York City’s headquarters at 122 East 23rd Street sold for $135 million. Marilynn K. Yee/The New York Times

Staten Island Property Puts a Nascar Failure Behind It

(New York Times) A windswept corner of the industrial northwest coast of Staten Island is infamous as a dumping ground for toxic waste, a home to Mafia-related crime and perhaps even more notoriously, the location for an ill-fated attempt to build New York City’s first Nascar racetrack.

Known as Bloomfield, at its center is a vast, 440-acre former oil tank farm where frequent spills caused untold damage to the fragile freshwater wetlands that surround it. Fenced off from the public, the GATX petroleum storage facility has lain fallow for years, its abandoned dock and warehouses now rusted hulks from the brackish water that flooded the site after Hurricane Sandy.

Though it is still years from completion, a project in Staten Island will become a marine port and a logistics center, with warehouses to store goods. Credit: Mary DiBiase Blaich for The New York Times

Club Monaco Will Offer Books and Coffee Alongside Fashion

(The New York Times) Offer the coziness of a library, a cup of coffee or an Art Deco fireplace in a ladies’ lounge as a gateway to a shopping spree. That’s the new vision for Club Monaco, which is opening a sprawling flagship store on Fifth Avenue in the Flatiron district on Monday.

Seizing Iran's Slice of Fifth Avenue

(The New York Times) For years, tenants have worked uneasily inside the Manhattan skyscraper formerly known as the Piaget Building, as federal prosecutors tried to wrest the prime real estate from Iranian-related partners.

The office tower at 650 Fifth Avenue, built in the late 1970s by the Shah of Iran, has been the subject of seizure proceedings by federal prosecutors who contended that the ownership groups engaged in money laundering for their government and also violated economic sanctions imposed against Iran.

The owners of 650 Fifth Avenue were found to have broken sanctions imposed against Iran. Justin Lane/European Pressphoto Agency

Opening Ceremony, Andre Balazs Coming to West Side Pier

(New York Times) At an old pier in Manhattan, the hotelier André Balazs is transforming a rubble-strewn rooftop into a health spa and beach, while in the enormous hollow cement caissons beneath the Hudson River that hold up the pier, a rock-climbing wall is being created.

The plans are part of a larger effort to redesign Pier 57, a long-abandoned former shipping and passenger terminal that spans about a half-million square feet at 15th Street in the meatpacking district.         

'ChiBeCa' Goes Residential

(The New York Times) The area of lower Broadway south of Canal Street in Manhattan has long been characterized by nondescript discount stores and lunchtime counters packed with city workers. It has been mostly ignored by the wave of gentrification to the west that has flooded TriBeCa over the last decade, bringing with it baby carriages, designer boutiques and restaurants.       

“Along Broadway has always been the funkier part of TriBeCa where you can still find artists,” said Erik Torkells, the editor of the Tribeca Citizen, a neighborhood Web site. “People call it Chibeca because of its proximity to Chinatown.”       


A Magnet for Shoppers Is Getting a Makeover

(The New York Times) Mitra Suleiman drives seven hours to Central Valley, N.Y., from her home in Ottawa, Canada, every year in search of a bargain. Woodbury Common Premium Outlets, an outdoor maze of shops an hour’s drive north of New York City, “has so much variety, there is nothing like it where we are from,” said Ms. Suleiman, 36. “Right now, I’m on the hunt for shoes for my son.” 

On a recent weekday afternoon, there was a jumble of visitors, many of whom had paid $42 for the CitySights NY bus from Manhattan’s Port Authority Bus Terminal. Those who had driven themselves spent as long as 30 minutes searching for a parking space among the acres of blacktop. Loudspeakers announced the day’s sales in various languages, including Mandarin and Spanish, as families pushed baby carriages and consulted maps to find their bearings.       

Now, for the first time in 15 years, the complex’s plazas and labyrinthine layout are preparing for a face-lift.       


Coming of the Whitney Enlivens Meatpacking District

(The New York Times) The site of the former Mobil gas station on 10th Avenue, at the western end of the meatpacking district, has been hidden behind scaffolding for more than a year, but when it is unveiled later this summer, a glass box will emerge from beneath the hulking metal of the High Line.

A rendering of the block along West 14th Street shows the latest in a string of developments that can offer a single retailer up to 16,000 square feet or be divided among several smaller stores. Credit: AJSNY

Developers Are Making Bets on a Rising East Harlem

(The New York Times) Sharon Kahen and his partner Haim Levi are making a multimillion-dollar bet on East Harlem. The developers recently closed on a vacant parcel at 119th Street and Third Avenue where they plan to build a 60-unit market-rate rental building.

“In the next five years, we will invest $75 million to connect East Harlem to the Upper East Side,” said Mr. Kahen, who, along with Mr. Levi, built the CL Tower at 203 East 121st Street in 2011. “We started at 121st Street; now we are doing a project at 119th Street, and we plan to continue moving south.”

Demand from students who attend Hunter College’s newly opened Silberman School of Social Work at 119th Street, along with residents displaced by increasing rents on the Upper East Side, are driving developers to build more housing in East Harlem.

The developer Sharon Kahen at the CL Tower on East 121st Street in Harlem. He and his partner just bought another Harlem parcel, on 119th Street. Credit: Yana Paskova for The New York Times

Hectic Times Square Is Keeping the Developers Busy

(The New York Times) Some two decades ago, New York City began a huge cleanup of its downtrodden theater district, vastly improving the fortunes of the pedestrian-clogged Times Square neighborhood. In recent months, that progress has gone into high gear, with rents reaching new highs and several redevelopment projects proceeding.

Reflecting rising demand, asking retail rents topped $2,400 a square foot in the fourth quarter of 2012, a jump of nearly 42 percent from a year earlier and second only to rents on Fifth Avenue, according to CBRE, a commercial real estate brokerage. Ground is scheduled to be broken this year on an $800 million, 39-story hotel and retail complex at 701 Seventh Avenue, at the northern edge of Times Square, and plans for a $140 million renovation of the retail beneath the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square are also under way.