ULI New York Blog

The New West Side – New York’s Next Frontier

ULI New York’s Young Leaders Group kicked off its Mentorship Program with a panel discussion about Manhattan’s newest neighborhood: the “New West Side.”

The neighborhood, which includes the Hudson Yards development, the special West Chelsea rezoning district and the northern end of the High Line, will soon be transformed by the extension of the No. 7 subway line to 34th Street and 11th Avenue, which is scheduled to be complete in mid 2014. Hudson Yards, which is being developed by a joint partnership between Related and Oxford Properties, will comprise 25 million square feet of office, 20 million square feet of residential, 3 million square feet of hotel, and 2 million square feet of retail on a total 26 acres with 14 acres of open space.

“The challenge of developing a project of this scale is to create authenticity,” said Mike Samuelian of Related.

To that end, Related has planned several unique amenities including 750,000 square feet of destination retail – more than twice the amount of retail currently in Time Warner Center – featuring a food hall, high-end restaurants, and a full-service movie theater. Related also plans to develop the Culture Shed, an arts and culture center with a retractable canopy that can expand to cover an 18,000 square feet plaza for special events such as art exhibits and fashion shows.

According to Jon Vogel from AvalonBay, which is developing a residential project in the West Chelsea district, the new neighborhood is expected to attract individuals from the fashion, advertising, media and web industries, which have expanded their presence in New York City while the finance, insurance, and real estate sectors have struggled.

The new neighborhood will benefit from the continued popularity of the High Line. After the No. 7 line is complete, the 34th Street stop will be the closest to the High Line. Related anticipates that traffic will begin to flow from the north to the south on the High Line as more visitors start their journey in Hudson Yards.

One of the factors slowing development of the neighborhood is the lack of office space absorption. The Hudson Yards project was conceived during a period of peak office rents in midtown Manhattan. If the project’s zoning were re-envisioned for today’s real estate market it would probably include a larger residential component, according to Peter Wertheim of the Hudson Yards Development Corporation.

“It is easier to get people to move to a pioneering neighborhood than companies,” noted Samuelian.

For AvalonBay, which purchased the land for its development pre-financial crisis, the strength of the Manhattan residential market has allowed it to move forward with the project. AvalonBay is currently seeing Manhattan rents for similar projects at $65-70 per square foot, which is above pre-crisis levels.

Robert A.M. Stern, the legendary architect, whose namesake firm hosted the event, closed the panel session by asking, “Do developers ever eat dinner?”

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