Curbed

Starting Today - Amazon To Start Slashing Prices At WholeFoods Now That $13.7B Deal Is Closed

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In June, Amazon announced plans to acquire Whole Foods for a sizable $13.7 billion in what’s being called a “game-changing” move by CNBC, which first reported the news. The sale is now approved and will close on Monday, August 28.

That is also when the first effects of the deal will be seen in Whole Foods stores around the country. Beginning Monday, Whole Foods will slash prices on a selection of “best-selling grocery staples, including Whole Trade organic bananas, responsibly-farmed salmon, organic large brown eggs, animal-welfare-rated 85% lean ground beef, and more,” said Jeff Wilke, CEO of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, in a press release.

Additionally, some Whole Foods stores will get Amazon Lockers, where customers can pick up or return items ordered from Amazon.com. And down the line, customers with Amazon Prime accounts can expect additional savings at Whole Foods stores, which will adapt Prime for its customer rewards program.

Amazon has long been moving to make its URL dominance an IRL phenomenon: The company’s first brick-and-mortar bookstore in New York City opened on June 1. It’s all part of the Seattle e-commerce giant’s increased influence in U.S. cities, from its massive network of storage warehouses to its new forays into real-world retail.

With this deal, Amazon will muscle fully into the world of real estate, acquiring Whole Foods locations from coast to coast, and stands to cement its prominence in the profitable groceries market, which the company has openly coveted. Though the U.S. retail sector is shrinking overall, companies like Walmart—known for their diversified offerings and low prices—enjoy continued profitability.

As Curbed previously reported:

According to Cooper Smith, an analyst at L2 Inc., a New York-based business-intelligence firm, [Amazon] has been testing its technology and strategy with a small string of bookstores, which he sees as a means for Amazon to eventually enter into the grocery market, a $770 billion-dollar-a-year industry.

“These stores are about testing in-store tech to use in grocery stores,” he says, “which is a much bigger opportunity. Amazon already owns books. Did they crush Barnes & Noble and Borders just to open up physical stores and piss on the graves of these companies? When you think about the end game—launching grocery stores with the same tech they have in the book stores—you realize the past five years haven’t been about selling books.”

To get more insight into what this move means for cities, Curbed spoke with Cooper Smith, an analyst at L2, a New York-based business intelligence firm.

 

What did Amazon buy, beyond the name?

So, in order for Amazon to sustain its current growth rate in retail, is has to get into grocery. Amazon isn’t new to grocery. AmazonFresh was launched 10 years ago. If you asked Jeff Bezos, I think he would call that a failure. Amazon needed to get into brick-and-mortar, and the best way to do that was through acquisition.

What it acquires is a brand, one that people associate with buying groceries. Amazon has been selling groceries for 10-plus years, but people don’t necessarily think about buying groceries there. It’s a brand play. The synergy between Amazon and Whole Foods is an incredible threat to Walmart and Lidl (the new German grocer who owns Trader Joe’s and Aldi).

Amazon is the most efficient retailer on the market. Whole Foods will still be the sign on the front of the store, but the backend will be Amazon and Amazon’s efficiency. It’s an incredible synergy. When you think about the people who shop at Whole Foods, they’re Prime members. Amazon isn’t acquiring new customers, it’s up-selling to its most valuable customers. It’s Amazon’s play to capture a greater share of Prime members’s wallets.

What’s Amazon’s next step?

I don’t see Amazon really touching or changing the Whole Foods brand in the near term. What I see the end goal being is, five years from now, Amazon wants to be a top five grocer in the U.S. I’ve been running the numbers, and in order for them to do that, they need to do $30 billion a year in food and beverage sales. They currently do $8 billion and Whole Foods does $15 billion. So they’re now halfway to their goal of becoming a top five grocer in the U.S.

They’ll never become the top grocer in the U.S. because it’s too big of a market. Their goal is to target their core customers, who live in San Francisco, Austin, New York City. When they launch new services, they launch them in these cities, and when you look at the demographics, they are the cities with the highest proportion of millennials making over $100,000 a year. Amazon wants to be the number one grocer for those customers.

How else will this purchase, especially down the road, have an impact on cities?

Whole Foods has roughly 430 locations in the US. which relative to other retailers isn’t a lot, so this acquisition isn’t going to have a significant, immediate effect on the urban landscape. That said, Amazon, which is the most efficient supply chain retailer in the market, is trying to figure out how it can make fulfillment more efficient. The fact that it acquired 430 retail stores means that Amazon’s footprint isn’t insignificant when it comes to brick-and-mortar. Relative to other retailers it’s small, but it’s not insignificant any more.

As an analyst, I have to stop talking about Amazon being an online-only retailer. It’s now a retailer, online and offline. Amazon more than anyone is going to have an effect on the urban landscape over the next 20 years. Will this acquisition accelerate that impact? No, but with a lot of the technology coming down the pipeline—warehouse robotics, self-driving vehicles delivery drones—Amazon is the market leader. The company will eventually help create a more efficient urban landscape.

In terms of how this impacts, say, New York City residents, if you shop at Whole Foods, a year from now, you’ll be shopping at Amazon for groceries, which is an incredible thing. We spend more money on groceries than any other retail category. The average American family goes to a grocery store twice a week. The idea that we as New Yorkers will be shopping at Amazon twice a week is profound.

Most Beautiful NYC Homes To Hit The Market Last Week

Every week, Curbed covers dozens of market listings that vary in price, location, size, grandeur, quirkiness, and other distinct characteristics. If they managed to capture our attention, that means there’s definitely something special going on. But some of these homes are so lovely that they warrant a special kind of notoriety as some of the prettiest homes currently up for sale in New York City. And so, here it is: five listing that have that special "je ne sais quoi" that separates them from the rest. Happy gawking!

↑The brokerbabble calls this Williamsburg two-bedroom duplex “the ultimate loft space, a rarity these days,” which, okay, sure. The apartment itself is pretty nice, if not the ultimate loft space: it has positively enormous 18-foot ceilings, with exposed brick walls that hark back to the building’s past as a former factory, and pretty stellar views of Manhattan and Brooklyn.

↑Designed by Parish & Schroeder and built in 1898, this magnificent Upper East Side mansion, asking a whopping $45 million, has six bedrooms, more than seven bathrooms, two galleries, a wine cellar, solarium, and even a card room linked to the library via a secret passageway.

↑With striking details, a celebrity pedigree, and views of the Met, the park, and the Chrysler Building, this $4.295 million pre-war co-op is about as Upper East Side as it gets. It was also once the home of pioneering TV personality Julia Meade.

↑$35 million buys you this 10,000 square foot Upper East Side townhouse featuring “elegant yet comfortable modern day living.” That means six bedrooms, including a master suite with his- and hers- dressing areas; endless living spaces; a grand spiral staircase; eight and a half bathrooms; and a caretaker’s apartment on the cellar floor. The home also boasts a “lush” rooftop garden, centrally controlled sound, heat, and lighting systems.

↑A Chelsea townhouse that we’ve previously labeled one of Chelsea’s strangest homes, and the Wet and Wild ‘Pool House’ is now back on the market for the umpteenth time, and it’s asking $13.8 million for its quirky spread. So what makes this six-bedroom townhouse so over the top? Take for instance the the saltwater swimming pool in the middle of the living room, into which an 18-foot high waterfall drains, or think of the double height solarium that leads to a manicured garden, and there’s more...

Bowery Wall’s newest mural by PichiAvo

The Bowery Wall stands as one of the city's most coveted spots for public art, with a history that stretches back to 1982, when Keith Haring cleared out piles of trash from the sliver of a lot and gave the city one of his iconic, day-glo murals.

Haring's original piece was destroyed, but in 2008 developer Tony Goldman (who owned the lot) and downtown gallery owner Jeffrey Deitch hired an artist to replicate the work on the site, and a succession of commissioned murals have followed. Among the all-star street artists who have put their stamp on the highly visible corner are Futura 2000, Swoon, Shepard Fairey, Os Gemeos, Revok and Pose, Aiko, Cope2, Retna, JR, Faile, Maya Hayuk, and Kenny Scharf.

And now it's PichiAvo's turn, and their piece, mostly finished yesterday afternoon after a full week of work, is a stunner. The mural follows the Spanish duo's signature "Urban Mythology" style: they spray on a layer of old-school tags and throw-ups, then lay down an epic Greco-Roman-looking classical scene, then finish up with more graffiti on top.

At the moment, the never-ending construction along that stretch of Houston Street has turned the space directly in front the wall into a parking lot, but you can still get a good view of PichiAvo's piece from the sidewalk. It will be on display for at least another three months.

Prettiest NYC Homes That Came To Market This Week

Every week, Curbed covers dozens of market listings that vary in price, location, size, grandeur, quirkiness, and other distinct characteristics. If they managed to capture our attention, that means there’s definitely something special going on. But some of these homes are so lovely that they warrant a special kind of notoriety as some of the prettiest homes currently up for sale in New York City. And so, here it is: five listing that have that special "je ne sais quoi" that separates them from the rest. Happy gawking!

↑Located within the landmarked Photo Arts Building, close to Union Square, this massive condo spans 4,200 square feet and comes with three-bedrooms and three-bathrooms, and has an indoor garden of sorts. The pricey pas id asking $12.8 million.

↑The absurdly luxurious triplex penthouse at Chelsea’s ultra-fancy Soori High Line is asking $22.5 million. The 4,510-square-foot, five-bedroom, five-bathroom abode offers a tailored living area, nearly 20-foot-high ceilings, and a private heated rooftop swimming pool.

↑Commissioned in 1888 by public health and education advocate Elizabeth Milbank, and designed by famed architects Hugh Lamb and Charles Alonzo Rich, this $17.65 million Upper West Side townhouse offers 8,807 square feet of interior living space, 10 (!) working fireplaces, and "the most astonishing architectural details,” one of which includes 24-karat-gold coffered ceilings.

↑The five-bedroom carriage house at 323 Pacific Street in Boerum Hill wants $7.95 million, and it’s no wonder when you consider all the top-end features the townhouse has to offer. The dining room and kitchen on the ground floor feature 11-foot-tall ceilings, a wood-burning fireplace and flooring created with 200-year-old reclaimed heartwood hemlock and bluestone. And that’s just the beginning.

↑Located in a 17-unit co-op on East 3rd Street, this two-bedroom unit boasts plenty of light, and offers views of the Empire State Building and One World Trade Center. The large windows and the exposed brick were renovated and new additions include a washer-dryer in-unit, stainless steel appliances in the kitchen, and a breakfast bar. It’s asking $975,000.

The ABCs Of Financing A Condo Tower

Prior to the financial crisis of 2008, financing a condominium building was relatively simple. Since then, however, U.S. banks are less willing to lend the large sums required and, as such, the tiers of equity and debt needed to get the job done have become far more intricate. Developers who want to build a luxury condo tower need to pull together a complex array of equity partners and lenders.

The Real Deal put together a video that breaks down the process, looking  at what strings are attached to the different types of capital and how they come together to form a functioning capital stack.

Watch the video above for a full rundown of how condo financing works in a world of wary banks and non-traditional lenders.

On Governors Island, The World’s Smartest Hill

I took the 7-minute ferry ride from Lower Manhattan to Governors Island last September with a cluster of other journalists. All of us donned OSHA orange safety vests and hard hats, and rode in a caravan of golf carts to see four built-from-scratch hills that, at the time, simply looked like unremarkable mounds of dirt.

Along the way, the expedition leader, 55-year-old Dutch landscape architect Adriaan Geuze, whose firm West 8 won a 2007 competition to design a 40-acre park on the island, waxed poetic about everything from the hum of the park’s new insect population to the prominent white borders that line the park’s new pathways. "They’re soft, like ivory," he said.

Geuze’s firm established an international reputation with the debut of the Schouwburgplein (Theater Square) in the firm’s hometown of Rotterdam. The otherwise understated design incorporated a series of striking red lamp posts shaped like shipyard cranes with coin-operated controls that allowed members of the public to maneuver them. When it opened in 1996, the idea of a civic space that incorporated electronics just for fun was a revelation, a harbinger of a technologically driven approach to urban culture.

The Hills are a perfect example of the hallmark of 21st century design: objects that are hybrids, part manmade and part natural.

The Hills, by contrast, don’t look much like harbingers of anything. Really, they’re just hills. Each has a descriptive name: Grassy, meant for quiet relaxation, is the shortest at 25 feet. Slide, equipped with a quartet of slides, and Discovery, with a nature trail that wends its way to a wee concrete cabin that is actually a Rachel Whiteread sculpture, are each 40 feet tall.

The highest is Outlook, which, at 70 feet, offers a 360-degree view of New York Harbor, a perspective that’s never previously existed. Out in the middle of the harbor, despite being squat compared to, say, the Empire State Building or 1 World Trade Center, Outlook allows you to see all the way to the Verrazano Narrows Bridge where the open ocean begins, to the Statue of Liberty, to the towers of the Financial District, and to the newly burgeoning skyline of Downtown Brooklyn.

Still, a view is just a view. It wasn’t the thing that intrigued me about The Hills. Rather, my curiosity was piqued by remarks made by the project’s geotechnical engineer, David Winter, the CEO of Seattle-based Hart Crowser. "We made a lighter hill," he told the assembled group. "We’ve got settlement sensors everywhere."

Suddenly, I realized that The Hills are a perfect example of what I’ve come to believe is the hallmark of 21st century design: objects that are hybrids, part manmade and part natural. Apartment towers that double as forests, urban rooftops that double as farms, corporate headquarters that double as indoor rainforests. We’re beginning to see a lot of doubling. The boundaries that differentiate urban from rural, and natural from artificial, are getting harder to draw.

On a sizzling July morning, I return to look at The Hills with new eyes.

I rendezvous on the ferry with the outgoing President and CEO of the Trust for Governors Island, Leslie Koch. For a decade, she’s been leading the effort to reshape the island into a destination for day trippers and development (33 acres are currently available for real estate projects). She's stepping down in August, weeks after her epic undertaking opens to the public on July 19.

A whip-smart native of Manhattan’s Upper West Side, Koch, 54, spent her early professional life on the west coast as a marketing executive at Microsoft. She talks me through the genesis of The Hills on the ride over.

In 2006, what was then called the Governors Island Preservation and Education Corporation issued a Request for Qualifications. "We had very specific goals for [the] park, aspirations," Koch recalls. In fact, the RFQ laid out the park’s ideals in flowery language, just this side of Walt Whitman, explaining that it "will be a place to cultivate and indulge in sensory experience and delight—to experience the salt air, fresh air, sunlight, waves, wind and white noise of nature."

"But," Koch stresses, "there was no concept of height."

Along came Geuze, from a country where land is routinely reclaimed from surrounding waters and where lifting the ground above sea level was a survival skill even before global warming. Geuze, who hides his brilliance behind boyish insouciance, explains to me that the original island was a "rock" upon which fortifications like Fort Jay and Castle Williams were built in advance of the War of 1812.

Around 1910, fill generated by the excavation of the Lexington Avenue subway added 103 flat, featureless acres to the island, for a total of 172. So the island itself is an example of manmade nature.

"The military made it flat," Geuze points out. And what can you do with an island that mostly sits below the 100 year flood line? Geuze’s answer: "We could have made a brackish swamp." But, of course, that wasn’t what he proposed.

In 1996, the idea of a civic space that incorporated electronics just for fun was a revelation.

Koch recalls that in his first presentation to the competition jury in January 2007, Geuze showed "the idea of The Hills in sketch. With a marker. A hill on island." The jury winnowed the field down to five finalists, West 8 among them, and then down to two.

Koch describes the final decision process: "We went to the top of Building 877, an 11-story building." The structure, an undistinguished apartment complex built in the 1960s by the Coast Guard and imploded in 2013, stood on roughly the location Geuze had chosen for his hills.

"We walked up 11 flights of stairs in an abandoned building and stood on a spongy tar roof and looked at the view," Koch says. And that’s when she realized how much altitude could pump up that sensory experience she’d envisioned. After a round of due diligence (How much does it cost to build a hill? Is it even possible?) West 8 was commissioned to create a whole new topography for Governors Island.

I ask Geuze, "Why hills?" His response is to deny that the four landforms known as Grassy, Slide, Discovery, and Outlook even exist. In his mind, they are indistinguishable from all the smaller undulations with which he’s covered 40 acres of island. "I think we have a rolling landscape," he insists.

We tend to forget that the tightly gridded, skyscraper-packed isle of Manhattan (of which Governors Island is officially a part) was once a verdant natural place. The Lenape tribe who inhabited the island before the Europeans came along called it the "Island of Many Hills."

Landscape ecologist Eric Sanderson, whose Mannahatta: A Natural History of New York City (Abrams, 2009) convincingly reconstructs what the European settlers found when they arrived, has calculated that there were once 573 hills in Manhattan. The tallest ones, of course, were in the island’s rugged northern reaches.

In 1996, the idea of a civic space that incorporated electronics just for fun was a revelation.

But in Lower Manhattan, one called Bayard’s Mount was an impressive 110 feet tall. Murray Hill—which you only notice if you bicycle in or out of Midtown—was once "a large two-tiered structure, from which springs flowed," according to Sanderson, between 80 and 100 feet tall. Hills were methodically leveled as Manhattan was developed and the 1811 plan for the urban grid was implemented. No one saw any reason to build new hills.

Even Frederick Law Olmsted, the revered landscaper of Central Park, who crafted a pastoral fantasia out of land too rocky or swampy to have much value to real estate interests, didn’t build hills. "They could take a hill away or dam a stream," wrote Sanderson, "but they couldn’t lift up a hill and move it 30 yards to the right."

Olmsted built no hills, but in other respects he was the inspiration for West 8’s work. When I meet with principal landscape architect Jamie Maslyn-Larson, 46, who ran the Governors Island project out of West 8’s New York office, she tells me that the team’s mantra was, "What would Olmsted do?"

His influence is obvious. The new paths on Governors Island, often lined with thickets of greenery and wildflowers, meander. When you climb Outlook Hill on the paved path (instead of on the scramble built from remnants of an old sea wall) you do it gradually. The grade is less than five percent (making it ADA compliant), and switchbacks slow your progress. The strategy originated with Olmsted, who, on his second great work, Brooklyn’s Prospect Park, never made pathways that ran in a straight line and used landscape design to enhance the perception of space.

West 8 similarly took the "flat flat flat" terrain of Governors Island and manipulated it to make it feel like a place worth exploring. "When we started working with topography, we created mini thresholds, inviting spaces for people to go to, like breadcrumbs," Maslyn-Larson explains. "As you’re walking through the park, you have these undulating frames in combination with walkways. The topography makes a really lovely walk."

On the other hand, there’s a basic philosophical difference between Olmsted’s parks and the one that firms like West 8 build today. Olmsted wanted to allow city dwellers to hide from the city, to immerse themselves in an Edenic illusion. He took care to keep his park visitors looking inward, toward the greenery and away from surrounding buildings.

Today’s premier parks—the High Line comes to mind—tend to emphasize their urban surrounding while also rewarding visitors with tall grasses, cultivated wildflowers and cushy places to sit. They are a hybrid form, merging the city and the country. The two are no longer opposites. Geuze calls Governors Island "the smallest vacation you can take." But what you see when you get there is New York City from a new perspective.

The first phase of the West 8 scheme consisted of some basic landscaping. The team built the low-lying areas up with fill, planted them with trees that would be able to survive the island conditions, and carefully sculpted the newly made land. This process was underway when Hurricane Sandy hit in October of 2012.

Koch, alarmed by reports of flooding and uprooted trees across New York, returned to the island as soon as she could and discovered that the newly landscaped areas of the island were "dry as a bone" and only eight of 1,700 trees in the island’s historic district had been lost.

Sandy demonstrated that West 8’s approach was "resilient" before anyone in New York had a clue what that term meant. Koch says that Sandy was "a stress test for Adriaan’s strategy." Suddenly the project’s second phase, the construction of The Hills, became not just a lovely ideal, but something essential for the ongoing survival of the island.

That The Hills were now seen as part of the island’s resilience strategy was a good thing because, as it turned out, they were not so easy to build. Initially, they were supposed to be simple piles of fill. It didn’t matter too much what kind. "As long as it drains and as long as it would compact well, we would take it," says Maslyn-Larson.

The original idea was that The Hills would be composed of demolition waste from the implosion of Building 877 and others. "These buildings were taken down and the concrete and the brick were crushed and processed into eight-inch size or smaller for use inside the hill," Winter says.

There wasn’t enough usable debris, so dirt and gravel was imported from upstate quarries and brought in by barge. The dirt was, as you might imagine, cheap, but it also weighed too much. "When we did the geotechnical tests at the end of design development, we found out this spot was the weakest part on all of Governors Island," Maslyn-Larson says.

"There’s about a hundred feet of loose crappy soil before you get down into the hardpan and the bedrock," engineer Winter explains to me in a phone conversation. There were two potential problems. One was simply that the extra weight would cause the underlying fill to settle too much and Outlook would sink. Worse, Winter says, "there was a risk that there’d be instability and a massive failure as you were building the hill and it would slip off into New York Harbor."

They could, of course, have moved the biggest hill back, away from the shoreline and onto sturdier ground, but that would have ruined the desired effect, a total immersion in the sights and smells of the harbor. Instead, the hill had to get smarter, less natural and more manmade.

Winter and the other engineers on the project had never exactly built a hill before. But some of them had worked on sharp-edged, distinctly unnatural looking, multi-layered terrain for Seattle’s Olympic Sculpture Park. So Winter borrowed ideas from that project, and from mundane disciplines like parking lot construction.

He began working with West 8 to create a 3D computer model of Outlook Hill, one that would show how the size, shape, and composition of the hill might impact the underlying fill. Gradually they began to shift the biggest hill’s weight by sculpting it, making some of the slopes closest to the water’s edge steeper and strategically depositing lighter material in the portions of the hill over the least solid ground.

"We could have made a brackish swamp." - Adriaan Geuze, West 8

One idea for solving the weight problem was to fill the hill with a lightweight product called GeoFoam. "These are just big blocks of Styrofoam," Winter explains. "And they come 4x4x8 foot blocks. You can cut into any shape you want. We were going to construct the big hills out of Styrofoam."

Maslyn-Larson says they were looking at using the foam for the last 10 or 15 feet of the hill before the topsoil. But GeoFoam is expensive and hard to install in a windy waterfront location. "We didn’t like the idea of using foam in the hill. It didn’t feel right. It isn’t a natural material," she explains.

Natural is a relative term. On the steeper parts of both Discovery and Outlook hills, for example, a building technique called Mechanically Stabilized Earth (MSE) was used to prevent erosion. Long sheets of special plastic fabric called Geogrid were layered with fill. Geuze described the structural system, typically used in highway construction, as lasagna. Maslyn-Larson explains: "The pressure from the material is creating tension against this material which makes it really tight and strong. So it self supports."

Outlook Hill is also crammed with electronics. Monitors buried within measured how well and how quickly the fill was settling. "We had deep settlement sensors that went all the way down to the bedrock, so we know where the settlement was occurring and at what rate," Winter says. Settlement, when controlled and timed, is an asset. It makes the underlying fill stronger.

In the end, the solution to Outlook Hill’s weight problem was pumice, a volcanic rock. "It weighs about half of what regular soil weights," according to Winter. Mostly it was used in the part of the hill closest to the water. "Maybe one third of the hill got this lightweight fill."

 

Slide Hill features four slides, including the longest slide in New York City (57 feet long)

Timothy Schenck/Courtesy West8

At West 8’s New York office, Maslyn-Larson walks me through the construction documents, comprising a large-format book of some 400 pages. In these pages is every detail from the composition of the grass seed mixes to the placement of wire baskets used to control erosion on the steepest slopes. It’s enough detail, one would think, to build a supertall tower or a Gehry Guggenheim. God—or whoever or whatever built Manhattan’s original 573 hills—surely did not do this much work.

"In the end these are just big piles of dirt," Winter acknowledges. Then he corrects himself. "I mean, they’re engineered piles of dirt."

"What separates an engineered pile of dirt from an un-engineered pile of dirt?" I ask.

"Well, an un-engineered pile of dirt out there would have slipped into the ocean."

But here’s the most amazing thing about this engineered pile of dirt. All the thousands of shrubs and hundreds of trees will, presumably, thrive, thanks to built-in irrigation and drainage systems. And eventually nature will take over the job of stabilizing the hills.

As Maslyn-Larson points out, "Their root structure provides the stability." So, at some juncture, this rigorously engineered, technologically sophisticated mound of rubble, dirt, pumice, and plastic GeoGrid becomes—Pinocchio style—a real hill.

If you visit Governors Island and climb to the top of Outlook, forget about the view for a moment and think about the hill beneath your feet. Consider the fact that it’s a synthetic object, crafted by experts. A skyscraper or a bridge will always reveal the handiwork of its creators, but this artificial hill, if its designers did their jobs right, will someday be just another hill, a technological product that transitions over time into a natural feature.

Or, as Maslyn-Larson says, "It won’t need us anymore."

Glamping Hits Manhattan With Outrageous $2,000/Night Hotel Suite

Glamping, one of the most cringe-worthy trends of 2014, is apparently still a thing. The movement of camping for people who don’t really like to camp has come to Manhattan with the Lexington Avenue W Hotel’s "Extreme Wow Outdoor Glamping Suite." To sum it up, the suite is a hotel room with a terrace designed by Laurel & Wolf and decked out with astroturf, a yurt, and some fancy lights. A press release elaborates,

The Outdoor Glamping Suite at W New York features dreamy nods to camping: a 12-foot yurt bedecked in a kaleidoscope of fabrics and textures, glowing lanterns, rattan hanging chairs and a fire pit that lights up with a flip of a switch. A canopy of twinkling café lights surrounds the yurt, the central element of the rustic-luxe oasis. With sweeping skyline views on the 17th floor, the Outdoor Glamping Suite will be available for guests to book from July 13th, 2016 through November 2016.

Let’s not belabor the point that this isn’t even glamping, which generally happens in some kind of wilderness, nor is glamping even camping. But this is a boon for those Manhattanites who, like on that episode of Sex and the City, believe there’s no world beyond their island. To reward that stubbornness, rates for the suite start at $2,000/night.

Manhattan's Price Per Square Foot Has Never Been Higher

The sale of luxury apartments in new developments—many of which had contracts signed more than a year ago—have boosted prices to record numbers for Manhattan’s second quarter sales report. Douglas Elliman released numbers on the Manhattan market, finding that the median sales price increased 13.1 percent from the same quarter last year to $1,108,500. The price per square foot was up 31.3 percent to $1,759, another record. And the average sales price rose 13.1 percent to $2,029,075— that marks the second consecutive quarter in which the average price to buy a Manhattan pad surpasses $2 million.

Jonathan Miller, the man behind the numbers for the Elliman report, separated new development sales from resales to get a better understanding of market trends. New development, which accounted for 18.5 percent of all closings, has seen "a heavy volume of closings since 3Q15 that skew to the high end," he says. But it’s worth noting that most of the contracts for new development units were signed 12 to 18 months prior.

If you’re only looking at the new development market (both condos and co-ops), price per square foot was up 28.1 percent to $2,577 and the average sales price was up 4.9 percent to $4,383,078, both record numbers. The number of sales increased a whopping 188.2 percent. As for demand, Miller says, "the below $5 million, new development market is seeing steady sales activity, but is slow above that threshold unless developers are negotiating."

Resale apartments—which make up 81.5 percent of all closings— show more stable pricing, although it’s "stable at a high price point," Miller points out. The median sales price was pretty much unchanged, at $945,000, while the price per square foot was up 13.8 percent to $1,453.

So while the new development sales contributed to all the record prices, the resale market, Miller says, could be considered "tight at the bottom, soft at the top and neutral in the middle... overall, it’s flat." Resale inventory jumped 25 percent—after three years of chronically low inventory—and the pace of the market remains pretty fast. The absorption rate of 7.2 months is slower than a year ago, but the 40-quarter average is 8.2 months.

Compass also found record prices in the second quarter numbers—with the $1.195 million median closing price the highest on record for the market overall. Median prices on co-ops came in at $790,000, and condos at $1.65 million, the highest second quarter on record. They are finding the most demand in the Downtown market: the median time on the market there, 68 days, came close to that of Manhattan overall, at 63 days, despite a median closing price 41 percent higher than Manhattan’s.

Corcoran found the first signs of prices cooling in their second quarter numbers, despite the fact that new development sales continued a year-long trend of double-digit increases. According to the report, "Prices continued to remain near record levels but showed the first indication of settling with the first decrease in average sale price in three quarters (down 6 percent in the second quarter). Average price per square foot also declined by 3 percent for the first time in two quarters, since the third quarter of 2015." Corcoran also called out Downtown Manhattan for its sky-high sales numbers, as 52 percent of all luxury sales took place there this quarter.

Moving back to resales, Halstead offered a breakdown of where they’re all happening. The highest percentage of resales in Manhattan this past quarter were on the East Side, with 21.8 percent, followed by Midtown at 20.4 percent. The firm found that resale apartments spent an average of 88 days on the market, 6 percent longer than the same time a year ago. For both co-ops and condos, sellers accepted 98.2 percent of their last asking price, which was a mere 1 percent less than in 2015’s second quarter.

Bond focused on the increase of inventory this quarter, with partner Noah Freedman noting "that inventory has showed the biggest increase since hitting bottom in late 2013." He also made a distinction between new development and resale: "This also means that after several quarters of the market conversation being dominated by luxury new development, the only area of the market where inventory was increasing, we can start to talk about the strength and stability of resale inventory." He too thinks that the market is poised to balance out more than it has in recent years, with more price corrections in the luxury market.

Finally, Streeteasy tracked rental prices in both Manhattan and Brooklyn for the month of May. They found some slowdown in Manhattan—rentals spent more days on the market last month (an increase from 21 to 24 days), more rentals were discounted (with an increase from 28.7 percent last year to 30.4 percent), and rent price growth is slowing.

The median rent has increased 2.3 percent since last year from $3,206 to $3,280, less than half the rate of the previous year. And there may be more where that came from, as price growth is expected to continue to slow down in the next 12 months. According to the report, "The median resale price is expected to rise 1.2 percent in Manhattan over the next 12 months (down from 2.8 percent growth over the last 12 months). Prices are expected to decline in Downtown Manhattan."

 

There’s also some relief this summer in Brooklyn, with rentals staying on a market a little longer (from 19 to 22 days) and one out of three rental units (32.3 percent) getting discounted. Median rent increased 1.2 percent since last May to $2,873, compared to a 4.4 percent increase from May 2014 to May 2015, and that price is also expected to slow over the next year.

Here’s what StreetEasy economist Krishna Rao has to say about apartment hunting in these hot months: "New York renters have grown accustomed to arriving at open houses with their checkbooks in hand, for fear of losing out on a property. Now, in the face of record-high prices, renters are pausing to weigh their options, easing urgency for summer shoppers in both boroughs."

Annabelle Selldorf's Pricey, Exclusive Bowery Condos Are Now For Sale With COMPASS

The building will be home to just five expensive condos (four duplexes and the penthouse), starting at $6.5 million for the cheapest and going up to $17 million for the three-floor, tower-topping penthouse. True to form, each apartment will also have ultra-luxury finishes, including cabinetry designed by Selldorf Architects and "disappearing kitchens" outfitted in white oak and soapstone.

There will also be a private entry on 3rd Street through a "landscaped mews" lined with seasonal greenery, including magnolias and evergreen shrubs. That's in addition to the communal garden on the third floor of the building, along with the private balconies found in each apartment.

187-Year-Old West Village Carriage House Receives $4M Price Chop

187-Year-Old West Village Carriage House Receives $4M Price Chop

Two years and two price adjustments later, the 19th-century home will try again with a lower ask

BY AMEENA WALKER JUN 7, 2016, 4:00P

A few months back, it was agreed that despite its magnificent charm, the 19th-century carriage house at 29 Downing Street would need a good price-chopper before a buyer would snatch it up. The owners must have come to this same realization—the home is now asking $8.995 million—a $4.005 million price cut from its most recent ask of $13 million.

Back in June 2014, the 3,480-square-foot home, built in 1829 on land once owned by Aaron Burr, was listed for $12 million. No one bit at that price so the sellers, artist John Bennett and photographer Karen Lee Grant, re-listed the following year for $13 million (yes, we scratched our heads at that too). But it looks like reality has set in, and with that came the new lowered price.

Hopefully the charming home, which has been featured in photo shoots for magazines and fashion brands alike, will have better luck finding a new owner on this go-round. (Or maybe the Hamiltoncraze will make people more interested? It's big enough to get mentioned in the brokerbabble, anyway.)

Hudson Valley Real Estate Boom Puts Squeeze On Apples

Miro Uskokovic, the pastry chef at Gramercy Tavern, buys the apples for his apple and carob cake from Elizabeth Ryan’s orchard in the Hudson Valley. But the demand for local produce like Ryan’s is now colliding with real estate interests that are dividing up farms for vacation homes at an accelerating rate.

The number of farms in New York State has fallen to 35,537 in 2012 from 38,264 in 1997, according to the Department of Agriculture. And since 1982, real estate developments have transformed more than 471,000 acres of New York farmland, according to American Farmland Trust data.

“The risk to farmland is a risk to healthy food for New York City residents,” Councilman Daniel Garodnick, Democrat of Manhattan, told the New York Times. He added that many farmers markets serve neighborhoods that have few stores selling fresh produce.

“If we want all New Yorkers to have access to fresh, local food, then we must save the nearby farms that serve the city’s neediest neighborhoods now, before they are lost to development,” Steve Rosenberg, executive director of the Scenic Hudson Land Trust, told the Times. “This modest, but visionary, strategic investment will make the city a national model of how to create a more equitable and secure regional food system.” [NYT] –Christopher Cameron

NYC Subway Use Nears All-Time Peak As U.S. Public Transport Use Declines

The New York subway is unlike any other transit system in the United States. This system extends for 230 miles (375 kilometers) with approximately 420 stations. It serves the four highly  dense boroughs of the city (Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens and the Bronx), each of which is 20 percent or more denser than any municipality large municipality in the United States or Canada. Much of the fifth borough, Staten Island, looks very much like suburban New Jersey and has no subway service, though has a more modest system, the Staten Island Railway.

Overall, the older Metros (Note 1), New York's subway, along with London's Underground and the Paris Metro dominated the world's urban rail systems for decades. Until the recent emergence of Chinese urban areas (Beijing and Shanghai), London had the longest extent of track in the world, followed by New York.

As one of the original Metros in the world, it might be thought that the New York City Subway's best days are over. That would be a mistake. It is true that ridership reached a peak in the late 1940s and dropped by more than half between the late 1970s and the early 1990s. However, since that time ridership has more than doubled, according to American Public Transportation Association data. And it is not inconceivable that new records may be set in the years to come.

Perhaps the most incredible thing about the New York City Subway has been its utter dominance of the well-publicized national transit ridership increases of the last decade. According to annual data published by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA), ridership on the New York City Subway accounts for all of the transit increase since 2005. Between 2005 and 2015, ridership on the New York City Subway increased nearly 1 billion trips. By contrast, all of the transit services in the United States, including the New York City Subway, increased only 800 million over the same period. On services outside the New York City subway, three was a loss of nearly 200 million riders between 2005 and 2015 

The New York City subway accounts carries nearly 2.5 times the annual ridership of the other nine largest metro systems in the nation combined (Figure 2). This is 10 times that of Washington’s Metro, which is losing ridership despite strong population growth , probably partly due to safety concerns (see America’s Subway: America’s Embarrassment?). Things have gotten so bad in Washington that the federal government has threatened to close the system (See: Feds Forced to Set Priorities for Washington Subway).

The New York City subway carries more than 11 times the ridership of the Chicago “L”, though like in New York, the ridership trend on the “L” has increased impressively in recent years. The New York City subway carries and more than 50 times the Los Angeles subway ridership, where MTA (and SCRTD) bus and rail ridership has declined over the past 30 years despite an aggressive rail program (See: Just How Much has Los Angeles Transit Ridership Fallen?).

With these gains, the New York City Subway's share of national transit ridership has risen from less than one of each five riders (18 percent) in 2005 to more than one in four (26 percent) in 2015. This drove the New York City metropolitan areas share of all national transit ridership from 30 percent in 2005 to over 37 percent in 2015.

Subway ridership dominates transit in the New York City metropolitan area as well, at 67 percent. Other New York City oriented transit services, including services that operate within the city exclusively and those that principally carry commuters in and out of the city account for 28 percent of the ridership. This includes the commuter rail systems (Long Island Railroad, Metro-North Railroad and New Jersey Transit) and the Metro from New Jersey (PATH) have experienced ridership increases of approximately 15 percent over last decade (Note 2).

Other transit services, those not oriented to New York City, account for five percent of the metropolitan area's transit ridership (Figure 3). By comparison, approximately 58 percent of the population lives outside the city of New York. The small transit ridership share not oriented to New York City illustrates a very strong automobile component in suburban mobility even in the most well-served transit market in the country.

Last year (2014), APTA announced that the nation's transit ridership had reached the highest in modern history, having not been higher since 1957. In fact, the ridership boom that produced the record can be attributed wholly to the New York City Subway. If New York City Subway ridership had remained at its 2005 level, overall transit ridership would have decreased from 9.8 billion in 2005 to 9.6 billion in 2015. The modern record of 10.7 billion rides would never have been approached.

Thus, transit in the United States is not only a "New York Story," but it has also been strongly dependent on the New York Subway in recent years. After decades of decline, the revival of the New York subway is a welcome development.

Pileup of $100 Million Homes

From the “Le Palais Bulles” in the South of France, to a $350 million penthouse in Monaco, to a $250 million spread at 220 Central Park South, the are more properties listed above the $100 million mark than ever before. And that poses a problem.

A record 27 properties with nine-figure prices are officially for sale, according to Christie’s International Real Estate. Last year, there were 19 homes with similar asking prices and about a dozen in 2014. And according to the New York Times, if you added “whisper listings,” the actual number of nine-figure listings worldwide could top 50.

“When you have a record number of homes for sale at a price point of $100 million or more, that tells you these homes aren’t selling,” Jonathan Miller, president of Miller Samuel Inc., told the Times. “It’s not as deep a market as some might hope.”

According to Christie’s, only two homes sold for over $100 million last year: a 9,455-square-foot house in Hong Kong purchased for $193 million by Jack Ma, the chief of Alibaba, and a $132 million townhouse in London. Two other nine-figure listings sold last year (a $700 million Texas ranch and a $100 million home in Dallas), but the actual sale prices were not disclosed.

To many, this looks like a bubble that could soon burst. But many in the industry remain hopeful.

“I don’t think it’s a sign of a bubble,” Dan Conn, chief executive of Christie’s International Real Estate, told the Times. “It’s a sign of growing wealth in the world and the quality of some of the new construction.”

Still, even below the $100 million price mark, the market for luxury homes is on the decline, according to a Real Deal analysis. Luxury sales volume is down a stomach-churning 25 percent in the first 20 weeks of 2016 compared to the same period last year. Just 449 contracts at or above $4 million were signed so far this year, compared to 597 in the first 20 weeks of 2015, and 552 in 2014. [NYT] –Christopher Cameron

“Full House” House Hits the Market For $4.1M

Now, all your family-friendly ’90s dreams can come true – if you’ve got a spare $4.1 million.

The 1883 Charles Lewis Hinkel-designed home in San Francisco that was featured in the long-running sitcom, “Full House,” has officially hit the market.

But even if you are not a fan of Uncle Joey’s antics, this Victorian has a lot to offer. The three-story townhouse, located at 1709 Broderick, includes three bedrooms, three-and-a-half baths and 3,125 square feet of living space. It’s also perfect for book lovers with built-in shelving galore, according to Curbed.

The house also comes with all those wonderful 19th-centruy details, like high ceilings, crown molding, an eat-in island kitchen and three marble-faced fireplaces. It was decorated by Courtnay Haden Daniels.

By the way, if you want to see what Netflix’s “Fuller House” would look like in real life San Francisco (instead of the TV version of the city), check this out. check this out[Curbed] –Christopher Cameron

How Much Do You Need to Make to Live Comfortably in NYC?

Residents in this country's top 15 metro areas spend a large chunk of their income (unsurprisingly) on rent, and in New York City, a family would have to make over $158,000 a year to live comfortably in a two-bedroom apartment, a new study by SmartAsset, the financial data analysis service, has revealed.

The company based its study off of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD)'s 30 percent threshold — where a household that spends more than 30 percent of its annual income on rent is considered cost-burdened.

By that logic, about 46 percent of renters across the country pay more than 30 percent of their income towards rent, according Harvard University's Joint Center for Housing Studies, leaving less money towards other household expenses and savings.

SmartAsset calculated its annual income threshold for each city based on a 28 percent rent-to-income ratio. By that measure, New York City ranks second (once again) to San Francisco in terms of the income required to comfortably rent a two-bedroom. In NYC, SmartAsset calculated the average cost of a two-bedroom apartment at $3,692 per month — that's actually a 0.1 percent drop from the previous year, though that's not really much of a consolation. On average, the cost of living in New York City is 70 percent higher than the rest of the country.

Ian Schrager Carves Up $80M Penthouse at 160 Leroy Into Two Units

Call it the (overpriced) penthouse effect.

After shooting for the stars with an $80 million penthouse at 160 Leroy Street, Ian Schrager is the latest developer to fall back to Earth with two smaller and less expensive units.

The Studio 54 co-founder – apparently taking a page from projects like 432 Park Avenue and 10 Sullivan Street – has divided what would have been a 12,200-square-foot spread at his curvy ultra-luxe West Village condominium into two units measuring approximately 7,700 square feet and 4,800 square feet, according to filings with the New York State Attorney General. The smaller apartments have price tags to match: $48.5 million and $29.5 million, respectively.

“We thought it would be better for the marketplace; it’s what people were asking for,” said Howard Lorber, president and CEO of Vector Group Ltd., whose New Valley subsidiary is an investor in the project along with the Witkoff Group and Ares Real Estate.

“Buyers said, ‘We love the top floor, but we don’t want to spend $80 million,’” said Lorber, who is also chairman of Douglas Elliman, which is handling sales at 160 Leroy. “So we figured we’d give them what they want.”

The $80 million penthouse at the Herzog & de Meuron-designed project isn’t the only unit the developers retooled.

They’ve also altered the building’s unit mix to include 56 apartments instead of 48, according to an amendment filed with the AG in February and obtained by The Real Deal. In doing so, the developers carved out several smaller units, replacing larger (and pricier) ones.

Five planned penthouses – the smallest of which measured 6,100 square feet and was asking $24.5 million — have been replaced by eight smaller apartments, the amended plans show. The smallest of the eight pads measures 3,562 square feet and is listed for $13.75 million, according to AG filings.

Lorber said the developers’ decision was in response to buyer demand for slightly smaller condos, which are selling at a brisk pace. “The market is strong,” he said. “The main reason was to create some [more units like] a line that had sold out.”

In an interview with Bloomberg last month, the hotelier and developer said he was “mindful but not worried” about the luxury condo slowdown.

“If you have a really great product, it sells irrespective of the time on the market,” Schrager said. “Apple comes out with a product — it sells. People don’t even know they need a new iPhone or iPad. It still sells because it’s so well-executed and that’s what we’re trying to accomplish.”

Schrager obtained a $265 million construction loan for the project in February and said in mid-April that the building was more than 60 percent sold. Schrager himself is a buyer there, having scooped up a 12th-floor apartment for about $15 million earlier this year.

The developers of 160 Leroy are not alone in carving out multiple units from large apartments amidst a waning luxury market.

Last year, CIM Group and Macklowe Properties divided the full-floor units on five floors at 432 Park. And in February, Madison Equities and Property Markets Group’s chopped the $45 million triplex penthouse at 10 Sullivan Street into two units asking $11 million and $29.5 million.

A TRD analysis of StreetEasy data in April found that 35 percent of penthouses on the market have seen price chops

Record-Breaking Subway Ridership Numbers May Pose Safety Concerns

The recent increase in subway ridership has raised several challenging questions for both commuters and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) alike, and the New York Times has now taken a closer look at some of these issues in a new report about the congestion.

With close to 1.8 billion rides per year, subway ridership is now the highest its been since 1948. The last time the subway system was confronted by such a glut of passengers was during the Great Depression and subsequently during World War II.

Six million people ride the subway everyday compared to about four million back in the 1990s, and this has of course led to several safety concerns. For one, the NYPD is concerned that overcrowding on subway platforms may lead to people falling on to the tracks. There are also concerns that overcrowding on trains leads to more assaults —an issue that is likely to snowball during the summer as the temperatures on platforms become increasingly unbearable.

Overcrowding has also led to more delays — in fact they've quadrupled since 2012 due to the increasing ridership.

The MTA is trying some quick fixes — some platforms like the one serving the L train at 14th Street-Union Square and at 86th Street on the 4,5,6 trains now have platform controllers to manage crowds better.

The agency is also exploring some new options like open gangway subway cars, but that hasn't gone down too well with New Yorkers.

All that aside, the subway infrastructure is still severely lacking. Installing a modern signal system to allow for more trains is quite some time away, according to the Times.

The opening of the Second Avenue Subway this year might finally ease up the commute on the Upper East Side, and an approval of over $14 billion in funds for the subway might also address some other key infrastructural concerns, but all of that remains to be seen.

London is another city with overcrowding issues. The subway stations there simply close when the crowds become unmanageable, and only let people in once traffic has eased up. A representative for the MTA told the Times that such a measure was not under consideration for NYC.

MTA Overhaul of E. 68th St. Subway Station is Up for Discussion on Tuesday

Plans to relocate the entrance to the East 86th Street subway station on the Lexington Avenue Line have angered residents there. However, proposed changes to a station down the line might be greeted more warmly. The MTA is planning to spend $70 million to renovate the 68 St-Hunter College station, DNAinfo reports, and a public hearing is coming this week. Plans include a new elevator, a new entrance on Lexington Avenue, a new stairwell at East 69th Street, and the widening and/or repair of existing stairs, some of which are quite narrow.

The changes are meant to make the 6 train station more accessible, and the station would remain open while work is done. The MTA had planned to revamp the station four years ago, but ran into opposition. The MTA presented plans to Manhattan Community Board 8 on Wednesday and hopes for a receptive crowd when it holds a public hearing this Tuesday, April 26. That will be at 2 Broadway and will start at 4 p.m.

NYC Approaches Green Future With New Building Emissions Standards

Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Friday that he will impose mandates on the commercial real estate sector to achieve dramatic greenhouse gas emissions among the city's building stock — by far the city's biggest contributor to global warming.

In an announcement tied to Earth Day, the mayor's office said the requirements, along with city programs and incentives, would help kickstart the mayor's goal of cutting building emissions dramatically over the next 35 years.

The mandates are a significant development for the city's real estate world. When de Blasio announced a plan two years ago to cut building emissions, he threatened mandates if private developers did not act quickly enough. After more than a year of meetings with a technical working group, the group submitted a report recommending the mandates.

“Cities that lead on climate, lead on buildings,” de Blasio said in a statement. “We’ve set bold goals as we take on climate change and a clear path to meet them. The City has been leading the way by greening our own public facilities. Now, these new initiatives will dramatically reduce emissions from New York City’s over one million buildings, while saving New Yorkers millions and creating thousands of new jobs – and we’ll be providing owners support throughout the process.”

The mayor is expected to address the announcement Friday during remarks a United Nations luncheon commemorating the signing of the Paris accord. 

Among the measures announced Friday, the mayor's office will push new energy codes that will require buildings to complete cost-effective energy conservation measures; require large and mid-size building owners to repair and improve heating distribution systems within the next 10 years; require large and mid-size building owners to assess energy retrofit strategies as part of their required energy audit; and improve efficiency and information transparency in mid-sized buildings and non-residential spaces.

The city estimates the measures will reduce greenhouse gas emissions from buildings by 2.7 million metric tons — the equivalent of taking more than 560,000 cars off the road. The mandates are also expected to save building owners approximately $900 million in energy costs each year and create an estimated 1,300 direct construction-related jobs, the mayor's office said.

The move drew immediate praise form policymakers, including EPA Region II administrator Judith Enck.

“Policies that promote energy efficiency in buildings are extremely effective in driving down greenhouse gas emissions and other air pollutants. This outstanding report positions the City of New York to be a national leader in energy efficiency,” Enck said in a statement. “These policies are good for the environment, will create new jobs and reduce monthly utility bills for tenants and homeowners alike.”

Downtown's Tallest Residential Tower Completes World Trade Center–Area Transformation

In late summer, the 175-room Four Seasons Hotel at the newly built 30 Park Place is scheduled to open to guests. The 926-foot-tall, 82-story tower, which has 157 condos starting on the 40th floor, will be the tallest residential tower in downtown Manhattan, besting current record holder 70 Pine St. by 76 feet (though 70 Pine’s tip stretches to 952 feet, well beyond its 850-foot roof).

The tower caps a post-9/11 era of change for the blocks around the World Trade Center. The developer of 30 Park, Silverstein Properties, owned the lease on the former Twin Towers and surrounding buildings. Silverstein has already rebuilt 4 and 7 World Trade Center and is building towers at 2 and 3 World Trade Center.

Silverstein acquired the site for 30 Park Place in 2006. Two years later, at a breakfast event at Cipriani’s in lower Manhattan, Chairman Larry Silverstein unveiled plans for what would have been the city’s tallest residential building. But the Great Recession made financing difficult—and any luxury-condo sales less assured. 

In early 2013, Silverstein finally landed $660 million in financing from Children’s Investment Fund Management LLP, and construction started soon after. Robert A.M. Stern, dean of the Yale School of Architecture, designed the limestone tower, and the Four Seasons brand will provide services to hotel guests and condo owners.

Ten units are listed on the tower’s website, with prices ranging from $3.645 million for a 1,108-square-foot one-bedroom to $32.5 million for a 6,127-square-foot, five-bedroom penthouse.