Black developers, architects, builders and financiers have formed a dream team to develop a supertall skyscraper alongside Hudson Yards and the Javits Center.
Architect David Adjaye, developer Don Peebles, construction boss Cheryl McKissack and executives from Exact Capital Group have submitted a proposal for a 1,500-foot tower at 418 11th Avenue. The 1.2-acre site is across from the Javits Center and bounded by W35/36th Streets and the Bella Abzug Park.
The group responded to a Request for Proposals made in March this year by a subsidiary of Empire State Development (ESD) which owns the plot. The site currently houses a number of ventilation shafts and is over an active Amtrak train track. It was presented by ESD as offering “an opportunity to develop one of the last remaining vacant parcels on the West Side of Midtown Manhattan”. The area is a key part of Governor Cuomo’s $51bn plans for Manhattan Midtown West, announced in January.
The proposal from the group is anchored by commercial office space to be used as the NAACP headquarters, with the addition of two hotels, an observation deck and a skating rink. If the idea is accepted by the New York State organization, it will be the first skyscraper built by an all-African American team in New York — according to Real Estate Weekly who first reported the story.
The group says that over the six years of the project 30,000 will be employed, including 15,000 permanent jobs for New Yorkers. The project will generate more than $5 billion in new tax revenue for New York over 30 years.
Peebles, the CEO of The Peebles Corporation, told Real Estate Weekly (REW): “This project is emblematic of true equity in development. A symbol for all who visit New York, cementing in brick and mortar that New York is serious about economic inclusion.”
New York’s African-American business and civic organizations are backing the proposal. “Unfortunately, for most of New York’s history, African-Americans and people of color have been rendered as mere economic tourists who gaze upward at one of the greatest skylines in the world with the intrinsic knowledge they will never be able to participate in what really makes New York unique,” said Reverend Dr Charles Curtis, Head of NY Interfaith Commission For Housing Equality, speaking to REW. “The awarding of this project to this team will send a statement across the globe that architects, developers, engineers and financial professionals of color are now full participants in this great miracle of global capitalism called New York City.”
Manhattan Community Board 4 (CB4) continues to push for local development to be focused on housing. “As CB4 made clear to ESD, and was specifically incorporated into the RFP, our clear preference is for residential development (with an affordable component) on this site. We wish this design team would come back with something that fits the community’s needs,” said Lowell Kern, the Board chair.