Tallest Residential Building in NYC: The Competition Heats Up

Published on Aug 10, 2011

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Plans are moving forward for at least three huge new towers in Midtown, all competing for the title of the tallest residential building in NYC. This is just one sign that new development and construction in NYC is slowly picking up again. The numbers are still high for so-called stalled NYC construction projects--demolition and/or development that was started, then halted when financing proved suddenly elusive in the unstable housing market of the late aught years--but they are slowly, steadily coming down.

In 2009, when the Department of Buildings first began keeping track of stalled projects, there were 362 sites on the list. That number would peak in the fall of 2010, with 710 sites listed in November, but this summer things finally seem to be heading in the right direction, with "only" 650 sites remaining, many of them NYC rental apartment projects, and often in hot neighborhoods like Williamsburg in Brooklyn, and the Financial District in Manhattan.

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One part of town that seems to be leading the way to a resurgence of NYC construction: Midtown, where developers are racing to build the tallest residential building in the city--indeed, in the hemisphere--a honor currently held by Frank Gehry's FiDi tower, New York by Gehry on Spruce Street, which is 870 feet high. In fact, there are three just-restarted projects that all may top the 1,000 foot barrier, namely:

  • Extell Development has put up 22 stories of their planned 90-story, 1,044-foot hotel and residential tower, so far called One57, on 57th Street across from Carnegie Hall, pictured at top.

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  • Architect Jean Nouvel's spectacular Tower Verre (pictured above) returned from development purgatory last week with a revised--and zoning-approved--plan that would put the residential tower on 53rd St, right next door to the MoMA, at 1,050 feet high, rather than the original 1,250 feet.

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  • Over on Park Avenue, the CIM group is making noise at their site, where the Drake Hotel once stood (seen above, RIP), for a 1,000-plus-foot residential/hotel combo designed by Rafael Viñoly.

So who is going to beat New York by Gehry for the title of tallest residential building in NYC? Extell seems to be in the lead, but for how long? If it all sounds a little dizzying (and out of your price range), remember: the more new luxury NYC rental apartments and condos they build, the less competition there is for existing housing stock.

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