They’re the stuff of dreams — jumbo, mostly commercial Manhattan skyscrapers waiting for the pandemic’s end to recharge the moribund office market. Their would-be developers shrug at today’s record-low leasing volume and towers that remain 85 percent empty.
Last week, we found more than 7 million square feet of space still available in projects either recently finished or to open in 2022. Our subjects this week would add another 7-plus million square feet to market — but the towers don’t exist yet.
Except possibly for Five World Trade Center, none is likely to rise without an anchor office tenant signed first. Is it nuts even to think they’ll go up?
Mitchell L. Moss, professor of policy and urban planning at NYU, said, “New York City is facing a long difficult recovery. Modern office towers take years to plan, design and build.
“This is the time for bold thinking; you cannot wait for the future to arrive like a bouquet of roses. Let the timid move to Trumpland in Florida. And let builders build — healthy, well-ventilated office towers with an abundance of open space.”
CBRE tri-state CEO Mary Ann Tighe took the long view as well.
“Building a commercial skyscraper at any time, but especially now, is an act of faith. The NIMBYs go nuts and the self-anointed ‘smart money’ predicts failure. The political class alternates between trying to thwart the effort and pre-spending the tax revenue which is their oxygen,” Tighe said. “But when it is done, the heart of every true New Yorker swells with pride. When New York grows skyward, we know that our city is alive and well. So right now, the skyscrapers on the drawing board are just what the doctor ordered.”
Here’s what might be coming — along with our unscientific guesswork on when they’ll break ground:
Five World Trade Center. Announced last week, it’s the newest addition to the field. The Port Authority chose a partnership of Brookfield Properties and Larry Silverstein to negotiate for rights to develop a 900-foot tower designed by KPF just south of the actual WTC site. It’s mostly residential, although it has 190,000 square feet of offices.
Groundbreaking guess: The PA says 2023. We’ll bet on 2024.
99 Hudson Blvd. Tishman Speyer hopes to erect a 44-story, 1.3 million-square-foot, Hudson Yards-area office tower designed by Henning Larsen Architects. It would stand slightly north and west of Tishman Speyer’s nearly-finished Spiral, the future home of Pfizer.
Groundbreaking guess: 2024.
Two World Trade Center. It would be the last of four towers planned for the 16-acre site. But more than a year since Larry Silverstein told The Post that architect Norman Foster’s original 2006 design would be “significantly modified to be more reflective of contemporary needs and taste,” no new design has been shown and the site remains in limbo. Planned size: nearly 3 million square feet.
Groundbreaking guess: Late 2024.
350 Park Ave. Rudin Management and Vornado Realty Trust are teaming up to replace two Rudin- and Vornado-owned buildings with a 1,500-foot-tall cloudbuster. But the situation’s fluid as Vornado has said it might build a somewhat smaller tower on its own.
Groundbreaking guess: Early 2025 after leases at the old buildings expire in 2023.
175 Park Ave., a k a Project Commodore. RXR Realty and TD Cornerstone would erect a 1,600 square-foot, 2.5 million square-foot jumbo to replace the Grand Hyatt Hotel on East 42nd Street. (“Commodore” was the old hotel’s name before Donald Trump transformed it into the glassy Grand Hyatt.) With 2.1 million square feet of offices and a new hotel, it would stand taller than SL Green’s One Vanderbilt to the west.
Groundbreaking guess: The developers say it will open in 2030, so work isn’t likely to start before 2025.
15 Penn. Vornado would build a nearly 1,200-foot-tall tower on the Hotel Pennsylvania site across from Madison Square Garden.
The Foster + Partners design is in flux. Vornado aims to transform the MSG/Penn Station area, which has been revitalized with a Facebook lease in the Farley Building and the new Moynihan Train Hall.
Groundbreaking guess: After the 2025 presidential inauguration.
Tower Fifth. Harry Macklowe has been gobbling up properties on East 51st Street between Fifth and Madison avenues for a 1,556-foot-tall tower. But it’s shrouded in mystery and uncertainty.
Groundbreaking guess: When Macklowe’s oligarch-friendly 432 Park Ave. is converted to affordable housing.