Business & Labor
Luxury on the Rise in Hell's Kitchen
(newyork.construction.com, August 2006 issue)
By Diane Greer
A new 42-story condominium building will hang over its neighbors on columns and cantilevers while accenting its up-and-coming Manhattan neighborhood's historically gruff style.
Hell's Kitchen, still one of Manhattan's fringe neighborhoods, is getting a slicker feel with a wave of new high-end condominium developments.
The historically gritty neighborhood at times gets obscured when real estate agents or developers stretch the definition of Midtown West or call the area by its formal name, Clinton, to attract buyers and renters to the area west of Times Square and Columbus Circle. The roster of new condominium developments in that vein includes properties such as the $74 million Clinton West on 47th Street between 10th and 11th avenues, which opened last year, and the $170 million Mosaic on 10th Avenue between 51st and 53rd streets, which broke ground in spring 2005 under its original name of Clinton Green.
But New York-based Elad Properties is playing off of the neighborhood's edgy image to market the Link, a sleek new 42-story condominium rising on West 52nd Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues.
"We like the juxtaposition of a high-end glass tower with a cutting-edge design in a neighborhood not known for being high tech and cutting edge," said Tom Elliott, vice president of market and design for Elad Properties.
The $80 million, 265,000-sq.-ft. project designed by New York-based Costas Kondylis and Partners will also have two six-story town houses sited on the half of the 100- by 100-ft. property that is located in the Clinton Preservation District, which limits building heights to six stories.
Construction of the cast-in-place concrete building started in April 2005 after crews demolished the Studio Instrument Rental Building to make way for the new structure. Topping out ceremonies took place at the end of May, and the building is slated to open in May next year.
Elad bought the property on Eighth Avenue - along with air rights for an adjacent Howard Johnson Hotel - from Hampshire Hotel Group in 2004. The air rights enabled construction of the tall tower and the extension of the building's floor plate over a portion of the hotel and an adjoining parking garage, said Yoel Shargain, senior vice president at Elad.
Hampshire has since sold the hotel property to Hampton Inn.
On the east side of the building, starting at the fourth floor, the floor plate extends 22 ft. over the Hampton Inn. The initial designs would have supported the extension with two columns threaded through the back of the hotel, said Martin Loy, project manager for Tishman Construction, the construction manager on the project.
But the plan changed. Now, shear walls going up to the eighth floor and additional concrete support the cantilever, Loy said.
"It slowed down work on the superstructure on the lower floors but helped in the long run because we didn't have to drop columns through switchgear rooms in the hotel," he added. "We ended up going with a true cantilever to save on that work."
To the south, the floor plate also extends by 22 ft., in this case over the garage, starting at the third floor. A deck for a third-floor roof garden extends over the remainder of the garage to 51st Street.
To support those structures, the project team stuck to the original plan to use columns on footings, threading four large steel beams through four floors of the garage. Crews had to relocate existing M-E-P equipment in the garage and avoid walls, oil tanks, and other obstructions in order to install the columns.
Another complication in construction of the footings was access to the garage, which is operated by HJ Parking and leased from the hotel. The only way in to the two cellar floors is via a lift that the garage needs to move cars, requiring the project team to seek another entry point.
"We ended up saw-cutting a hole in their second cellar wall and then left a hole in our foundation wall so we had access to the cellar," Loy said. "Once I was able to get those four columns dropped in, the hard part was over."
The team used pulley and conveyor systems to remove excavation debris from the footing dig.
Constructing the tower on a tight lot along a busy street, across from a school, meant dealing with a lot of traffic, Loy added. In order to keep deliveries off the street, the team left out the second-story floor slab in the town houses, and now uses a hoist in the courtyard to bring materials into the back of the structure.
The tower façade features a window wall panel system made of aluminum and glass that extends from slab to slab without using knee walls, while still fully covering the columns and slabs. The town house façades are of charcoal-glazed brick.
The panels aim to evoke an "edgy building," said Costas Kondylis, principal of his namesake firm.
"We wanted to have a very glassy building to maximize the views and the light inside the apartments," he added. "You have to make sure you create a design that has value. We wanted it to look great 10 to 20 years from now."
Tenants will enter the building through a glass cube placed in a landscaped plaza.
"We took the vestibule out of the lobby," Kondylis said. "This gives us some identity at street level."
The interiors of the 215 apartments, designed by Gal Nauer, feature low-profile cabinetry, glass tiles, hardwood floors, and high-end appliances. The condominiums are on the market on a range from $640,000 to $4 million, with the town houses selling for $3.2 million and the penthouses for $3.5 million to $4 million. More than half of the units have sold.
The building is designed with sections that jut out of the main footprint to create six corners. The layouts combine the living room, dining room, and kitchen into one large room placed at the corners, which provide wraparound, two-directional views through floor-to-ceiling windows.
Amenities include a fitness club, lobby garden, and 2,500-sq.-ft. meditation garden on the outdoor deck.
"For Hell's Kitchen, we have a lot of outdoor space," Elliott said.
Owner: Elad Properties, New York
Construction Manager: Tishman Construction, New York
Architect: Costas Kondylis and Partners, New York; Gal Nauer Architects, New York
Structural Engineer: WSP Cantor Seinuk, New York
M-E-P Engineer: Cosentini Associates, New York