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Old Posted Jan 26, 2011, 8:35 PM
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Developer Gets Serious About New Washington Heights Towers

Wednesday, January 26, 2011, by Joey Arak

We didn't take developer Quadriad Realty Partners' proposal to build four apartment towers way taller than anything else Washington Heights has seen too seriously, but the company president's pit stop at the Manhattan Times has us starting to believe. If not in the four-tower plan (which would include 454 market-rate apartments and 198 reserved for affordable housing), then in Quadriad's alternate two-tower idea, which would result in 22-story and 28-story buildings staring each other down across Broadway at 190th Street.

Developers have tried to build big in the upper reaches of Manhattan before, so what makes this situation different? This time around, the suits say they have the money to get it done.

And they would much rather have four buildings than two.

Quadriad says they have the financing in place to proceed with either plan, but they want the supersized four-tower plan. The company hopes that the promise of affordable housing and a rehabilitated Gorman Park will entice officials into granting the zoning variances needed for the Quariad quadruplets, but it might be an uphill climb.

The affordable housing would still price out most locals, because it would be for households earning 60 percent to 180 percent of the city's median income, and WaHI household incomes tend to be lower. The twin tower plan would be all market-rate housing, and here's how that version (in orange) stacks up to the foursome. The site has good subway access, but can Washington Heights handle 450 fancy new apartments?

More details on skyscraper project emerge

Tuesday, January 25, 2011
by Mike Fitelson and Gloria Pazmiño

Quadriad Realty, a developer with projects in Astoria, Williamsburg, and Long Island City, met with the leadership of the Manhattan Times last week to discuss its plans to build either two or four residential towers on Broadway and Fairview Avenue to the east and W. 190th Street to the west.

Quadriad president Henry Wollman explained his interest in pursuing one of two options, either of which would dramatically transform Northern Manhattan’s skyline.

The first, which Wollman says can be built as-of-right, meaning without triggering zoning changes and special city permits, would result in towers on both sides of Broadway, 28 stories on the east and 22 stories on the west under one rendering.

Under the other “New Strategy” plan, the one Quadriad prefers, the project would result in four towers, all of which could exceed 33 floors (which is taller than the Bridge Tower Apartments on W. 189th Street). Two of the towers would be over 42 stories.

Even at 22 stories, the towers would be taller than the residential buildings that are now perched atop the Wadsworth Terrace ridge and would invade a skyscape that has long been crowned by the Cloisters atop Ft. Tryon Park.

In either case, the project would displace several vacant storefronts, a laundromat, community arts center, and Serie 56 nightclub on the east side of Broadway. Ortiz Funeral Home on the west side of Broadway would be incorporated into the development.

The “New Strategy” plan is preferable, Wollman said during his visit, because it would provide the economies of scale to build 454 units that could be sold or rented at market rate and 198 units of “affordable” housing, which Quadriad defines as households earning 60 percent to 180 percent of the city’s median income. That would still price out most Northern Manhattanites, whose median income was about $30,000 in 2000. The as-of-right option would not include any affordable housing.

For Quadriad, the aim is to provide middle income housing opportunities, a segment of the population that is usually overlooked.

Additionally, the “New Strategy” would not require public funding – Wollman says he has the financing required to build either project – only variances from existing zoning. Part of the “New Strategy” project would be to rehabilitate Gorman Park, incorporating the green space into the towers’ plaza, and the 1-train entrance. Both plans include about 37,500 square feet of retail space and several hundred parking spaces.

Wollman said Quadriad is currently negotiating for site acquisition.

The location is ideal, he said, because it is conveniently located near mass transportation and has sites that are at least 40,000 square feet. Quadriad is working on plans for another eight or so projects around the city.

The first inkling of the project was unveiled by Quadriad during the Jan. 5 Community Board 12 Land Use Committee meeting.

According to one person in attendance at the meeting, the committee respectfully listened to the developer’s matter-of-fact presentation, the first of many Wollman plans to make to the advisory board. Several of the 20 or so public attendees objected to how the western tower would abut their building on Bennett Avenue, shutting out light and views.

The next CB12 Land Use Committee meeting is Feb. 9, but as of press time Quadriad was not officially on the agenda.

In addition to the Manhattan Times and CB12's Land Use Committee, so far Quadriad representatives have met with the office of City Council Member Robert Jackson and reached out to Council Member Ydanis Rodriguez.

Jackson’s community liaison Juan Rosa who met with Wollman said the chief concern was that the project would not fit in with the character of the neighborhood and that the units would be unaffordable for most local families.

Noting a stalled development project that would have put One Bennett Park, a luxury high rise, a few blocks away on W. 183rd Street until funding fell through, Rosa also raised a concern about financing.

“We’ve seen a lot of developers come to the neighborhood and say they have money but don't and leave a hole in the ground,” he added.
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