On the south side of 42nd Street, across from LEED Platinum hopeful Bank of America Tower, one of Manhattan’s more unique construction projects in recent memory is very quietly taking place. At a cost of $408.9 million, the entire shell of the former Verizon Building is being replaced, effectively creating an entirely new building. The building’s marble exterior is in the process of being removed and replaced with an energy-efficient glass curtain wall. Tishman Construction is the construction manager on the project, which was designed by Moed de Armas & Shannon Architects and Gensler. (Image via SkyscraperPage Forum)
The March 2007 edition of New York Construction has an excellent overview of the complicated logistics behind the project, which involve maintaining the building’s operating systems and keeping them running while the entire curtain wall is simultaneously being replaced. Construction began early last year and has proceeded down through the upper floors. Former owner Equity Office Properties Trust out of Chicago purchased 1.03 million square feet (around eighty percent of the building) from Verizon in September of 2005. Verizon kept 200,000 square feet on the sixth through twelfth floors, where it will continue to house telephone switching equipment that serves much of Midtown. The remaining eighty percent of the building is being gut renovated and all of the building systems will ultimately be replaced.
The Blackstone Group acquired the property in February via its $39 billion purchase of Equity, and an article in last week’s edition of Crain’s noted some recent activity in connection with the renovated building. First, it’s the only property that Blackstone will retain in New York after it flipped the rest of the local Equity portfolio to Macklowe Properties for $7.25 billion. Equity, which had signed law firm Dechert back in September to a 234,238 square foot long-term lease on the 25th through 31st floors, also inked MetLife last December to a 21-year lease for 410,000 square feet across twelve floors. Blackstone renegotiated that latter lease with MetLife for an extra $10 per square foot.
Crain’s also reported last week that Blackstone was close to a 130,000 square foot lease with iStar Financial for $135 per square foot- this would be the first lease secured by Blackstone since it took over the property. According to Crain’s, Goodwin Proctor failed to close a deal with Blackstone for close to 200,000 square feet because it believed that Goodwin’s price was too low; asking rents at the building now top $100 per square foot.
The unique juxtaposition of these two green projects- one new construction seeking LEED, the other a massive renovation that is not- raises some interesting questions, particularly because the two high-rises are literally across the street from one another in Midtown. The buzz around the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park is impossible to ignore. However, I had to really dig in order to find anything about the Verizon Building. The amount of press that this unique renovation has received, particularly in mass media, has been anything but overwhelming, and in my opinion, it’s the type of project that could substantially benefit from pursuing LEED for Existing Buildings (LEED-EB) certification. From a marketing perspective, while it seems like Blackstone isn’t having too difficult a time signing up tenants for the new Class A tower, LEED-EB could have been an effective tool at raising awareness about the project and its substantial green design elements. Currently, the only certified LEED-EB building in New York is the Mercantile Exchange, which I’ve written about previously.
- Extreme Makeover (NY Construction)
- Blackstone’s Bid for Equity Office Prevails (NY Times)
- Blackstone Makes Quick Cash from Acquisition of REIT (RE Journal)
- LEED-EB Debuts in NY at Mercantile Exchange (gbNYC)