In a major turnaround from its seedy Fun City days, Eighth Avenue has made a major case that it’s Manhattan’s greenest thoroughfare. Though the strip has retained much of the gritty flavor that makes it a favorite among tourists and unwitting theatergoers, new green towers from the New York Times and Hearst, plus the speculative LEED Silver 11 Times Square, are all contributing to change its character between the low 40s and high 50s. On Friday, the strip took another green step forward when Governor Spitzer and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey announced plans for the long-rumored development of air rights above the Port Authority Bus Terminal at Eighth Avenue and 42nd Street.
Vornado Realty Trust and Ruben Cos. will develop a 1.3 million-square-foot green office tower above the north wing of the Bus Terminal (image above). The developers will lease the air rights from the Port Authority, and the agency will use those funds to upgrade the Bus Terminal facility with 60,000 square feet of retail and 18 new bus gates in order to boost passenger capacity by 18 percent during peak rush hours. Once the Port Authority’s Board of Commissioners approves the plan, construction could commence as early as 2009 and wrap up by 2013. The agency expects that the 99-year lease with Vornado and Ruben will fetch it close to $500 million for the planned improvements.
The terms of the agreement also require the developers to earn Gold under USGBC’s LEED for Core and Shell (“LEED-CS”) rating system. LEED-CS refers to USGBC’s rating system for sustainable core and shell construction, which generally encompasses base building elements (i.e., structure, envelope, and MEP systems). On many commercial projects (such as 11 Times Square and, presumably, here at 20 Times Square), separate contractors will execute core and shell and the interior fit out of the tenant-occupied floors. The LEED for Commercial Interiors (LEED-CI) rating system is meant to complement LEED-CS in this context. LEED-CS Precertification is unique to the core and shell rating system; it allows registered projects to receive formal recognition from USGBC early during the design stage in order to assist commercial owners in marketing their buildings (many of which are speculative).
New York’s green landscape continues to shift rapidly, and it’s fascinating that Times Square and Eighth Avenue continue to sit at its vanguard, at least in the context of commercial office space. Indeed, Boston Properties is also planning a new tower along the strip, though that developer’s specific plans for the project are at this point still unclear. Nevertheless, it’s significant that the highest-profile district in Manhattan after the World Trade Center site is taking sustainability seriously, and we’ll continue to pay keen attention to both the 20 Times Square project and other green efforts along Eighth Avenue.
- Hearst Tower Receives LEED Gold (gbNYC)
- NY Times Tower (gbNYC)
- Vornado, Ruben Plan Tower (GlobeSt.com)