Quiet week here at gbNYC, huh? I could explain, but I know that there’s no reason why I should. Suffice to say that, while there’s still a chance you might read a fervid, massive post limning the importance of green building practices to President Obama’s kinda-sorta energy/carbon speech earlier this week, I finally thought better of it. Oh, you’re welcome. (About the speech: credit to Grist’s David Roberts for catching the green building stuff, and for my part, overall I think Robert Reich is kind of overstrong but at least funny in writing of it, “his words hung in the air with all the force of a fundraiser for your local public access TV station”) Which left me with a lot of radio silence, and a lot of other work and what do you know, all of a sudden it’s Friday afternoon. Which means that I should really be thanking my lucky stars that the LEED Gold-hopeful Tapestry rental apartments are opening in Harlem this week. You should probably thank yours, as well. It’s what saved you from experiencing me in Pundit Mode.
Stephen wrote about Tapestry back when Jonathan Rose Companies and Harlem-based partners Gerrard and Nicholas Lettire finalized financing for it back in November of 2008, and the building got a notable amount of press elsewhere back then, as well. Well-deserved press, as it turns out: an aggressively green building with an unusual location — there’s not yet a Tribeca-style diminutive for “At the Foot of the Triborough Bridge” — brought about by local developers with an innovative mix of private and public funding should be enough to earn any building a nice feature in the New York Observer. (Of course, you don’t need to do much of anything to earn snarky quasi-scorn from Curbed, but Tapestry got that, too) As interesting as its backstory is, though — any building that gets funding from NYSERDA and Enterprise Green Communities deserves a tip of the cap, at least — what’s striking about Tapestry on the week of its opening is how well it seems to have delivered on its promise. As numerous less-ambitious projects fall behind schedule or off the map entirely, Tapestry just kind of happened as it was supposed to: financed in late 2008, reading for leasing in spring of 2010, and on track to be finished more or less on time. While Tapestry isn’t finished with construction yet, Rose put his money where his rental building is (what?) this week by allowing arts nonprofit No Longer Empty to stage a free art exhibition in the still-rising Tapestry.
We bang on about this a lot here, but real sustainability is about more than passive solar and bike racks and LEED points, and while Tapestry will undoubtedly rack up plenty of those, the idea of a building that’s really integrated into its community — both through access to mass transit and through the subtler and stronger ties that are the foundation of the real urban landscape — is a good deal more appealing. Rose, as we’ve seen again and again, really seems to get this more than most NYC mega-developers. Branding is branding, and it’s obviously in Rose’s interest to be seen this way, but the amount of energy that the Rose Companies have devoted to low-wattage nonprofit green developments like the green public housing complex Dinkins Gardens — as well as inviting No Longer Empty to hang out at Tapestry all summer — suggests that there’s somewhat more here than talking-of-talk. The fact that half of Tapestry is set aside for middle-income (30 percent) or low-income (20 percent) housing suggests as much as well. In short, as impressive as Tapestry’s roster of green building features is, there’s every reason to expect that the greenness of this building is more than an on-message paint job. Well, either it means that or it means that I’m inclined to read too much in to a cool-seeming public art show. Either way, consider the gbNYC seal of approval granted.