Near Penn Station, Brookfield Breaks Ground On Planned LEED Gold Manhattan West Development

Construction on a $680 million platform above LIRR and Amtrak tracks on Ninth Avenue will allow Brookfield Properties to proceed with its $4.5 billion Manhattan West development, which will feature two 60-story, LEED Gold-hopeful commercial office towers.

Let’s catch up on some important new construction news from last week: Brookfield Properties has broken ground on the platform for its Manhattan West development on Ninth Avenue between 31st and 33rd Streets and Dyer Avenue. With $340 million in construction financing secured for this initial phase of work, Brookfield hopes to complete construction of the platform by 2014 and welcome its first tenants into two 60-story planned LEED Gold office towers by 2016. The entire 5 million-square-foot project is projected to cost nearly $4.5 billion.

The platform will stretch over the exposed train tracks that lead out from Penn Station and consists of an intricate series of sixteen post-tension, pre-cast segmental bridges, designed to prevent interruption of train service below. The entire 5 million-square-foot project will rise over this base – the two 2 million-square-foot Class A office towers, a residential tower, a 1.5-acre open public space, and retail space throughout. Interestingly, the cores of the towers will be constructed on bedrock to the north and south of the platform, which will cover nearly 60 percent of the 5-acre Manhattan West development site.

Brookfield secured a 5-year, $340 million construction loan from a group of banks that includes HSBC, Bank of New York Mellon, and two Canadian banks. Along with $340 million in its own capital, the platform itself is projected to cost $680 million. The developer secured agreements for the work with Amtrak, the Port Authority, and the MTA/LIRR last fall, each of which owns easements through the land owned by Brookfield. Excavation and rock drilling have been underway since.

“Manhattan West will serve as the bridge between Chelsea and the Midtown central business district, providing a pedestrian-friendly way to get from Penn Station to the High Line and to the Hudson River,” said Brookfield CEO Dennis Friedrich in a press release. “The open space will be a recreated grand 32nd Street, 100 feet wide, leading from Ninth Avenue to Dyer Avenue then south toward the spur of the High Line. It will be an amenity for the neighborhood – and for the city.” “I’m thrilled that construction of Manhattan West is beginning and that we will soon bring the residential, cultural and retail energy of so many city neighborhoods, as well as convenient transportation infrastructure, to what is currently an underutilized rail yard,” New York City Council Speaker Christine Quinn added.

Once Brookfield secures an anchor tenant – likely from the technology, media, or entertainment sectors – construction will begin on the office towers, which will be located just a stone’s throw away from both Penn Station and a renovated Moynihan Station (slated for 2015 completion). Skidmore, Owings & Merrill is the master plan architect for Manhattan West and will work in conjunction with SLCE on the residential components. Field Operations (the High Line) will design the project’s outdoor public space.

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