Mixed Use

By Patrick Hedlund

Precious rating

Developers of Battery Park City’s luxury Verdesian have surpassed even the gold standard for green design, recently earning unprecedented LEED certification for a residential development.

The Albanese Organization, which boasts such upscale green B.P.C. buildings as the Solaire and the upcoming Visionaire, was awarded “Platinum” LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certification for the Verdesian by the U.S. Green Buildings Council. The designation marks the first ever for a residential apartment building, following on the Solaire’s earlier recognition as the first green residential high-rise in the country.

“It felt good,” Albanese principal Christopher Albanese told Mixed Use. “We’re very proud of our work in building sustainable buildings.”

Located at the north end of Battery Park City, the Pelli Clarke Pelli-designed 26-story building opened in 2006 and features a host of green amenities that make it 40 percent more energy-efficient than required by code.

Flurries & slowdown

December proved a busy month for commercial leasing in Lower Manhattan, as tenants took more than a half-million square feet in the Downtown area alone.

Over 550,000 square feet were leased in Lower Manhattan, making it the most active sub-market across the entire borough during December, according to information provided by CB Richard Ellis in the Downtown Alliance’s fourth quarter real estate review.

The report also showed that two commercial signings in the fourth quarter — one for 183,768 square feet by Omnicom, and another for 91,818 square feet by American Lawyer Media — contributed to the leasing flurry in the closing days of 2007.

Other news of note in the report anticipated that Downtown’s hotel inventory would soon more than double, from 2,474 rooms to 5,861. Eight hotels are currently under construction that will bring in an additional 1,557 rooms by 2010, and another 10 projects totaling nearly 1,303 rooms are planned for the area.

Additionally, average rental prices for two- and three-bedroom units dropped 21 percent in the fourth quarter year over year, due to softening in luxury real estate market, according to the Alliance.

Midtown migration

Downtowners hungry for a quality steak will have a new place to go as high-end restaurant Capital Grille just inked a lease at 120 Broadway to open its second New York location featuring signature dry-aged slabs. (The first is in the Chrysler Building on 42nd St.) 

“Downtown has become a true mecca for foodies,” said developer Larry Silverstein, who owns the Lower Manhattan building.

Silverstein made the announcement at a breakfast on Tuesday, when he also announced that another high-end outfit — Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts — is adding a Downtown location after formerly only operating in Midtown.

Silverstein also noted that luxury retailers such as Apple, Barneys, Bulgari, Cartier, DeBeers, Dolce & Gabbana, Salvatore Ferragamo and Versace have also been nosing around for space in Lower Manhattan.

Hudson Heights

The 22-story mixed-use building set to rise above the former warehouse at 330 Hudson St. in a $220 million redevelopment plan could see its hotel component open by next year.

The Hudson Square development, spearheaded by Tribeca Associates and announced last year, will include 300,000 square feet of office space, a 170-room hotel and a 5,000-square-foot restaurant at the property between Charlton and Vandam Sts.

Erin Roeder, senior real estate planner for Trinity Real Estate, confirmed details of the development and said the hotel could open by the end of 2009.

“It’ll be more in the style of the W than in the style of, say, the Waldorf,” Roeder said of the planned “high-end boutique hotel.” The warehouse has remained vacant for the past five years.

Tribeca Associates leased the current eight-story space from Trinity in 2007, and plans to add two new floors of offices above the current space (which will also be converted to offices), as well as the luxury hotel and restaurant.

Brennan Beer Gorman architects will design the hotel space. Renderings of the development appeared in the New York Post on Tuesday, which reported tenants could move into the office space as early as next January.

The project will join the 42-story Trump Soho condo-hotel just blocks away at Spring and Varick Sts. as one of the dominant buildings in the burgeoning Hudson Square skyline.

Tenant task force

A new committee established by Community Board 2 to address issues of tenants rights and harassment in areas like Chinatown and Soho could possibly have broader outgrowth Downtown.

The new committee’s chairperson, Don MacPherson, and board members Doris Diether and David Gruber will make up the nascent task force, which plans to work with C.B. 2 Social Services and Education Committee chairperson Keen Berger and Chinatown Committee chairperson James Solomon.

Diether, who has personally experienced tenant harassment as a Village resident, regularly fields queries from other tenants in Lower Manhattan and as far away as Brooklyn. She wanted to pair affordable housing as another committee concern, but MacPherson said initially the focus should lie strictly with tenants’ rights. He noted that market-rate residents face as high a risk for eviction as rent-controlled and rent-stabilized tenants, an issue that can affect even upper-scale Downtown neighborhoods.

“This issue now has come to the point where the safety and health of tenants are now being endangered,” MacPherson said, “because they cannot make complaints without fearing retribution on the part of landlords or developers or companies who are hired to get rid of tenants.”

He added that because harassment can frequently occur in areas outside the community board’s coverage area, his committee could be open to discussing the problem with other community boards and neighborhood groups in the future.

“I think not enough people understand the danger in avoiding focusing on this issue,” MacPherson said.

With reporting by Julie Shapiro