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June 10, 2008


In case you're not familiar with us, we're the "People Magazine" of local business, with eight newsletters in DC, and now starting in NYC. Send us your story suggestions!


We've heard a lot about the rush to build around the High Line, the 22 blocks of elevated track built in the 1930's to move refrigerated supplies in the meatpacking district. The area's become Manhattan's newest retail and night life mecca the last couple years-now even office developers are scrambling there. One planned building that caught our eye: 85k SF at 450 W. 14th, because it's being constructed so the High Line runs right through it. 


Ah, we needed an artist's conception to picture that. But we still can't get our head around the fact the High Line is about to debut as a transformed urban park this fall. What if you're playing catch and the ball sails over the side? To unravel these mysteries, we went to the building architect, Morris Adjmi, at his office on east 20th. He describes the building as a "floating glass box above early art deco," the bottom actually being three stories of brick covering an old meat packing plant. If you look midway up the building, you'll see an inset portion, intended to reflect the angle and opening at which the High Line punches through the building.


This is Morris with his scale model (where are the little toy people and trees?); he tells us the real thing will deliver in Spring '09 and  have 8k SF of retail. Contractor RCG has just finished demolition and remediation (we think that means they tore stuff off the old building but kept its structure intact), and this month a steel structure starts going up which will be done within three months.


MA (as we aficionados call them) is pretty famous at the moment for having done the 50k SF headquarters last year of Theory women's apparel at 40 Gansevoort, about a block away in the historic district, which boasts a very European setting and piazza of beautiful cobblestone that's gotten a lot of attention. Although 450 W. 14th is done with the same developer (Charles Blaichman), it's quite different: "much more of an industrial aesthetic," MA's Jeff Walker tells us. It's pre-approved for LEED Silver, development costs are reported at $55 million, and Sinvin Realty's already leased two floors to one tenant and is targeting financial firms and others it thinks might take full floors.


Here's more of that the 'ol meat market railway turned lazy urban river. Who would've guessed in the Depression that office space would go here for $100-125/SF and retail for $400? The High Line opens in the fall, but already a big new three-floor all-glass Apple store has appeared nearby to capitalize on the huge foot traffic of this newly fashionable shopping district. Also on hand: an Andre Balazs-designed Standard Hotel, and new Whitney Museum branch by Renzo Piano. Not to mention lots of trendy restaurants like Pastis and Balthazar.


Morris started at the firm as a partner of legendary rationalist Aldo Rossi, and has worked on projects like the Scholastic headquarters on Broadway and been inspired by artists like Rachel Whiteread, a British sculptor, on whose work with castings he's drawn for 450's fa?ade. MA is working on 20 other current projects like a Bryant Park mixed-use building and a Perry St. hotel. And if that's not enough, they're also re-designing their own office space.

Arent Fox
Leo A Daly
jones Lang LaSalle
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