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NoChe: The Next Big Thing
Auction (Lompac) NY
February 21, 2013

The Next Big Thing

You've heard of NoMad, NoLita, and NoHo. Well, get used to "NoChe." It stands for North Chelsea, pronounced a touch exotically like the Spanish word for "night." It's how insiders are referring to the dramatic new area being forged by Brookfield and Related on the Far West Side.

Manhattan West
We snapped the sign at Ninth and 33rd referring to Brookfield's five acres, where shovels started turning in October to create 5.4M SF by 2016: two 62-story, 2M SF office towers; a residential behemoth with 900 apartments and condos; 40k SF of retail; and 1.5 acres of public space, including a broad pedestrian walkway down the middle to be christened as a new 32nd Street. In January, Brookfield locked down a $340M loan (from Wells Fargo, Bank of NY, HSBC, US Bank, Toronto Dominion, and Scotia) to match its own $340M in equity, covering $285M to build the platform, existing investment, and land acquisition, bringing project funding current.

We snapped this of the site from 450 W 33rd (which Brookfield will be renovating). You've probably spent time down below without knowing it: Those tracks are what you arrive on as Amtrak transports you into the city from Newark. With the foresight that developers dream of, Brookfield and its predecessor Olympia & York acquired the property over 20 years through daunting economic and regulatory challenges. The first phase over two years: laying a platform on terra firma across an existing trench. At the other end of the lot is the Farley Post Office, to be converted into Moynihan Station.

Brookfield development chief Phil Wharton, right, and project construction director Henry Caso tell us the new towers will feature 30k-45k SF floor plates, much larger than the Empire State Building's in the background. Phil arrived at Brookfield recently with decades of experience at Lincoln Property and AvalonBay in New York, and Henry was practically born into the development industry, coming from a family of architects. The district has been up-zoned from industrial to high density mixed-use and is the only place where Manhattan can grow today on a large scale. Turner is constructing the platform, but building contractors haven't been chosen yet since SOM is still designing. It's not too late to apply, but you should have experience with some pretty big projects.

Phil and Henry remind us that the last big NY platform built over tracks was 100 years ago—becoming Park Avenue between 42nd and 57th Streets—and that Grand Central was financed through air rights sold to building developers. They predict that as Park Avenue became a link among different parts of the city, so too will NoChe, creating an easy way to get from Midtown to the booming activity of Chelsea and Meatpacking via the High Line at 34th.

Related has 20 acres at Hudson Yards immediately to the west, where it will create an extensive platform at grade, requiring piers to be set among the tracks. The famous extension of the 7 line will open next year to the right, guaranteeing crowds. We'll be reporting more on this extraordinary development in coming weeks.

As for the expansion of Penn Station, the late Senator Pat Moynihan will be remembered via the conversion and renaming of the Farley Post Office because he long argued that travelers deserved a grander place to arrive in Manhattan.

Still wondering how all this massive magic gets done in such a complicated space? Here's a snappy three-minute video on the Brookfield work that will make you very smart. And don't forget where you first heard the name NoChe.

Anatomy Of A Hip Hotel

New York boutique hotels are just about the hottest asset class around—every month seems to bring a new one, reinventing the hospitality template. What are the latest elements that define a hip hotel? We got a sneak peek at one that opens March 1 in the Village. Click here to read about the brand-new Jade Hotel in our national hotel publication. Click here to subscribe so you can follow all that's happening in hotels. And then get ready for next week, when we unveil our first ever ranking of The 25 Hippest Hotels in NYC right here in Bisnow New York.

We're not frequent E train riders, and last night's ride showed us it has more NYC characters than we would've thought. Got any commuting stories? Email amanda.metcalf@bisnow.com.

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