Can Meatpacking Get Any Hotter? Yes.
That's what Taconic Investment Partners co-CEOs Charlie Bendit and Paul Pariser tell us. How can that be, you ask?
They say the move of the Whitney Museum from 75th and Madison to Gansevoort and Washington, due in 2015, will dramatically enhance the neighborhood and drive even bigger crowds to its streets.And we thought the area had reached its zenith when these guys (above in their office) sold 111 Eighth to Google in 2010 for $1.8B. But that entire building adds a population of just 5,000.
The Whitney, whose progress we snapped in last week's rain, will bring another 100,000 visitors to the area each month, many of whom rarely if ever set foot there.
Another building magnet coming is Taconic's own 837 Washington, in partnership with Thor Equities: 65k SF of office and retail, under construction, to be completed in 15 months. They bought the former meat refrigeration plant four years ago and gutted it. A 12k SF "matt slab" has just been poured, creating the foundation.
Morris Adjmi is designing six stories of "twisting steel and glass exo-skeleton" to rise out of the original two-story facade required by preservation regs. Paul says it will be "stunningly beautiful" and become a new epicenter of the district, like the Apple Store, getting huge foot traffic from the southern terminus of High Line and a new mass of visitors and retail that will flow down Washington Street with the Whitney's arrival. They say they're lucky to get the building's "verticality," not always allowed by preservation guidelines, and will be done within a year. They're looking for retail that will pay high rents, e.g., fashion, dry goods, and fine dining, some of which can be located on the second floor and access its terraces.
Another building planned is 860 Washington, a JV of Romanoff and Property Group Partners (formerly Louis Dreyfus Property Group). The Romanoff family has owned the site for two generations and Eastdil handled an RFP; it should be in the ground in six to 12 months.
It will be diagonally across street from 837 and is outside the landmark district, meaning it can be all new construction. Elsewhere, rumors are an old gas station site will be redeveloped as a retail box at 10th Ave and 14th by Mike Miller. Paul, who's BID president, also mentions that 55 Gansevoort was recently purchased and might become a boutique hotel, and that some have also talked about redeveloping the building, which hosts Keith McNally's Pastis.
Back in 1998, Charlie and Paul with other investors bought 111 Eighth as part of a four-building portfolio, selling the other three (95 and 99 Wall Street and 100 William) within two years. At the time, 111 was full of printing companies. They thought it would be well-suited to telecoms given heavy 130k to 200k SF floor plates, tall ceilings, wide columns and access to a fiber optic highway on the west side. They recruited tenants like Level 3 and Sprint. In 2005, Google found them, and today occupies 25% of the building.