When I was living in New York City after graduating from college, it was impossible to avoid the constant street-level construction and refurbishment of existing buildings. As a commuter who travelled to Stamford, Conn. every morning, expanding or relocating into the surrounding boroughs and suburbs seemed like an obvious strategy for a lot of major financial institutions. So when I travelled to New York City with the UNC Kenan-Flagler MBA Real Estate Club to meet with a host of industry leaders on our annual career trek, it was surprising to see the size, scope, and most importantly, the direction of new projects: up!
On the trek, we were granted unprecedented access to the sites and people who are driving the completion of projects that are transforming New York City.
We had the opportunity to tour Related Companies’ massive Hudson Yards mixed-use development on the West Side of New York – the largest private real estate development in U.S. history. Hudson Yards is situated on and around two massive platforms constructed above the working rail yards of Penn Station.
With the construction of more than 17 million square feet of commercial and residential real estate and 14 acres of public open space connected to both New York City’s High Line elevated park and newly extended subway lines, Related is creating an entirely new neighborhood in a city known for its lack of available space and is transforming New York City’s West Side skyline.
After visiting the site and talking with Related’s employees – including Jordan Rathlev (MBA ’12) – we were left in awe of the sheer magnitude of the project, which is expected to be completed in 2025.
We also got an inside look at Hines’ new development, 53W53 – an 82-floor upscale residential condominium with sweeping 360 degree views of Central Park, the East River and southern Manhattan. The building, which is scheduled to be delivered in 2018, is situated above the Museum of Modern Art – thus why it’s commonly referred to as “MoMA Tower” – and includes 36,000 square feet of new exhibition space for the museum.
Chris Keber (MBA ’02), a senior managing director with Hines, arranged for us to tour the exclusive showroom, which features traditional models of the building’s interior and exterior, as well as a mock apartment layout. In addition to these traditional sales techniques, Hines is utilizing a massive touchscreen monitor that offers prospective buyers a chance to experience the view from their future apartment. The company used drones equipped with rotating cameras to snap photographs every 50 feet, up to the top floor penthouse apartment.
The Hudson Yards and 53W53 developments highlight the creativity that a number of institutions are using to achieve attractive returns while delivering awe-inspiring projects. And through partnerships with the City of New York (Related) and the Museum of Modern Art (Hines), the firms are helping spur economic growth and redefine the vertical skyline of New York City. The MBA Real Estate Club career trek gave us an extraordinary opportunity to witness firsthand the transformational possibilities of real estate development.
By Bob Sincerbeaux (MBA ’17)