On Wednesday, October 24th 2012, the School of Public Policy and Governance, the Institute on Municipal Finance and Governance, Urban Strategies, Global City Indicators, and the Department of Geography and Planning presented the first lecture of this year’s Big City, Big Ideas lecture series: Hudson Yards, NYC: The History, Challenges and Opportunities of North America’s Largest City-Building Development. Jay Cross, the President of Related Hudson Yards, and Blake Hutcheson, the President and CEO of Oxford Properties spoke about the development, its challenges, and what it will mean for the west side of Manhattan. Renee Gomes, the Director of Development at Waterfront Toronto, moderated the talk.
This West Side initiative has an estimated worth of $15 billion, and aims to build “New York’s next great neighbourhood” through the development of a mixed-use community overtop the existing rail yards on the shores of the Hudson River.
Mr. Cross is a man of many titles. A one-time real estate executive, he devoted his career to the development of sports stadiums and arenas all across the world. He is the executive behind the development of the Air Canada Centre, Miami’s American Airlines arena, and the new Meadowlands stadium. He was the President of the New York Jets up until 2008, when he signed up with a leading real estate development firm in the nation, Related, and began his work as President of the Hudson Yards Project. He is a gifted developer whose experience and expertise have significantly impacted the Hudson Yards development.
Cross spoke of the importance of public infrastructure in private development of Hudson Yards and cities in general. A NYC subway extension will be fundamental to this development’s success, and it’s guaranteed completion gives developers like Cross the stability to invest. As per Cross, for developers “timing is everything”. The right moves had to be made at the right times with the right players—the subway extension is one of those key pieces. There is a need for constant structural reforms and the development of urban cities in the globally competitive markets. The High Line serves as an example of how urban design can impact an entire city. Hudson Yards seeks to do the same.
New York’s Old Hudson Rail Storage is an area totalling up to about 26 acres of land. In the past its been home to low rent condominiums, discount buses, and strip club joints, but Cross envisions this neighbourhood to be completely restored with office, hotel, retail, and residential (rental and sale) buildings within the next 10 years.
To create a new, popular, and sought-after neighbourhood, Hudson Yards will have a mixed use of realtor goods, creating a lively environment where people want to live and work. The west end of the Yards will be devoted to cultural developments, the north to a health clubs, the south to office buildings, and east for mainly residential properties. The project is starting with an $800 million land budget per deck, with approved property tax exceptions for the office and retail areas.
The subway system will be completed in 2014, with the first building going up in 2015 and the second by 2017. The Hudson Yards project is said to be the largest city development motive since the early 20th Century. Now the real challenge will be to convince the public of the company’s visions and create a destination neighbourhood from scratch.
Mana Sadeghipour is a 3rd year U of T student attaining an HBA in Political Science. Mana is also the Social Media Coordinator Assistant to the Manager of Engagement at SPPG. Her previous positions include Photographer at the Soldier’s Tower and a member of the University College Literary and Athletic Society. Her interests include photography, political theory, and nation building. She plans on entering SPPG following her undergraduate degree.