By Brian J. Pape, AIA, LEED-AP
Google’s parent company, Alphabet, has reached an agreement to acquire Chelsea Market for $2.4 billion. Jamestown, the sellers, won approvals from the city to add almost 300,000 square feet on top of the property back in 2012. That would increase the number of office floors above the famous ground floor of popular food and fashion retailers.
Chelsea Market is across 9th Avenue from Google’s more than 3 million-square-foot city headquarters at 111 8th Avenue, which they purchased for $1.9 billion in 2010. But, with 7,000 employees in the city, and difficulty getting tenants to vacate, they need more space.
In early February, Crain’s New York Business reported that Hudson River Park Trust (HRPT), the city and state entity that manages park space along the river and controls Pier 57, recently presented to Community Board 4 a proposal from Seth Pinsky, an Executive Vice President at RXR Realty, and the real estate firm Youngwoo & Associates, which is handling the $350 million redevelopment of the once-derelict pier building.
Google, which had previously agreed to lease 250,000 square feet at Pier 57, will now add another 70,000 square feet for offices there and lease an additional 50,000 square feet for public, cultural, and educational activities.
The pier’s ground floor includes 20,000 square feet of restaurant and retail space and pop-up stores. Another restaurant will be located on the pier’s roof, adjacent to a large public park. Google will create a 5,000 square-foot public space on the south side of the pier that will feature views of the harbor, create a landing for ferry service, and host technology education programs for disadvantaged city youth. (Google will also use the space periodically for product and technology demonstrations.) 24,000 square feet of community and education space located partially in an underwater caisson at the pier (a watertight basement) would shrink a cavernous food market, previously with chef Anthony Bourdain, to about 40,000 square feet.
Emil Praeger, an engineer/designer for the defense contractor Madigan-Hyland, which awarded a contract in 1949 to rebuild the burnt-out Grace Line Pier 57, offered an innovative concrete structural solution. The new pier would rest on 360-foot by 127-foot by 33-foot high concrete vessels, built upriver in Haverstraw, New York, and then floated down to the site. The three, huge, hollow concrete boxes, weighing 27,000 tons, were permanently anchored to the riverbed to keep them from shifting.
Since the pier was placed on the New York State and National Registers of Historic Places in 2004, Woo needs to abide by preservation guidelines.
According to the Crain’s report of February 9, 2018, RXR and Youngwoo would provide HRPT with roughly $20 million of proceeds from the expanded lease with Google over its 15-year term to help fund the entity’s operating budget. Madelyn Wils, the President and CEO of the trust, said that its board would vote within the next few months on whether to approve the deal.
Brian J. Pape is an architectural consultant in private practice. He serves as Co-chair of the American Institute of Architects New York Design for Aging Committee and as WestView News’ Architectural Editor. Pape is also an officer of the health consultancy firm EnJOY Life!