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247 Cherry Street and One Manhattan Square, two of five major towers for the LES' Two Bridges neighborhood (Rendering credit: JDS Development) 247 Cherry Street and One Manhattan Square, two of five major towers for the LES' Two Bridges neighborhood (Rendering credit: JDS Development)
New York kicks off the week with a new record high of over 100,000 COVID-19 tests performed. Hospitalizations are at a new low since March 16, and the infection rate remains below 1 percent.

The encouraging news helps city life continue to move forward with health and safety considerations in place to keep up the good work and keep numbers dropping. The U.S. Open started at the traditional time, though without fans in the audience. As gyms get ready to reopen on September 2, the Health Department is conducting virtual inspections. And most importantly, New York City has moved the start of school to September 21 to allow for more instructional preparation, more testing, and more sanitation and protective equipment. United Federation of Teachers union president Michael Mulgrew has expressed approval for the plan.

Meanwhile, the Metropolitan Museum of Art reopened over the weekend, and more museums, The Morgan Library, The Rubin, and The Cloisters among them, are announcing plans and protocols for reopening in the coming days. More New York Public Library locations have opened for grab-and-go service, and the NY Phil Bandwagon spent the past weekend bringing live music to city parks.

Tiffany's reveals major renovation of Fifth Avenue flagship being designed by OMA

Tiffanys Fifth Avenue Rendering credit: Bloomimages
Last week Tiffany & Co. offered the public a glimpse of the top-to-bottom interior renovation of their world flagship store at 727 Fifth Avenue. Anticipated for completion in 2022, the plan will renovate the ground floor, reorganize existing levels, and build a rooftop extension says a recent press release.

The move is part of an ongoing pivot by brick and mortar retailers to provide more experiential moments inside stores. "It’s really to encourage a journey of discovery, of Tiffany as a contemporary and multifaceted brand rooted in an incredible heritage of nearly two centuries,” said the jeweler’s creative director Reed Krakoff. “I want people to walk in and feel as though they have been transported into the extraordinary world of Tiffany.”
Credit: bloomimages / OMA
The three-level rooftop extension will allow for a host of new functions that include spaces for events, dining, and private showrooms. A story from Architectural Digest explains that the new addition is designed with double-height and column-free spaces wrapped in two different glass façades to create more interest from the street while maintaining energy efficiency.

The expansion/renovation is being handled by OMA, an Rotterdam- and New York-based design firm founded by Rem Koolhaas. Their first major residential project in the city was 121 E 22nd, a two-wing condominium near Gramercy Park built by Toll Brothers.

Despite social media videos showing a boarded up Fifth Avenue and suggesting the death of NYC, several projects on the avenue are still moving forward such as the repositioning of the upper floors of the Crown Building into the Aman Residences, a new headquarters for Rolex, and Brookfield's renovation of 666 Fifth Avenue.
Rolex Headquarters-03 660 Fifth Avenue (Rendering credit: Hayes Davidson) and new Rolex Headquarters at 665 Fifth Avenue (David Chipperfield Architects)

Appellate court rules in favor of new Lower East Side supertalls

Lower-East-Side-01 Rendering via SHoP Architects
In a unanimous 4-0 ruling, an appellate court recently decided that plans for a massive new Lower East Side development up the street from the towering, amenity-rich One Manhattan Square are in compliance with zoning and do not need to go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). The ruling affects a 77-story tower planned for 247 Cherry Street, a pair of 60-story towers at 260 South Street, and a 724-foot-tall building at 265-275 Cherry Street.

Opponents like Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, City Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and the district’s Councilwoman Margaret Chin objected to the new buildings on account of the soaring heights; however, the judges said, “Although the proposed towers are more than twice the height of surrounding buildings, it is undisputed that they do not violate any applicable zoning regulation.” 6sqft reports that the developers have pledged $40 million in upgrades to make the East Broadway station ADA-accessible and $15 million in public park upgrades, among other improvements, but it remains to be seen whether this will mollify critics.
ULURP can be a lengthy process at the best of times, but only recently resumed after being shut down since March due to the pandemic. The new projects would undoubtedly have gotten caught in a backlog, and the developers are surely happy to avoid that. However, the New York Post notes that the towers are still not likely to rise for several years.

The ruling on the development, which will contain thousands of new apartment, comes hot on the heels of a report by the Citizens Budget Commission, which states that the city built only 19 new housing units for every 100 jobs created from 2010 to 2018. The report blames low-density zoning, high construction costs, and a property tax system that penalizes multi-family projects.

Virtual tours emerge as key part of new real estate normal

Real estate was deemed an essential business during the coronavirus pandemic, but New York City's shutdown prevented traditional showings from taking place. In this new environment, virtual tours emerged as a lifeline for buyers and agents alike. While the process could range from an agent on FaceTime to slickly produced videos to interactive 3D tours, potential buyers were still able to get a good idea of what to expect from a potential apartment and building.

Face-to-face showings resumed with new safety protocols in Phase 2 of New York’s four-stage reopening process, and The New York Times describes today’s showings as “harder to schedule, more difficult to attend, and reserved for serious shoppers.” In this new environment, virtual tours show no sign of fading away. Some buyers have spent their lockdown getting savvier about virtual showings, and agents with many more listings than leads are inclined to indulge requests pertaining to noise, space, and views. There are some questions a virtual tour simply can’t answer, but they can help buyers decide which apartments are worth seeing in person.

NYC Parks debuts renovated playground in Riverdale-area of the Bronx

NYC Parks
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New York City's parks, playgrounds, and open spaces are in high demand this year as locals seek fresh air and leisure activities since many indoor venues remain closed. Over in the Bronx's Spuyten Duyvil neighborhood, the city's parks department inaugurated a renovated Spuyten Duyvil Playground with new accessible water features, pavements, and updated plumbing and infrastructure. New native vegetation with protective fencing has also been planted to enhance the playground's appearance.

According to the park's department, the $1.2 million project was funded by a $600,000 allocation from Council Member Cohen, and a $600,000 grant from the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York. At the official opening early Monday morning, NYC Parks Bronx Borough Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa today joined New York City Council Member Andrew Cohen, New York State Assembly Member Jeffrey Dinowitz, and Bronx Community Board 8 Parks Chair Rosemary Ginty to cut the ribbon.

“Despite the pandemic, we are so excited to have been able to complete this upgrade to the Spuyten Duyvil spray shower,” said Borough Commissioner Iris Rodriguez-Rosa. “Thanks to an investment from Council Member Cohen and the DASNY, the Spuyten Duyvil community will be able to relax and cool off at the new, beautifully redesigned spray showers for many years to come.”

The Weekend's VMA performance on Hudson Yards' Edge

Three Waterline Square debuts high-end rentals offering up to 2 months free rent

Without a doubt, Three Waterline Square designed by Rafael Vinoly Architects is the sexiest new glass tower in New York City. Overlooking a green space with its sister buildings One and Two Waterline Square, the 34-story rental has one- to three-bedroom apartments starting at $4,162/month. The leasing office is running an opening launch incentive of up to two months of free rent for incoming lease-signers. In addition to condo-level finishes and superior air quality provided through MERV-13 multi-filter systems, the building shares in the most comprehensive amenity package in the city that includes tennis courts, a skate park, boxing studio and just about everything else you could imagine. See listings here.
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Large penthouse addition filed in Hudson Square

Sumaida + Khurana 3 Dominick/ 145 Sixth Avenue (Credit: Sumaida + Khurana )
Building permits were filed last week to construct a substantial duplex penthouse at 3 Dominick Street/145 Sixth Avenue in Hudson Square. Filed by the Andrews Organization with Peachy Construction as the architect of record, the plan aims to build a 43-foot high, 3,600-square foot addition atop the eight-story building. Facing a recently landscaped Soho Square Park, the building currently holds a collection of commercial condo lofts, one of which in in contract after being listed for $5M and another is for rent at $5,900/month . Next door to the building is The Dominick , formerly Trump SoHo, and nearby are the new condos of 10 Sullivan Street , 565 and 570 Broome Street.

The permit filing appears to show that the existing commercial condos will be reclassified as residential apartments. Additionally, the ground floor will hold a 75-seat theater. Peachy Construction was also responsible for a similar-in-scale penthouse at 425 Broome Street in SoHo.

Fifth Avenue in Midtown to get bike lane and more pedestrian space

NYC DOT via NYC Department of Transportation
On Monday, the Department of Transportation provided Manhattan Community Board 6 an update on its plans to improve bus, pedestrian, and bicycle transportation on Fifth Avenue between 59th and 34th Street. According to the DOT, 110,000 daily bus riders use Fifth Avenue each normal weekday and the next set of plans proposes builds on double bus lanes that were installed in 2018 which the agency says has increased speed on express routes by 11-20%. The next phase involves the installation of a protected bike lane and widening pedestrian space beyond the curb.

The stretch of Fifth Avenue comes to a near standstill near the holiday season where more than 30,000 pedestrians per hour. The stretch also gets an average of 1,800 cyclists, the highest of any Manhattan corridor without a bike lane.

The complete streets plan for the avenue has the goal of improving bus speeds/reliability, providing pickup/drop off space, increasing pedestrian space, adding protective bike lanes, and installing new street furniture and beautification elements such as planters and seating. DOT hoped to start installing the new street design by the end of September. The full DOT presentation to CB5 can be viewed here .

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