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Shelved design for 131-145 West 47th Street by New Empire Real Estate Group/SLCE Architects Shelved design for 131-145 West 47th Street by New Empire Real Estate Group/SLCE Architects
Recognizing that the great headwinds facing the city and its real estate market are most likely temporary, some developers are mobilizing to develop Manhattan's next wave of residential towers. One of the few projects to not make it out the ground in the last boom was planned in Midtown East at 131-145 East 47th Street. The previous owner, Bentley Zhao's New Empire Real Estate Group, drew up a 49-story, 122-unit condominium tower designed by SLCE Architects. Despite snagging a construction loan in 2017, the development never took off and the cleared assemblage was sold to Silverback Development in December for $115 million.

Since then, progress has picked up. Silverback, led by Josh Schuster, is developing the site in partnership with the Hong Kong-based Hopson Development Holdings. Most recently, Silverback broke ground on the project in an event that featured a Chinese Feng Shui ceremonial blessing led by Master Pun-Yin, a practitioner who has worked on the revitalization of Times Square and Columbus Circle. Ismael Leyva Architects is the designer of the project, which is estimated for a 2022 completion.
131-East-47th-Street-01 (l-r) Shaun Osher of CORE Real Estate, Master Pun-Yin, and Josh Schuster of Silverback Development
Midtown skyscrapers NYC Designs for 131 East 47th Street that have been floated by previous owner New Empire Real Estate Group
The site being cleared in 2016
The mid-block site between Lexington and Third Avenues is close to Grand Central Terminal, Rockefeller Center, and at the edge of world's mightiest business district. The 22,308-square-foot lot benefits from some of the most relaxed residential zoning in the city, allowing for a tower of more than 150,000 square feet in zoning floor area. The $115 million price paid (nearly $5,200 per square foot) is substantially more than the $81M Zhou paid in 2015 and is a reflection of the increasing value of ready-to-develop sites in Manhattan.
Silverback's $250 million tower will top out approximately 455 feet high, a bit shorter than Zhou's 611-foot unbuilt vision, but tall enough to garner dazzling skyline views for high-floor units. The 191-unit tower will offer a variety of floor plans as well as state-of-the-art technology like touchless features, UV lighting, and air purification and filtration. There will also be 2,700 square feet of retail at its base.
View from high-floor apartment at The Centrale. 131 East 47th will rise just a few blocks south. (Douglas Elliman)
“The market in midtown Manhattan will see continued demand as it is at the epicenter of corporate headquarters, national landmarks, renowned cultural institutions, and Michelin-starred eateries, in addition to east side access which will change the landscape,” said Josh Schuster, Managing Principal, Silverback Development. “It is an honor to develop a project of this caliber and we are uniquely positioned with on-the-ground expertise to create an exceptional offering. It’s also a real testament to our abilities and our commitment to delivering best-in-class properties, even during this COVID pandemic.”

Vacant development sites in Midtown are few and far between, and the ground-up prospects that have gone residential aim for the top of the market due to high land costs and limited inventory. Three blocks north is the recently-completed The Centrale , where closings are coming in at an average of $2,009 per square foot. To the northwest, apartments in the condo conversion of the Waldorf Astoria start at $1.74 million. Indeed, hotel-to-condo or to-office conversions may be a coming trend as many hotels face financial hardships due to COVID-19 precautions and travel restrictions.
The Towers of the Waldorf Astoria

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Luxury Homes in Midtown | Newly Renovated Studio-2BR Homes View Property
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