Related to Start Work on Hudson Yards Platform in January

Related Cos. plans to start work in January on a deck at Hudson Yards that would enable the developer to complete the first half of the $20 billion project on Manhattan’s West Side.

The platform must be built over a portion of the Metropolitan Transportation Authority’s West Side Rail Yard before the company can begin a second skyscraper at the site. The 80-story building will have an observation deck, Jay Cross, president of Related Hudson Yards, said today at a New York Building Congress forum.

Related envisions 17 million square feet (1.6 million square meters) of construction at Hudson Yards, including two additional sites north of the yards that the company has mostly acquired, said Cross, who called it “the biggest project in America, ever.”

The proposal is part of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s plan to extend Manhattan’s midtown business district to the west toward the Hudson River. The mayor in 2011 compared Hudson Yards to London’s Canary Wharf, which created a modern office district on the eastern side of that city. New York-based Related plans to build a mix of office and apartment towers, parks and cultural venues at the site.

The eastern half of the Hudson Yards development, totaling 10 million square feet, probably will be completed by 2018, Cross said. In that first phase is the 52-story south tower slated to become the home of the luxury-handbag maker Coach Inc. It also would include the second skyscraper, known as the north tower, and a seven-level retail complex.

Engineering Feat

Related expects the Coach tower to be topped off by next September, Cross said.

Two-thirds of the project’s first phase requires the platform over the rail yards. The deck, which requires more than 250 caissons, or vertical supports, will cost $721 million, according to records the company has filed with the city.

Constructing it is a “difficult” engineering feat because part of it would be where 30 train tracks filter into two connections that serve Pennsylvania Station, the busiest U.S. commuter rail hub, east of the site, Cross said. That area, known as “the throat,” can’t contain any supports because of switches located there.

Hudson Boulevard

Among the two new projects added to the Hudson Yards plan is the redesign of the 47-story tower at 1 Hudson Boulevard, which would be primarily an office building for law firms, Cross said. The site, north of the yards between West 33rd and 34th streets, was purchased earlier this year from Gary Barnett’s Extell Development Co.

On the opposite side of Hudson Boulevard, Related plans to build a 62-story skyscraper on the site of Coach’s current headquarters at 504-522 West 34th St. The company needs to acquire adjacent parcels before starting that building.

The two sites straddle a park being built by the city that will split the block between 10th and 11th avenues in two. Hudson Boulevard will become “the Park Avenue of the West Side,” Cross said.

Hudson Yards will be served by the expansion of the No. 7 subway line, on which Mayor Bloomberg is expected to take the ceremonial first ride before his term ends at the end of the year, Cross said. The extension is likely to be opened to the public sometime next year, he said.

The mayor is founder and majority owner of Bloomberg News parent Bloomberg LP.

Two days ago, Related received approval for a $328 million exemption from New York City real estate taxes for Hudson Yards. Its partner in the development is Oxford Properties Group, the Toronto-based real estate arm of Ontario Municipal Employees Retirement System.

“This project is as big as the rest of Related put together,” Cross said. “And when we say five years, we’re only talking about the eastern yards. The western yards is another five-plus years after that.”