Real Estate Group Proposes Redeveloping ‘Highly Coveted’ College Campus in Tribeca
Above: The Borough of Manhattan Community College campus sits on six square blocks of prime, publicly owned land along the Hudson River waterfront in Tribeca. Below: BMCC’s campus occupies 4.3 acres of land that is free of legal restrictions on zoning, and could be used to develop thousands of new apartments, making it potentially worth more than $1 billion to developers.
The New York Building Congress (NYBC) has released a series of proposals that outline the real estate industry’s agenda and goals for coming years, one of which targets a large parcel of land that is an integral feature of Lower Manhattan’s streetscape.
In a report issued earlier this year to mark its 100th anniversary, the NYBC notes that the Borough of Manhattan Community College (BMCC) campus, “is a horizontally-sprawling cluster of buildings spanning four city blocks in the highly-coveted TriBeCa neighborhood. The building sits on over four acres of extraordinarily valuable land and has been compared to the Empire State Building lying on its side.”
The report goes on to note that “neglecting to build the campus vertically in Manhattan was a missed opportunity; now is the time to correct this mistake for future New Yorkers. BMCC should be entirely rebuilt and replaced with a vertical campus that will free up entire city blocks for new development.”
The NYBC proposes that “this space be used to build a contemporary educational hub with Pre-K-12 facilities focused on giving the next generation the tools they need for the jobs of today and tomorrow, particularly technology-related job training to take advantage of the booming tech industry whose offices are just down the road. To finance this development a public-private-partnership can be created by allowing private development use of this space to build mixed-use housing with retail, offices, and open space that benefits the entire community.”
Lower Manhattan community leaders may regard this proposal with some skepticism and wariness. In the decades following the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, multiple large parcels of publicly owned land were given over the developers, on terms that yielded a significant windfall for the City treasury, but offered little benefit to the surrounding community, while also imposing significant burdens on local infrastructure, such as schools and parks.
This dilemma may be reprised, on a larger scale, if real estate developers ever gain control of the BMCC campus, which occupies 4.3 acres of land overlooking the Hudson River, in Tribeca. The campus runs along West Street, from Chambers to Harrison Streets, to North Moore Street, with a 10,000 square-foot skybridge over Harrison Street that contains four levels and multiple classrooms. The “super-block” that the campus occupies was created in the 1960s, as part of what was then known as the Washington Street Urban Renewal Project. The reconfiguration of the streetscape absorbed and erased Reade, Duane, Jay, and Franklin Streets, between West and Greenwich Streets. This makes the BMCC’s campus six square blocks.
For perspective, BMCC’s campus is the same size as the adjacent Independence Plaza development, which contains 1,332 apartments. The campus is approximately the same size as the Southbridge Towers complex, which contains 1,651 apartments. And it is only slightly smaller than the Gateway Plaza development, which contains more than 1,700 apartments.
What is likely to catch the eyes of policymakers in City Hall and Albany, however, is the potential value of this land, which is greatly enhanced by a legal technicality. In the last decade, several local plots of land—some as small as half an acre—have fetched more than $200 million from developers. For example, the land occupied by BMCC is more than eight times the size of the property at 111 Murray Street (at the corner of West Street), which was sold for $233 million in 2013. Extrapolating from this ratio indicates that BMCC’s land could be worth slightly more than $1.8 billion. But it might be worth much more. Unlike the property at West and Murray, which is subject to restrictions on building height and floor size, BMCC’s land (as a former component of an urban renewal project) falls outside the jurisdiction of local zoning codes. This regulatory quirk means that a developer who came to control the site could theoretically choose to erect a complex of buildings of almost any size, restricted only by what engineers and bankers might be willing to approve.
In 2013, the Related Companies development group offered BMCC 1.1 million square feet of new facility space in the project that became Hudson Yards. In exchange, it proposed to take over BMCC’s current campus, in Tribeca. For taking possession of this large tract of land, Related offered to pay nothing.
Landlord Accuses FiDi Tenant of the Ultimate Side Hustle
A Financial District landlord is accusing a tenant of operating a high-end speakeasy from his 75th-floor apartment. In a story first reported by Crain’s New York, the owners of Eight Spruce Street (the giant private equity firm Blackstone Inc., which bought the skyscraper last year for $930 million) are suing tenant Carlos Eduardo Gasperi, who has leased apartment 75H in the building since April of this year, for “using the apartment as a restaurant in contravention to the lease and applicable laws.” Read more…
Children ages 6-10, are invited to play in pop-up clinics on select days off from school this fall. Join BPCA coaches for a kickball skills session ending in a scrimmage open to all levels. Click into the event to RSVP.”,,Rockefeller Park,Community,sports,
Maritime-themed book club. In “Saved at the Seawall,” Jessica DuLong reveals the dramatic story of how the New York Harbor maritime community rescued nearly half a million people from Lower Manhattan on 9/11. Discussion.
The new book “New York Art Deco: Birds, Beasts & Blooms” illustrates the myriad ways that Art Deco is drawn in steel, stone, terra cotta, brass, and bronze upon New York City’s great buildings. Hosted by the Skyscraper Museum. Free.
Lower Manhattan Greenmarkets
Greenwich Street & Chambers Street
Wednesdays and Saturdays, 8am-3pm (compost program: Saturdays, 8am-1pm)
Bowling Green Greenmarket
Broadway & Whitehall St
Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8am-5pm (compost program: 8am-11am)
World Trade Center Oculus Greenmarket
The Outdoor Fulton Stall Market
91 South Street, between Fulton & John Streets
Indoor market: Monday through Saturday,11:30am-5pm
CSA pick-up: Thursday, 4pm-6pm; Friday, 11:30-5pm
Outdoor market: Saturdays, 11:30am-5pm
Today in History
This is a Möbius strip—a continuous surface formed by attaching the ends of a strip of paper together with a half-twist. August Ferdinand Möbius, a mathematician and theoretical astronomer, discovered the concept in 1858, and died ten years later on September 26. Other mathematical concepts are named after Möbius, including the Möbius plane, the Möbius transformations, and the Möbius transform of number theory, which includes the Möbius function μ(n) and the Möbius inversion formula. Photograph by David Benbennick.
46 BC – Julius Caesar dedicates a temple to his mythical ancestor Venus Genetrix in accordance with a vow he made at the battle of Pharsalus.
1087 – William II is crowned King of England, and reigns until 1100.
1580 – Sir Francis Drake finishes his circumnavigation of the Earth.
1687 – The Parthenon is partially destroyed by bombs from Venetian forces besieging the Ottoman Turks stationed in Athens.
1777 – In the American Revolution, British troops occupy Philadelphia.
1789 – Thomas Jefferson is appointed the first United States Secretary of State, John Jay is appointed the first Chief Justice of the United States, Samuel Osgood is appointed the first United States Postmaster General, and Edmund Randolph is appointed the first United States Attorney General.
1933 – As gangster Machine Gun Kelly surrenders to the FBI, he shouts out, “Don’t shoot, G-Men!”, which becomes a nickname for FBI agents.
1934 – Steamship RMS Queen Mary is launched. The ocean liner sailed for the Cunard Line (known as Cunard-White Star Line when the vessel entered service). Queen Mary and her sister ship, RMS Queen Elizabeth, were built as Cunard’s weekly express service between Southampton, Cherbourg, and New York City. Queen Mary was retired from service in 1967 and sailed to Long Beach, CA, to become a tourist attraction. The ship ceased operations in May 2020.
1960 – In Chicago, the first televised debate takes place between presidential candidates Richard M. Nixon and John F. Kennedy.
1969 – Abbey Road, the last recorded album by the Beatles, is released.
1973 – Concorde makes its first non-stop crossing of the Atlantic in record-breaking time.
1983 – Soviet nuclear false alarm: Military officer Stanislav Petrov identifies a report of an incoming nuclear missile as a computer error and not an American first strike.
2008 – Swiss pilot and inventor Yves Rossy is the first person to fly a jet engine-powered wing across the English Channel.Leaping from a helicopter at an altitude of 8,200 feet over France, Rossy crossed the English Channel with a single jet-powered wing strapped on his back, wearing only a helmet and a flight suit for protection. Reaching speeds of over 125 miles per hour, he made the 22-mile flight to England in 13 minutes.
1181 Saint Francis of Assisi, Italian founder of the Franciscan Order (d. 1226)
1774 – Johnny Appleseed, gardener and environmentalist (d. 1845)
1874 – Lewis Hine, photographer and activist (d. 1940)
1888 – T. S. Eliot, poet, playwright, critic, Nobel Prize laureate (d. 1965)
1897 – Pope Paul VI (d. 1978)
1898 – George Gershwin, Born in Brooklyn (d. 1937)
1914 – Jack LaLanne, fitness expert (d. 2011)
1981 – Serena Williams, tennis player (23 Grand Slam titles)
1716 – Antoine Parent, mathematician and theorist (b. 1666)
1820 – Daniel Boone, hunter and explorer (b. 1734)
1868 – August Ferdinand Möbius, mathematician and astronomer (b. 1790)
1902 – Levi Strauss, businessman, founded Levi Strauss & Co. (b. 1829)
1945 – Béla Bartók, pianist, composer, and ethno-musicologist, dies of leukemia at 64
1946 – William Strunk Jr., grammarian and author (“The Elements of Style”), dies at 77
1952 – George Santayana, philosopher, novelist, and poet (b. 1863)
1984 – Paquirri, Spanish bullfighter (b. 1948)
2006 – Tokyo Rose [Iva Toguri D’Aquino], American-born Japanese propagandist (WWII), dies at 90
2008 – Paul Newman, actor, film director, entrepreneur, professional race car driver and team owner, environmentalist, activist, philanthropist, co-founder of Newman’s Own food company. As of December 31, 2015, Newman’s Own profits donated to charity totaled over $460 million (b. 1925)
2019 – Jacques Chirac, President of France (1995-2007) and Prime Minister of France (1974-76, 1986-88), dies at 86