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Vision: Hotel 550 Washington Street


Hotel 550 Washington Street – image by TEN Arquitectos

While Pier 40 continues to sink into the Hudson River, renderings have surfaced over at TEN Arquitectos depicting the possibility of re-developing the St. John’s Terminal Building with a rooftop hotel. Curbed recently discussed the site’s potential, though plans may be geared towards razing rather than rehabilitating the vestigial structure, and the post presented another stunning vision for the site, by Annabelle Selldorf.

Hotel 550 Washington Street — image by TEN Arquitectos

The New York Post reported on the site’s sale in 2013, when 550 Washington was bought-out by a partnership consisting of Fortress Investment Group, Atlas Capital Group, and Westbrook Partners. The existing Terminal spans 1.281 million square feet — with the largest office floor-plates of any building in New York City — while air rights currently amount to 290,000 square feet.

TEN Arquitectos’ plan for the Terminal Building is definitely ambitious, and presents an exciting opportunity for the neighborhood. The old building is hulking and enormous, and while it is not completely unattractive, its monolithic monotony is a barrier to the riverfront, and a blight on what should be a vibrant and pedestrian-friendly section of its ‘Hudson Square’ surrounds.

Thus, the potential for 550 Washington is enormous, which the renderings from TEN Arquitectos make clear. Enrique Norten’s vision for the expansion presents an undulating addition that is very distinct from the Terminal underneath, peaking with a new tower that would rise approximately 20 floors above the existing structure.

Hotel 550 Washington Street — image by TEN Arquitectos

In the firm’s own words, the “new building was thought as a [Chacmool] which is a pre-Columbian Mesoamerican sculpture of a human figure semi-leaning on a heavy and solid slab,” and the inspiration is very apparent in the rendered design. TEN Arquitectos’ program for the site would be entirely commercial, adding restaurants and a conference center in addition to the hotel space.

Hotel 550 Washington Street — image by TEN Arquitectos

The conceptual plan is impressive in its own right, but something that better utilized the site — eliminating the super-block in the process — would be most beneficial to the surrounding neighborhood. Granting the developers of 550 Washington Street additional air rights to save Pier 40 would be in everyone’s best interest, especially if the Terminal’s re-construction can incorporate a variety of uses, as the real estate it sits on is extremely valuable and should be put to a higher and better use.

Hotel 550 Washington Street — image by TEN Arquitectos

The TEN Arquitectos scheme for ‘Hotel 550 Washington’ will likely remain unbuilt, though the site’s potential is definitely real — and regardless of whether the developers can secure additional air rights, future plans already have 290,000 square feet to work with.

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Notes Reveal What a Developer Wants to Do With Pier 40’s Air Rights

By Danielle Tcholakian on November 12, 2014 7:31am

HUDSON SQUARE — A proposed development in the St. John’s Terminal building across from Pier 40 on the Hudson River will contain condos, retail and affordable housing, DNAinfo New York has learned.

The details of the controversial project were revealed at a recent closed-door meeting at Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s office, according to handwritten notes obtained by DNAinfo through a Freedom of Information Law request.

The notes show the lower-income units will not get riverfront views.

At the Sept. 29 meeting, developer Atlas Capital Group presented its plan to buy 250,000 square feet of air rights from the neighboring Pier 40 for $100 million, giving a much-needed infusion of cash to the crumbling pier while allowing Atlas to build a huge addition to its St. John’s Terminal building at 550 Washington St.

The plan has not yet been presented publicly and would need many city and state approvals, including from Brewer’s office.

At the meeting, Atlas proposed dedicating at least 110,000 square feet of the project to affordable housing for seniors, according to the notes.


At the briefing at Brewer’s office, Atlas revealed that the first phase of the project would include 450,000 square feet of condos and 100,000 square feet of retail, according to the notes.

The first phase also includes the 110,000 square feet of affordable housing for seniors, which Atlas is working on with Forsyth Street, a firm that advises on affordable housing and real estate.

The second phase of the project could feature more market-rate and affordable apartments, as well as commercial space or a hotel.

The sprawling four-story, 1.3 million-square-foot St. John’s Terminal spans more than three city blocks along the West Side Highway. It was built in 1935 and was once the endpoint of the High Line railway.

Atlas hopes to begin the public review of the project, through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, in the first quarter of 2015 and break ground on the first phase as soon as the beginning of 2016, the notes show.


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It sounds like this eyesore will be razed! I hope so!!

The owner, Atlas Capital, has a teaser site:

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Big-box retail or more parking for proposed massive Pier 40 complex?

Developers looking to construct a five-building complex on Manhattan’s West Side, in part by purchasing $100 million worth of development rights from Hudson River Park, are pitching two different options for the retail space at the site. One scenario for the 1,586-unit project announced earlier this month includes a big-box retailer, while the other envisions a smaller shopping space, but double the amount of parking.

Westbrook Partners and Atlas Capital Group have proposed five buildings on the site of the St. John’s Terminal, between Spring and Clarkson streets along the Hudson River waterfront. In one version of the plan, a big-box retailer would take up 255,000 square feet of the project and be paired with 412 parking spaces. In the other, retail would take up 160,000 square feet, while the number of parking spaces would more than double, to 886.

Either way, the developers need approval from the City Council and the Department of City Planning. A green light would allow Westbrook and Atlas to purchase development rights from the park and circumvent some zoning strictures. Although the amount of space devoted to commercial, residential and public use are set, the partnership has left plans open for the project’s retail and parking.

“We have not made any decisions about the possibility of including a big-box retailer, mostly-below grade, if rezoning is approved,” said a spokesman for Westbrook and Atlas in a statement. However, “we look forward to an ongoing dialogue with the community throughout the public process.”

A thumbs-up for the project, which also includes a tranche of apartments deemed affordable by the de Blasio administration, would mean the Hudson River Park Trust could sell off 200,000 square feet of its air rights over Pier 40—about a third of the unused development potential there.

“We anticipate close to 400,000 square feet of unused development rights would remain if the current proposal … is approved,” said a park spokesman in a statement, noting that the law requires proceeds from Pier 40’s air rights be used to repair the crumbling 15-acre dock.

Meanwhile, there are several other commercial piers along the five-mile park that carry their own unused development rights, likely totaling millions of square feet.

The trust has estimated that, at most, it could actually use for its own future developments or sell about 1.6 million square feet, which would be worth $700 million if future developers are willing to pay as much as Westbrook and Atlas, though that price will certainly change.

However, a 2014 study by Cornell University showed that there are few nearby development sites that could receive such a large infusion of air rights. That, coupled with the fact that the park has not settled on a long-term plan for its unused development rights, leaves unclear the actual amount it would unload over the long run.

This looks great!


The demands that the “community” insists upon are absurd. These entitled people surely are living in nearby rent-regulated apartments. People living in the scores of condos nearby don’t use public schools, nor do people who can afford to live in condos have time to waste at these events.

Moreover, the people in the neighborhood who’ve invested millions in their condos will welcome the demolition of this multi-block eyesore and the renovation of Pier 40.

Lastly, it’s absurd that they’re complaining that people in affordable units won’t have water views! Are these jokers serious? The poor people who are lucky enough to live in a multimillion dollar area for next to nothing already reaped a colossal windfall. Perhaps the developers should give the recipients of affordable units new Mercedes too.


The “community” is nuts! Are they about to complain about $100m?


From Cook Fox’s website:


The 1.7 million-square-foot St. John’s Center project will rise on the site of the enormous, three-block-long St. John’s Terminal building, located between Washington and West streets. As presently planned, the five-building, 1,586-unit development will include two market-rate condo towers and an extensive affordable and senior housing component.

The developers hope to build up to 1 million square feet of market-rate housing on the site, as well as 300,000 square feet of affordable and senior housing and 400,000 square feet of commercial space – including retail, offices and a hotel.

But those plans – as well as the $100 million purchase of the air rights – are contingent on Westbrook and Atlas successfully securing a rezoning of the property.

The rezoning process will likely begin next week, with the commencement of a lengthy public review process.

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I can’t wait for that eyesore to come down.

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Westbrook Partners plans 1.7M sf mixed-use complex at St. John’s Terminal

The City Planning Commission on Monday approved Hudson River Park Trust’s plan to sell $100 million worth of air rights to developers who want to build a mixed-use project across the street from Pier 40. The square footage will help boost the size of a proposed complex by Westbrook Partners and Atlas Capital Group. The plan now goes to the City Council, its final regulatory hurdle, which will make a decision in the coming weeks.

The proceeds of the sale will be used to fund maintenance at Pier 40, which needs to have the piles keeping it above the Hudson River repaired. “We’re pleased to have the City Planning Commission’s support as the review process moves forward,” said Madelyn Wils, the trust’s president, in a statement.

The developers made some minor modifications to the project, which is set to contain more than 1,500 apartments, after a number of concerns were aired during the public review process. Among the changes were the team agreed to build a 10,000-square-foot indoor recreation space that will be accessible to the public, and remove the rail structure over West Houston Street, which would open the area and provide a grand entrance to Hudson River Park.

“Rarely do we see applications with the potential to achieve so many public goals that are meaningful to such a very large range of stakeholders,” said Director of the Planning Department Carl Weisbrod in a statement.

But whether those were enough to satisfy City Councilman Corey Johnson, the area’s local representative, remains to be seen.

Last month, Westbrook began looking for a partner who would help it redevelop the St. John’s Terminal, a three-block long, four-story building at 550 Washington St. that straddles Houston Street.

“St. John’s Center will provide $100 million urgently needed dollars to save Pier 40 so that it remains a vital neighborhood resource, add affordable housing to the district and create a vibrant mixed-use development for the West Side,” said the development team in a statement.


Great news!

I hate that eyesore!

Interestingly, an expanded West Village historic district might get this development going.

City set to designate “Phase III” of South Village Historic District

After 10 years of foot-dragging by City Hall over two administrations, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has finally agreed to consider designating the final unprotected part of the South Village as a historic district.

According to a source, the agency, within weeks, will announce that it has “calendared” the district for a public hearing. The calendaring announcement will reportedly come on Nov. 1. Word has it that that hearing is tentatively scheduled for Nov. 22.

While the exact boundaries of the proposed area will not be known until L.P.C. calendars it, it will reportedly cover roughly “95 percent” of the 10 blocks that the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has been lobbying for years to add to the two already designated parts of the South Village Historic District.

Berman and G.V.S.H.P., with the strong support of Community Board 2, used the rezoning application for the pending mega-project at the St. John’s Center site in Hudson Square as leverage to get the city to finally calendar the third phase of the South Village Historic District.

Developers are currently nearing the end of a ULURP (Uniform Land Use Review Procedure) application process, seeking to rezone the St. John’s site to allow residential use. The rezoning would also increase the site’s F.A.R. (floor-area ratio) from 5 to 8.7 — a 75 percent boost in the allowable bulk.


Cool! close to the finish line for approval.


Great news!!!


Thank goodness!!

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I agree, VG. That structure is heinous!

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1.7 million sq-ft will do wonders. Hopefully they use the opportunity to build 1000-2000 units.

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