The Holy Fucking Shit Award
Speculation over Daniel Libeskind's rumored Madison Square Park skyscraper?planned on top of the famed clock tower's annex building?was a favorite pastime in 2007. Then everyone forgot about it in 2008, because now is not the time to muse on such things. But hey, the dude has books to sell, so he went ahead and revealed the thing anyway, and, uh, Holy Fucking Shit!
The PriceChopper Axe of Declining Rewards
In a year of big PriceChops, and many more on the way, this penthouse at Soho's 43 Wooster Street certainly caught our eye. First listed at $12.2 million, numerous reductions have brought the asking price down to $5.9 million, and the duplex is still on the market.
3) Five Franklin Place, 56 Leonard (tie). Two futuristic developments pushing the envelope of architecture—and of Tribeca neighborhood boundaries—hit the skids as the year finished up. Both developers assure us everything's going to be fine, and we're sure they're right. Meantime, that 5 Franklin site can be all yours for $19.5 million.
2) The New Domino. Even some top city officials are privately telling us they don't know where the hell the financing is coming from to pay the New Domino, which would be Brooklyn's second-biggest project after Atlantic Yards. A fraction of the money is in place. There are plans to convert the landmarked old factory to a mixed-use project that could include a hotel, but there are even questions about whether that will happen any time soon. New Domino or Dead Domino that will continue to serve as a spooky canvas for street art on Kent Avenue?
1) Michael Shvo. With the longtime flood of Shvo-related emails to the Curbed inbox slowing this year (though there were gems like the missive that started with, "I have another SHVOtastrophe to tell you about"), one had to wonder: has the Michael Shvo moment passed? After a sit-down with the man himself in his sleek office last month, we've re-drunk the SH2VO (his in-house bottled water, truth) and are here to say: the man will be back in 2009, people. Brace.
Development of the Year
The Plaza and 15 Central Park West grabbed most of the headlines, but when the final history of this real estate era in New York is written, we'll place those two developments back in the days of BubbleWatch™, not the credit crunch. In 2008, we tip our cap to a last-days, end-times, crazy-insane development that's, no, really, actually getting built. It's development even Kanye could love (actually, does love) despite a name better suited to a Nikon digicam or rabies strain. It's development with its requisite own legal kerfuffle. Yup, HL23, step on up. You're Curbed's Development of the Year for 2008.
Runner-Up: 100 Eleventh Avenue. Another Chelsea spectacular, this from starchitect Jean Nouvel, that word on the street pegs at 90% sold. C'mon, where's the drama in that?
The Holy Shit! It Opened! Ribbon Cuttings of the Year
Celebrating long-anticipated reveals in the world of development...
3) 11 Spring Street: Nolita's Candle Building, former street art mecca, saw its top-to-bottom scrubbing completed in '08. The condos are all yours if you want them.
2) Cooper Square Hotel: Two years of controversy. Two days until the first pair of pants.
1) The Standard: Last year it won a Curbedie for most anticipated '08 opening. This year, André Balazs's hovering High Line hotel unlocked its Ikea-ish revolving door just in time to justify that award. And it kind of rules!
3) Lotta Condominiums. Harlem: So hot, condo conversions can become youth hostels overnight.
2) Jasper. The Murray Hill luxury condo conversion had a sexy marketing campaign, fireside pool lounge, and a healthy hatred of its neighbors. What it didn't have: buyers.
1) The Plaza. Yes, the renovated jewel sold out its condos for a gazillion dollars. But with lawsuits piling up, a faltering shopping mall, a vicious undressing in the pages of Vanity Fair and buyers willing to take a loss to get out (if they can get out!), can this once-beloved landmark be considered anything but a bust?
Because buyer incentives are the new black.
3) You know what shocked us a little? When Great Williamsburg Hope Northside Piers went rent-to-own. But then a whole bunch of others tried the same thing!
2) Another big trend was developers offering price-protection guarantees, aka PriceChopper insurance, to inject some courage into potential buyers worried about a market collapse. But then some of those buildings offering price-protection closed their sales offices for the winter, so, uh, yeah...
1) Long Island City's most hyped waterfront condo building, The View, is now offering a 110% refund to buyers after five years if they end up not enjoying that whole QueensWest thing. Oh, and free parking!
Adventures in Marketing Award
The North Tribeca Mystery Building, aka Jack Parker Site, became even more mysterious when the site unveiled its Edward Albee quotage. Slowly over the course of the year, all of the secrets that make up Truffles Tribeca were unveiled in tantalizing bits and pieces. The leasing office for this luxury/non-luxury rental development is set to open. Just follow the swine.
The Toxic Death Award
Work continues on the "mystery toxic lot" at N. 12 & Bedford that will be a 180 unit, eight-story Hot Karl Fischer rental building. The site used to house a paint factory that produced some of the most toxic coatings used by the military. Will it be cleaned up properly? Will renters get a 50 percent two-headed baby discount?
Runner-Up: The Toxic Death Cloud in Greenpoint. Ick.
Most Anticipated '09 Opening
Early timelines had it pegged for a late 2008 debut, but we're secretly glad that phase one of The High Line—the section running from the Meatpacking District to 20th Street—didn't try to open in the brutal climate hugging the city tight lo these last few months. Instead, look for near-nonstop coverage on Curbed of the opening of the world's most important elevated railway when the gates come down in the spring. Save us a seat!
Runner-up: The top floor(s) of The Standard, with bars and balconies and decks galore overlooking, wait for it, The High Line. Whispers a source who recently stole a look, "It's absolutely fucking sick. Did I mention the giant hottub?" With which we say, onward to 2009, friends!