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SHoP-Designed Rental Towers Rising In First Avenue Mud Pit

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The 9.2-acre mud pit on First Avenue between 35th and 41st Street will be an eyesore no more. Two luxury rental towers, developed by JDS Development and designed by SHoP Architects, are now rising on the site. The curving, copper-clad buildings will be the stars of the East Side, according to SHoP principal Vishaan Chakrabarti, who told the Times that the 49- and 40-story towers "dance with each other [...] like Shawn and Beyoncé." They will hold 800 apartments and be connected by a "show-stopping" skybridge (look familiar?) that has an indoor pool and lounge. SHoP is also designed the interiors, and the rooftop will feature an infinity pool, fitness center, squash court, and boxing gym. Other amenities include a "demo kitchen" with a dining room, a playroom, and a screening room. Construction began in July, and the buildings should be complete by 2016.

The story of these towers actually began way back in 2000, when developer Sheldon Solow partnered with the Fisher family to purchase the three parcels from ConEd for $600 million. That partnership eventually fell apart and Solow went it alone, demolishing the ConEd buildings and cleaning the site. He finally won approval for a 7-building development designed by some big names (David Childs, Richard Meier), but that went nowhere. Things were quiet for a few years, then in 2012, 84-year-old Solow sold one of the parcels to 34-year-old newbie (in comparison to Solow) Michael Stern of JDS Development. Now JDS is reportedly in talks to buy the other two lots.

Since Solow did all the heavy lifting to get the site rezoned for mixed-use, the towers are rising as-of-right. Located just a block from the East River, the site flooded during Hurricane Sandy, so mechanical systems are being placed on the second floor, and Stern wants to install eight-foot floodgates in addition to backup generators and "special outlets" in every unit that would still work during a blackout. The development will also have an elementary school (opening this fall) and a public park, which still awaits City Planning's approval.

Now for the important question: what do we think of the very SHoP-tastic design, which looks like the love child of the steel-clad Barclays Center and gravity-defying Domino buildings? Let it all out in the comments.

· High-Rises to Replace an East Side Eyesore [NYT]
· 800-Unit Apartment Complex To Rise In First Avenue Mud Pit [Curbed]
· SHoP Architects [official]

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