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Nine Crucial Ways New York's Landscape Will Change in 2015

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The ball has dropped. So, having assessed the way 2014 played out in the realms of real estate, architecture, preservation battles, neighborhood beefs and more, it's time to olook ahead. From the planned opening of the long-awaited World Trade Center Transportation Hub to the launch of sales at the Woolworth Building's converted apartments and Zaha Hadid's swooping condos along the High Line to the May completion of the Whitney Museum's starchitect-designed new branch, the next year looks like it'll be as jam-packed with gamechangers for New York City's built environment as the last one was. Here we go.

In part because of a booming real estate market that hit some major peaks in 2014 and fuels finances this type of thing, there are a ludicrous number of buildings designed by famous architects that are on the rise or in the pipeline. Also, whether they're designed by big-name firms or not, the many shadow-casting, super-tall skyscrapers proposed or fleshed out in 2014 will all (economy permitting, of couse) make forward progress in 2015.

The main draw here will be twofold. First, watching oddly shaped structures continue to take shape—think Jenga-like 56 Leonard in Tribeca and Bjarke Ingels's giant pyramid tetrahedron o' rentals along the West Side Highway.

Then, there are the buildings that will visibly sprout from the ground for the first time. The most interesting ones will fall in the megatower sphere, mostly clustered around the environs of Billionaire's Row 57th Street. They include: the slenderest tower of all at 111 West 57th, the cantilevering, Art Students League-dominating Nordstrom Tower, Robert A.M. Stern's two classical towers at 520 Park Avenue and 220 Central Park South, the Rizzoli Bookstore-replacing "seven-star hotel," the undulating tower east of all those other ones, as well as Jean Nouvel's MoMa tower.

Of course, though it's already topped out and visible throughout the land city, 432 Park Avenue will continue on the road to completion, closings and eventual occupancy.

Then there's One Vanderbilt, the proposed office tower next to Grand Central that is set to top 1,400 feet in height, will continue its journey through the public review process. If it passes (though opposition isn't significant), then ground can be broken. Beyond Midtown, towers are planned for various parcels downtown, Harlem, and beyond.

In the land of tall-but-not-quite-as-tall construction, what will be the tallest building in Brooklyn continues to add floors, while one that promises to be even taller is still in the permits-and-planning phase. Lest it be outdone, the tallest residential building in Queens is in the works, with an opening slated for 2017.

Real Estate
We eagerly await the launch of sales—which means, of course, definitive pricing and, we hope, better renderings and more floor plans—at some of the city's swankiest new developments: the Woolworth building, the MoMA tower, Zaha Hadid's curvy High Line condos, Ben Shaoul's Verizon building conversion. Also, the hundreds of rentals at FiDi Art Deco beauty 70 Pine should start leasing in March.

2014 saw a lot of price records. Everything from neighborhood-level stuff—with Bed-Stuy, Crown Heights, Park Slope, and even Harlem areas like Hamilton Heights seeing new heights in sales—to city-wide records. Highest condo prices in 19 years in Manhattan south of 96th Street? Check. The average home price for all five boroughs of New York City breaking the $1 million mark for the first time? Check. The co-op record broken three times over? Check.

Will prices go down? Well, StreetEasy experts predict that they'll still grow, just not as much. "In Manhattan, price growth among condos is forecasted to rise by 3.9 percent—just half the growth rate in 2014. Inventory is poised to grow considerably in Brooklyn and Queens, which saw the number of units grow by a healthy 8.6 percent and 8.5 percent respectively in 2014."

In 2015, celebrities trying to sell their homes, from Demi Moore to Bon Jovi to Spike Lee's historic mansion to the late Lauran Bacall's Dakota spread, may finally lure people to bite.

Also, think of some of this year's blockbuster properties. The yet-to-formally-list $130 million penthouse at 520 Park Avenue. The $118M uncombined triple combo in Battery Park City. The ridiculously decorated $98m townhouse the Panthers owner is trying to sell. Will these attract buyers this year? Or will the PriceChopper have to pay them a visit first. Stay tuned. And let's watch out for resales at hyped-up buildings, e.g. One57. How high will they dare to go?

One last note related to new inventory coming to the sales and rental markets: here are a few neighborhoods filled with new developments that should expect to see (and hear) a lot of construction from said projects: Crown Heights, Long Island City, Downtown Brooklyn, Hudson Yards, and West Chelsea—to name a few.

Preservation & Neighborhood Battles
One of the fights from 2014 that will most certainly continue into the new year is The Frick Collection's fight to expand, and the rallying cry in opposition from both neighbors and the architecture world.

Also, the mass amounts of development described above don't proceed without any pushback. Two spots to keep an eye on: the perennial battle against Howard Hughes' makeover of South Street Seaport, which includes a contentious residential tower; and the way East Harlem residents are fighting a proposed complex of three river-fronting towers in their midst.

World Trade Center Redevelopment
In 2014, One World Trade Center and the 9/11 museum opened, and barricades around the area were removed, easing pedestrian access to the site as well as making life easier for Lower Manhattanites who just want to walk from one place to another.

The Santiago Calatrava-designed stegosaurus-shaped transit hub, having acquired most of its spines, will continue to progress on the inside, and, in fact, open in 2015. (Apparently.) One WTC's sky-high observation deck, One World Observatory, will also open its doors—for $32 a visit. Also, 3 World Trade Center has at last (we think? we hope?) emerged victorious in its fight for financing and will finally rise past its seventh story.

If we're building stuff, then we need ways to get to and from that stuff. At least 2015 will bring the official opening of the 7 train extension to the far West Side, which has been pushed back countless times. Work will continue on East Side Access, which will bring Long Island Rail Road trains into Grand Central, as well as on the Second Avenue subway, which is set to start operating in December of 2016.

Speaking of the MTA, the cost of riding the subway as it exists now will increase in March. Biking is no recourse, as an annual membership to Citi Bike is going to become more costly due to the bike-share system's new ownership and flagging financials—from $95/year to $149. Expansion of its docking stations and the like is planned but not expected to materialize until 2017. Soon we will learn which of three finalists will win an RFP and hence be responsible for a $3.6 billion makeover of LaGuardia Airport, which sorely needs it. Ferries are only growing in popularity especially in the summer, with operators increasing service, plus point-to-point water taxis are now a thing.

As for things that probably won't happen in 2015? A new Penn Station. Also, a commuter-laden gondola connecting Brooklyn to the Lower East Side.

Cultural Renovation & Restorations
So many noteworthy, large-scale cultural projects finished up in 2014: the Met's plaza; the Cooper-Hewitt's upgrade; Pier A's remarkable transformation from sinking structure to glorious food & beverage venue.

But some are still ongoing. For one, the new Whitney Museum along the High Line, designed by Renzo Piano, will open on May 1. And perhaps the biggest cultural institution to finish up a revamp this year is St. Patrick's Cathedral, which has the ambitious goal to wrap up its three-year, $180 million restoration in time for Christmas.

Parks & Waterfront
In the mainstay of Central Park, the beloved reservoir running track is getting a $3M upgrade, but when it comes to new green space, it's not the center of attention.

Brooklyn Bridge Park will continue to flesh itself out with both housing and new recreational parts. (Like, Main Street Park and John Street Park, which are currently under construction but should open this spring.)

When it comes to preventing another Hurricane Sandy, the city is taking action on its resiliency plan; part of it is to build a U-shaped berm around Lower Manhattan that would act as a barrier against storm surges. Work will likely kick off this year but it will definitely take more than one to complete. It would be awesome if the East River Blueway inched closer to reality, along with its East River neighbor Pier 42, while waterfront projects like the green 'n' wavy Pier55 and shipping-container mall SuperPier will continue to transform the city's shorelines and garner community reaction. Or, until they're built, how we think of them.

Affordable Housing
Affordable housing is one of Mayor de Blasio's main priorities, with a 10-year, $41 billion plan to add 200,000 new units under his tenure. One way to make it happen? As opposed to making it optional for developers to add affordable housing in exchange for tax breaks and other incentives, the administration plans to require its inclusion in most new construction.

Where will it go? Well, potentially a made-up neighborhood in the Bronx called Cromwell-Jerome. East New York and Empire Boulevard in Flatbush have also been named as prime locations.

Remember, the construction of affordable housing doesn't come without its controversies: just look at the fight to build some at Pier 6 in Brooklyn Bridge Park, and the hoopla over "poor doors," or separate entrances for market-rate and non-market-rate residents. These debates are not going away in 2015; in fact, given all the new development, they're likely to escalate.

It's not enough to just build one building anymore, apparently. Big complexes are en vogue, baby. Here are nine to keep an eye on, even though none will be complete—or, who are we kidding, even close—in 2015.
1) The mammoth Hudson Yards complex and its bordering areas of breakneck development
2) HY's less-talked-about-but-also-big neighbor to the north, Manhattan West
3) The largest undeveloped swath of land south of 96th Street in Manhattan once had the acronym SPURA; now it will be home to apartments, shops, a museum, a park, and more, collectively called Essex Crossing.
4) A 10-building goliath approved for the North Brooklyn waterfront, the construction of Greenpoint Landing will transform the sleepy, largely low-rise neighborhood.
5) Demolition of the old Domino along the Williamsburg waterfront is almost complete, which means that next comes construction of the massive complex there, too.
6) It seemed dicey for awhile there, but a 1,700-unit waterfront development in Queens called Astoria Cove earned its final necessary approval in late November. Next up: demolition, and a groundbreaking.
7) Because it's out near Citi Field, the transformation of a bunch of auto repair shops in Willets Point into an office-mall-apartments-parking lot situation hasn't garnered much attention outside of Queens. But it's a gamechanger for the area.
8) The southern end of Roosevelt Island is almost cleared out to make way for Cornell Tech's new campus. In 2015, expect even more demolition (which can be tracked on this site) and maybe even a groundbreaking or two ahead of a 2017 opening of the campus's first phase.
9) Staten Island's observation wheel, outlet mall, and several residential real estate projects are making headway in the forgotten borough.

Revenge of the megaprojects, indeed. So brace for 2015.
· Curbed Awards 2014 [Curbed]