Gary Barnett’s Extell Development is finalizing a Yorkville assemblage that could someday accommodate a 250,000-square-foot tower. The Real Deal reports that there are 10 parcels total, most of which were recently acquired with a few still in contract. These are low-rise commercial and residential properties at 514-1528 First Avenue, 401-403 East 79th Street and 400-402 East 80th Street.
Extell—a development firm known for simply buying up properties for the sake of buying them, whether to block other developers from building around them, or to build up assemblages—had long eyed this site. In 2007, Barnett paid $9.5 million for 403 East 79th Street, $4.8 million for 402 East 80th Street and $4.9 million for 1522 First Avenue. He then sold off the lots in the 2009 downturn, though keeping the development rights, then bought them back up in recent years.
TRD notes that many of the purchases for the assemblage were in secret, with owners agreeing to act as a shield. There has also been an extensive process buying out the existing residents and tenants; the 10 properties contain a total of 102 apartments and almost a dozen retailers.
Once everything comes together for Barnett, there will be about 200,000 buildable square feet to work with. But it looks likely Barnett will pursue an inclusionary housing bonus, which would bring the potential size to at least 250,000 square feet. He also may buy up additional air rights from neighboring properties.
There’s a chance that the building—which will front First Avenue between East 79th and 80th Streets—will have a school at its base. A school already approached Extell about occupying a portion of the development, but no agreement has been made yet. As far as construction goes, Barnett hopes to begin demolition in six months.
This won’t be the only Extell development for the area. Construction’s still moving along at the Kent, a 83-unit condo tower at East 95th Street and Third Avenue. The New York City School Construction Authority will open a pre-kindergarten at the base of the building after construction wraps.