NEW YORK – Work to transform the largest undeveloped property in Manhattan from a railroad storage yard into a sleek new neighborhood of spiky high-rises and graceful parks got a formal start Tuesday, with developers and officials heralding it as the next big thing in a city known for them.
The $15 billion project, called Hudson Yards, calls for angular office skyscrapers and curvy apartment towers, a slate of shows and restaurants, an arts building and a public square in a 26-acre stretch of the island’s far West Side off Midtown – eventually. Tuesday marked the ceremonial groundbreaking for the first office tower, a 48-story building scheduled to be finished by 2015.
“This is the future of New York,” Mayor Michael Bloomberg declared. He has longed for years to make more of the area, which was a linchpin of his administration’s unsuccessful bid for the 2012 Summer Olympics. Developer Stephen M. Ross, chairman of the Related Cos., envisioned Hudson Yards taking a place among the Empire State Building, Rockefeller Center, Lincoln Center and other structures that became New York icons.
If that happens, it will take some time. Hudson Yards isn’t expected to be complete for about a dozen years, and it entails the construction challenge of building an $800 million platform covering the rail tracks. The first tower doesn’t require the platform.
A few blocks from Pennsylvania Station and about half a mile from the Empire State Building, the rail yards near the Hudson River have long been surrounded by an unprepossessing neighborhood of warehouses, low-rent brownstones, the Javits Center convention facility and office buildings.