City planning through a pandemic

first_img270 Park Avenue (Google Maps; iStock)Floor by floor, construction workers are dismantling JPMorgan’s 52-story office tower at 270 Park Avenue. And while their work represents the largest intentional demolition in New York City’s history, it has come to signify much more than that.City officials have hailed the replacement of the more than 60-year-old tower with a new glass and steel headquarters for the banking giant as the culmination of years-long planning. And preservationists have condemned it as the wasteful destruction of a recently renovated building.Now, in the wake of a devastating pandemic, the former Union Carbide building is also a symbol of mounting uncertainty.“Way back when, I thought Midtown East was a great model. [Now] I think of 270 Park, and JPMorgan Chase tearing down that building for something even larger, when a lot of their people are going to be working from home.”Peg Breen, Landmarks ConservancyThe spread of coronavirus has pushed companies, including Twitter and Facebook, to rethink their physical office footprints and consider letting employees work remotely long-term. JPMorgan has even floated having employees rotate working from home after the pandemic subsides.At the same time, the bank is moving forward with its plans to build a new 2.5 million- square-foot headquarters on Park Avenue, which is more than 1 million square feet larger than its existing tower and is intended to accommodate up to 15,000 employees.And the massive project is part of an even larger goal: The surrounding neighborhood was rezoned in 2017 with the explicit aim to create 6.5 million square feet of new class A office space over the next two decades.“Way back when, I thought Midtown East was a great model,” said Peg Breen, president of the Landmarks Conservancy. “[Now] I think of 270 Park, and JPMorgan Chase tearing down that building for something even larger, when a lot of their people are going to be working from home.”Several monumental events of the past three months — from the global health crisis and strict shutdown orders to forecasts of a long-term economic fallout — have raised questions about the future of office markets across the country. Of course, landlords, developers and their brokers remain optimistic that tenants’ retreat from physical office space will be short-lived, that the lure of company culture and visible brand identity will ultimately win out.But the pandemic, which underscores the innate risk in relying on specific asset classes and tenant types to transform a neighborhood, could reshape how cities work to encourage new development in the future.“This is a situation where we can’t afford the regulations to lag behind the market,” said Mitch Korbey, who chairs the law firm Herrick Feinstein’s land use and zoning group.“We need to be sure that as we come out of this crisis, we’re aggressive and creative.”Density dilemmas?On paper, the rezoning of Midtown East could be seen as disastrous — if read solely in the context of the pandemic. The zoning change banked on demand for massive new office towers, with proximity to Grand Central Terminal serving as a main selling point.But some believe the ongoing spread of coronavirus, which has started to subside in recent weeks, will have few long-term impacts on development in the district.“The goals of the rezoning are still spot on,” said Dan Garodnick, the former New York City Council member who shepherded the district’s rezoning through the land use review process.“People are social animals, and I expect there will still be demand for commercial space. But perhaps with slightly different design parameters to accommodate the moment.”The rezoning incentivized tearing down the neighborhood’s aging office stock, while also requiring improvements to nearby infrastructure and the creation of more public space. The city projected that the creation of 6.5 million square feet of new office stock would take two decades to come to fruition.That timeline could play in the neighborhood’s favor.Former Department of City Planning chief Carl Weisbrod said New York’s office market may be in a fluid state for the next year to year-and-a-half. “In the short run, there’s going to be a hiccup for sure,” he said.But Weisbrod, who’s now a senior advisor at the real estate and economic development consulting firm HR&A, added that the city has historically recovered from crises “surprisingly well and in new directions that we haven’t anticipated.”He said he also thinks Midtown East is especially well positioned. Within less than a year of the rezoning, JPMorgan announced that it would tear down its headquarters. The bank received approval in late May to demolish down to the 41st floor of the building, according to the DOB.At least three other massive office projects, including developer Harry Macklowe’s planned 1,556-foot-tall skyscraper at 5 East 51st Street, have been announced since. Macklowe didn’t return requests for comment on the project.RXR Realty, which is planning a $3 billion office tower near Grand Central with TF Cornerstone and MSD Capital, has continued discussions that started before the pandemic with tenants in the technology and finance sectors who are interested in anchoring the property, CEO Scott Rechler said. The project isn’t expected to be delivered until 2026.Still, until there’s a vaccine for Covid-19, many employees will continue to avoid mass transit and employers may not be eager to upgrade to larger spaces when they can only operate at 50 percent capacity.In the short term, as construction sites begin to reopen, owners of projects that haven’t started or were early stages of development will have to carefully consider if and when they can restart work, said Linda Foggie, senior vice president and head of Turner & Townsends’ New York office.But longer-term, the crisis could change how developers and planners think about density. Tenants will likely need more office space per employee, reversing the trend of cramming workers per every 125 square foot, Rechler said. For larger, well-funded companies that could mean a bigger footprint, with some employees working remotely. For less-established businesses, it could translate to a smaller workforce.More than ever, planners should be thinking about how to build out other regions with access to mass transit, Rechler said.“We need to densify where density belongs,” he said. “Sprawling is not the outcome you want to have.”By design“I feel even more strongly that that is a flaw in the Midtown East rezoning, and it’s one we should revisit. Midtown East should adopt the goal of creating a truly mixed-use neighborhood.”Mary Ann Tighe, CBRELong Island City and Downtown Brooklyn were rezoned to spur commercial development, but instead resulted in condo towers that far outnumbered new office space. Midtown East already has the built-in infrastructure and surrounding residential communities to accommodate office growth, Weisbrod noted.“Could growth be delayed somewhat because of what has happened over the past three months? Yes, I think that’s a real possibility,” he said. “But I think the fundamentals are very strong.”Mary Ann Tighe, CEO of CBRE’s New York tri-state region, said she doesn’t believe there’s any danger of office development in Midtown East outpacing demand. She argued that tenants will likely favor new office buildings post-Covid due, in part, to large open floor-plates and better air quality.But the pandemic highlights the rezoning’s singular focus on office use. Tighe said air rights in the district should be made available for some residential space.“I feel even more strongly that that is a flaw in the Midtown East rezoning, and it’s one we should revisit,” she said. “Midtown East should adopt the goal of creating a truly mixed-use neighborhood.”Outside Manhattan, Korbey said, the pandemic has emphasized the need for more mixed-use development, specifically more flexibility in zoning regulations in residential districts in the outer boroughs to allow for other uses.Former Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen argued a similar point and said the city needs to focus more on building out a five-borough economy, through actions like the rezoning of Gowanus in Brooklyn. “These are long-term plans that require consistent political leadership and being responsive to what’s happening on the ground,” Glen said during a recent video panel hosted by The Real Deal.“Stopping spending on housing or schools or not moving forward with things like Sunnyside Yards would be incredibly irresponsible in respect to a long-term plan for recovery,” she added.Breen said she’d like to see some of the existing, older office buildings in Midtown East repurposed for housing and other uses.“I know they wanted it to be a business district, but look at Lower Manhattan,” Breen said. “There’s plenty of business, but there’s also plenty of residential. Nobody could’ve seen that happening.”Forever bullishPlans to transform a neighborhood often hinge on the arrival of powerful brands.Amazon’s planned headquarters in Long Island City, though ultimately abandoned, set off a year’s worth of speculation over how a single company could dramatically alter housing, transportation and demand for commercial space.Twitter’s headquarters in San Francisco attracted other tech companies and inspired residential development in an otherwise vacant and blighted area. Condé Nast’s move to One World Trade Center in 2011 is considered the catalyst for a wave of so-called TAMI (technology, advertising, media and information) tenants migrating to Lower Manhattan — previously considered the exclusive domain of financial firms.So, when Big Tech companies announce dramatic changes in their office plans, it sends shockwaves through the commercial real estate industry. Though commercial landlords and brokers have dismissed the idea that such announcements pose an existential threat to physical office space, many acknowledge that more businesses are warming up to allowing their employees to work from home part-time.“I think people will work differently,” Rechler said. “This becomes more likely a scenario where people know that they can use technology.”Ultimately, though, he and others believe most professionals will still want some face time in the office, giving companies a reason to keep their space. Recent leasing activity also shows promise for the office market once the pandemic subsides.Late last month, TikTok committed to taking more than 230,000 square feet in the Durst Organization’s One Five One tower in Times Square. Facebook also still seems poised to lease 740,000 square feet at the renovated Farley Post Office. Downtown Alliance President Jessica Lappin said she was encouraged by the news that Uber affirmed last month that it still planned to move into 3 World Trade Center, despite company layoffs and office closures throughout the country.“I don’t think people will want to work permanently from home,” she said. “Setting aside productivity, it’s hard to build culture, it’s hard to build teams if no one meets in person.”Downtown Brooklyn could see an uptick in interest, as company’s look to shorten commutes for their employees, said Ted Koltis, president of Colliers International’s eastern region. But he views the push to work from home a temporary feature of the city’s office market.“Companies chose to be there because the brand of the company is tied so strongly to where they are,” he said. “If they don’t have a physical office footprint, there is something lost.”Ariel Property Advisors’ Howard Raber said an important thing to watch will be rent rates: If office rents drop in Manhattan, that could negatively impact demand in the outboroughs. Lower rents in Brooklyn and other areas outside have been a major draw for businesses opting out of Manhattan.Investment in housing and economic development over the next fews years will be crucial, Dan Doctoroff, CEO of Sidewalk Labs, told TRD this month.“I’m pretty optimistic, assuming we don’t blow it over the next several years, and do not make these investments, watch people leave because the quality of life declines, and we don’t give people confidence in the future, and then we’re in bad shape,” he said.“The risk is over the next several years where we’ve got to inspire confidence in the future of this city, and we’ve got to retain people to the extent that we can,” Doctoroff added.Write to Kathryn Brenzel at [email protected] This content is for subscribers only.Subscribe Nowlast_img read more

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US chimp retirement gains momentum as famed pair enters sanctuary

first_img Hercules and Leo were born in 2006 at the New Iberia Research Center in Louisiana, home to the world’s largest collection of privately owned lab chimps. In 2011, New Iberia loaned the duo out to the State University of New York in Stony Brook. There, they lived in a three-room enclosure and researchers inserted small electrodes into their muscles to study the evolution of bipedal walking. While there, the Nonhuman Rights Project—an animal rights group based in Coral Springs, Florida—filed a lawsuit to have Hercules and Leo declared legal persons and moved to a sanctuary in Florida. Despite multiple appeals over 2 years, the effort failed, and the chimps were shipped back to New Iberia in 2015.That year, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service declared all U.S. research chimpanzees endangered, effectively ending research on them. And the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland, said it would end all support for such research. Yet from 2015 to mid-2017, only 73 chimpanzees entered sanctuaries, leaving nearly 600 of the animals in labs; half were owned by the government, half by private research facilities. Both private and public labs resisted retirement, arguing that the animals were well cared for where they were. Sanctuaries—struggling for funding—also didn’t have enough space for all of them. And NIH was criticized for lacking a solid plan to retire its chimps. Crystal Alba/Project Chimps Click to view the privacy policy. Required fields are indicated by an asterisk (*) Crystal Alba/Project Chimps But retirement appears to be gaining momentum. Last night, Hercules and Leo—along with seven younger males who were part of their social group at New Iberia—boarded what was essentially a long, climate-controlled horse trailer and began a 14-hour, 1000-kilometer journey from Louisiana to Georgia. Staff used video cameras and microphones to keep an eye on the animals. “If anyone is having a tantrum, we can pull over,” says Ali Crumpacker, executive director of Project Chimps. “It’s usually because a food bowl has fallen.”At 9 a.m., the animals arrived at Project Chimps, where they made their way into one of the sanctuary’s “villas”—a four-level enclosure with ladders, swings, and hammocks. Two of the youngest chimps, Jacob and Oscar, both 7 years old, entered fairly quickly, says Leslie Wade, Project Chimps’s manager of communications. Leo was next and seemed eager to explore. Hercules hesitated, even when Leo tried to coax him in; the two sat together for a while and embraced. When all the chimps were in, Leo tried again, and this time Hercules came.The apes will spend their next month isolated from the rest of the sanctuary’s 31 chimpanzees to make sure they are healthy. Then, they’ll have access to a 2.5-hectacre patch of the Blue Ridge Mountains, where they can climb trees and eventually socialize with other chimps.Crumpacker admits the transfer is probably very stressful for the chimps. “They’re moving to a strange new environment where they don’t know anyone,” human or otherwise, she says. “I think it scares the bejesus out of them.” Yet she feels it’s worth it in the long run because the apes will have opportunities such as access to the outdoors and the chance to live in more complex social groups, as they would in the wild. Sign up for our daily newsletter Get more great content like this delivered right to you! Country Hercules in his new home at Project Chimps in Morgantown, Georgia Crystal Alba/Project Chimps Emailcenter_img Crumpacker says the sanctuary’s finances are in the black, even though it relies completely on donations because it takes only privately owned chimpanzees. She says Project Chimps is on track to build enough enclosures and outdoor habitats to take New Iberia’s remaining 173 chimps within 5 years.More government-owned animals are being retired, too, according to Chimp Haven. Thirty-three have entered the sanctuary since last summer, with six more coming this week, Ross says. During the same period last year, only 11 chimpanzees came to Chimp Haven—and none the year before that. NIH pays for 75% of the care of these animals, but the sanctuary is working to raise $20 million for an expansion that it hopes will accommodate the remaining 200 or so government chimps within 3 years. “When it all adds up, we’re getting close to the end,” Ross says.NIH, too, is optimistic. “We’re into a good rhythm,” says Deputy Director James Anderson, whose division of strategic initiatives oversees the NIH Chimpanzee Management Program. Not all chimps will make it to a sanctuary, he says, because some are too old or too frail to be moved. The agency recently created a working group to help figure out which animals would be better off staying where they are. “We’re committed to moving as many as we can,” Anderson says.“I’m glad to hear Hercules and Leo are getting out of New Iberia,” says Steven Wise, founder and president of the Nonhuman Rights Project. He says he would have preferred they went where his group’s lawsuit intended them to go—Save the Chimps, a Fort Pierce, Florida–based nonprofit where more than 200 chimpanzees live on 12 islands on Florida’s east coast. Still, says Wise—whose organization is currently considering launching personhood lawsuits for chimps, elephants, and orcas in other states—“I’m very happy to see them leaving a research facility. I wish every primate could.” Country * Afghanistan Aland Islands Albania Algeria Andorra Angola Anguilla Antarctica Antigua and Barbuda Argentina Armenia Aruba Australia Austria Azerbaijan Bahamas Bahrain Bangladesh Barbados Belarus Belgium Belize Benin Bermuda Bhutan Bolivia, Plurinational State of Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba Bosnia and Herzegovina Botswana Bouvet Island Brazil British Indian Ocean Territory Brunei Darussalam Bulgaria Burkina Faso Burundi Cambodia Cameroon Canada Cape Verde Cayman Islands Central African Republic Chad Chile China Christmas Island Cocos (Keeling) Islands Colombia Comoros Congo Congo, the Democratic Republic of the Cook Islands Costa Rica Cote d’Ivoire Croatia Cuba Curaçao Cyprus Czech Republic Denmark Djibouti Dominica Dominican Republic Ecuador Egypt El Salvador Equatorial Guinea Eritrea Estonia Ethiopia Falkland Islands (Malvinas) Faroe Islands Fiji Finland France French Guiana French Polynesia French Southern Territories Gabon Gambia Georgia Germany Ghana Gibraltar Greece Greenland Grenada Guadeloupe Guatemala Guernsey Guinea Guinea-Bissau Guyana Haiti Heard Island and McDonald Islands Holy See (Vatican City State) Honduras Hungary Iceland India Indonesia Iran, Islamic Republic of Iraq Ireland Isle of Man Israel Italy Jamaica Japan Jersey Jordan Kazakhstan Kenya Kiribati Korea, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Republic of Kuwait Kyrgyzstan Lao People’s Democratic Republic Latvia Lebanon Lesotho Liberia Libyan Arab Jamahiriya Liechtenstein Lithuania Luxembourg Macao Macedonia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Madagascar Malawi Malaysia Maldives Mali Malta Martinique Mauritania Mauritius Mayotte Mexico Moldova, Republic of Monaco Mongolia Montenegro Montserrat Morocco Mozambique Myanmar Namibia Nauru Nepal Netherlands New Caledonia New Zealand Nicaragua Niger Nigeria Niue Norfolk Island Norway Oman Pakistan Palestine Panama Papua New Guinea Paraguay Peru Philippines Pitcairn Poland Portugal Qatar Reunion Romania Russian Federation Rwanda Saint Barthélemy Saint Helena, Ascension and Tristan da Cunha Saint Kitts and Nevis Saint Lucia Saint Martin (French part) Saint Pierre and Miquelon Saint Vincent and the Grenadines Samoa San Marino Sao Tome and Principe Saudi Arabia Senegal Serbia Seychelles Sierra Leone Singapore Sint Maarten (Dutch part) Slovakia Slovenia Solomon Islands Somalia South Africa South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands South Sudan Spain Sri Lanka Sudan Suriname Svalbard and Jan Mayen Swaziland Sweden Switzerland Syrian Arab Republic Taiwan Tajikistan Tanzania, United Republic of Thailand Timor-Leste Togo Tokelau Tonga Trinidad and Tobago Tunisia Turkey Turkmenistan Turks and Caicos Islands Tuvalu Uganda Ukraine United Arab Emirates United Kingdom United States Uruguay Uzbekistan Vanuatu Venezuela, Bolivarian Republic of Vietnam Virgin Islands, British Wallis and Futuna Western Sahara Yemen Zambia Zimbabwe By David GrimmMar. 21, 2018 , 4:00 PM U.S. chimp retirement gains momentum, as famed pair enters sanctuary Hercules and Leo—along with the rest of their social group—will spend a month in a villa like this before being given access to the rest of the sanctuary. Leo arrives at Project Chimps this morning. After years of experiments, a protracted battle to grant them legal “personhood,” and a life spent bouncing between two scientific facilities, two of the world’s most famous research chimpanzees have finally retired. Hercules and Leo arrived this morning at Project Chimps, a 95-hectare sanctuary in the wooded hills of Morgantown, Georgia.In many ways, the pair had also become the face of a tortuously slow effort to move hundreds of the United States’s remaining research chimpanzees to wildlife refuges. Their arrival at Project Chimps suggests plans to retire these animals—which can live up to 50 years in captivity—may be back on track.“For the first time, there are more chimpanzees in sanctuaries than there are in labs,” says Stephen Ross, director of the Lester E. Fisher Center for the Study and Conservation of Apes at the Lincoln Park Zoo in Chicago, Illinois, and board chair of Chimp Haven in Keithville, Louisiana, the only sanctuary authorized to take government-owned chimps. “Hercules and Leo are representative of a movement that’s finally bearing fruit.”last_img read more

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