Midtown Manhattan, West Side
Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Status: Awaiting tenant commitments

Hudson Yards
Image courtesy dbox

City officials and developers have long imagined a dazzling future for the airspace over the gritty, 26-acre West Side Rail Yard, near Pennsylvania Station in Midtown Manhattan.

Starting in the late 1990s, the city proposed constructing a platform over the below-grade portion of the rail yard and building a stadium on the site for the New York Yankees. That initiative, along with succeeding plans to build arenas for the New York Jets and 2012 Olympics, never came to fruition. The city eventually shifted gears and set out to transform the rail yard into a mixed-use district speckled with modern glass towers and pockets of green space (see our interview with City Planning Commissioner Amanda Burden).

That idea has gained traction. In 2007, the developer Related Companies (then partnered with Goldman Sachs) tapped Kohn Pedersen Fox to design a master plan for the so-called Hudson Yards. The following year, in May 2008, Related struck a deal with the Metropolitan Transit Authority to lease the rail yard (bordered by 10th and 12th Avenues and West 30th and West 33rd Streets). A series of twists ensued. In early 2010, Goldman Sachs pulled out, jeopardizing the project's future, yet months later, Related brought on a new partner, Oxford Properties Group. Hudson Yards now appears to be moving forward.

Assuming all goes as planned, the $15 billion, 12 million-square-foot development will feature three office towers, nine residential towers, a 750,000-square-foot retail complex, a school, and a cultural center, plus 12 acres of open space. The scheme might sound idealistic, but it has a precedent: More than a century ago, swanky Park Avenue was created atop sunken railroad tracks leading to Grand Central Terminal.

If tenants can be secured, Related hopes to break ground on the project in 2012. Two important additions to the area should help the cause: A subway line is being extended into the district, and the recently expanded High Line park now reaches to 30th Street. Still, even if Related starts construction of this colossal project next year, it will be at least a decade before this glistening new neighborhood has fully taken shape.