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Mega-Development Project In The Works For Upper West Side

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Plans are in the works to bring a large development project to the Upper West Side. NY1's Jill Urban filed the following report.

It is now one of the largest parking lots in the city, but plans are in the works to turn the space on West 59th Street into a mega-development project known as Riverside Center.

“We anticipate it will be five substantial buildings,” said Gary Barnett, president of Extell Development Company.
“One of the buildings will have a school in it. We hope to have a hotel in one of the buildings and, most importantly, we think a lot of neighborhood retail.”

Extell Development Company has designed the project that would stretch from 59th Street to 61st Streets and from West End to the Hudson River. It would complete the area known as Development, along the area known as Riverside South, which runs up to 72nd Street.

The five towers would add over 2,500 new apartment units, 250 hotel rooms, and 210,000 square feet of retail space, including a movie theater. The plan also includes three acres of outdoor space, featuring a fountain people could walk in.

The school would be from kindergarten to eighth grade and could potentially hold 1,300 students.

“We are working of course with the Board of Education. The plans are early, but extra schooling is needed,” Barnett said. “We do anticipate a lot of families moving to the area and we are working with them. We have incorporated in our plans a pretty substantial school.”

The plans for the project were revised after the community expressed a number of concerns. It was scaled back a bit and plans for a Costco were scraped, among other things. But Ethel Sheffer of Community Board 7 says more changes still need to be made.

“It needs to be reduced. It’s very large,” Sheffer said. “It needs to have a better green space and park and open space than it does right now, more for the public than it does right now. We also have to make sure the streets are opening and welcoming to everyone on the West Side, as well as residents. And then it should be a kind of leader in energy conservation and new sustainability for the 21st century.”

The community is also asking that at least 20 percent of the units be set aside for affordable housing.

The project still has a way to go before the developer can break ground. Right now Extell is waiting for the City Planning Commission to certify the plans. Then the public review process can begin, which could take about seven months.

Some estimate it could be eight to 10 years before the project is completed. But once the right plans are set, many feel it will be worth the wait.

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