Hard hat tour of Three Waterline Square

One of my favorite things about being a real estate agent in New York City is the occasional opportunity to see a residential building early in its development. A real treat is to be able to have a tour of the building while still under construction, and I was recently able to experience this at Three Waterline Square –  including a very special opportunity to meet and hear from its architect, Rafael Viñoly. Having any hard hat tour is different from visiting a new development showroom, or touring a completed building, and this is clear from the outset, as you are required to sign a release from liability before you are allowed on the site! The hard hat is also mandatory (and in this case, we were able to keep them, so my Hudson Yards hard hat now has a companion).

Walking through the Waterline Square site, you can see that all three buildings are well underway. The development, when completed, will feature the three residential towers surrounding a three acre park, on the Hudson River between 59th and 62nd Streets. The towers will share the Waterline Club, with pools, an indoor tennis court, squash and basketball courts, fitness center, rock climbing wall, screening room, and numerous other amenities for residents. Open to the public will be a food hall, market, restaurant and bar by Cipriani.

After passing through the construction site, I entered a construction elevator attached to Three Waterline Square. If you have never been in one of these, they are completely different from a standard passenger elevator. They are more like a giant metal box attached to the outside of the building, and generally used to transport construction materials.

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Despite the fact that we were walking on a concrete slab on the 24th floor, a small lounge had been set up for us, with breakfast and places to sit. This was a special treat, as generally a hard hat tour is a no frills experience.

The light and views are lovely through the expansive windows. Apartments on the west side of the building can have Hudson River views.

One of the amusing things about being on a construction site are the reminders that you are not in a completed building. For instance, the areas marked “Hole” (and there were plenty) are just wood placed over an opening in the concrete slab (for later placement of pipes). Needless to say, you are warned not to step on them. Standing next to the edge of the slab near the windows, you can see open space all the way down to ground level.

Apartments on the east side of the building will have city views – southeast apartments can have a view of the Empire State Building.

When the architect, Rafael Viñoly, spoke he gave some very interesting insights on how the location of Three Waterline Square informed his design of the building. He pointed out that the windows on this building (the design of which, to me, will eventually conclude in a very cool looking tower that reminds me of a crystal, or even of Kryptonite!) have all been designed to maximize the view, but specifically a view that is framed by the city. I wrote once on the value of a city view (you can read it here) and how a great iconic city view can remind you that you are in the center of it all, as well as giving an almost cinematic experience. Even the Hudson River views at Three Waterline Square are framed by glimpses of the surrounding buildings – while a full river view can give you the feeling of being on a cruise ship, these views are clearly rooted in the city.

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I wrote a post several years ago about the controversy regarding all the new development in NYC residential real estate (you can read it here). I don’t generally agree with the idea that people can be divided into two categories regarding any topic, as people’s opinions are generally more nuanced than that, but it can be a useful way to think about an issue. I do find that most people I speak to about new development in NYC are either critical of it (especially the changes in Manhattan’s skyline) or excited by it. In my previous post, I pointed out that New York City is constantly evolving – that’s part of its ever-youthful charm – and that we have historic preservation in place not to prevent development, but to be sure that we don’t completely erase the city’s past in our excitement about its future. Between the massive development at Hudson Yards and this  at Waterline Square, I believe that the far West Side of Manhattan will be completely transformed over the next decade – and I find that very exciting. As I walk around the green parkland surrounded by gleaming towers one day, I will always be able to remember walking on a concrete slab when this area was caught halfway between the dream of what the area could become, and its reality.

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