Stephen Ross, “Hudson Yards”

Stephen Ross, “Hudson Yards”

Good evening and welcome. It’s really wonderful to
see so many of you here. This is a wonderful,
exciting evening, and I’m going to
be very, very brief because I think we have a lot
of great things ahead of us. I really encourage you to
get your questions ready, because this is going to be,
I guess in part a lecture, and in part also a discussion. I would really like to keep
the discussion part of it, very informal, and we’re really
delighted and honored that Stephen Ross
is here with us tonight, and also, of course
other members from the company, from Related, who
have also joined us and a lot of other
people from the Boston and other areas, real
estate community, people who are involved in
the field of design, and the built environment. At the Design School,
we spend a lot of time thinking about
the kind of bigger issues of urbanization. How do we build our cities? And I think when it
comes to the U.S., we spend a lot of
time discussing the relationship between
private enterprise, private development, and the
making of the city, the making of the American city. This is a really critical issue
in the context of the design community, because in a
way it’s very important when we are dealing with
the training of architects, landscape architects, urban
planners, and urban designers. How do we engage? How do we participate
in the shaping and the making of the city? A lot of times architects
and urban designers, they sit there, they
draw, and they imagine. They dream of places. And there’s a very long
history and tradition of this form of
imagining places, but it’s actually very rare
that people get the opportunity, they get the chance to
explore, experiment, work on large scale
projects that really have significant impact in
terms of the transformation of the built environment. It is really
inspiring then to see Mr. Ross and your collaborators
actually engage systematically over a long period of time
with the transformation, the making of the built
environment, while of course, dealing with very large
scale real estate projects. Many of these projects
are quite significant precisely because of
the fact that they tend to be what we might
call mixed use developments. But these mixed use
developments are also more than just simply the
discussion or the sort of thinking of a
combination of uses. They’re really also
organized according to the way in which we
imagine the kind of places, and the sort of spaces that
we want to have around us. Therefore, they
involved, I assume, and I think this would be
very interesting to find out from Stephen, a
form of dreaming, a form of imagining what
these places could be like. What would be the
possibility of these places when we talk about mixed use? How do we want to make the
city different than what it is? So I think there’s a very
long list of projects, which hopefully we will see quite
a few of them that have dealt with this concept of mixed
use across different parts of the country. But everyone knows
that, in a way, also over the last
few years, Related have also been involved with
the Hudson Yards project, which is really the largest project
of its kind that has happened. And so it– when you think
about three avenues and three urban blocks, it’s
a massive site with a very long history
and an incredible set of opportunities. How do you actually think
about the scale of this? How do you mobilize
the resources to get this kind of project done? So the numbers are
actually staggering, because when this project is
completed, 125,000 people a day will work on this site,
and will visit it, and will make it their home. There are going to be 16 state
of the art office towers, 14 acres of public
open space, a theater, and all these variety of
different kind of uses, which we hope to hear
about in more detail. So it’s really an incredible
opportunity for us to find a collaborator
of such significance and such imagination, in
a way, for us to engage. And I’m looking forward
to the presentation. And I would like to
ask you to join me in welcoming Steven Ross. Thank you. [APPLAUSE] Thank you, and it’s a real
honor for me to be here today. Originally, I was asked
by the architect who I think teaches
here, Roger Ferris, if I would present to the
class of about 30 people. So are you students,
you don’t have to stay. The rest of the people I
appreciate your coming. But it’s– to talk
about Hudson Yards, and I think a little bit in
talking about what Hudson Yards is, and how we
envision it, first, let me start by telling you
a little bit of why we saw the opportunity at Hudson Yards. It was really the MTA, the
Metropolitan Transit Authority, had an RFP out for 26 acres
that was zoned for roughly 13 million square feet. That was probably about a 10
times density on the site. And we saw the opportunity was
over existing rail yards that were not being used really
for storage, to take passengers, or take the
trains into Penn Station. And so they were clean
there, and that’s where the trains rested. So it wasn’t an active
rail yard that we were to put a platform over, but
strictly these storage yards. And below that are
the tunnels that take it in– that go into
Penn Station for the railroads from the– that
serves the East coast. And Penn Station,
as you all know, is the most active rail station
in all of the United States. So when we looked at the site,
what was happening in the area, really, was really
influenced us. And what really– and
why we looked at that was that we had developed
Time Warner Center. And Time Warner Center
was then probably the granddaddy of all
mixed use projects. We had five uses
in one building. It was 2.7 million square feet. And we saw there how
a project like that could impact a neighborhood. And what we didn’t
do, we didn’t buy any of the surrounding land. So we weren’t able to
benefit by what we did, and what that project did
for the city of New York. So when this opportunity came
about– because a real estate developer, I think
especially our company, we really want to do
things that are impactful, and they really impact both
the neighborhood, the city, and do something that’s
great for the future, and leaving a great legacy. So in doing it in a kind
of a best in class basis. And that’s really what
Related is all about, and how we look at development. So when this
opportunity came about, we saw what was really going
on in the city of New York. At that point, knowing that 70%
of the Manhattan office space was really obsolete, they were
60 years and older, and knowing how corporations work today. With the greater density in
offices, per square foot, the number of employees,
and the technical advances that these buildings
didn’t have, corporations were
really looking– we thought would be looking
for reasons to relocate. And also– but then looking at
the area we were looking at, with the rail station here,
the– I think I better just not look at
slides and just talk. Because they don’t confuse
me, what I’m going to say. But anyway, the area was
surrounded by the high line. And the high line had
recently been completed. And the high line to New York
has become like a new religion. Today it is the largest
tourist attraction in the city of New York. And we could just see
what was going on there. And also as a
developer, we had built several residential buildings
in the area of Chelsea, and we were getting our
highest rents in the city. This is where the young
people wanted to live. It was really the aspiring
neighborhood that was growing. And in New York, and
I’m not a New Yorker, but I’d noticed the
way New York goes, is, they follow the young. Because people in New
York have a lot of energy. They think they’re young. And they follow where
the young are going. And that’s when I moved there. And that was the reason. I could see that this was an
area that had great potential. In addition, the city and state
were spending over $4 billion in public money in
improving that area. They were extending
the subway line, and that was probably the
one major component that really led to this development. They spent– they extended
the subway line a mile and a half, which was
the first extension in 60 years in the city of New York. But it really brought this site,
and attached it to the city, so it had– it made it very
easy from any part of the city, to come to the site,
which really opened it up. In addition, besides the
close of $500 million that was spent on the high
line, they had $500 million they were renovating
the Javits Center. There was $500 million that was
going into a Hudson Boulevard, because the whole area to the
north and Hudson Boulevard and Hudson Yards was rezoned for
really the future of New York. It was really the only place
that the city could really expand within Manhattan, and
do something of a large scale. And then you had another,
roughly over $500 million being spent on the
Hudson River Park. So when you look at it, you had
over $4 billion of public money going into that area. So and knowing that, we
really saw this as really kind of like the perfect storm, that
if New York was going to grow, and we believed in
New York as really being the great global
city in the United States, commercial city, and
that New York wasn’t going away, and it would
continue to grow, and this was a
place that we really thought that it
had the potential to do something
major, impactful, and it just wasn’t one building. So when the opportunity
arose, we really jumped at it. We were very excited to. So this today,
you’re seeing there, is what the site looked
like when we were selected. So you can see when you
look at a site like that, how could anybody really be
attracted to a site quite like that, with the
trains going there, everything developed
to the east of it, and then virtually you had the
Javits Center sitting alone with a lot of older
buildings to the north, and Chelsea to the south,
which had just been rezoned, where a lot of activity and
a lot of clubs, restaurants, and where young people
were relocating to. So this is what we saw
when we looked at it. And when you look
at a site like this, in order to develop
something and attract people, you had to really do
it at a big scale, and you couldn’t just build
one building at a time. One, no one wants to live in
a construction zone, and two, how do you sell a concept? How do you really sell
something that people are going to want to relocate
to other than for just price? And knowing we had to build a
platform over the rail yards, that is a massive undertaking
and costs considerable amount of money. So we had to come
up with a site plan that was really developing
a mixed use project, and where we could build
the whole eastern yards, which is roughly 13 acres
and was zoned for 6 and 1/2 million square feet. And so in order to do that, we
had to have– we decided that as a mixed use
project, the best way to do it is to get
office tenants, because if you had
offers tenants, you could therefore
then get retail tenants, and then if you had
retail and office, you know that the residential
would follow behind. So the first phase was
really the 6 and 1/2 million square feet of what we
call the Hudson Yards. And while we were doing
that, the first tenant that we approached was Coach,
or a broker brought in. They were looking to relocate. And they were directly adjacent
to the north of us in the site, in a building right here. And they liked the area, so
we didn’t have to sell a lot, and they wanted something
a little industrial. So we were able to
really kind of redesign what we had for our first
building to accommodate them, and they took roughly
750,000 square feet. And then we made a deal to buy
their site when they moved out, at that point in time. So then, therefore,
we then took upon us, which was right here, to buy the
rest of the land, because when you work on a big project,
why not make it bigger? And that’s kind of the
philosophy we have at Related. And then we had already
tied up these two sites right here to build
residential, and we were about to start
on this building here in the corner of
30th and 10th Avenue, which is right on the high line. So that’s really,
with our site plan, you really had to do
think of something big. And it had to be world class. And knowing what was
going on in Manhattan, we really believed that in
developing Hudson Yards, it had to be a world class
project where you’re shifting the center of
gravity in New York, from where we always
believe is the center of New York, which is
Rockefeller Center. And today when people
come to New York, and people living,
residents living in the city during Christmas time,
no one comes to New York without going to Rockefeller
Center to see the tree. And we said, we
have a plaza that is bigger than– much, much
bigger than Rockefeller Center. It’s in fact bigger than
Trafalgar Square in London, or Bryant Park in New York. So the idea was, we
had to think big, and we had to think
something world class. And so this here is
a picture of what that plaza, what we envision
working with our architects was, right here, was like
would be the center of it. And the site plan,
this is the retail. This is building A. And then
the building with Coaches is right adjacent to
it, would be over here. So the idea was to think big. And we therefore set up to
really develop this plaza, so we would have
something to sell. And I spoke with a number
of the great sculptors of the world, Anish
Kapoor, Plensa, Jeff Koons, and when you looked at,
and I saw their arts, they made some
presentations, in fact, to some of the architects. We paid them a fee to give us
an idea of what they would do. But when I looked
at it, we were just looking at something that
was typical representation of their art. And after you’ve
seen it a few times, been there, done that, what
would really excite and create a place where people
really want to come to? And we were looking for what
we called a 365 day Christmas tree. So I was introduced
to a designer from London named
Thomas Heatherwick, and we spent a lot of
time talking to it. He’s probably– he had
done the– in London, he did the London Town Bus. He did the torch,
which really kind of was the most important thing
for the 2012 Olympic games. If you’ll remember, where
they brought in the cauldrons, they attached it to poles. And all of a sudden,
people were wondering what was going to
happen, and they rose up to be the Olympic torch. And that was a
moment that I never– I still can never forget. It was really one of the
most memorable moments that I can remember. And he also did, in
Singapore, I mean in Shanghai, at the World’s Fair,
he won the award for the best pavilion
of all the pavilions that were done for
that, several years ago. So when I met him,
we spent a lot of time talking and trying– and
he trying to elicit what I had. And we talked for hours. And that was probably in–
I went and visited him about six weeks later,
and then talks more. And then he came back in
about another six weeks with this idea. And I saw it. I fell in love with it. And because it was something
participatory, totally iconic, and something that
I thought, would be to New York, what the
Eiffel Tower is to Paris. And this here, what we
call the vessel here, is 150 feet high, roughly
a 15 story building. And you can walk around it. These are all platforms and
stairs going up and down. I think there’s over 2500
steps, and it’s over a mile if you walked up
and down the thing. And this is something
that, you won’t want– people won’t
come to New York without wanting to
walk to the top of it. For those who can’t walk,
we have an elevator in it. And you look down in it. You can see how– it’s
quite interesting. And it’s like something that
looks simple, or sounds simple, but it is as complex as
anything I’ve been involved in. But it’s something that
I think, that will really be the centerpiece
of this project, and something that
will make– will shift the center of gravity
from Rockefeller Center to what we’re doing, and with the state
of the art type of buildings, and the architecture
that we have. So this is what we
focused the project around with great architecture,
the buildings. And then, in designing and
thinking of the whole concept, the idea was, that we
saw it bringing together a collaboration of the great
architects of the world, and having each one
designing a building, so that you didn’t
have a project. We were developing, in a
city, where each building was identifiable, and we’d have a
collection like no other place in the world. You’d have a collection of the
great architects, in the world, each with their own building. So the first building, and
who did the land planning, was Kohn Pederson Fox. Bill Pederson, who I have a
tremendous amount of respect for, who did the two buildings. And if you look and you see
the details, which we’ll get into in a minute,
of those buildings, this is 10 Hudson Yards,
which is the first building that they did. Then I’ll go in and show you
the other different architects. But this was right on the
corner of 30th and 10th. And this is the one
portion of the land, of the site, that
was on terra firma. The balance of it, or
2/3 of the site we had, was over the rail tracks. So we were able to
develop that first, and you could see
the building here. You have the high
line right here, going through the
building, though it doesn’t connect to the building. It comes off here,
which is to the south, and this is 30th Street here. And it goes around
our whole site. But this is the building,
what we call building A, and this is where
Coach went into. And they created an atrium that
went up 20 some floors that overlooked the high line
and southern Manhattan. Here’s a picture
of what it looks like from 30th Street today
actually, of what the building. And you could see
the architecture, with the shingle glass. So I mean, we really believe
in great architecture. Because when you’re really
building cities, and doing something like this,
you have an obligation as a developer to do something
that is really world class. And you’re doing
something that I think, that if you do it
that way, you’re going to get a lot more
impact, and people respect it. So we spent a lot of time on
the design of the interiors, as well as the exteriors. And we worked on this building
here with Kohn Pederson. And there are two
different lobbies. This is the lobby for all
the tenants, but Coach. And Coach has their
escalators right here going up to their lobby. This is where we have L’Oreal,
SAP, Boston Consulting, and a division of Google. And this is the
Coach lobby where they– where you’re coming
in, that they designed, only for Coach. And this is a collection
of, historically, of all the handbags that
they have done in the lobby. It’s quite beautiful
that they did. They designed their own lobby. And this is a
picture of the atrium that they have just
for their space that we had to retrofit, or
kind of put in the building to satisfy them,
that they weren’t just in a glass,
modern building, because that wasn’t
their culture. And then, so this here is
where that building is. And you can see
where the high line. And the high line comes
in right at grade, right into the site here. And then the next building–
this is Building A, that is the tallest building here. It’s about 1,250 feet high. And this building also was
designed by Bill Pederson. And in the middle,
it’s a retail, which I’ll show you in
a few minutes there. But this building
here, while it looks a lot like the other
building, because they really are obviously not
twin towers, but they have the same vocabulary, and
a very, very state of the art type building. And this building here,
in square footage, is roughly 2.7
million square feet. And then at the top, it
has an observation deck, and with the only really large
outdoor observation deck. And then what we’re going to be
putting in here, on this– can we go back a minute? There’s the outdoor
observation deck. And then on this
wall here– this is at about a 45
degree angle, and we’re putting a stairway in there. And people will– we’ll
put them in a harness, and you can walk up this–
going up to this part. it’s on this one. So you’re at that highest
point in New York, where you’ll stand alone, outdoors,
going up there, as part– as an
observation deck. And we have a few
other virtual reality things that we’re putting
in this observation deck. So it’s going to be
quite remarkable, as long as going outside on it,
and you’ll be able to look down and part of it’s going to be
all glass when you’re looking So as you can see
right here– so it’s going to be quite amazing and
unique, obviously, to New York. I mean, when you look at the
economics of observation decks, if you hit it right, I mean,
the whole project’s worth the observation deck,there. But we’re also
doing it, and really to make it a restaurant
at the top there, and having jazz at night. And so using the
advantage of the great views that we have at
the top of the building. Anyway, so that’s Building A. The next building is–
this is the retail. In the retail, we have
roughly a million square feet gross of retail, and
on the fifth, sixth, and seventh floor,
we got Neiman Marcus. So what we were very
I would say lucky– we were fortunate that we
had filled up the building with these great tenants. And we were therefore
able to sell Neiman Marcus into coming into the
site on the fifth, sixth, and seventh floor. And today when you
talk about retail, and you see what’s
going on in retail, retail is really the highest
form of entertainment. It’s the most popular
form of entertainment. So it’s how you
really do this retail, and really augment it
with a lot of restaurants, and things of interest
within the retail. And we have it roughly
a million square feet. And this is the
retail on the park, on the plaza that
we’re doing here. And there’ll be
restaurants overlooking it. And you can see it’s doing great
finishes, and something unique, and having great views also
while you’re in the retail. If you’ve ever visited
Time Warner Center, you can see what
we’ve done there. When we built the vertical
retail at Time Warner, everybody said, you
were out of your mind. New Yorkers only want
to shop at street level. And we started that. We have 330,000 feet there. And today it’s the
second highest grossing per square foot shopping
mall in the country. So it shows you if you do
something that’s unique, and you give– you
make it exciting and a place where
people want to be, even in New York,
a city of streets, vertical retail will work. Here we’re doing a million
square feet as opposed to roughly three times
the size of that. And so that is what really
flanks the two office buildings. And then 15 Hudson Yards is
our first residential building. And it’s really part
of this culture shed that you can see right here. This building opens and
closes and contracts. And when it’s nested, as
it nests this building, it has three galleries there. When it opens up, you roughly
have 15, 14,000 square feet of space that’s 100
feet high for use for unique performances,
or bringing in conferences like the TED Conference. Fashion Week is
going to be there. And used for events– it
will be like the Grand Palais is in Paris being used for
events that other institutions don’t have the space to do. And it’s a non-profit the
city of New York’s put in. Roughly 75 million. It’s– the cost of it’s
close to about $400 million. But it’ll bring a real cultural
component to the project that I think that is so
important to the project. So having this unique
cultural facility, together with the sculpture, or the
Thomas Heatherwick piece, it will really make it a
really main attraction, the whole plaza in New York. So you can see here,
this is the building. It’s roughly 1,000 feet high. And it’s a condominium. We just opened the sales
office for that last– on September 14th when we
unveiled the Heatherwick piece. And our sales have
been unbelievable. I think today we’ve sold, in
the seven weeks, close to $400 million worth of
projects probably, in a slow, slow condo market. So I think it says an awful
lot about what Hudson Yards, and how people were
feeling about it. And this is done– but that
was done by Liz Diller, who did Lincoln Center, who
renovate– did the high line, and a number of– the Broad
Museum in Los Angeles, and other– a number of other
great cultural institutions. We used her. She had never done really
a commercial project, a residential project. But since the shed
was part of it, we felt that we
had to really use her, and have to work with her. And she worked with
David Rockwell, and really designed
a beautiful building. It wasn’t easy working with her. But we– I think it’s coming
out really a great building. As architectural
students, you really want to work with
people who have done something in the sector
that you’re working in. But she did a good job. So nobody can– anyway. And then this building here is
what we call 35 Hudson Yards. This is our mixed use building. And one thing, if
you’ll notice here that I think is very
important is, when you’re doing these buildings,
and today when people look at new major developments, where
we see a number of high rises, they all say, everybody is
just going to build these glass monolithic buildings. And I thought it was
very important here, one, we have different architects
who are really well known. But we use different materials. This one here is being done
in limestone, right here. And David Childs, of
Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, who did Time Warner Center,
is the architect for this. And in the base of it, there
is a Equinox, health clubs, and then above that
will be offices, and above that would be an
Equinox Hotel, and then condos. And the reason why
it’s all Equinox, because we own Equinox. But it’s really going to
be the first of its kind. And we really believe that
health is the new wealth. And this is where we think
things are going in the world. It’s all part of it. And so this building here will
be our most expensive building. And these are all
condos up here, above the hotel
rooms, that are here. And this is the office
component of it. And then, you can
see here, we’ve kind of created– it’s hard
to tell there, a real entrance that’s a little unique. It faces the plaza, and you can
see in all these pictures here, we’ve worked with Ballsy, who
is the architect for this. And we really spent a
lot of time and effort. We’ve already gone and
selected the trees. I was involved in
all of that, looking at all the different
specimen trees that we’re putting in here,
and plants, and everything. It’s going to really be
a great, great landscape plaza, that I think is so
important in just showing the quality of the
things we’re doing, and what to expect
at Hudson Yards. And then on the corner,
this is a restaurant. And we really are into working
with great restaurateurs, and really– because
that really is your greatest form of
entertainment today, that people look at. And getting into
the details on that. We’ve ventured a lot of these
deals with these restaurants, with the great chefs, so
that none of the restaurants really are chains or
anything like that. They’re all hand
curated projects, restaurants for the
specific project and what we’re doing there. And this is the entrance on
the other side for the Equinox Fitness Club, as well as the
hotel and their office space. So that’s right there. Then we have this
building 55, right here, that is done by Kevin
Roche and Gene Kohn. This is a steel building. And it’s– and all these
buildings right now, as you can see, are
all under construction. We have over 10 million square
feet today under construction, and one building completed. So that when peop– it will
be open in the fall of 18, when the retail and
the plaza is opened, and as well as the sculpture. But this building here,
we’re probably about 60% leased on this building. The other two buildings
are 100% leased already. So that we’ve done over
seven million square feet in a soft market of leases. So it just shows you what
people really want today, that if you do something
right, they will come, in the right location. And if you think
about it, and you look at what that
location looks like in, and having a tenant go down
there and see it today, they have to have a
lot of imagination. Or we had to have
something really to sell. And so this building
here is– I mean, I think it’s really
a beautiful building, but I think they all are. It’s really unique
here with rough stone here that we’re
using, and just trying to create every one to be
individualistic and stand out on its own. And the attention to detail
in every aspect of the project is really what I think
is people are seeing, and and that’s why they’re
coming to Hudson Yards. Here’s a site plan. 50 is a building that–
I’ll show you where it is. Go back a minute. 50 is right here. This will be our next one. This is not under construction. And we have this whole
block here, this initially of– what we have it today. So a McDonald’s, if
people went to New York, was right on the corner here
at 34th and 10th Avenue. So this building, we will
start demolishing hopefully the beginning of next year. And that this would be finished. It’s 2.7 million
square feet, and today we probably have about a
billion of that’s already taken. So we’re able to
start the building, and Norman Foster’s
the architect. And we’re working
with him on the design right now of that building. But that will also
be glass and stone. In other words, it’ll be a
very unique building in itself, which you know when
you have Norman Foster, you can expect that. So this right here, this is
what we call the eastern yards. And this is all
under construction. And with this building
being finished today, and everything but this
will open in the fall of 18. We’ve also built this
residential building that– this is the culture
shed that I told you about, how it opens and closes. It will be very, very unique. And I think bring a lot
of interesting events to the plate– to Hudson Yards. And Alex Poots, did the
Manchester Festival in London, and also is curating the shows
at the Park Avenue Armory, is the executive
director of that. And then– and this
is the western yards where we get to here,
which is another 6 and 1/2 million square feet that
probably in the beginning of 18 we will start putting on the–
if not sooner, the platform. This is all today, this portion
is all rail yards today. And we’ll put them– have the
platform– start the platform on that. And in the base we have to put
a school, but the grade changes. The school will be
below the platform, because this is on
terra firma right here, that we have to put in. And you can see here
how the high line goes around the whole site here. So that– and this
here will be more the private sector
of the project, and whereby– it would
be more of gardens with a lot of great
sculpture in it, because it would be
more residential. There’s one– this is
the only site here. There will be a million
and a half square feet of office here. And then the rest
of all the buildings here are all
residential buildings. This is going to
be by Frank Gehry. This is Robert Stern,
these twin buildings here. This is by Bernardo
Fort-Brescia. And then we have these
three other sites. Thomas Heatherwick with do one. So there’s two other
sites that we have not selected the architects for. But they will be quite unique. And then we have
these two buildings that are on the corner
of– this is 30th. You can see the high line there. And this was done
by Robert Stern. And then this was
done by Davis Brody, that is now under construction. So all these buildings today. Then we have– down
the street what we did, we have under construction and
finishing is the Zaha Hadid, which is a smaller building. It’s not really part
of Hudson Yards. It’s two blocks away. But we thought we wanted to
introduce to the neighborhood the quality of what we do,
and raise the price levels, and the expectations of
what people should expect. So we brought– used Zaha. This is really the last
building she’s ever designed, unfortunately. And it’s quite unique,
if you get to New York, it’s probably different
than any other building you’ve ever seen. And it’s quite
beautiful I think. But anyway, this
today will be opened and the models will probably
be open later this year. And this building
we’re selling it now. This here is a tape of what we
show, and it gives you an idea. Fantastic project. Because it’s a piece of land
that never existed before. And New York’s a great place
to have a project, just because of the number of people here,
and who those people are. Hudson Yards is like the new
heart in the very old city. I’m really excited
about Hudson Yards, because I’m passionate
about cities. I think at any
time we’re looking at a location for
a restaurant, we want to make sure that we’re
bringing some positive impact to that neighborhood. We see now, within this very
same neighborhood, not just that microcosm of New
York City, but truly a great cultural, commercial,
and community center for the world. We are waiting for
the next opportunity, and the next opportunity
is Hudson Yards. And I think it’s a natural
fit for me, to be [INAUDIBLE] The dream of every
real estate developer is to do something that’s
transformative, and has a major impact. I don’t think there’s ever
been a more exciting time to be an architect. We imagine this urban
plaza as the living room of the West side. The project, in a way,
is a big invitation because it’s not really
telling you what to think. It’s not telling you what to do. It’s a playground for humans. This is something that doesn’t
happen very often, certainly in New York City or anywhere. Hudson Yards is the most
extraordinary collaboration of talent, programming, and
design of any project ever built anywhere in the world. Hudson Yards is the
future of Manhattan. We knew we had to be there. You want to be
part of the story, And Hudson Yards has the story. [MUSIC PLAYING] I mean, this is our
vision for Hudson Yards. But what’s so important
about Hudson Yards? We’re really creating today
what is a live, work, play environment, which
I think is really the future of how
development will take place in cities throughout the world. You may not have a project
of THE size of Hudson Yards, but people are
going to be looking to live in nodes, so
that they can live a more sustainable environment. And that’s where people
really want to be, as opposed to traveling,
and getting to work, and everything like that. So I think the
importance of this is how cities and planners
will look at Hudson Yards. it’s how it’s going
to impact their area, and what their future
will be, and what they’re going to want to be. And I think that’s really
going to be the future of what Related is all about, is
building these live, work, play, mixed use environments. Because this is where
people want to be. And I think it’s
a future for what everybody wants to live in. And one thing I’d like
to say while I’m here is– I mean, here’s just some of
the tenants that we’ve gotten, we’ve associated with. But it is that, when you
do a project like this, it takes a great team to
do something like this. I mean one individual–
I mean, I’m talking here as if I did it. I really have great partners. Two of my partners are here
tonight, Jeff Blau and Bruce Beal, and we work together. I mean, I’m really
taking the lead on the planning and design. Jeff does on the leasing
and financing, and Bruce on the construction site. But we all work together
in all parts of it, and associating with other
people that are all part of it. And we’ve been able to
attract great people because people want to be
part of something that’s new and unique. And we’ve created
a really great team which really allows us
to do projects like this, and hopefully do other
ones in the future. So if there’s any questions–
want to sit down and talk? [APPLAUSE] Please. I know that Stephen
mentioned at the beginning that this event would
not have been possible without Roger Ferris. Roger is actually
one of our alumni, and we are very proud to have
him as one of our great alumni, does incredible– I couldn’t get in. You couldn’t get in. And actually Roger
and Stephen also are working together
on a more sort of private, personal project. But it’s really great
that they’re both here. And we will start
a conversation. And I think there
are mics around so that you can, of course,
engage with Stephen and Roger as quickly as possible. Roger I don’t know if
you have a question, but I’ll start with something. Or do you want to start? You go ahead. I’m exhausted. I don’t know. At my [INAUDIBLE] how do
you maintain this kind of enthusiasm for
design when you’re doing something on this scale? I think you’ve got to love what
you’re doing to start with. And when you have passion
for what you’re doing, you have all the
energy you need. So I mean, and working
with great people in doing something
that’s unique. What could be better? That’s great. I want to ask you something
about the whole– the way in which you conceptualize
this project of Hudson Yards. It’s obviously a very
big site, but you didn’t have to do it necessarily
this way, or did you? i think it will be very good if
you could just– because we’re all here in the context of a
lot of architects, and landscape architects, and planners–
why does this city have to be like this,
I mean in the sense of individual high
rise buildings? Is there financially a
different kind of way that these kinds of
projects can come together? Well, here we had a
huge infrastructure cost that we had to
build up a platform above the rail yards, which is
complex, but also expensive. And New York is a
city of density. It’s a city of high rises. And the city had
zoned the project. We had all these
different restrictions that we had to live with it. It was totally zoned when
we were awarded the project. And so that half the area
had to be open space, open to the public. So they really zoned it to have
very tall high rise buildings. But New York is a city of
tall high rise buildings, so we weren’t introducing
a new concept of living, to people both
working and living. And that’s what people prefer,
because people love views. When you ever open up a
building, the first person, when they walk into
it, they always walk to the window
to look at the views. I mean, that’s the first thing. So views are really what sells. And that’s what this project
and obviously part of our sale, is that we have these
beautiful, modern, all buildings with great views. So related to this, just
before we open it up. But did the site,
which is really the equivalent of, I
don’t know, six or seven or maybe more urban blocks,
is then subdivided primarily into two lots. One lot which was
about the 11 and 1/2 or 12 million square
feet, the other one that was the 6 and 1/2, which
seemed to have lower density. Did you have the possibility
of reorganizing these two sites in a different way? We could have done
it any way we wanted. I mean, we had obligated
ourself to pay rent, and to build the platform. One, we didn’t
believe, economically, it would be feasible to
build the platform in stages. Nor would people
want to live in it while they were going
through a construction site, and building a
platform, putting all these caissons in,
and everything else, and overlooking it. So I thought it was
very, very important that we have a critical
mass, and that we had to develop one entire,
what we call the eastern yards, which is really
three square blocks, all at one time,
which at that point was zoned for 6 and 1/2
million square feet. So to absorb 6 and 1/2 million
square feet at one time, you had to have different uses. I mean, some of the people
that had put in proposals were going to build
it all with offices. Now we were selected
in 2008, and we all know what happened in 2008. You know? I mean, that site, if we had
really put in all offices, or been awarded, we’d
still be waiting. Whereas today we have 10
and 1/2 million square feet under construction. So the mixed use nature–
and this is what people want. I mean, I think today,
when you look at cities, and you look at the
future of cities, people today getting around those
cities is almost impossible. I mean, just even in
Boston it isn’t so great. I mean, I know what
it is in New York, from just coming in from
the airport, and all that transportation. And I think people today,
and the young people, don’t want to waste
all that time. So I think doing a mixed use,
where it’s a live, work, play environment, where people can
live and work at the same– without going and spending
a lot of time to get there. is very, very important. Also, the productivity of what
you have, and the cost of it, is so much more expensive
when you have to commute and– you know. So therefore, I think
this is– we really believe in sustainable cities,
and using all the technology today. And so that was really a lot
of what we incorporated in how we looked at this project. So you worked with KPF, right,
on the initial planning? They did the master, they
did the [INTERPOSING VOICES] So what did you and Bruce
and Jeff say to KPF, and what did you
say to each other about the beginning of
this particular project? How would you
start such a thing? What would be the brief? After we had to prove to people
we weren’t crazy in doing it. I mean, we told KPF,
I really believed the first thing we looked at
it, it had to be a mixed use. We had done mixed use. We were known for our
development of mixed use projects. So that’s one thing
I think the city, or the MTA wanted us to have
the project, because we had all those capabilities in house. See typically in mixed
use developments, you find that different
developers get together. They have a specialty in
one sector or another. We have that all under one roof. And it’s a lot easier
to develop something when it’s all under one roof,
where I can make the decision, or together, of making
the compromises. So each stakeholder usually
wants to protect themselves, and they don’t care
about the other ones if you have other developers,
as long as they’re accommodated by what they’re doing. But being able to do it in-house
we have a tremendous advantage and are able to do something, I
think, at a much higher quality than you could otherwise do. And we knew when we
signed on for the project, that we had to do
it in large scale, that we had to develop what
we call the eastern yards all at one time. Because putting the platform
on, attracting the tenants, and we knew– and
because of the cost, it had to be a
world class project. So you had to think
differently than you might on a piece of land out
in the suburbs or something like that, where you
could build it in stages, one building at a time. But it’s more fun to do things
that are complex and difficult. So in eight years, you’re
thinking back to ’08 when the thing starts, and millions
of square feet and where you are today, and having witnessed
some of this in your office, it’s like one giant charrette,
right, where it never ends. How do you organize
it, relate it, in order to do so many
projects and so many– with such complexity,
right, in mixed use in all these buildings
and the urban fabric? How are you organized in-house? Well, I mean, real
estate development is a personal service business. It’s about people. So you want bright
people who love dealing with complexity and challenges. And I think the people–
we have great people. They’ve been with us for
a long period of time. They’re trained. And they want to work together. And they want to do things that
not everybody else is doing. And that’s just the
way our outlook is. I mean it is– it’s our DNA. Let’s try and open it up. I’m sure there will
be lots of questions. There’s one here. Can I get a few more hands? There’s one there. One back there. Maybe we can get three
questions, please. You’ll start there. Then we’ll go to Rick. Then we go to Mr. Allen. Yes, please. Thank you very
much for that very comprehensive and
interesting lecture. I have a question. Just looking across
the globe, there are many interesting mixed
use development projects. And, for example,
like the Roppongi Hill in Tokyo, in Japan,
and other things. But I’m curious, they also
have a cultural components. They also have residential
mixed with office, and working with [INAUDIBLE]
similar with Coach. But I’m curious whether
you could tell us a little bit, what are
the contextual challenges, or unique aspects of doing
large scale mixed use development in a high
density city in North America in that sense? Thank you. Do you mind waiting
to answer, if we get a couple of things so that– Good I can I forget that one. Rick, please You’re going. You can think about that one. Since I know you used
Gene Kohn, and we actually did a class on your
project early on, and you were great hosts. And I know that
penetrating the platform had a lot to do with
the building forms. But why did you decide to have
more buildings with smaller floor plates, than having just
a larger building like Roppongi Hills, and fewer
structures that might have, well, just created a
very different look? Well, I mean, when you look at
it, we looked at each building on its own. When you look at a
project like this, you have to– it looks complex,
but if you kind of reduce it to what it is, it’s just
a series of buildings. So if you look at every building
individually, and develop it, and think what you
want on each building to maximize the value of
what you’re developing, you’re going to come out to what
your floor plates should be. I mean, we had a
blank slate, so we weren’t limited to how
many square feet we could put in a specific building. But we thought in doing what
we thought was lease-able, what the market wanted,
and therefore, that’s how we really addressed
the project, as a series of individual buildings. We were building a platform,
so we were creating our land. And then we had a
design of how would you put individual
buildings, and how people wanted to work or live, and how
they’re related to each other. And so that’s how we
really approached it. And I mean, in my mind, it
wasn’t as complex as it sounds. Maybe I’ve been around too long. That’s what happens
when you get old. Maybe now you can actually,
since we’re at it, maybe you can say something
about the first question. Do you remember the one
about the cultural– I mean I’m not familiar
with Roppongi Hills. I mean, I know Kohn
Pederson did it. I have not visited it. I mean, I looked
at it as, how do we solve the problem that we had? And our problem
was, we had to build the critical mass of at least
6 and 1/2 million square feet o all at one time. So how do you really develop
6 and 1/2 million square feet at all time? We had no tenants at
that point in time. So we had to really have a plan. So our plan was that the way to
occupy the most square footage, was office, and to establish
the project itself overall was to get office tenants. So that we knew initially we had
to make a deal with the office tenants. The first one like Coach, they
went in there at our cost. We didn’t make money on it. So you had to really recognize,
you had to have a loss leader, if you will, to develop
something of this magnitude. And so Coach– we got Coach. And then from there,
in our first building, we ended up making money, but
we didn’t enter it with the idea that we would make any money
on either of our two office buildings. But that was really what we
had to do to really establish the project. Then once we were able
to do that, and make it an attractive deal
in an environment that they couldn’t get
anywhere else in New York, and selling the idea of the
live, work, play environment of what– I mean, it resonated
with the executives, the CEOs, that we were talking to. And then once we were able to
get those tenants, certainly the [INAUDIBLE] and knowing
we’re going to have, initially, 50,000 people working
there, that’s certainly– it’s going to track the
retail tenants. And once we got the
retail tenants, people, you know they’re going to
want to live there, especially with the retailers, and
creating the environment with the restaurants, and
all the different cultural activities, and the landscaping,
and the whole environment that we were creating. And I guess a lot
of these questions have to do with
the boundary line, or could say tensions between
the way in which there is highly, highly objective,
rational ways that you discuss the financial imperatives
of a project like this, and the degree to which
questions of the caliber of the place, lifestyle, all
these things interact together. But I suppose some of
these things, questions about why not this
way, why the other way, is also– touches
on, once you reach this point of unbelievable
sophistication in terms of the financial
organization, what are the ways in which then
these also lead to spatial, aesthetic judgments? In some sense, you’re very
insistent in some ways on the question of
the life, the quality of the thing, the caliber. You talk about the
feel of the building. And I’m not– I don’t know
to what degree you also are deliberately choosing
this one as opposed to another option. So are there options– I mean there aren’t
a lot of options. I mean, you have
residential, you have office, you have retail,
and you have hotel. I don’t know of
many other options. It wasn’t good for industrial. If you were to give this project
to a lot of our students, I can tell you they
would give you options. But let us– there
is a question there. Matt has– I’m going to say
attention to detail that really separates
this project I think, from most others. We spent a tremendous
amount of time in the details of every
aspect of the project, and trying to understand
what people want. Eric here. Harry. Go ahead, please. You go ahead. Yes. Thank you Mr. Ross
for your presentation, and congratulations on
this amazing development. I mean, it looks like a jewel
on the Hudson from here, so the very best to you. Thank you. I’m a native New Yorker. I moved out in the summer ’15. When my wife retired
we went to Maryland. She didn’t want to be
in New York anymore. And now I’m here as a Hutchins
fellow here at Harvard. And one of the
things that people keep saying about New York is
that it’s getting too expensive for most people to live there. And so I’m wondering,
a person like you, you’re the richest
developer in New York. You had tremendous success. I’m wondering– Thank you. It’s a fact. I’m wondering, when you
hear something like that, as a person who’s building these
premier kind of properties, I’m wondering how you hear
a statement like that? Do you just see it as a survival
of the fittest thing, and it’s not your problem? Or do you see it
as something that is outside of what you
have any responsibility for or anything you can address? Or do you see it as affecting
the quality of life in the city now and in the future? I mean, the answer is yes, and
I’ll explain why I say yes. I mean, New York is a very
diverse place as you know. I started my business in
developing affordable housing. And then went from
there to market rate, and to retail office
buildings, and then, doing the type of things we’re doing. But our attitude, the way when
we first look at a project, you listen to the city,
of what the city wants and what the city needs. And you develop to that, not
to seeing how much money you can make on a project. And therefore, you
have to look out of how do you benefit and
make a city a greater place. Because you have
a responsibility, and you leave a legacy. And when you have
those two things, and you have to really–
knowing how much– we have affordable housing
in this project. We didn’t talk about it. But there is affordable
housing that we built up front in this
project, because that’s what the city needs. The city requires it. And that’s how we
started the business. Is it on site or off site? On site. And the residents go through the
front door like everyone else, or do they have a– That’s right. We don’t have– It’s not like Extel
Corporation’s back door? No. We don’t have a back door. I mean we’ve done
this in our projects. What we’ve done, and
still is probably one of our main businesses
as a residential developer, of building 80/20s. We were really the first ones
that build luxury 80/20s. So we know how to do
that, and how it works. And so that, you don’t just
start things and saying, hey, we don’t enter
into how do you make the most amount of money? You do what’s really needed,
and what that job and that site requires, and what’s in
the interests of the city. And that’s how we get selected
to develop these projects, because we are looking at
what the long term benefit is to the city to start with. So that’s how we
start the project, and we feel that by
doing with good design, and knowing what’s in the
interests of the city, and what people are looking for. Now, part of these projects,
like the first phase though, are condos with
affordable housing. That’s part of it. OK. Then we know we’re going
to have a lot of rentals. There will be
probably half the– we have another 4,000 to 5,000
units of residential housing to build in the second phase. And probably at least 20 to
probably 30% of those, 40, will be rentals. So that we’re looking to address
every part of the needs of what the city is, and to make
this a total kind of live, work, play, where it’s diverse,
where people want to be, and attracts people. It’s not an exclusive
enclave for everybody. And that’s– we don’t ever
look at things that way, because that’s not the
way cities operate, and that’s not in the
interest of anybody. So Eric, could you pass
the mic to the– Matt, yes. And Eric can then
also– [INAUDIBLE] Hi. Eric Haller here. I teach at the Graduate
School of Design in the architecture
program, and I wanted to ask about
your presentation in the context of the school,
where we have urban design. We have landscape. We have architecture
all together. And we talked a lot about world
class American city making. And I think the first
questions were referred to sort of looking
beyond American cities, and thinking about
this collection of architectural
structures as more than the sum of their parts. And I think what
you’re making, really, is a kind of piece of a city,
a kind of urban sort of piece. I remember living in New
York when the Time Warner Center opened,
and thinking, wow, this is unique for New York. But it would be perfectly at
home in Tokyo or Hong Kong. And so the kind of
vertical shopping that we have in those sort
of hyper dense cities. And I thought, well, this
is an Asian project that sort of landed in New York. And that was my sort of
interpretation of it. I think as we teach design,
and we think about design, and learning from
cities, global cities, I wonder how this has
learned from other cities like Hong Kong and Tokyo,
bringing this kind of mixed use kind of alchemy that I
think you’re creating here. Could you talk about
what precedents, or what projects beyond
the United States you might have
looked at, and how we could learn from global
cities for something so distinctive and so world class. I mean, I love traveling
and I love looking at cities and architecture. And so I mean, you learn things. You see things, and you’re
constantly looking at details. I mean, I am. And I think the people– I
mean, any good developer’s doing that. That’s part of being a
good, responsible developer. You learn by seeing what
other people have done, and the details of it. And then, it’s how
you express it. It’s like an
artist, if you will. You then get working. We work with great architects,
and they bring a lot to the table. So it’s a question–
it’s a collaboration between a developer
and an architect. So you’re using your
experiences that you’ve gathered by looking
at other great places, and you’re hearing what the
architects have to say, like, you talk about Roppongi Hills. Kohn Pederson Fox was the
architect for Roppongi Hills. But every place
is unique, and you know what that needs– you
have to know what the needs are of that specific place. I mean, real estate is
a very local business. It’s not something, that
because it’s done there, it’ll be successful there. And you see ideas. You see buildings,
but you don’t want to– you’re not looking to copy
what somebody else is doing. You’re trying to really do
a better job than anything you’ve ever seen. So it really brings
a lot of things together that you go through
and you work together with the architect to really
make something that you think, or what we think, is unique,
and will survive time, and people would be proud of. What Eric didn’t
tell you is that he used to be one of the
chief designers at KPF, and used to do those
high rises before he went through a kind of reformation. [INTERPOSING VOICES] You know Bill Pederson. He has his ideas. So it’s a collaboration. But he listens. I mean, the difference
between– I’ve worked with some
architects and they think they know everything. And they– when you
worked with those, you don’t end up
with good projects. I mean, a project is only
as good as the collaboration between the client
and the architect. And I mean, and here at the
Graduate School of Design, if you architects think you
know all the answers, good luck. They think that, but they don’t
say it, so it’s probably OK. No. Please [INAUDIBLE] Yeah, Steve, possibly an
unholy trilogy, a public bid, possibly a commencement date
that you’re obligated to, and the cost– upfront
cost of the deck. Were they– was that a
difficult hurdle to jump, or was the cost of the deck
relative to the cost of land in New York, not
so much greater? I mean, the cost of the deck was
equivalent to really the cost of what land is. I mean, because
of the size of it, we probably got a little
bit of a discount, but we have a lot
more carry on it. And I mean, it was
only– we were only really able to finance
it, fortunately, I mean, with– we were very
creative in our financing. Jeff really, Blau, stand
up take a bow– I mean, we used EB5 financing to do it. I mean, in this
environment trying to get the money from banks
would have been almost impossible to finance the deck. I mean, we used every source
of capital from globally, in order to make
this project work. And that’s what it takes today. Here in the United States
you have to look globally in order to really put
together a project like this, because it can’t happen with
just internal resources. Out there. We’re going to go here, and then
maybe you can get a mic there after [INAUDIBLE] Right. Thanks for a really
interesting presentation. And I have a feeling you
make it sound simpler than it really is. I’m just curious. Was the recession
actually helpful to give you the time to plan
this really unique place? Was your timing
just exactly right? I mean yes and no. I would say– Jeff is nodding yes. Pardon? Jeff is nodding yes. Well, I mean, I
think, I don’t know. I mean maybe we had less
competition because of that, and we were able
to attract capital, so it allowed us to go forward. But I think we were
able to attract capital because of the design. And the fact we were able
to sell it to tenants allowed us to
finance the project. And I mean today you
would never think there was a recession with
all the development occurring. But I think we were probably
one of the first ones who were out of the box in terms of
developing after the recession. So, and I think probably people
looked after the recession that we had, people
would kind of reexamine the way
they did business, the way that– what
their resources are, what they were looking for. And I think that
probably helped us in terms of how people looked
at themselves in then– and open to a project
like Hudson Yards. We’ll go here– Steve, I’ve got a
question for you. When you’re doing the
original master plan, I understand it’s New
York, and obviously you’ve been to the location
and looked at it, and have been watching
closely, as you note, what you’ve been doing. How do you think
about parking when you start thinking about doing
the original master plan, and other transportation
that’s coming into this particular development
from different places? Well, I mean, the
transportation– I mean, New York is, while there’s–
you always feel there’s so much traffic. People are– it’s not
really, the really mode of transportation
most people look to. In terms of like office, we
have a great subway system in New York. And that one, people live in New
York, it’s either cabs today. Uber’s all over the place. So parking wasn’t really
a major consideration because we couldn’t
put parking underground where the garage–
where the trains were. So we didn’t have the
basement space to put that. And so if you look at
a project this size, you’ll say, how do you
develop a project this size with so little parking? Well it’s because New
York doesn’t really demand a lot of parking. And there’s parking around,
but it’s not essential as it would be in say, Boston,
or almost any other city in the United States. Wendy there. Are there any students up there? Would you like to
ask a question? Or there’s one there. OK. Let’s go to Wendy and then– All right, maybe I’ll segue
to the students then– Please, no you go ahead. I guess my question relates
to two of the things that you said and
has to do with– Wendy, can you speak to the– Has to do with scale,
and also this idea, what you were saying is,
follow the young people. And what do the
young people want? Where do they want to go? Where do they live? How do they want to live? How do they inhabit a city? And about scale and
the idea that New York is a city of high rises. Because when I
look at the image, which is extremely powerful,
and this other gentleman referred to it as a
jewel, maybe because it sparkles with so much glass. But I look at this
development, and I look at the texture of
everything around it. In my mind, New York
is really a city of high rise– little
buildings and big buildings of this sort of great texture. And what drives people
towards neighborhoods is the streetscape
and the participation in the street, the
ground floor, the energy of the city at that level. So I think that some
of these questions sort of come back to
that original idea of, how do you inhabit the streets? What’s the scale of the complex? And how can you kind
of be part of the city, rather than necessarily
a separate sort of node on the side? I mean, first of all,
we looked at the plaza, and attracting people, and
having life on the plaza. I mean, people in New
York thrive on energy, and that’s what
New York’s about. And that’s why people are
attracted to New York, because of the energy
at the street level. And while we have–
while we were limited– the project was zoned
the way it was, because– and it was zoned
that way because they had to get a certain
amount of dollars to pay for the additional
costs of putting on a platform on the site. And so that it one–
and most of New York, it really was zoned
at 10 times density. But the fact is there’s
so much open space. And so the city planners
decided that they wanted that open
space for the public, and therefore sacrificed to have
these tall buildings as we had. But therefore, we knew
we had to create energy. And that’s why bringing
in the sculpture that we have will attract
people to the site. The high line, which
is the largest tourist attraction in New York,
feeds right into the site, right on grade. OK? We have the subway on the
other end of the plaza that’s feeding people across the
plaza, so that we are creating a tremendous amount of energy
within the public space on this site. And in terms of living, I think
people, if given the option, most people would rather
have good views, OK? And certainly if you
look at sales prices, rental prices, the higher
you go, the higher they are. That’s what people would prefer. So it’s not the fact
that they’re high rises. I think New Yorkers,
most New Yorkers, we do have low rises as
well, but people– high rises is the way of life
that people prefer. I mean, we’re doing– it’s
not like every project, the way we look at
things, that this is the only way we look at things. We’re developing
a large mixed use project in Santa
Clara, California, 12 million square feet. Total, total different
concept, but it’s total mixed use project of
the same type of magnitude that we’re building. It has no resemblance at all
to the way we’re looking at it. But it’s a question
you develop where the site is, and what
works for that city, and what they’re looking for. So I forgot you. Yes, please. Over there, then we come
down here, and then here. Yes, please. My name is Drew. I study real estate
at the macro level. And you began your presentation
talking about the west side. And I’m curious,
what do you think the future of the west side
is beyond this project? Well, I mean, I think the future
of New York City is really, is the west side. I mean, that’s the side
that’s growing the fastest. This area is the fastest
growing area of New York. It’s the only place that really
can allow new development. I mean, most of New York today
is almost fully developed. And you could tear
down old buildings, except being able to relocate
the tenants is near impossible. So you look at New
York, and you see where its future is right now. It’s certainly on the west side. And I think but
you’re also seeing a lot of gentrification
occurring in all the other boroughs. I mean, New York is a city that
is growing at a rate that’s probably faster than the
average rate in this country, and will continue
to grow because it’s a city where people want to be. Please, you going
in the middle here, and then afterwards
we’ll go there. You just said that there’s a lot
of great, talented architects are involved in this project. I’m just wondering how
you make them collaborate with each other, or each one
of them are working with you, and your group could
be the collaborator of the whole project. Well, we bring the
architects together. I mean, they talk, like, I
have a meeting next month with Frank Gehry, Robert Stern,
and Bernardo Fort-Brescia, who are doing the next three
buildings on the Western yards. And to making sure the buildings
all kind of work together, and they’re collaborating. And they’re all really, are
excited to be part of it because they know, there’s– I
don’t think there’s ever been a project that’s done where you
have a collection of such great architects all at one place,
which makes this really, I think, truly unique. Are you doing competitions
for each building? Or– No. How do you select? I mean, we select
who we think are architects that one,
we’ve worked with or whose work we admire. And based on what
they’ve done in the past, and knowing that they’ve
already established themselves. I mean, when you’re building
buildings of this size, you want to use
established architects. It’s not where you’re looking
to have someone cut their teeth on a project of this magnitude. So, it’s safer in
doing it that day. And they have
organizations that are used to doing projects
of this type of scale. So I think that’s
one reason you don’t see some young bright guys
today, who’s a great designer, but doesn’t have
the capabilities of really delivering something,
or you can’t take a chance when you’re building a number
of buildings, all at one time. So you guys have to wait
a few years, I think. That’s what the message is. Please, you go ahead. So how would Hudson Yard
be like in 50 years? I hope I’m here. In 2066. I mean, I think
the Hudson Yards, I mean, I think it’s timeless. I mean, what we’re
doing, there’s nothing that’s short
term in their thinking. And how people were trying to
understand how people live, and work, and how
things are changing, and all the things we’re doing
from a technology standpoint with co-generation
and sustainability. And we’re working–
we’re collecting data working with Cusp, who’s
part of NYU in collecting data. And it will probably be the
most technology advanced project being done in the
United States today. So how will it be? It’ll be ahead of every
borough 50 years old– So maybe we’ll have a– At that point. And you adapt to it. I mean, owning real
estate is something that– it’s a work in process. You’re never really done. So you’re always wanting to
make sure that you keep it up, and you maintain
it, and that it has all the modern conveniences. And certainly, at the
pace the world’s growing, you try to build in for that. So I think, if you
look at New York, I mean, most buildings today
are 50 to 80 years old. And people are living in
them, working in them. But those who take care
of them and adapt to today are those that are
still great buildings. Roger? Can you talk a little bit
about sustainable initiatives that you’ve incorporated
in, co-gen, whatever? I mean, we have co-gen
in all the buildings. We’re looking at trash removal,
and all the different– I forget a lot of it
right now, to explain. But we are looking at
every single aspect of how we can be the most
technologically advanced. And we have people that
specialize at that today. And that’s what’s really
attracting the tenants to the building, knowing
the fact is that we do have the generation capabilities, and
technology, and the elevators, and everything– every
area you can look at. Maybe we’ll have
just a couple more and then I think we should–
so please, if you have the mic, you go ahead. And you have a mic. And then maybe [? Bingwan ?]
can be the last question. Thank you. Can you speak up, or
make sure that it’s on? Hi I’m Taylor. I’m the student at the
college, and I was wondering, a project of this size
and this timeline, it’s possible that
the cycle might turn before the project’s completed. I was wondering what you
guys are planning on doing in anticipation of that. Well, right now, as I said,
we have one completed building and we have 10 and 1/2 million
square feet under construction. All of our office
space is virtually leased at this point in time. Our residential, our
retail is, today we’re probably close to 50% at least
on that, and enough interest that we know we’re
going to fill it up. And then we look
at the residential. I mean, we’re subject
to the market. We started our sales
effort September 14th, and I think it’s done
exceptionally well in this environment. New York’s not the greatest
condo market at this point, but I think people are looking
for something unique, something different. And they see what we’re
offering is something that is totally unique that
they can’t find elsewhere, of the quality, and the
location, and everything else, that the way of life
that we are creating. I mean, I call it a once in a
lifetime type of opportunity. Because where,
anywhere in the city, can you really live
and work, and really be involved with all the
congestion that exists, and the inconvenience of
getting around the city. And it’s all at your
fingertips here. I mean, some of the
restaurants we’re putting in will have 14 different
eating venues that are part of the
project, with some of the greatest
chefs in the world, in beautifully done space. So I mean, I think New York’s
going to continue to grow. We’re always
somebody to a hiccup. I mean, but at the
same time I think that we will– the
way we’ve financed it, we can withstand
anything that happens. And we certainly
aren’t looking for it, but we certainly don’t– we
take that into consideration. Thank you. Please. Steve, as a developer
I know in certain times under these
developments, there’s a nadir during the
development process. There’s the oh shit moment,
for lack of a better word. Can you describe, during this
eight year saga, the lowest point you had? We don’t want you to
finish on a downer. I could say something. I mean, we were– knock wood
we’ve been pretty fortunate. I mean, nothing goes
straight up in negotiations. You think you have a
tenant, then all of a sudden they disappear. Then they come back. But we’ve been very fortunate. I think the product of
what we have is unique. And the offering is unique. Sure, we have our battles
with subcontractors, and getting things
done, problems we might have with the MTA,
with what they want underground that they didn’t inform us of,
and whose liability that is. But things like that. I mean there’s issues. There’s always– there’s
an issue every day when you work on
something like this. And that’s what our
job is, solving issues. [? Bingwan, ?] do you want
to have the last question or comment? Thank you. Mr. Ross, I think this is
very impressive achievement, as a developer, to build
something at this scale, with this complexity. I think I’m not sure that
people realize to what extent you are under pressure, and you
are dealing with financial risk by building at this scale. So I actually
applaud your efforts. Within the financial
constraints, you pay attention
to design quality, and to thinking about the
quality of living in a city. My question is hypothetical, but
I do want to hear your answer. If you had a choice,
because there is very clear logic, economic
and financial logic, in how you’re building the
project, even the choice of the floor plate, as
well as the usual phasing. But my question is,
if you had a choice, would you choose to build
all the buildings at once? Would you choose to build every
single one of them as tall as you could? You’re thinking I
don’t have a choice. That’s why it’s a
hypothetical, but I want to hear your reaction. I mean, if you can look at–
if you can build it all once, you’d prefer to do it at that. I mean, yes, it’s a
large undertaking. I mean, thank god we have a
great staff and great people that really are
working on it, and that are able– love the
challenge of doing that. And we sometimes– like we’re
starting another building, and we have to have it
done by a certain date, our next building, and we
say, are we really going to be able to do that? And we look at each other,
hey, let’s go for it. And that’s just the
attitude that we have. And I think people who
believe in themselves, and see the
opportunity is there, they’re going to figure out
a way to make it happen. And I think that’s just
the way we approach things. We’ll figure it out. We’ll make it happen. Actually, I don’t know
if you have any final– Where do you get all the steel,
and the glass in the windows, and the concrete. You control the
market in the city with a project of this scale. Well, I mean, what’s
really great– been great about this project and I mean
Bruce Beal, Harvard graduate. I mean, we saw it with the
scale, that what we’re doing, we’re able to
vertically integrate. And so we’re using
that to really get involved in different
aspects of the project that we really control. Like we built our own curtain
wall manufacturing plant in around 200,000 square
feet in Pennsylvania to service our projects. So when you have the
size and scale, one, you want to control costs
to the extent you can, because you know everybody’s
there to rip you off. And so, we are looking to
really vertically integrate to where we can. I mean, working with the unions. This is– the first
phase is a union project, and so we’re dealing with that. And New York at the same time
is becoming kind of an open shop city, and so dealing
with the unions has been a real
interesting experience. But I mean, you learn a lot. That’s the way you
can get things. I mean, today, because of our
reputation, and the fact is, we really, in our history
haven’t had lawsuits with any of our suppliers
or subcontractors. People want to work for us. So I think that goes a
long way in developing a project like this. So I think you need experience–
one thing I would say, when you take something
on, you better have a little experience. It’s really amazing to witness
the way a project like this has come about, its scale,
its scope, its ambitions. A lot of people have
referred to Roppongi Hills, because that’s also the
work of another visionary, another organization,
the Mori Organization. And today we are
operating within a context where there is really no
state authorities as such. I mean, governments don’t do
large scale projects the way that it used to happen like
with [INAUDIBLE] for example, in Paris, and the
rebuilding of the city. So I think it’s really
an incredible situation to see that this is still
possible today, that there could be a company, there
could be an organization, there could be a team
that is doing this. And I think that that’s
a really– at least I think it’s an inspiring
thing for the students, except that I think, as I said,
we are in the business of what if, imagining, thinking about
the kind of otherwise of this. And I think that it is
very interesting to witness that this kind of
thing is possible, and what else could it be. What else could it– I mean,
it’s already an incredible project, but it’s also a
challenge for our community and for our students to sort
of see when there is this kind of scope and scale possible,
with this level of technical knowledge– I mean, I’d love to see if,
given all the knowns that they have, of what people would have
come up with as alternatives to what we did. Shall we organize– I’d be interested– A little– In seeing that– Mini– Love to see that. Sort of post-facto competition? Yeah. Sure. I’d love– I mean there’s
nothing better than learning. And we don’t have
all the answers. But I’d love to see something. We will take on that challenge. Anyway, this has been
a wonderful evening. Thank you so much, Stephen. Thank you all for being here.

4 thoughts on “Stephen Ross, “Hudson Yards”

  1. Great Keynote! Ross and Related truly are the very best Developers of our time

  2. Alternate title: Stephen Ross, "machismo capitalism > affordable housing"

  3. The concerns of the students and faculties were highly justified regarding the masterplan and the scheme, but whats more important than dealing with the project as whole in terms of a building, is that breaking it down into theses components of varying functions will help it to adapt to the changing conditions over a longer period of time whilst also maintaining the flexibility of the commercial spaces.

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