One Billionaire's Extremely Valuable Hole in the Ground

A valuable lot overlooking the East River in Manhattan has sat vacant for years without a clear indication of whether billionaire Sheldon Solow will follow through on his redevelopment plans.
August 28, 2013, 1pm PDT | Alek Miller
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Author Charles V. Bagli points out that the hole in the ground on First Avenue may remain one for some time, considering the billionaire's current financial troubles. After obtaining the 6.4 acre parcel, Mr. Solow invested in preparing the property for redevelopment. But now, the property has sat vacant for years, despite the recovery of the real estate market in New York City. 

"Mr. Solow spent nearly $100 million demolishing the Waterside power plant there and cleansing the land of toxic materials. In 2008, he had won city approvals for a $4 billion project designed in collaboration by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Richard Meier & Partners that included seven towers, five acres of public gardens and walkways, a public school and affordable housing."

"According to executives who know Mr. Solow, he reconvened his development team about three months ago, eager to begin work on the hole in the ground, to demonstrate that he was serious and to capitalize on a surging market. But the group has not met again.

'He bought the land cheap,' said Edward Rubin, an architect and a former member of Community Board 6. 'The rental market is really hot. Why it’s still a hole in the ground, I don’t know.'"

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Published on Monday, August 19, 2013 in The New York Times
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