111 West 57th Street

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111 West 57th Street
The building with its concrete form topped-out, undergoing pinnacle installation, on September 28, 2019.
Alternative namesSteinway Tower
General information
Location111 West 57th Street, New York, 10019
Coordinates40°45′52″N 73°58′40″W / 40.76455°N 73.97765°W / 40.76455; -73.97765Coordinates: 40°45′52″N 73°58′40″W / 40.76455°N 73.97765°W / 40.76455; -73.97765
Construction started2014
Estimated completion2020[1]
Cost$1 billion
Architectural1,428 ft (435 m)[2]
Antenna spire1,428 ft (435 m)[2]
Technical details
Floor count82
Floor area315,996 sq ft (29,357.0 m2)
Design and construction
ArchitectSHoP Architects
DeveloperJDS Development Group and Property Markets Group
Structural engineerWSP
Main contractorParkside Construction

111 West 57th Street, also known as the Steinway Tower,[3] is an 82-story, 1,428-foot (435-meter) supertall residential project by developers JDS Development Group and Property Markets Group in Midtown Manhattan, New York City. Located along Billionaires' Row on 57th Street near Sixth Avenue, the development consists of the original landmarked Steinway Building designed in 1925 by Warren & Wetmore and a new tower by SHoP Architects.[4]

When completed, the tower will be one of the tallest buildings in the United States, as well as the thinnest skyscraper in the world with a width-to-height ratio of about 1:23[5] or 1:24.[6][7] The north side of the tower rises directly up to the pinnacle of the building. On the south side of the tower, a series of setbacks appear as the tower rises, thinning out as the height of the building increases.[8][9]

Since beginning construction in early 2014, the development has faced significant challenges including union protests, multiple lawsuits from a former equity partner, a foreclosure, and the indictment of the project's general contractor for fraud, withholding wages, and using undocumented immigrant labor.[10] After significant cost overruns and delays, the tower's concrete form topped-out in April 2019, with full completion of its pinnacle expected by the end of 2020.[1]



Barry Sternlicht's Starwood Capital Group initially purchased the building's site in 2005 for $52 million with a $30 million loan from Eurohypo.[11] In early 2012, Starwood sold a majority interest to JDS Development Group for $40 million but stayed on as a joint venture partner.[12] In March 2012, the first plans for the site at 105 West 57th Street were filed with the New York City Department of Buildings for a 51-story tower rising 671 feet (205 m) and containing just 27 condominiums.[13] Renderings of the planned development were revealed in September, showing a sloping CetraRuddy-designed tower covered with balconies facing Central Park.[14] At the time, construction was expected to begin in early 2013 and wrap up by the end of 2014.[15]

At the end of 2012, Steinway & Sons announced an agreement to sell their long-time headquarters Steinway Hall at 109–113 West 57th Street.[16] The $46 million sale of the 16-story building, which had been losing over $5 million a year for the company, closed in March 2013 to JDS Development, Property Markets Group, Arthur P. Becker, and Andy Ruhan.[17] Under the terms of the deal, Steinway would remain in the building for 18 months, after which they would move out so JDS could construct a new building on the site. Arthur P. Becker allegedly purchased his stake with the help of a $21 million loan from controversial Russian oligarchs Serguei Adoniev and Albert Avdolyan, concealed via a web of off-shore LLCs in the British Virgin Islands and Hong Kong.[18]

JDS also paid $131.5 million to Wexford Capital for the land underneath the building in July 2013, which gave the company control of an expanded site stretching from 105-113 West 57th Street and allowed the construction of a much larger building.[19] After the purchase, Starwood Capital Group exited their investment, leaving JDS and Property Markets Group as the developers.[20] Shortly after, the developers secured a $230 million acquisition loan from Annaly Capital Management on the development site.[21]

In August 2013, the developers filed new permits for a 1,200 feet (370 m) tower designed by SHoP Architects that would hold 100 condominiums above six floors of retail.[22] The next month, The Wall Street Journal unveiled renderings of the building's new design, which would stretch 1,350 feet (410 m) tall.[23] Since Steinway Hall was declared a New York City Landmark in November 2001, SHoP's plans incorporated the existing building into the base of the new condominium tower. The building's interior was also protected by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission in September 2013, requiring JDS to renovate and restore the space.[24] The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the new tower in early October, paving the way for full construction permits.[25]

Early construction and union protests[edit]

The developers broke ground on the project in early 2014.[26] At the beginning of 2015, the building was approved with new permits showing the tower would rise 80 stories and 1,397 feet (426 m) tall. The new permits called for 55 luxury condominiums and a completion date of 2017.[27]

The construction site in June 2016

At the end of June, the developers received a four-year, $725 million construction loan, split between a $400 million senior loan from American International Group and a $325 million mezzanine loan from Apollo Global Management.[28] The Qatar Investment Authority provided $161.5 million of the mezzanine loan through investment vehicles managed by Apollo.[29]

The next month, the developers installed the tallest freestanding crane in New York City history, which measured 220 feet (67 m), to construct the building.[30] The building's developers also chose to use non-unionized labor because of cheaper rates and because unions required developers to pay double overtime and contribute hourly pension and benefit fees.[31] The building was the tallest project ever in New York City to be constructed with non-union labor.[32]

In May 2015, the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York's leader Gary LaBarbera criticized the building's developers for not giving their workers adequate safety training, and for not using union labor.[33] The union also detailed multiple incidents that had occurred at the site including "a worker falling from scaffold that lacked a railing, one worker who fell in a partial building collapse and another who had his leg crushed when a steel beam slipped."[31] Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer sided with LaBarbera, sending Stern a letter expressing concern over the workers' safety, training, and pay.[34] New York City Public Advocate Letitia James echoed Brewer's concerns and agreed that the usage of non-union labor could lead to increased danger for workers.[35] By June 2016, the project had risen above street level.[36]

AmBase lawsuits[edit]

Front façade with pinnacle installation, looking north from 6th Avenue on July 19, 2019.

In the summer of 2017, after the tower had been built to 20 stories, construction stalled.[37] According to a lawsuit filed by AmBase, an investor which had purchased a 59% stake in the building for $56 million in 2013, the developers neglected to account for cost overruns reaching $50 million in relation to renting construction cranes necessary for completing the skyscraper along with complications related to excavation.[38] In order to cover the extra costs, the developers had issued six capital calls totaling $63.6 million. AmBase participated in the first four calls but not the last two, which resulted in their stake being diluted from 60.3% to 43.5%.[39]

In retaliation, AmBase filed a lawsuit seeking $105 million in damages which claimed that the capital calls were unnecessary and done only to dilute their stake for the benefit of developers Kevin Maloney and Michael Stern.[40] AmBase also claimed that Atlantic 57 LLC, controlled by Arthur P. Becker and Andy Ruhan, did not participate in any of the capital calls yet did not have their 26% stake diluted at all. Additionally, since construction costs had allegedly risen by more than 10%, AmBase claimed their contract entitled them to full repayment of their $66 million investment along with 20% interest.[41] However, the developers claimed that since there had never been an officially approved budget, there was no measure by which to determine cost overruns.[21]

Without the additional cash from AmBase, the developers fell into default on the $325 million mezzanine loan from Apollo. However, they managed to negotiate a forbearance agreement on $300 million of the debt and the remaining $25 million was sold to Spruce Capital Management. The developers also were in the process of negotiating another $100 million mezzanine loan from Baupost Group to repay Spruce but the loan was vetoed by AmBase.[21] At the end of July 2017, Spruce claimed that it had not received payment on the $25 million mezzanine loan and filed paperwork to begin the process of foreclosure.[41]

AmBase filed another lawsuit, claiming that developers Kevin Maloney and Michael Stern were colluding with the lender to allow a foreclosure which would wipe out AmBase's $66 million equity investment while preserving Maloney's and Stern's $35 million stake. The lawsuit resulted in a temporary restraining order which halted the foreclosure process until the New York Supreme Court could issue a ruling on August 14.[41] However, at the end of August the Court ruled that Spruce Capital could proceed with foreclosure, which allowed the lender to hand over the development entirely to Maloney and Stern, wiping out AmBase's investment completely.[42] AmBase appealed the ruling but lost again in the New York Supreme Court, Appellate Division in January 2018.[43]

AmBase refiled their lawsuit in federal court in early 2018, claiming that Maloney and Stern's alleged collusion with Spruce violated the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act and seeking a $136 million judgement.[44] Despite the building's monetary and legal issues, a number of apartments in the tower had already gone to contract.[45][46] However, AmBase and founder Richard Bianco faced their own lawsuit from hedge fund IsZo Capital, which claimed the company had purposefully forced the 2017 foreclosure by denying the Baupost Group loan. Following the foreclosure, Bianco had agreed to finance the lawsuit against Maloney and Stern in return for 30 to 45% of any payout from the lawsuit. According to IsZo, Bianco purposefully sabotaged efforts to prevent the 2017 foreclosure because he instead desired the personal payout from the lawsuit over whatever money AmBase could recover from preventing the foreclosure.[47] In October 2018, AmBase's federal lawsuit was dismissed after the court found no evidence of collusion between Maloney, Stern, and Spruce.[44] In September 2019, AmBase's appeal of the lawsuit was dismissed by the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.[48]

Parkside Construction indictment and further lawsuits[edit]

By November 2017, the tower had reached a height of roughly 500 feet (150 m), and initial glass facade installation had begun.[49] In March 2018, the tower's height officially surpassed the halfway point at over 700 feet (210 m).[50] In May 2018, Madison Realty Capital provided a $90 million preferred equity investment in the tower, allowing construction to continue.[51]

Construction in November 2017, shortly after glass installation began

The same month, New York County District Attorney Cyrus Vance Jr. indicted general contractor Parkside Construction for a variety of financial crimes.[3] The indictment included charges of stealing $1.7 million from 520 workers on the project by purposely shorting their hours and failing to pay them overtime, hiding nearly $42 million in wages from state insurance officials to avoid paying workers’ compensation premiums, and using undocumented immigrants from Mexico and Ecuador. The company's owners, Francesco and Salvatore Pugliese, were arrested and charged with grand larceny, insurance fraud and scheme to defraud. The company's construction foreman, payroll manager, and an outside accountant were also charged in the scheme.[3] Parkside had previously been sued in 2015 in a class action lawsuit by former workers on the site, who had alleged widespread wage theft.[52]

The month after, Corcoran Sunshine Marketing Group sued the building's developers for $30 million, claiming that their contract to market the building's units had been unfairly terminated.[53] The developers claimed that the brokerage had been replaced with Douglas Elliman after failing to sell 25% of the building's units by the middle of 2018 as required by their contract. However, Corcoran claimed that due to the numerous lawsuits, delays, and cost overruns, the developers had halted marketing and sales for the units which made it impossible for the brokerage to reach their sales hurdles. Corcoran also sued Douglas Elliman for tortious interference, claiming the company had hired away the building's sales director in violation of her non-compete clause.[53]

In August, the developers filed paperwork with the Attorney General of New York to raise prices at the project despite a slowing luxury market.[54] Sales at the project officially relaunched the next month with prices ranging from $18 million to over $57 million.[55]

On January 21, 2019, a suspended scaffold attached to the building broke free from the exterior of the 55th floor and showered pieces of broken glass from cracked windows over nearby sidewalks due to high winds. The New York City Buildings Department initiated a partial stop work order, and issued the site a violation for failure to safeguard construction equipment.[56] In April 2019, the building's concrete form officially topped-out, and exterior work of its pinnacle is expected to be completed by 2020.[57]

After the dismissal of their three previous lawsuits, AmBase again sued Spruce Capital, Maloney, and Stern in May 2019 in another attempt to regain control of the project. In addition to restating their previous allegations of collusion between Spruce, Maloney, and Stern, AmBase also sought additional damages for the developers' alleged breach of their fiduciary duties.[58] Around the same time, the building's 7,175 square feet (666.6 m2) penthouse entered contract for "close to" its asking price of $58 million, making it one of the most expensive New York condo sales of 2019.[1] In September 2019, JDS asked lenders for a $1.1 billion loan to replace AIG's $725 million in construction debt.[59]


Midtown Manhattan looking north from the Empire State Building's 102nd floor, 1,224 feet (373 m) above ground level, November 2018.

The development features two components: the landmarked Steinway Building designed in 1925 by Warren & Wetmore and a new 1,428 ft (435 m) tower designed by SHoP Architects. The original Steinway Building was renovated and converted into 14 condo units while the tower contains 46 condominiums including 7 duplex units.[60]

Both aspects are being developed by Michael Stern's JDS Development Group and Kevin P. Maloney's Property Markets Group while the skyscraper was designed by SHoP Architects.[61] The north side of the tower rises directly up to the pinnacle of the building. On the south side of the tower, a series of setbacks appear as the tower rises. As the height of the building increases, the setbacks eventually thin out, with the tower "disappearing into the sky."[8][9] Vanity Fair described it as "a subtle and graceful re-interpretation in modern form of the stepped-back, “wedding cake” towers of New York's past". The building's interiors were designed by Studio Sofield.[62] The tower's facade features large glass windows on the north and south sides while the east and west feature smaller windows in between vertical bands of bronze and terracotta.[60]

The building includes 20,000 square feet (1,900 m2) of amenities space, containing a gym, an 82 feet (25 m) pool, barbershop, shoeshine stand, and a lounge featuring a Steinway grand piano.[60] The building will have a porte-cochère for residents, and a recital hall will be constructed as an architectural reference to the fact that the building is being constructed on top of Steinway Hall.[63]

The building will include an 800-ton tuned mass damper to provide stability in the event of high winds or a seismic event.[64] The main tower has two elevators for 58 residences[2] due to the small cross section, and the service elevator is the lower car of a double-deck elevator.

Writing for Vanity Fair, Paul Goldberger referred to the plans for the tower as "quite possibly the most elegant" of the new structures planned for 57th Street and around Central Park, which include One57, 432 Park Avenue, and the as yet unfinished 220 Central Park South and Central Park Tower.[8]

See also[edit]


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External links[edit]