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BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | With the last remnants of The Cooper Union’s old Engineering Building finally demolished, construction is moving ahead on its far glitzier replacement.
Edward J. Minskoff Equities Inc. is developing a 400,000-square-foot office building at 51 Astor Place on a design by Fumihiko Maki.
Influenced by the site’s triangular shape, the new edifice will feature a geometric design, sporting a sharply angled glass facade.
In January, Minskoff closed on a $165 million construction loan.
Jones Lang LaSalle will market and lease the 12-story structure, which a Minskoff press release touted as a “trophy office building.”
According to the release, not only will 51 Astor Place have advanced technology and infrastructure, but will also provide tenants with above-standard electrical power and “generator capacity.”
Located at Astor Place and Third Ave., 51 Astor Place is expected to be completed by early next year.
The building will be constructed to achieve LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) Gold certification.
Amenities at 51 Astor Place will include a tenant-accessible green roof on the fifth floor, a penthouse and a Thomas Basely-designed urban plaza at Astor Place.
The building is required to have this 4,000-square-foot plaza as a result of a restrictive declaration hashed out in 2002 between The Cooper Union, the Department of City Planning and Community Board 3 under the school’s general large-scale development plan.
Four years ago, Cooper Union announced it had entered a $97 million ground lease with Minskoff for 51 Astor Place. At that time, the new building was expected to be ready for occupancy by 2010. But the economy’s crash and the real estate market’s downturn apparently put the project on the backburner for a few years.
The ground lease entitles Cooper Union to participate in the new building’s future income.
“This transaction is a critically important step toward creating a sustainable financial infrastructure for the future,” George Campbell Jr., Cooper’s then-president, said in February 2008. “The development of 51 Astor Place as an income-producing, mixed-use commercial and academic property will be a significant milestone in our master plan, allowing us to continue our unique mission in higher education for generations to come.”
The Cooper Union also has a ground lease with the Gwathmey Siegal-designed glass residential tower on the former parking lot on the south side of Astor Place at Lafayette St.
However, last fall, Cooper’s new president, Jamshed Bharucha, revealed the school was in terrible financial shape — with an annual deficit of $16 million. Charging tuition at the historically free-tuition institution had to be considered as an option, he said.
Speaking in February 2008, Edward J. Minskoff, the development company’s president, said of 51 Astor Place, “It’s going to be one of the great architectural buildings of New York in the last 20 years. I do distinctive buildings — that’s all I know how to do. It’s critical to attracting top tenants. I think, at the end of the day, everyone will agree it’s an architectural gem.”
The Cooper Union’s engineering school is now housed in the college’s new $150 million Thom Mayne-designed building, completed on the east side of Cooper Square in 2009.