The project is the first major construction start in New York since the fall of Lehman Brothers in September 2008, and it is an ambitious, even risky undertaking. Unemployment still hovers at 10 percent in the city, which has only just begun to gain back some of the 150,000 jobs lost during the recession. Not so long ago, the real estate industry was right behind Wall Street and the nation’s automakers in crying for a federal bailout. But now the developer and other real estate executives now say they are seeing signs of life, despite a sluggish economy, fears that the European debt crisis will drag down the stock market and a list of stalled residential projects in New York that runs 500 buildings long.

Gary Barnett, one of New York City’s most prolific developers, is about to start construction of a $1.3 billion skyscraper on 57th Street that will overtake Trump World Tower as the tallest residential building in the city. The tower, designed by the French architect Christian de Portzamparc, will rise 1,005 feet above 57th Street east of Seventh Avenue, feature striking views of Central Park and house what Mr. Barnett hopes will be 136 of the most expensive and luxurious apartments in the city. A 210-room Park Hyatt hotel is to occupy the first 20 floors, hotel analysts say. “We’re going vertical in the next three weeks,” said Mr. Barnett, chief executive of Extell Development. Sounding a little like the developer he is one-upping, he said, “We think it’ll be the nicest project ever built in New York.”
By Charles V. Bagli, May 25, 2010 NYT

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