BY: NIKOLAI FEDAK ON NOVEMBER 21ST 2014
West 40th Street has become a prime corridor for new hotel development in Manhattan, and now, YIMBY has the reveal for yet another project that is about to begin rising at 310 West 40th Street.
Unfortunately, the new developments along 40th Street are also some of the least attractive buildings in New York City. Cheap cladding and setbacks predominate, and a row of uncomely 30-odd story towers already stare back at the equally unappealing Port Authority. Their new companion will stand 42 stories and 401 feet tall, and contain a total of 287 rooms. Abraham Noy of 310 Group LLC is the developer, and Nobutaka Ashihara is the architect.
While the desirability (or lack thereof) of the street is partially to blame for the lack of attractive design, the true reason for the boom in ugly buildings is outdated zoning that is long overdue for an update. Instead of confronting the reality that manufacturing jobs are likely never coming back to the Garment District — and that, instead, it has emerged as a prime place where people want to both live and visit — the quick pace of new construction is rapidly destroying the neighborhood’s urban aesthetic.
Generous zoning prior to 1961 enabled the Garment District’s rapid and unfettered growth, when enormous office buildings would span partial or full blocks fronting the avenues, and the sweatshops and factories were confined to the still-attractive side-streets. Now, despite access to nearly every subway line in the city at Times Square as well as buses via the Port Authority, residential construction remains prohibited.
And this is why monstrosities like 310 West 40th Street are allowed to destroy what remains of the neighborhood’s pre-war fabric, to no urban gain. Expanding the city’s supply of hotel rooms is a good thing, but not if it’s done in a way that diminishes the intrinsic value of the city said tourists are visiting — and sadly, this is what’s happening.
One bright spot regarding the project is that it replaces a vacant lot rather than anything even mildly attractive. But other than that, the building’s facade will be a splotchy mess, capped by an awkwardly tall and thimble-like crown that will encase rooftop mechanicals.
Per on-site signage, completion of the tower is slated for September of 2016.