NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Hudson Yards is the largest and most expensive, private real estate development in U.S. history
Over the years, CBS2’s Kristine Johnson had the opportunity to tour the massive real estate undertaking and watch as it all came together. Last week, she got one last look as the finishing touches went into place.
“In our minds, we had this vision of what it would like,” said Jeff Blau, CEO of Related Companies.
It’s the largest development in New York City since Rockefeller Center.
“Some people thought we were crazy to do it, spend that kind of money,” Stephen Ross said.
“We’re not just selling a building,” said Sherry Tobak, Related Companies’ senior VP. “The reason why people are living here is because of the lifestyle we are offering.”
Hudson Yards, with 18 million square feet of commercial and residential space, and 14 acres of gardens and parks, all of which is built on top of the Long Island Rail Road’s rail yard, which remained active throughout construction.
“It was a little bit like open-heart surgery, swinging steel and really working with the railroad,” resident Jay Cross said. “there was a lot of structural gymnastics.”
The result is what the developers are calling a completely sustainable neighborhood.
The concept for the team at Hudson Yards was to create a space where New Yorkers can work, live and play, all in the lap of luxury, if you can afford it.
With condo costs starting at about $3 million and ranging up to $32 million, the development has drawn some criticism for being a mall for the wealthy.
“As part of this development, we committed to build or to preserve about 1,100 units of affordable housing,” Blau said.
But this new neighborhood, they say, will create new opportunities and jobs for all New Yorkers.
“When you come into an office building here at Hudson Yards, you just swipe your hand and you’re in,” Cross said.
Companies from Coach to L’Oreal have moved their corporate offices to the site, and more than 100 retailers and restaurants have set up shop.
“It’s an extremely unique shopping experience,” Esty Ottensoser said. “The ease that you get from shopping online is extremely important and all of our retailers have incorporated that in their stores.”
“They really have bought into something that’s new and different,” Cross added.
Further setting this city within a city apart is a performing arts center, called “The Shed,” which was built with a retractable roof, a public square and gardens, hosting the “Vessel,” a 150-foot tall honeycomb-shaped structure that’s meant for visitors to climb, for free.
“It’s really the first center for all arts, for all audiences,” Alex Poot said.
“This is going to be to New York City what the Eiffel Tower is to Paris,” Blau said of the Vessel.
Asked what his message is to New Yorkers as his team gets ready to open up the doors Hudson Yards, Blau said, “You don’t know until you see it in person, so come to Hudson Yards.”
More than 20,000 workers pulled this project off in record time. Every day this week CBS2 will take you inside what it’s really like to live, work and play at Hudson Yards.