Dolphins Owner Building Largest Private ‘Sustainable Neighborhood’ In US History

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NEW YORK (CBSMiami) – Miami Dolphins owner and mega real estate developer Stephen Ross is undertaking the largest and most expensive private real estate development in U.S. history.

On Wednesday, the design of the massive centerpiece sculpture in a $200 million public space project at Hudson Yards was unveiled.

“Vessel” from British designer Thomas Heatherwick will stand 150 feet high, measuring 50 feet across at the base and 150 feet across at the top. The concrete and steel structure will be situated in a 5-acre public space on Manhattan’s west side overlooking the Hudson River and surrounded by the skyscrapers of the expansive development project. The price tag for fabrication and installation of the sculpture alone is $150 million.

The design, which has a latticework of 154 interconnected flights of stairs and 80 platforms, had been shrouded in an aura of mystery for the past several months. Developer Stephen Ross of Related Companies offered hints of its potential impact, likening its appeal to New York City to the Eiffel Tower’s appeal to Paris.

Heatherwick, whose other projects include the cauldron for the 2012 Olympics in London, said the sculpture “is the ultimate seeing each other device,” since people would be able to see others on other platforms as well as those down below.

“We’re thrilled and excited and amazed that the project’s really happening,” he said. “It’s a very different kind of commission than we’ve ever worked on before.”

The public square where “Vessel” will sit is planned as an outdoor venue for performances and art exhibits, with landscaping that includes 28,000 plants, including more than 200 trees. It’s expected to be open to the public in 2018. Heatherwick said construction of the components already has begun in Italy.

“This is going to be the place where people want to be,” Ross said.

Ross believes this area will soon replace Rockefeller Center as the heart of New York City.

“New York is growing,” he explained. “If you don’t allow a city to grow, it’s going to die.”

To bring life to this area, Ross hired a team of renowned architects – “starchitects” as he calls them – to individually design each structure.

Their vision will transform the landscape and skyline of New York City.

“I think the live, work, play is so important today,” Ross said.

He envisions it as a place where companies will relocate, New Yorkers will live and tourists will visit.

“You have the High Line coming right into the project,” he said.

The area is hugged by:

  1. The High Line – an elevated public park that attracts millions of visitors a year.
  2. The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center.
  3. A brand new subway station.

But the rail yard must stay, so Ross is building over it.

“This is like the largest project ever done in the United States, so it’s really building a city within a city, you know, in a place that probably thought wasn’t possible,” he said. “We want this to be the best in class the best development ever done.”

Ross says no expense was spared. When the 20-million square foot development is complete, it will include state of the art office buildings, 100 premier shops and restaurants, 14 acres of open space, a hotel, a school and approximately 4,000 apartments.

“I think the goal of any developer is something that is impactful and transformative.”

Ross makes rebuilding a city sound so easy perhaps because, for him, it’s a true labor of love.

“This is like living the dream. It’s not about how much money you make, it’s about the kind of legacy and what you do for the city because this is going to be here forever,” he said.

Ross says his ultimate goal is to bring this concept of a “sustainable neighborhoods” – where people live, work and play – to cities around the world.

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