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All Black team aiming to develop first skyscraper built by African Americans in NYC history

An all-star team of Black architects, developers, builders and lenders is bidding to develop the first skyscraper built by African Americans in the city’s history.

CHERYL McKISSACK DANIEL

Don Peebles, CEO The Peebles Corporation, is part of a team that includes architect Sir David Adjaye, Cheryl McKissack Daniel, president and CEO of the oldest minority/women-owned design and construction firm in the US, and Exact Capital Group, a majority Black-owned real estate development firm headquartered in New York. Steven Witkoff, founder of the Witkoff Group, is also a member of the team.

They have submitted and RFP to build the Western Hemisphere’s tallest skyscraper to date on a 1.2-acre lot next to the Javits Center on Manhattan’s West Side. The plan includes a 1,663 ft. tower, two hotels, an observation deck and skating rink as well as commercial office spaces with the NAACP headquarters.

The venture would employ 30,000 New Yorkers over six years, including 15,000 permanent jobs, bringing in more than $5 billion in new tax revenue for the city and state over 30 years, according to the team.

“This project is emblematic of true equity in development,” said Peebles. “A symbol for all who visit New York, cementing in brick and mortar that New York is serious about economic inclusion.”

The team says it recently submitted RFP to New York State for the 1.2 acre lot will change New York City’s skyline while acting as a “powerful economic engine” for minorities and women with the team’s commitment of 35 percent in contracts to people of color totaling more than a billion dollars. 

Bounded by 35th and 36th Streets, 11th Avenue and Hudson Boulevard West, Site K sits one block from the High Line, Hudson Yards and the Number 7 subway line.

New York’s economic development arm issued an RFP in March for proposals to develop the site for commercial or mixed use as part of the state’s vision for investing $51 billion to further redevelop Midtown West by upgrading transit facilities, extending the High Line, and adding commercial, retail and residential space.

The lot is at 418 11th Ave. and is referred to as “Site K.” It’s owned by the New York Convention Center Development Corp., a subsidiary of Empire State Development. The site is east of the main entrance to the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center and is a block from the High Line, a subway station with access to the 7 train, Hudson Yards and Hudson River Park.

Peter Ward, former president of New York’s Hotel and Motel Trades, is backing the all-Black proposal saying the project will be a well-needed economic boost not only to the city’s workforce, but also the tourism industry.

“This project will provide $4.4 billion of new economic output per year, bringing thousands of jobs in the construction, design and development as well as millions of people across the globe who will be excited to see this iconic skyscraper,” said Ward.

The project’s inclusive team has attracted citywide support from the African-American business and civic communities as well as the Black clergy.

“Unfortunately, for most of New York’s history, African-Americans and people of color have been rendered as mere economic tourists who gaze upward at one of the greatest skylines in the world with the intrinsic knowledge they will never be able to participate in what really makes New York unique,” said Rev. Dr. Charles Curtis, Sr., pastor Mount Olivet Baptist Church and Head of NY Interfaith Commission For Housing Equality.

“The awarding of this project to this team will send a statement across the globe that architects, developers, engineers and financial professionals of color are now full participants in this great miracle of global capitalism called New York City.”

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