WPCNR News learned Wednesday that Frederick Bland of Beyer, Blinder, Belle, is redesigning the Towers of Cappelli as we write. The new looks are expected to be showcased to Monday in anticipation of a final vote September 20
Two reliable sources, one within City Hall, one with firsthand knowledge of the Cappelli & Bland creative team’s work have confirmed that Frederick Bland, “Super Architect” from Beyer, Blinder, Belle has combined with “Super Developer,” Louis Cappelli in a design makeover the last five days.
George Gretsas, the Mayor’s Executive Officer, said he expects to “have more for you tomorrow (Thursday),” on the presentation of the Cappelli & Bland designs tentatively scheduled for Monday.
Pulling up lame in the backstretch.
After breaking from the gate in the Common Council Stakes strongly, City Center stumbled rounding the turn to approvals September 4. The Bland hiring for redesign came about to appease reservations Common Council members had about the Louis Cappelli “originals” presented to the Council at his 34-story zoning hearing September 4. On that ”Night of the New Heights,” the Council approved the 34-story scope of the towers.
But, they approved the 34 stories not without prejudice. For the first time, they informed Cappelli with a bit of bad news. His designs were not acceptable to the majority. Rita Malmud, the most outspoken architectural critic called the towers “34 stories of mediocrity.”
Changing Board Jockeys
Cappelli, shocked at the Council’s displeasure with the tower aesthetics, reacted swiftly. He told the Council he would hire Frederick Bland, the city consultant. Bland executed the study for the Council on the effect of building heights in downtowns, in early August. Cappelli informed The Journal News that he would “fire” Schuman Lichtenstein, the former architectural firm designing the towers, and engage Bland for his exclusive touch.
However, Cappelli’s public relations firm, Thompson & Bender, and Bland’s own architectural firm, Byer, Blinder, Belle did not confirm to WPCNR that Mr. Bland was, indeed, on board.
Now, WPCNR has ascertained Mr. Bland is fully involved holding the reins. Mr. Bland has had at least 5 days on the designs, since as of last Thursday evening he was not under contract. Today, a source shown the latest thinking on the Cappelli City Center project, said Mr. Bland was fully integrated, hands-on, in the redesign process and that Shuman Lichtenstein, the former architectural designer, is out of the picture. Work was reported being executed in the Beyer Blinder Belle offices on 11th Street in New York City. How Mr. Cappelli and Mr. Bland were interfacing on the project is not known at this time.
Down the stretch they come.
A city hall source confirmed the new look or looks are planned for showing tentatively Monday morning in a dramatic presentation to the Design Review Board, the Planning Board, the Conservation Board, and the Urban Renewal Agency.
George Gretsas, the Mayor’s right hand man, said he would have “more for you tomorrow (Thursday),” on the details of the unveiling. City Hall, he said, is trying to arrange for the Common Council to see the designs at the same time, because he did not want the other city boards to see them before the Common Council, WPCNR presumes, as a matter of protocol and respect for the Council.
At this late date, Monday appears the last possible date for a pre-vote viewing of the designs by the Council, considering the holy days of Rosh Hashanah are on Tuesday and Wednesday of next week.
The ultimate City Center vote on the Cappelli site plan and Special Permit is scheduled to be held by the Common Council on September 20, one week from Thursday. However, there is always the possibility it could be moved forward.
Win, Place or Show Money scheduled for September 25
Mr. Cappelli is pushing the City Center horse hard for approval September 20 because he is scheduled to close on his financing with the Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce September 25.
It remains to be been whether CIBC, previously committed to furnishing $375MM to bankroll the City Center construction, is being affected by the reeling international markets resulting of the World Trade Center catastrophe. Mr. Cappelli’s pleadings with the Common Council to move faster because of the “event-risk” factor in any financing arrangement now appear eerily prophetic.