Mayor Bloomberg and Extell Development Company Announce First Phase of Construction of International Gem Tower

Mayor Bloomberg and Extell Development Company Announce First Phase of Construction of International Gem Tower

New York, NY – May 19, 2009 – (RealEstateRama) — Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber and Extell Development Company President Gary Barnett today announced the first phase of construction of the International Gem Tower, a state-of-the-art facility for domestic and international gem and jewelry wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers and designers. The project will provide space for roughly 250 businesses and more than 3,000 jobs. The first phase of construction – which includes three underground levels that will house state-of-the-art gem industry vault operations, utility infrastructure, parking facilities and retail – is expected to be completed by the end of the year, and the entire project is expected to be completed in 2011. Creating jobs and supporting the growth of a diverse array of industries is part of the City’s Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan to create jobs for New Yorkers today, implement a vision for long-term economic growth, and build affordable, attractive neighborhoods. New York City Economic Development Corporation President Seth W. Pinsky, Buildings Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri and Tishman Construction Corporation of New York President John T. Livingston joined the Mayor for the announcement, which took place at the site for the new tower on 47th Street between 5th and 6th Avenue in Manhattan’s Diamond District.“The wholesalers, retailers, manufacturers and designers that make up New York City’s jewelry industry are a valuable part of the local economy,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “But the center of the industry – the 47th Street Diamond District – has seen modest private investment in recent decades, and there is little space for international companies that want to locate here or local businesses that want to expand. The International Gem Tower will offer that space, providing room for 250 businesses and more than 3,000 jobs and helping New York City compete with worldwide gem markets like Shanghai, Dubai and Las Vegas. It’s a major private investment on the part of Extell, and it serves as a tremendous vote of confidence in the future of New York City at a time when it’s much needed.”

“New York City’s Diamond District is one of the greatest shopping centers in the world, and investments like the International Gem Tower will enhance it and help create a modern and dynamic hub of economic activity,” said Deputy Mayor Lieber.  “Our Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan is designed to promote high-growth sectors, and Extell’s commitment to the City is a critical step toward revitalizing the district and industry.”

“For the first time, New York City’s Diamond District will have an international gem and jewelry center on par with other global markets,” said Extell Development Company President Gary Barnett. “The City has been an important partner for us, recognizing early on the importance of revitalizing this industry. The International Gem Tower will assure the presence of the gem and jewelry industries in New York City for years to come.”

“The diamond and jewelry industry and the more than 26,000 jobs it supports are valuable contributors to the New York City economy, but in the last three decades it has seen little investment and as a result the concentration of businesses in the Diamond District along 47th Street is under threat of deteriorating,” said Economic Development Corporation President Pinsky. “This important project will go a long way to preserve and expand the cluster, and make the City more competitive in the international market for these important jobs. The 21st Century facility will provide much-needed modern space with the required security features that attract new diamond and jewelry-businesses and ensure that the Diamond District grows and thrives in the heart of Midtown.”

Extell will have invested nearly $300 million in private capital upon completion of the first phase of construction, and the total project is expected to cost roughly $750 million. Extell will offer commercial condominiums for sale to jewelry businesses. Although most existing jewelry space in New York City is leased, ownership units are common in other international gem centers. Extell will begin marketing the space later this month, and the company expects to have one-third of the tower under contract by the end of the year.

The City – through the New York City Industrial Development Agency – will provide assistance to the developer for the new tower contingent on its success attracting tenants. As long as 85 percent of the building is filled with diamond and jewelry industry-related occupants and 50 percent with businesses that are either new to or expanding in the City, the developer would be eligible for City and State tax benefits equaling $49.6 million.

The International Gem Tower was designed by Skidmore Owings & Merrill, and will be built by Tishman Construction Company. The tower will feature a facade of embedded diamond shaped steel medallions.

The City’s Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan is a comprehensive strategy to bring New York City through the current economic downturn as fast as possible. It focuses on three major areas: creating jobs for New Yorkers today, implementing a long-term vision for growing the city’s economy, and building affordable, attractive neighborhoods in every borough. Taken together, the initiatives that the City has launched to achieve these goals will generate thousands of jobs and put New York City on a path to economic recovery and growth. To learn more about the plan, visit Recently, the City has announced:

  • Start of review process for Kingsbridge Armory project creating 1,200 permanent jobs.
  • City’s Workforce1 Centers in Harlem and Jamaica received awards for innovation.
  • Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program to encourage grocery stores.
  • City-supported loans unavailable from banks to help small businesses stay in operation.
  • Three new Financial Empowerment Centers offering free, one-on-one financial coaching.
  • Stimulus funding to help the City provide summer jobs for 51,000 young New Yorkers.
  • The opening of New Hope Walton Project, housing for low-income residents in Harlem
  • New affordable housing at Gateway Building, a long-vacant structure in the South Bronx.
  • The Harlem Business Assistance Fund to help businesses relocate to the 125th Street area.
  • The expansion of NYC Business Express to help businesses obtain permits and licenses.
  • New international cruise activity, growing New York City’s 13,000-job cruise industry.
  • Steps to help New York City’s bioscience companies compete for Federal funding.
  • The “Nine in ’09” campaign to promote economic activity in diverse neighborhoods.
  • A Center for Economic Opportunity program put 4,000 low-income New Yorkers in jobs.
  • Stimulus-funded community development projects that will strengthen neighborhoods.
  • Stimulus-funded Housing Authority projects that will create jobs for 3,255 New Yorkers.
  • The start of construction of 103 units of affordable housing in Brownsville.
  • A plan to protect area character and expand commercial opportunities in Sunset Park.
  • The opening of Home Depot in the South Bronx creating 200 new permanent jobs.
  • Legislation that will green buildings and create 19,000 construction jobs.
  • The latest round of training funds to help small businesses train their employees.
  • The final tally of 1,673 additional jobs created at the new Yankee Stadium.
  • The placement of 50 laid-off New Yorkers into positions at entrepreneurial companies.
  • New York City achieved a record 5,000 job placements through the first quarter of 2009.
  • Help for a beer distributor to create 55 permanent and 30 construction jobs in the Bronx.
  • Green projects at the Brooklyn Navy Yard are creating more than 1,700 permanent jobs.
  • Comprehensive initiatives to support the nonprofit sector and its 490,000 jobs.
  • Federal stimulus transportation projects that will create or preserve 32,000 jobs.
  • New automated water meter readers that could help businesses retain or create 550 jobs.
  • New programs to provide training and resources for City’s future entrepreneurs.
  • Steps the City is taking to help small businesses adapt to conditions and avoid layoffs.
  • More than 50,000 New Yorkers claimed the City’s Child Care Tax Credit in its first year.
  • 11 new initiatives to support the financial services sector and promote entrepreneurship.
  • A plan for Coney Island that will create 6,000 permanent and 25,000 construction jobs.

A plan to create 400,000 jobs over the next six years in the 2009 State of the City speech.

Stu Loeser/Andrew Brent   (212) 788-2958
David Lombino/Janel Patterson (EDC/IDA)   (212) 312-3523

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