6 crucial ways New York City’s landscape will change in 2020

By Zoe Rosenberg

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Not a year goes by in New York City without huge shifts in the built environment, and 2019 was no different. Eero Saarinen’s glorious, once inaccessible terminal reopened to the public as the picture-perfect TWA Hotel. MoMA returned with 40,000 additional square feet to display its world-class collection. The City Council passed both a Green New Deal and legislation that will change how New Yorkers engage with their streets. And it got a lot less expensive to apply for a new apartment.

But the year had its drawbacks: A spate of cyclist and pedestrian fatalities lurched the city into some form of action. Rents reached new, astronomic highs. And two of the city’s flashiest architectural openings proved to be major fails.

Now, with 2019 behind us, it’s time to look toward what 2020 will bring to New York. Although many of the projects cited below will be ongoing after this year, over the next 12 months, they will begin to affect the ways we live in, move through, and experience our city—hopefully for the better.


The debut of Hudson Yards brought the opening of The Shops and Restaurants and Vessel in March, The Shed in April, and early 2019 closings at Diller Scofidio + Renfro and Rockwell Group’s residential tower at 15 Hudson Yards. The year ahead will be punctuated with more openings and closings.

Edge, the 1,131-foot-tall viewing platform at 30 Hudson Yards, will open on March 11. (Tickets for the sky-high attraction are already up for grabs, with ample availability on opening day and beyond.) Ninety percent of the commercial office space in the works has been leased, and the only office building in the project’s first phase that still has space up for grabs is 50 Hudson Yards, one of three buildings where Facebook inked a deal earlier this year.

Across the street, a new Whole Foods will open at Five Manhattan West in the spring, and the megaproject’s two-acre public plaza between One and Two Manhattan West is expected to open in the later half of the year.

This year will bring a flurry of activity to Essex Crossing: The project’s second building dedicated to senior affordable housing, 140 Essex Street, will open to tenants in late January. The 26-story mixed-use building at 180 Broome Street, known as The Artisan, will launch its affordable housing lottery in January, followed by the building’s market-rate leasing launch in May; move-ins will start in June. Broome Street Gardens, a 9,000-square-foot indoor public park above the Market Line, will also debut in June. Around the corner at 242 Broome Street, the International Center of Photography will open its new flagship location in January. And down the street, the 83 condos of 202 Broome Street will come to market in the spring.

World Trade Center developer Silverstein Properties is mum on what 2020 might bring to the 16-acre campus—2 and 5 World Trade Center remain undeveloped—but work presses on at The Perelman, the performing arts center so named for its benefactor, the billionaire Ronald O. Perelman. This year will see the rise of the steel framing for the performing arts center’s theater, and the completion of the REX-designed building’s structural steel. The center’s first performance is slated to take place in 2021, to commemorate the 20th anniversary of 9/11.

The city’s plan to deck over 180 acres of rail yard that bisect parts of Long Island City and Sunnyside to create Sunnyside Yard made strides in 2019, as Practice for Architecture and Urbanism plugged away on its master plan for the site. The city is still holding public meetings to gather input on the development (which will be a whopping six and a half times the size of Hudson Yards.) Winter 2020 should bring that master plan to the public, a full year later than it was originally set to debut.

Another ambitious development plan in Queens will gain momentum in the new year. At Willets Point, the city will continue working on environmental remediation efforts and infrastructure improvements in preparation for the development’s first phase, which will bring 1,100 units of affordable housing, retail, and a school to six acres in the shadow of Citi Field. The exact fate of the remaining 17 acres is still up in the air, though two proposals have risen to the top: The first would bring a development to the site with mixed-income housing, community space, public open space, retail, and parking. The second would see the build-out of a soccer stadium with seating for 25,000, mixed-income housing, parking, community space, and public open space.

Two Trees’ takeover of the Williamsburg waterfront will carry on into the new year, with the continued redevelopment of the former Domino Sugar Refinery site and an exploratory phase for the recently announced River Street. At Domino, 2020 will bring move-ins to the 24-story commercial building called Ten Grand Street, and will also see outposts of Roberta’s and Other Half Brewing Co. open at One South First.

Development pushes on at Pacific Park, the 22-acre project formerly known as Atlantic Yards. There won’t be any major openings in the new year, but expect work to continue on the development’s 810-unit rental at 18 Sixth Avenue, and on the mixed-income residential building at 662 Pacific Street. Developer TF Cornerstone will break ground on two residential projects at 595 and 615 Dean Street that will bring 800 apartments, 72,000 feet of open space, and an outpost of Chelsea Piers to the neighborhood. And, looking ahead, major project developer Greenland Forest City Partners will work on plans to platform over the LIRR train yard, paving the way for the development of three additional buildings at the site.

Two megaprojects coming to the Bronx will hit major construction milestones this year. The first phase of Bankside Bronx, the seven-building project rising on either side of the Third Avenue Bridge along the Harlem River, will top out toward the end of the year. The phase includes 450 apartments on the north side of the bridge. The second phase, which is expected to begin construction this spring, will bring 849 rentals, parking, and community space to a piece of land south of the bridge. Bronx Point, the affordable residential development coming to a riverfront parcel just south of Mill Pond Park, is expected to break ground this summer.