We check in with Michael Stern, founder and CEO of JDS Development Group, developer of Steinway Tower at 111 W. 57th St., on high-profile projects, the state of the market and his love for building.
111 West 57th Street is perfectly centered on Central Park.
What first inspired your love of real estate and developing properties? I love to build, and I love to challenge the status quo. There is something really satisfying and tangible about seeing a building or adaptivereuse project come to fruition, and to work as a team—solving the inherent complexities and challenges of building—to make it happen.
You are revered for your super-elevated taste and refined architectural aesthetic. Do you think this sets you apart from other developers? What drives this passion? I have a low tolerance for the mediocre. Our cities and residents deserve better. I believe that we should develop and design with a point of view, and I challenge our designers to do their best work.
I read when you first visit a building you go to the roof first—why is that? Understanding the view corridors is a critical first step in exploring a development opportunity, whether it’s new build or adaptive reuse, and it’s very important to me to understand a project’s place in a neighborhood and what type of urban fabric we are weaving ourselves into.
What details can you share about your current projects? We will be topping out on Brooklyn’s first ‘supertall’ later in 2021 and are currently constructing the largest building ever built in Miami. Both projects are really charting new design ground in their respective markets and will be dynamic additions to the skyline.
What are some of the most unique and special aspects of 111 West 57th Street? This development is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. The proportions and craftsmanship of this building are outrageous, and the perfectly symmetrical views of Central Park are like nothing else. This is a New York building; its terra cotta materiality and feathered setback form speak to the history of New York’s most beloved and iconic skyscrapers, while being placed on the 50-yard line of the best urban park in the most storied city in the world.
How do you think the supertalls are changing the real estate landscape both physically and metaphorically? These supertalls are unlike any other construction typology and are remarkable achievements in assemblage, zoning interpretations, and design and engineering. The challenge is considering the appropriateness of form and its relationship to the community and skyline.
How would you summarize the current real estate market, and what are your predictions for the future of the market in places like NYC and Miami? People have short memories. The recovery from the pandemic is well underway and there are exciting opportunities for thoughtful urban development in places like Miami and New York. Our cities aren’t going anywhere, and we fundamentally believe in responsibly creating density in major cities with great public transportation and critical infrastructure.
Photography by: PHOTO COURTESY OF JDS DEVELOPMENT GROUP