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NEW YORK CITY-Roosevelt Island, one of the city’s perennial second bananas, will play the top of the bill next week at a topping-out ceremony for the long-aborning Southtown project. The $500-million development’s next phase will be another two-building project located directly south of the first two properties.

Southtown is a joint venture of the Related Cos. LP and the Hudson Cos. Inc., which, when complete, will comprise nine buildings and 2,000 housing units. The first phase, scheduled to be topped out next Tuesday, consists of two 16-story buildings with an aggregate 395 units. The phase-one properties will house staff from Memorial Sloan-Kettering Hospital and the Weill Cornell Medical College.

Building one, which will be owned and occupied by Memorial Sloan Kettering, is a 210-sf property with 256 apartments. Building two, a 150,000-sf asset with 140 units, will be owned and occupied by Weill Cornell. Both the hospital and the college campuses are located directly across the East River on Manhattan’s East Side.

“We’ve reached the top of the concrete superstructure,” Related Cos. senior vice president Bruce Beal tells GlobeSt.com. “It’s probably going to be this time next year that the buildings will be complete.” Occupancy is scheduled to begin during Q2 2003 and residents will be phased in over three months. Construction on buildings one and two began Jan.1 of this year.

“We’re hoping to start two buildings a year,” Beal says, adding that the next likely development sites are located directly south of buildings one and two and will probably include “some housing for institutions and some market-rate housing.”

Gruzen Samton Architects and Schuman Lichtenstein Claman & Efron Architects are designing the 19-acre Southtown project, which is bounded by the Queensboro Bridge to the South and the existing Northtown housing complex.

The history of Southtown goes back at least 30 years but it really began to take shape in 1996, when the Roosevelt Island Operating Corp., the quasi-governmental organization that controls the entire 147-acre East River land strip, issued a request for qualifications. Hudson and the Related Cos. were designated as developers the following year. Infrastructure construction and building design, demolition, phase one foundations and construction of new soccer and softball fields were begun last year.

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