Thursday, December 29, 2011

Times Square Ball has 32,256 LED's from Lighting Science Group

At 11:59 p.m. on Saturday night, the 12-foot ball that will begin its descent from atop One Times Square in New York City, will be powered by 32,256 ultra-efficient LED light bulbs designed by Lighting Science Group.

A beloved New York tradition has been given a 21st century makeover by Lighting Science Group Design Works, which helped create a bigger, brighter yet more energy-efficient New Year’s Eve Ball, the illuminated orb symbolically lowered at the exact turn of the year in Times Square.

This year's New Year's Eve ball weighs 11,875 pounds and is covered in 2,668 Waterford Crystals. It can produce more than 16 million colors and 4.3 billion patterns that create a kaleidoscope effect. The eco-friendly geodesic sphere has become a year-round attraction above Times Square, says Times Square Alliance President Tim Tompkins.    
The 32,256 LEDs (light emitting diodes) are three times the number used in 2009. Still, the present ball is 20% more energy efficient than the 2008 one and 78% more efficient than the 2007 one. It consumes the same amount of energy per hour as two traditional home ovens.

In 1907, the New Year's Eve ball made its maiden descent and has been lowered every year since, except in 1942 and 1943 when the ceremony was suspended due to the wartime "dimout" of lights in New York City. The first ball, made of iron and wood, was 5 feet in diameter and weighed 700 pounds. It had 100 25-watt light bulbs.

Click images to enlarge

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Behind the Construction Fence: The Spectacular $1.4B Fulton Street Transit Center

Inside the future Fulton Street Transit Center, four stories below street level, the sun is shining. The $1.4 billion subway hub won't open until 2014, but one of its most distinctive features is already in place: a yawning skylight, measuring 53 feet in diameter, which funnels natural light down into the station, brightening the darkest corners, even during the ongoing construction.

Directly beneath the skylight, called an "oculus," a spiral staircase curves around the steel supports for a yet-to-be-installed elevator. The elevator will be made of glass, as will the staircase's railing. For the MTA staff who have been planning and building the Fulton Street station for more than seven years, the recent progress is thrilling.

The project was nearly derailed three years ago when the MTA ran out of money to complete the station, but the federal government came through with more than $400 million in stimulus funds in 2009, allowing the hub to be built.

Since then, the project has faced many challenges, including propping up the sagging Corbin Building, a historic landmark that was so unstable it sometimes shifted noticeably overnight. The MTA also had to be extremely careful while excavating and driving piles, because much of the project sits below the water table.

When the station at the corner of Fulton Street and Broadway finally opens in the summer of 2014, the MTA envisions it as more than just a hub for commuters to rush between 10 connecting train lines.

Planned features include large LCD screens with information about train schedules, scrolling messages to direct lost strap hangers and high-tech advertising signage that can be switched with the touch of a computer button. The MTA is also lining the entire station with glass, brick-shaped tiles that have never been used before in the subway system, to create a unifying aesthetic.

The station and the Corbin Building, which the MTA is restoring, will contain 70,000 square feet of retail space, including a bar and restaurant overlooking Broadway, St. Paul's Chapel and the rising World Trade Center towers. The MTA plans to issue a request for proposals this spring to find an operator for all of the retail space.

Natural sunlight will flood the transit center during the day, thanks to the tall glass-and-steel skylight that is already in place, and at night, tiny lights projected onto the glass dome will create the illusion of a starry sky.  

Enjoy the slideshow below!

While the main station building won't open for another 2½ years, the MTA has already begun rolling out new entrances and amenities as they are complete. This year, the southbound N and R platform at Cortlandt Street reopened after years of construction, and the MTA also opened a new entrance at 135 William St.

Looking ahead, a new glass-topped entrance to the station will open at Dey Street and Broadway in the summer of 2012. At the same time, the MTA will open a new passageway beneath Dey Street, connecting the Cortlandt Street N and R station to the other Fulton Street lines for the first time. The passageway will be lined with glass on one side and aluminum on the other, giving a hint of the airy, sparkling station just to the east.

People will start to get the sense that they're walking toward something spectacular.

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Lawsuit Dismissed: City Still Regulates Construction Cranes

Federal court dismisses a suit filed in 2009 by The Steel Institute of New York against the city, arguing that the NYC Department of Building's laws governing cranes were invalid because they were preempted by regulations from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

The trade group filed the suit in 2009, arguing that the Department of Building's laws governing cranes were invalid because they were preempted by regulations from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The city argued that laws pertaining to cranes had long been part of the building code and its regulations supported public safety while not conflicting with federal safeguards.
“This decision is the right decision because it means a safer job site—and a safer city—for everyone," said New York City Building Commissioner Robert LiMandri, in a statement. “Local oversight of the crane industry is essential to making sure construction sites are safe for all New Yorkers.”

Mr. LiMandri added that crane inspectors performed more than 4,500 inspections last year, and as a result of new laws, strict enforcement, and more industry cooperation, construction operations are safer than ever before.

Some sources speculated that the lawsuit was triggered by extra safety regulations the city added after two deadly construction accidents involving cranes in 2008. However, the suit didn't single out those regulations.

Brian Wolf, a lawyer representing the Institute, declined to comment on the suit's timing or the decision by the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York. The decision can be appealed but Mr. Wolf said he hasn't had a chance to discuss the decision with his client and would do so after the holidays. 


Saturday, December 24, 2011

NYS Passes Historic Design-Build Law

New York State has passed legislation to allow design-build project delivery for certain infrastructure projects. Industry groups, including the Design-Build Institute of America, praised the measure, however detractors contend that design-build typically eliminates competitive bidding, allows contractors to inspect their own work, and in many instances has greatly increased project delivery costs.

Governor Cuomo signed the “Infrastructure Investment Act” into law on December 9, 2011. The new legislation temporarily suspends current restrictions on the use of “design-build” project delivery methods. Citing ”the potential to achieve projects delivered on guaranteed or accelerated schedules, lower costs and risk shifting to the private sector generally retained in conventional design-bid-build projects as well as to accelerate capital investments throughout the state,” the bill authorizes several state agencies and authorities, including the Department of Transportation and the Thruway Authority, to utilize this alternative delivery method for a wide variety of capital projects related to building, repairing and extending the life of the state’s physical infrastructure.

Design-build is a method of project delivery in which one entity - the design-build team - works under a single contract with the project owner to provide design and construction services. One entity, one contract, one unified flow of work from initial concept through completion. Design-build is also known as design/construct and single-source responsibility.

Across the country and around the world, design-build successfully delivers office buildings, schools, stadiums, transportation and water infrastructure projects with superior results.
Design-build is an alternative to design-bid-build. Under the latter approach, design and construction are split - separate entities, separate contracts, separate work.
Design-build, design-bid-build and construction management are the three project delivery systems most commonly employed in North America. Over the past 15 years, use of design-build has greatly accelerated in the United States, making this delivery method one of the most significant trends in design and construction today.
Under the new law, several state agencies—the N.Y. State Dept. of Environmental Conservation; Dept. of Transportation; Thruway Authority; Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation; and Bridge Authority—are now authorized to use design-build. It will apply to authorized state agency projects with a total cost of more than $1.2 million while having no minimum project cost requirement for authorized state authorities.

The law is set to sunset three years after the date of enactment. That is because the state “wants to see how this works” before making a further commitment, says Mike Elmendorf, president and CEO of the Associated General Contractors of New York State, who supports the law. “The flexibility that this is going to give a handful of state agencies to deliver projects more quickly, more efficiently and, in many cases, less expensively, is a very significant step forward,” Elmendorf says. He says that the Tappan Zee Bridge project will be done as design-build and that RFQs are already out. “They already started doing that in anticipation of this law happening,” he adds.

Under the infrastructure fund program, $700 million in state capital investments would be earmarked to accelerate capital projects planned wherever possible, and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey would provide an additional $300 million for New York City infrastructure project funding. Separately, a new public-private infrastructure fund of up to $1 billion would be established from pension funds and private investments. 

Potentially funded projects include: replacing deficient state and local bridges; rehabilitating dams and flood-control infrastructure; renovating parks; rebuilding water systems; conducting energy retrofits on homes, farms, businesses and schools; and accelerating major SUNY and CUNY projects, the state says.
Richard Thomas, Design-Build Institute of America
vice president of advocacy, calls the legislation a major victory as New York currently allows design-build only for dormitory construction and, more recently, for emergency infrastructure repairs after Hurricane Irene. He notes that earlier this year Ohio also expanded its use of design-build for certain transportation sector work. “New York and Ohio are probably the two biggest victories for design-build in the last decade,” Thomas says.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Video Tour of the New World Trade Center

Evolution of the World Trade Center (animation)

Watch as the office towers, Memorial Park and the Calatrava Transit Hub evolve into the completed World Trade Center Complex.

Lower Manhattan’s Future Transit Concourse (animation)

Follow the underground concourse from the new Fulton Street Station to the World Trade Center Transit Hub and west to the World Financial Center.

Animations courtesy of Brookfield Properties

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Non-US Citizens Comprise 45% of NYC Construction Workforce

Three-Quarters of NYC Construction Workers Live in the Five Boroughs, According to New York Building Congress Analysis of Census Data. Minorities Comprise 60 Percent of Construction Workforce; Percentage of Uninsured Workers Rising.

A New York Building Congress analysis of the U.S. Census Bureau's 2010 American Community Survey found that 75 percent of New York City construction industry workers live in the five boroughs, led by residents of Queens and Brooklyn.

As of 2010, there were 224,500 men and women in the construction industry, down 3.8 percent from 2009. The census data include both white-collar and blue-collar positions in private firms and on government payrolls. The construction trades accounted for 165,300 of these positions, down from 171,000 in 2009.

The analysis is based on responses to the Census Bureau survey and incorporates both union and non-union labor, as well as management positions, architects, engineers, office support and other service workers connected to the construction industry. Because the results are self-reported by individuals rather than by employers, the survey captures the participation of "off-the-books" workers throughout the industry.

In 2010, White Non-Hispanic men and women accounted for 88,700 (40 percent) of the 224,500 workers. Hispanics made up 80,700 (36 percent) of the total workforce, followed by Black Non-Hispanic at 31,600 (14 percent) and Asian workers at 21,200 (9 percent). One percent identified themselves as multi-racial.

From 2009 to 2010, the number of White Non-Hispanic and Hispanic workers decreased (by 8 percent and 5 percent respectively). The industry's Asian workforce jumped 12 percent. The number of Black Non-Hispanic workers increased 2 percent.

Of the 168,200 construction industry workers who lived in New York City in 2010, 63,600 were Queens residents. Another 53,700 lived in Brooklyn, followed by 24,200 from The Bronx, 14,400 from Staten Island, and 12,300 who lived in Manhattan.

Non-United States citizens accounted for 39 percent of the total construction industry workforce and 45 percent of all construction trades workers. In addition, 56 percent of all respondents said they speak a language other than English in their homes. After English speakers, the largest percentage of workers speak Spanish (34 percent), followed by Chinese (3.2 percent) and Polish (2.7 percent).

The industry also is maintaining its reputation as a haven for middle-class employment, with 49 percent of all workers living in households with incomes between $50,000 and $125,000 annually. Just eight percent of all workers in the construction industry self-reported household earnings of less than $25,000 in 2010.

The data, however, indicate that construction workers are increasingly going without health insurance. Forty-nine percent of all construction industry workers lacked health insurance in 2010, up from 45 percent in 2009. In addition, 55 percent of construction trades workers were uninsured in 2010, up from 53 percent in the previous year. By contrast, just 25 percent of white collar workers in the industry reported having no health insurance – though even that number is up from 20 percent in 2009.

Additional 2010 demographic statistics include:
  • Males accounted for 93% of the overall workforce in 2010. 

  • 28% of the industry workforce is between 40 and 49; 27% are in their thirties; 19% are in their twenties; and 18% in their fifties. 
  • 22,700 workers lived on Long Island and 19,100 lived in New Jersey. Another 12,400 lived in the Mid-Hudson region counties while 1,200 commuted from Connecticut.  
  • 64% of all construction industry workers never attended college
"New York City's construction industry has been and remains a vital source of meaningful employment opportunities for recent immigrants and residents of all educational backgrounds," said New York Building Congress President Richard T. Anderson. "These data demonstrate the important role the industry continues to play, especially during periods of high unemployment for the City as a whole and the middle class in particular."  

Mr. Anderson added, "It is disconcerting, however, to find that the number of workers who go without health insurance – which was unacceptably high to begin with – continues to rise, especially among the skilled trades. Given that the City's unions provide health benefits to all members, it is obvious that those working at non-union sites are overwhelmingly going without such benefits for themselves and their families." 

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

$270M Mall Expansion to Bring 2,000 Construction Jobs

Prestige Properties & Development announced that it will develop The Mall at Bay Plaza, a new $270 million, 780,000 square foot enclosed fashion mall anchored by a new Macy’s combined with an existing JC Penney. The Mall is expected to create more than 2,000 construction jobs and more than 1,700 permanent jobs.

Located at the intersection of the Hutchinson Parkway and I-95, the three-level, state-of-the-art mall will be built on a corner parcel at Prestige’s Bay Plaza Shopping Center in the Bronx, already the largest shopping center in New York City. Macy’s will occupy 160,000 square foot on three floors. 

Being hailed as New York City’s most significant enclosed retail project in decades, The Mall at Bay Plaza has already drawn intense interest from retailers eager to lease space at a destination that serves more than four million residents in just a 10-mile radius. 

The Mall at Bay Plaza is scheduled to break ground in spring 2012, with the entire complex anticipated to open in fall 2013, which also includes a 1,800-car parking garage.

Monday, December 19, 2011

Cornell Wins Contest for City Tech Campus

Mayor Michael Bloomberg announced that Cornell University won the high-profile competition to build a new applied-science campus in New York City. The $2.5 billion, 2.2-million-square foot tech campus will be built on Roosevelt Island on land provided by the city, and $100 million from the city for infrastructure improvements.

In a huge sign of support, Cornell said it had received a $350 million donation from Atlantic Philanthropies toward building the campus, the largest gift in the university's history.

The 10-acre campus, built in conjunction with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, will qualify for platinum level LEED certification, provide housing for 280 faculty and 2,500 students, and feature 500,000 square feet of natural green space for plant nurseries and rain gardens that will be open to the public. 

The campus will generate renewable energy through a four-acre solar panel array installed on the buildings’ rooftops - which will ultimately generate up to 1.8 megawatts of power, and an extensive deep-earth, geothermal well field comprised of 400 wells, as part of a heat pump system that will heat and cool the buildings. In addition, all campus buildings will be oriented to true south to maximize the amount of solar energy captured.

Plans include a 150,000-square-foot “net-zero” building — a building that generates as much energy as it uses - the largest such facility in the United States. Overall, the campus will require only a quarter of the electricity from the grid, emit half of the greenhouse gas, and require less than half the fossil fuel to power, heat and cool than a comparable new, conventional campus.

Officials are considering an artificial marsh that would filter and recycle water from storm runoff, sinks and possibly toilets.

The University has selected the architecture and engineering firm Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, which previously worked on projects including the Freedom Tower, to design the project.

Phase One of construction, slated for completion in 2016, is expected to create more than 20,000 construction jobs.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

WTC Towers Light Up for the Holidays

One World Trade Center is getting in the holiday spirit this year, with brightly colored lights that are visible from blocks around. The red, green, yellow, blue and pink lights went up recently along the eastern face of the steel and concrete skyscraper, illuminating it like a giant 50-story Christmas tree.

"It’s a good will thing, to cheer up the job site for the holiday season," said Peter Amabile Jr., senior vice president of Five Star Electric, the tower’s electrical contractor.  

The Five Star team created the display by swapping out the clear bulbs that normally light the open concrete floors and replacing them with tinted ones. Amabile said he picked a broad array of colors, rather than just red and green, to make the exhibit "universal."

The lights are on 24 hours a day to help workers in the tower see what they’re doing, but the colors are only visible from street level at night. The colored bulbs are more expensive than regular ones, but Amabile said the cost was worthwhile.
Despite the cold, windy weather, many passersby stopped to admire the lights on a recent evening and several tourists took pictures. 

It looks beautiful," said Raziq Ali, 47, a Bronx resident, as he walked past the World Trade Center site. I think it’s cool," agreed Dave Dalpe, 33, a Jersey City resident who was gazing up at the lights. "It looks pretty as you’re walking down Vesey Street."

Enjoy the slideshow below!

Just to the south, a much smaller display is visible on Tower 4, another office tower that is rising at the site. Workers draped several strings of multicolored Christmas lights over the base of the two tower cranes, adding a merry touch to developer Larry Silverstein’s construction.

Amabile expects to keep the bolder lights at One World Trade Center up through early January, so they can continue spreading holiday cheer during the cold weather. "It’s a happy thing," he said.
By Julie Shapiro Reporter

Monday, December 12, 2011

Update: Jacob Javits Convention Center Revitalization

The Jacob K. Javits Convention Center, New York City’s primary venue for trade shows and conventions is undergoing severely needed renovations. Phase One of the revitalization plan includes: updating the building enclosure with a new high-performance curtain-wall and skylights; a highly insulating 6.75-acre green roof; and, new mechanical and electrical systems that will reduce energy consumption by 26%.

 See the incredible Construction Sequencing Video:

Sunday, December 11, 2011

The Facts: Ban on Incandescent Light Bulbs

In less than three weeks, it will be illegal to manufacture 100-watt incandescent bulbs or import them into the United States. While some people have little or no strong feelings either way, there are those who are wholeheartedly in favor of the new law, and others who are adamantly opposed.

 The Law: Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007

Light bulbs from 40 watts through 100 watts must be 25% more efficient, by the following dates:

- January 1, 2012 for 100 watt bulbs
- January 1, 2013 for 75 watt bulbs
- January 1, 2014 for 60 watt bulbs 

- February 28, 2014 for 40 watt bulbs

Since most current incandescent lamps do not meet this standard, this effectively bans them as of the above dates.  

CFL's - Compact Fluorescent Lamps                                                                                          

At about $4.00 a pop, compact fluorescent lamps are about four times more expensive than standard lamps. Those cute little curly shaped CFLs do last longer and will save you a lot of money...

But, if the bulb is broken, they can create a hazardous waste nightmare in your home. And while they do come with a disposal warning label - few people read a warning label on a light bulb. Furthermore, many of the CFL’s made in China can start a fire when the ballast burns out.


Recent studies have linked CFL lamps to a number of health problems including fatigue, eye strain and migraine headaches, and if broken, compact fluorescent are hazardous to your health. Some manufacturers have started to label their boxes with warnings on how to deal with a broken bulb. In fact, some states will now require that you recycle these bulbs at special facilities because of the large amount of mercury contained in each bulb.

The problem is the toxic mercury inside and which poses a big problem for landfills and if the bulb breaks, for homeowners.
 LED's - not CFL's - are the Future of Lighting

Replacing just one incandescent bulb with an LED lamp from Lighting Science can save more than $430 over the lifetime of the bulb.
LED lamps are brighter, don't flicker, don't require special handling, and last up to fifty times longer than incandescents! What's more, they use even less energy than hazardous compact fluorescent bulbs. 

An LED 100-watt equivalent lamp puts out as much light as a 100 incandescent bulb, but uses only one-tenth the power. Plus, it can burn for 11 years.

Sure, LED's will cost more than a standard bulb. But because they last so much longer and save so much more in electricity costs, they more than make up for it in less than a year's usage.

View our exclusive Guide to Energy Efficient Lamps, which outlines all the costs factors to consider before you make a purchase.  

Find about utility Rebate Programs available in New York and 
New Jersey for LED lighting... 

 100 Watt Incandescent Light Bulbs Are Still Available... For Now
Many have already embraced the new light bulbs, while others will use the old fashioned bulbs as long as they possibly can. Americans are stockpiling 100 watt incandescent lamps for their own use. As the deadline comes, it's only logical that the price of these lamps will increase as the available supply decreases.

If you are among those who might wish to have a light bulb choice in the future, that choice will need to be in your pantry, as eventually, it will not be on the shelves of your local supply house. 

In three weeks, these bulbs can no longer be made in, or imported into, the United States.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Two New Luxury Apartment Towers Coming to Jersey City Waterfront

Mack-Cali Realty, New Jersey's largest office landlord, announced a joint venture to develop two luxury apartment towers on Jersey City's waterfront. The deal, Mack-Cali's first foray into multifamily properties in a decade, comes on strong demand for rental apartments, especially from young, urban professionals priced out of the Manhattan market.

Mack-Cali, a real-estate investment trust, is teaming up with the Hoboken-based Ironstate Development Co., which built and owns Hoboken's W hotel. The Jersey City development plan calls for two luxury towers with 500 rental units; each tower will have one-bedroom and studio apartments, sizes that appeal to younger renters. The towers will utilize two city blocks of vacant parking lots adjacent to Mack-Cali's Harborside Financial Center office complex spanning roughly 3 million square feet on the waterfront. 

Apartment landlords nationwide are seeing rental rates increase and vacancy rates decline. In the third quarter, the vacancy rate in Hudson County—which includes Jersey City—was 5.2%, flat from a year earlier and lower than the 5.6% national rate.

Mack-Cali and Ironstate expect to break ground on the apartment towers in the fourth quarter of 2012.

Friday, December 9, 2011

Most Expensive Residential Development Ever Constructed

One57, the $1.4 billion project, across from Carnegie Hall, already is about 50 floors above ground. When completed in 2013, the 90-floor property will tower over Central Park at 1,004 feet. Penthouses are listed at $98.5 million each, with most apartments listed between $21 to $45 million.

Mr. Barnett and his partners are among a small band of developers borrowing heavily and rolling the dice on a highly select clientele: the global elite who float above the economic malaise. While a hallmark of the economic downturn has been the collapse of the housing market, the extreme top of residential market in New York has been resilient.
Mr. Barnett says the number of billionaire and multimillionaire investors in the world has never been greater. In addition to Russians and Western Europeans, he says, "you're seeing Latin Americans in a big way. You're seeing Chinese in a big way. You're seeing the return of the Middle Eastern buyer." Thanks to this demand, the ultra luxury market in select cities is looking healthier than practically any other corner of the housing market.

In March, Russian pop-music composer Igor Krutoy paid the highest price ever for a New York condo, shelling out $48 million for 6,000 square feet of space in the Plaza hotel with a sweeping view of Central Park. Through November, buyers in Manhattan signed 529 contracts for apartments priced at $4 million or more, the fastest pace since 2007, according to the Olshan Luxury Report, which tracks high-end residential sales.

The rise of an affluent class in the developing world is driving much of the action. China has 5,400 individuals who are worth at least $50 million, which ranks it above every country but the U.S., according to the Global Wealth Report from Credit Suisse. Russia, Brazil and India each have more than 1,500 of these so-called ultrahigh-net-worth individuals.

Besides offering status, luxury condos are viewed as a way to preserve capital when financial markets offer poor returns or when there is concern, as in the Middle East, about government stability. In most downturns, luxury property holds its value better than the market as a whole.

Still, Mr. Barnett's wager has plenty of risk. A dive by the U.S. economy or a deepening of the European debt crisis would crush financial markets, reducing the ranks of the wealthy. Wall Street firms already have begun eliminating thousands of positions.

Other New York condo projects that targeted the upper crust have cratered because of poor timing. In the early 1990s, developer Bruce Eichner turned over to creditors a soaring 73-story tower that was packed with amenities and also aimed squarely at international buyers. It was located just one block away from Mr. Barnett's project. Extell and its partners could get stuck with a shimmering building full of unsold condos and a limited income stream to pay off massive debt.

Most of that pain would be borne by the Abu Dhabi funds, which have put in about $650 million of the project's equity. Extell has put up $50 million, though it could get a bigger piece of the profits if sales go well. The Abu Dhabi partners also have guaranteed to buy back the loan if sales targets aren't reached.

Extell isn't the only condo developer courting these buyers. CIM Group and developer Harry Macklowe are building a 1,420-foot condominium at 440 Park Avenue, which will be the tallest residential tower in the western hemisphere.

Mr. Barnett says within a week of opening his salesroom last month, One57 had two signed contracts for $45 million each.

Port Authority to Spend $2B on New WTC in 2012

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey plans to spend more than half of its $4-billion capital improvement budget for 2012 on the new World Trade Center next year - that's more than the agency will spend on construction at all of its airports, bridges, and other properties combined.
The budget sets aside $3.9 billion for capital improvements, but most of that money goes to the World Trade Center. The Port Authority's board is scheduled to vote on the 2012 budget Thursday afternoon.
The Port Authority recently raised bridge and tunnel tolls to help pay for construction at the World Trade Center and other sites. The AAA is going to court to fight back. It says the Port Authority is milking motorists for money  and should be using more of those funds for roadway projects.

Source: Associated Press Newswire
December 8, 2011

Thursday, December 8, 2011

New 10-Story Condominium Planned for 4th Avenue

A developer has filed for permits to build a 10-story condominium at 573 4th Avenue, between 16th Street and the Brooklyn Queens Expressway. Construction is slated to begin early in 2012 once demolition of the carriage house that’s currently on the South Slope site, is completed.

Building Construction Accident Injures One

Falling debris at the site of notorious former dive Mars Bar injured a construction worker Wednesday afternoon, authorities said. A spokesman for the Department of Buildings said inspectors were at the scene investigating, but it was not immediately apparent what caused the incident.

A construction worker at the site, located at 11 Second Avenue at the corner of East First Street, suffered a leg injury in the incident about 2 p.m. and was transported to Bellevue Hospital. Workers at the scene said the injury was caused by falling wood.

 A complaint was logged by the DOB Thursday regarding the building "shaking/vibrating/structural stability affected," the agency's website said. The building was issued a demolition permit on November18 that is valid through November 12, 2012, according to a Department of Buildings spokeswoman.

Previous complaints were received by the DOB on November 26 regarding alleged illegal after-hours demolition work, as well as on September 22 for "unsafe debris... leaning against the front of building."

No violations were issued by the DOB after inspectors found no evidence of wrongdoing.

The bar was closed in July to make way for a redevelopment project that will include a new 12-story building that contains apartments and commercial space. Mars Bar will be given the opportunity to reopen in a space nearly four times its former size under the plan, after construction concludes in approximately two years, developers said.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

Seven Developers Faceoff for Brooklyn Bridge Park Hotel, Condos

A star-studded list of developers have submitted proposals to build a hotel and condos at Pier One in Brooklyn Bridge Park. If there was any notion that Brooklyn is still somehow a backwater, the high-profile firms vying for these two sites should dispel that idea: Extell Development, Starwood Capital Group, Toll Brothers, Two Trees, RAL Companies, SDS Procida, and Dermot have proposed from 170 to 225 hotel rooms and 150 to 180 residential units.

The city-run Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation sought developers for two parcels adjacent to Pier 1, one rising to 110 feet and covering 65,000 square feet and the other 55 feet and 45,000 square feet. These two will house a combination of 225 hotel rooms and 150 apartments or 175 hotel rooms and 180 apartments, or a commbination thereof. The hotel and condominum will be built by the same developer, along with inducements for ground-floor dining along with parking, restrooms and support facilities for the park.

“The hotel and residential component represent a critical element of our park maintenance plan and the development’s amenities will benefit all park users for decades to come,” Brooklyn Bridge Park Corporation president, Regina Myer said in a press release.

Payments-in-lieu-of-taxes, or PILOTs, from the two parcels are expected to fund a major portion of the park’s maintenance. Already One Brooklyn Bridge Park, the hulking converted warehouse on the park’s southern end, has contributed a few million dollars to the fund since 2006. Construction costs are still coming from the city, which has already pledged $55 million to begin work on Pier 2.

It is not surprising that Pier 1 is the first ground-up site to be developed. The Empire Stores was to have been converted years ago, but stability, preservation and disagreements over its commercialization held that up. Meanwhile, Pier 1 opened last year, providing developers the best front yard possible. The other sites, at Atlantic and John streets are still under development.
For those who feel that private property built on public parkland is a problem, the city has gone ahead and transformed Brooklyn Bridge Park from boring old public space into a full-on brand, as evinced in this video that accompanies the RFP. Wedged between America’s Oldest Suburb and Silicon Beach, this fits nicely with the borough that has become a way of life.

Images from each proposal appear in the slideshow below.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Public School Conversion at N.Y. Foundling Hospital

The highly anticipated new Foundling elementary school will offer its students a host of special features, including a dance studio, rooftop playground and two-story library, according to new architectural plans released last week.

 The school - officially known as Public School 340M - which will be taking over the bottom six floors of the Foundling Hospital at Sixth Avenue and West 17th Street, is set to open its doors in September 2014, potentially alleviating overcrowded classrooms across Chelsea, Greenwich Village, Flatiron District and Midtown, which advocates complain are bursting at the seams.

The New York School Construction Authority plans to convert the lower six floors and cellar of the 95,000-sq-ft, 14-story New York Foundling Hospital’s Manhattan building, built in 1988, into a new public school.

Upon completion in September 2014, the new P.S. 340M, located at the corner of the Sixth Avenue and 17th Street, will serve 520 students from Pre-K through fifth grade. Construction is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2012.

The project was designed for the New York School Construction Authority by lead architect MDSzerbaty Associates Architecture.

The school will include 21 new classrooms along 17th Street; specialized instructional areas for art, music, science, a library and a multi-purpose room that will look over Sixth Avenue from the upper floors.

The new school will also include a cafeteria and dance studio on the main floor; a rooftop play area on the second floor; a lecture hall and an auditorium on the lower level; and a community room above the main lobby on the second floor, which will also include administrative areas.

The new PS 340 aims to be a green school, following SCA guidelines. The project challenged designers to conceive of ways to create a bright open school in a building that will be occupied by existing multi-tenants. The solution: a new glass-enclosed staircase will be inserted between the second and sixth floors and a new window wall at the stairway’s core will provide light to the school’s corridors.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the summer of 2012.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Hudson Yards Competitor Plans to Break Ground Early Next Year

Because one Far West Side office complex built on a platform over some train tracks is never enough, developer Brookfield Properties has gotten serious about breaking ground on its Manhattan West project. The 4.7-million square foot mixed-used development will consist of two glassy skyscrapers, and two smaller residential towers between 31st and 33rd Streets and Ninth and Dyer Avenues.

Engineers have spent the last several years studying constructing a deck over the rail yards on the site, and Brookfield Properties says it has found a way to build it cheaper and quicker.

It will begin construction on One Manhattan West early next year, with plans to deliver a 66-story, 2.4 million-square-foot office tower designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill on the northeast corner of the parcel by the early 2014.
Brookfield's plans include beginning construction on the 1.6 million square foot, 60-story, Two Manhattan will by next summer, followed by two smaller residential towers, totaling 700,000 square feet.

Brookfield Properties expects to complete the Manhattan West project by the summer of 2015.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Related Secures $200M Financing for New 30-Story Tower

The new Coach Inc. headquarters is not the only building Related Cos. will be constructing on the far West Side in the near future. A $200M low interest loan will finance construction of a new 30-story apartment tower on West 30th Street and Tenth Avenue, near its massive $15 billion Hudson Yards project.

Related has reached a deal for a $200 million loan to finance construction of a 30-story apartment house on a lot on West 30th Street and Tenth Avenue, close to Related's massive Hudson Yards project. The loan is slated to close early next year.

The developer is building the 400-unit property along with partner with Abington Properties. The tower will be built under New York State's 80/20 Program, which means that 20% of the apartments must be reserved for low-income residents, and provides low-interest bond financing for construction. Related has plans to build a similar 36-story apartment tower directly across Tenth Avenue.

The project will include 40,000 square feet of ground floor retail space, as well as 50,000 square feet of underground parking. According to sources at the Related Cos, the project will likely break ground by mid-summer 2012.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

Designs Unveiled for Atlantic Yards Prefabricated Towers

ForestCity Ratner unveiled the design for what will become the world’s tallest prefabricated steel structure. The 32-story apartment tower at the corner of Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street is part of the $4.9 billion Atlantic Yards project in Brooklyn. Ratner's second tower will be even taller, at 50 stories. Fourteen other residential buildings will follow at Atlantic Yards - all using the same approach.

The 350-unit building would use varying rectangular shapes, colors and glass to break up the mass of the structure, which would sit snugly up against the Barclays Center, the arena for the Nets that is to open in September. Mr. Ratner, chief executive of Forest City Ratner, said that prefabrication, or modular construction, could save construction time and cut costs by as much as 25 percent. Fourteen other residential buildings will be built at Atlantic Yards using the same approach.

Forest City Ratner is also negotiating a labor agreement with construction unions, which have supported Atlantic Yards but could end up with fewer jobs and lower wages for some trades if modular construction is used. Construction is expected to begin early in 2012. Presently, the world’s tallest modular building is a 25-story dormitory in Wolverhampton, England, that was built in 2010 in less than 12 months.

In New York City, the School Construction Authority has used modular technology to build classrooms, and the Capsys Corporation, a modular builder based at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, has built prefabricated steel-frame housing up to seven stories tall in Brooklyn and on Long Island.

Mr. Ratner said 60 percent of the construction would take place in a factory, where an estimated 190 workers would assemble roughly 950 steel-frame modules, each 14 feet by 35 feet, and outfit them with electric and plumbing lines, as well as with kitchen and bathroom pods. At the same time, on-site workers would build the foundation. The modules would be transported to the site, lifted into place by crane and bolted together. Steel bracing would rise with the stacked modules. The trick for developers, architects and engineers in erecting taller modular buildings has been to design an economical bracing system to protect the structure from wind shear and seismic forces.

The development once promised “upwards of 17,000 union construction jobs and over 8,000 permanent jobs.” The large number of jobs was a significant reason the state and the city agreed to provide $300 million in direct subsidies for Atlantic Yards. Mr. Ratner, a union builder, said modular construction would “probably” require the same number of workers.

Nevertheless, under current wage scales, union workers earn less in a factory than they do on-site. A carpenter, for instance, earns $85 an hour in wages and benefits at a construction site, compared with $35 in a factory setting.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Hunters Point South Construction Off to Good Start

Construction work is underway at Hunters Point South, the city's most ambitious affordable housing project since Starrett City and Co-op City were built more than three decades ago. The Bloomberg administration announces that 100% of the units in the first phase of construction set-aside for affordable housing.

Construction at the Hunter’s Point South site includes work by the New York City School Construction Authority on a new, 1,100 seat combined Intermediate/High School. The intermediate school will have 432 seats and the High School will have 543 seats. The school will also have 96 District 75 seats (special education seats). The School is being built at 2nd Street and 51st Avenue.

The fire retardant.white tarp seen in the picture has been placed on the 2nd and 3rd floors of the north side of the steel structure to provide temporary heat for the workers during the winter months.

The following work on the schools is currently in progress during November:
  • Continuation of erection of structural steel and metal deck, now has five floors;
  • Continuation of underground plumbing and electrical work;
  • Continuation of Con Edison vault construction on 51st Avenue, west of 2nd Street;
  • Start of installation of mechanical, electrical and plumbing systems on 2nd and 3rd floors;
  • Placement of concrete for 2nd and 3rd floors;
  • Start of stairway installation;
  • Start of fireproofing.

    Hunters Point South isn't perfect, and it will take years to complete. But there's a lot to like, such as acres of open space, a new school, and improved infrastructure.

    So far, it's off to a solid start.

      Click below to view a video of the Hunters Point South master plan:


    Thursday, November 17, 2011

    New 35-Story Apartment Tower Slated for Fifth Avenue

    Real estate fund teams up with developer Urban Development to build 165-unit, market-rate rental building one block below Empire State Building. Construction of the new 35-story apartment building at 309 Fifth Avenue will begin in a few weeks and create hundreds of construction jobs.

    A new 35-story, market-rate apartment tower with 165 rental units will rise at 309 Fifth Ave. in Manhattan. The news was announced Thursday by Multi-Employer Property Trust, a real estate fund that invested more than $100 million in equity in the project.

    The opening date for the 122,000-square-foot property on the east side of Fifth Avenue between East 31st and 32nd streets has been set for September 2013. The building will boast 11,000 square feet of ground-floor and basement retail space. It will be developed by Manhattan-based Urban Development Partners. Construction is expected to begin in a few weeks, according to Multi-Employer Property Trust, adding that the prior owner of the site started the foundation work.

    The new tower is expected to be LEED-certified. Multi-Employer Property Trust projects it will generate more than $265 million in economic activity for the city, and create more than 1,000 jobs. Once open, it will boast 24-hour doorman/concierge service, a fitness center, bike storage and a landscaped rooftop terrace. Apartments will have nine-foot ceilings, stainless steel appliances, and some will have views of the Empire State Building.

    The general contractor for the 309 Fifth Avenue project is Lend Lease. The architect is SLCE Architects.

    Wednesday, November 16, 2011

    Smith Electric Vehicles to Build Assembly Plant in The Bronx

    Smith Electric Vehicles announced that it will build a 100,000 square foot electric truck assembly plant in the old Murray Feiss building at Walnut Avenue and East 133 Street, in the South Bronx. The factory will assemble up to 100 trucks a month and create 100 permanent jobs. Construction of the Hunts Point facility will create approximately 100 construction jobs.

    Electric trucks are environmentally friendly, are nearly silent in operation and produce no emissions. Smith Electric Vehicles, based in Kansas City, Missouri, manufactures battery-powered box trucks and has already found customers in New York City, including the Duane Reade pharmacy chain, Coca-Cola and Frito-Lay. 

    Duane Reade’s fleet of 60 delivery vehicles circulates primarily in city limits, making it well-suited for battery power. Michael Fowles, director of distribution at Duane Reade, said the fleet will eventually be all electric. 

    Charles Hayward, the pharmacy chain’s fleet manager, echoed Mr. Fowles. “We have 6,000 to 7,000 miles of road time with the electrics, and they perform as well or better than the diesel trucks,” he said.

    Truck prices vary depending on battery pack size and other considerations. The basic cab and chassis, made by Avia and imported from the Czech Republic, costs $75,000, but battery packs ranging from 40 to 120 kilowatt-hours add another $25,000 to $75,000 to the total cost. Final assembly of the trucks will occur in the Bronx.

    Working with the bus fabricator Trans Tech of Warwick, New York, Smith will also be producing electric school buses. The buses will be assembled on the same electric Newton chassis as the trucks. Trans Tech is presently looking for a suitable location in the Bronx to build an assembly facility for the buses.

    Monday, November 14, 2011

    New York City CANstruction Competiton and Exhibition

    The 19th Annual New York City CANstruction® Competition and Exhibition is currently on view at locations throughout the World Financial Center  through November 21st!   The New York City competition highlights the creativity and compassion of the area's top architectural and engineering firms to design and build giant structures made entirely from full cans of food.

    These astounding structures are helping to change the world – by lifting the spirits of those in need, by raising public awareness, and most importantly, by collecting millions of pounds of food for local food banks.

    At the close of the competition all of the food from the New York City competition will be donated to City Harvest.

    The New York City CANstruction® Competition has begun its 19th year thanks to the hundreds of volunteers, contributors and participants who dedicate their time and talent. The exhibition is currently on display in the Winter Garden of the World Financial Center, 220 Vesey Street and the West Side Highway.

    This year the structures will provide enough food to feed nearly 60,000 hungry New Yorkers and we hope to double that amount through contributions from the public. Come and visit and bring a can to donate to City Harvest while your at it.

    Peter Coyne /
    November 15, 2011

    Sunday, November 13, 2011

    Engineering Firms Signal Upcoming Rise in NYC Construction

    Things may be looking up soon for the construction industry. Engineering firms, widely seen as the bellwethers of the building industry, are showing gains in employment and in the number of their projects. The numbers posted by these outfits, which land contracts on new projects and begin the design work long before the construction industry breaks ground, are surprisingly good.
    Things may be looking up soon for the construction industry. Engineering firms, widely seen as the bellwethers of the building industry, are showing gains in employment and in the number of their projects. The numbers posted by these outfits, which land contracts on new projects and begin the design work long before the construction industry breaks ground, are surprisingly good.

    In a harbinger of happier times for building industry, twenty of the New York area's 25 largest engineering firms, reported increases in employment from 2010 to 2011, with 15 reporting an increase in their number of  projects.

    “I think engineering will see some uptick next year and this will translate into more construction projects much later in the year,” said Cyrus Izzo, co-president of Syska Hennessy Group Inc.

    AECOM tops the list in terms of headcount, with 387 licensed engineers in the New York area, 32 more than it had in 2010. The company added 240 projects this year, bringing its total to 1,240.

    Each of the area's top 3 engineering companies, including Parsons Brinckerhoff and Arup, saw increases in NYC area revenue, projects and employees this year.

    AECOM's largest New York project is the Second Avenue Subway. A number of the other firms who made the list are also working on designs for big tunnel and bridge projects. That includes Weidlinger Associates Inc., which is hard at work on the Tappan Zee Bridge project.

    Such public-sector projects have dominated the workload of local engineering firms in recent years, but in another sign of an industry turnaround, the balance may be shifting a bit. In 2009, most private-sector projects came to a grinding halt and the public sector was able to pick up the slack.

    But in 2011, several firms reported a pickup in demand for private-sector projects. Syska Hennessy, for example, noted that 80% of its projects are now in the private sector.

    Overall, engineering firms have a positive outlook for the coming year. More than 60% of the 93 firms in New York that responded to The American Council of Engineering Cos. survey said are optimistic about prospects for 2012. Syska Hennessy recently completed its five-year strategic plan and expects to build on its New York market share in the commercial sector.

    Source: Crain's New York Business
    November 15, 2011

    Wednesday, November 9, 2011

    $26 Billion in Construction Projects Forecast in N.J.

    There are indications that construction activity in New Jersey is on the rise. Business, labor and construction professionals, meeting last week in Trenton, expect more than $26 billion in public and private construction projects in the Garden State in the next two years.

    New Jersey Construction Alliance President Phil Beachem said that would be an 18 percent increase over the past two years. "As the construction economy goes, so goes New Jersey's economy," Beachem said. "So this is an important indicator or barometer as to whether the state is weathering this recession that we're in."

    Beachem said the projections could be affected by decisions made in Washington on funding for transportation and civil works projects. And he said the highway construction sector is benefiting from projects on the Turnpike and Garden State Parkway. While highway construction is holding its own, he's concerned about what will happen when the current Turnpike projects are over.

    "If they don't have design work then it's only a matter of a year before there's no contract being bid because there's not a design project," he said. "Without a contract being bid, you have no private sector contractors working and no building trades workers working."

    Mr. Beachem added that no significant pickup is anticipated anytime soon for commercial and residential building construction.

    Tuesday, November 8, 2011

    Sneak Peek at the Space Shuttle Enterprise's Proposed Westside Landing Pad

    The President of the Intrepid Sea, Air, and Space Museum presented residents with initial plans for a new space museum built around the shuttle at this week's community board meeting. The spiraling glass structure will be located on what's now a parking lot across the West Side Highway from the Intrepid Museum, at West 46th Street, With the shuttle at its center, the new museum will have classrooms and laboratories, a theater and a rooftop restaurant.

    "This can throw off a huge amount of economic impact to the city and to the state on an annual basis." said Susan Zausner, the museum's president.

    NASA awarded the Enterprise, one of four shuttles donated to museums around the country, to the Intrepid in April. In the application to house the shuttle, Intrepid officials said it would be put next to the Intrepid itself. But the shuttle's size forced the museum to consider housing it across the street, which caused an Ohio senator  to call the museum "woefully unprepared" for the shuttle last month.

    Zausner said the museum expects to have about 300,000 additional visitors per year, 1,186 new jobs, and will generate about $143 million-a-year in revenue. Members of the community board overwhelmingly agreed that the museum could help transform the image of Hell's Kitchen. "This can really change the area," she said. "This is a beautiful linchpin to what we see as an area really beautifying the neighborhood."

    While board members wholeheartedly supported the museum, some raised concerns. The site currently provides parking for 14 buses, the new museum would bring total bus parking up to 28, along with 100 spots for cars.

    "We put the shuttle into space," said Tom Cayler, a member of the West Side Neighborhood Alliance. "I think we should be able to figure out how to get some buses in a garage."

    The museum currently does not own the lot, which would have to be rezoned for museum use before construction, slated for 2012, could begin.

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    Colossus: Massive 10-Tower Complex to Rise in Greenpoint Next Year

    Two weeks ago, the biggest news in Brooklyn since the bubble burst three years ago: a new tower is coming to the Williamsburg waterfront. The largest project of its kind in North Brooklyn, the third tower at North Side piers will house 500 luxury rental apartments in a 40-story tower. But that is nothing —at least next to the development Park Tower Group has planned.

    One of the first developers to see the potential of the Brooklyn waterfront, Park Tower procured the development rights to the old Greenpoint Lumber Exchange almost a decade ago, a 20-acre plot at the tip of the neighborhood, where Newtown Creek empties into the East River.

    On this site, now home to construction storage and movie back lots - including Boardwalk Empire - will rise 10 luxury apartment buildings with 4,000 units of housing inside. After years of planning, one of them will begin to rise early next year, according to a person with knowledge of the project.

    The neighborhood has already seen a major boom and bust in the past five years since the rezoning of Williamsburg and Greenpoint, Park Tower has been at work long before then. The firm is led by George Klein, who built a number of marquee office towers in Midtown in the 1980s while also playing a major role in city and national politics—like his development, it most often done behind the scenes. With its stake in the waterfront, Park Tower helped shape the plan for the rezoning, particularly the high-rise zone on the waterfront. The firm has been biding its time, quietly designing its project, under the direction of architect Gary Handel, whose work includes the Trump Soho, Hudson Square and the 9/11 Memorial.

    Park Tower was considering condos, but has shifted its focus to rentals as those are more easily financed and filled. The developer expects to close on construction loans later this month, to enable a ground breaking sometime early next year.

    “The project has been there a long time, but now the market is finally there,” a person involved with the project said. Park Tower is confident in its ability to realize the project given the strong demand for housing in North Brooklyn—rents have risen 10 percent in the past year.

    The community already supports the project. Unlike other developers, Park Tower is sticking to the parameters of the rezoning, rather than trying to add stories and reduce amenities. Acres of open space and a 20 percent set-aside for affordable housing—some 800 units—will be there, as per the rezoning.