Wednesday, September 28, 2011 Hits 100,000-Visitor Milestone, Embarks on National Expansion

NEW YORK, New York (September 19, 2011) –, the electrical contractor-focused, online information services company, has reached the major milestone of 100,000 unique visitors.

On September 16, Ravi Agrawal, a New York City electrician, became the 100,000th unique visitor to offers electrical contractors a wide range of services: from filing NYC permits and ConEd power requests online, to pricing and estimating, to relevant electrical construction industry news and reports. People use to make better business decisions, find the best suppliers, and to optimize their internet usage. It has more than 4,600 registered users.

The visitor milestone was achieved less than four months after company launched its online information portal on June 1, coinciding with the unveiling of its plans for national expansion throughout the US.

The company has thrived in difficult market conditions because of its focus on practical matters: helping electrical contractors to optimize their time online by consolidating internet resources into one, easy to navigate portal.  ElectricWeb Communications president Peter Coyne says, “We’re thrilled to have surpassed the 100,000-visitor mark. We have always believed in our electrical contractor-focused business model and, in an era where many businesses are scrabbling to find a model that works, it is exciting to be growing so fast. We believe the internet is opening up huge opportunities nationally for businesses like ours: the growth in web-based marketing and e-learning alone is immense.”
More facts about
- website generates more than 6,800 unique visits per week.
- It has published more than 85 articles, and has 4,620 subscribers to its newsletter.
- Monthly traffic volume surpassed 60,000 (non-unique) hits, August 2011.
- ElectricWeb|Blogger – syndicated content has 15 RSS newsfeeds
- It currently has thirteen corporate sponsors.
- ElectricWeb Communications, LLC. was founded in 1998 by Peter Coyne, and was incorporated in 2000.
- The company has offices in Manhattan and Queens, New York, employing a staff of four.
About ElectricWeb Communications, LLC
Based in New York City, uniquely fills the need of thousands of electrical contracting firms by providing valuable information they can immediately use to save time and money. is a dynamic edition of the original ElectricWeb model created by Peter Coyne back in 1998. With more than 30 years in the electrical industry as a supplier, as well as contractor, Mr. Coyne’s knowledge and reputation is both well known and respected in the NYC electrical industry.


Carol Coyne, Vice President


Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Good News for Wire Prices: Copper Falls to 14-Month Low

Copper futures have fallen 21% this month, as increased copper production from Chile has been heavily influencing the market price the market, while commodity traders continue to cash in their paper gains from the run-up in copper prices.

Last month, a strike at one of Chile's largest copper mines - which accounts for 3 percent of global production - ended with a labor agreement.

Comex copper futures which began the month at $4.20/lb, dipped as low as $3.31/lb yesterday. This comes as good news to electrical contractors needing to purchase wire, as Monday's price of $3.32/lb was the lowest Comex close in the last 14 months.

By Peter Coyne /
September 27, 2011

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

17 Injured as Construction Scaffold Collapses Onto Bus in Harlem

The Tuesday morning construction accident occurred on a busy commercial strip lined with clothing and other retail stores; firefighters quickly swarmed the bus and the collapsed scaffolding.

Seventeen people were injured when a building scaffold collapsed onto a city bus at West 125th Street and Frederick Douglass Boulevard in Harlem around 9:25 a.m. Tuesday, the Fire Department said. Fire officials described the injuries as minor and not life threatening and said no one was missing.

The scaffolding had been erected at 301 West 125th Street, a five-story brick building that was being demolished, the Department of Buildings said. Bricks from the building littered the street.

A police spokesman at the scene said that eight of the injured people were passengers on the bus and that two police officers sustained minor injuries. He said it appeared from preliminary accounts that during work on the elevator shaft in the building, bricks fell from building onto the scaffolding, knocking it down.

A spokeswoman for the buildings department, Jennifer Gilbert, said that the demolition project had permits and that the department received a complaint about the demolition on Sept. 7, but that inspectors sent to the site found nothing amiss. Officials at the company doing the demolition, Disano Demolition of Queens, were at the site behind police tape and could not immediately be reached for comment.

New York Times
September 21, 2011

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Contractor and Two Developers Accused of Racketeering

In a highly unusual suit, New York unions accuse HRH Construction and two others of using dummy firms to cheat workers out of wages and benefits. Tip of the iceberg?

York City construction unions filed a racketeering suit Tuesday alleging that a trio of two developers and one contractor illegally conspired to cheat workers out of millions of dollars in wages and benefits on several projects in Manhattan and Brooklyn.

In the suit, filed Tuesday morning in federal court in White Plains, N.Y., Metallic Lathers Union Local 46 and the Mason Tenders District Council contend that Long Island-based Lalezarian Developers and Manhattan-based JMH Development colluded with HRH Construction to bilk workers out of $7 million in wages and benefits from 2007 through 2011. HRH Construction, once one of the city's largest contractors, went bankrupt two years ago. The complaint seeks triple damages that would boost the total to $21 million.

The suit alleges that the developers diverted payments that should have been made to HRH Construction—a unionized general contractor—to a non-union dummy corporation created by the developers and HRH Construction to help skirt expensive union contracts. In the projects at the center of the legal action, workers were paid $12 an hour without benefits, instead of the going union rate of about $55 an hour with benefits.

“It's about a union construction firm that, in an effort to avoid its contracts, created a phony alter ego and, put construction management contracts in the name of that alter ego, but continued to do the work themselves,” said Thomas Kennedy, an attorney with Kennedy Jennik and Murray, who brought the suit.

In an article last May, Crain's detailed how the unions inserted themselves into HRH Construction's bankruptcy case in order to gain access to documents and testimony that indicated Leviathan Construction was an alter ego of HRH Construction. Since then, lawyers for the unions have dug through reams of additional company documents and emails and discovered what they believe is evidence sufficient to bring the racketeering suit. Some details of the suit were reported in Tuesday's Daily News.

The complaint quotes one email in which a Lalazerian employee writes to HRH Construction executives and to her boss, Kevin Lalazerian, about payments for projects at 350 W. 37th St. in Manhattan and 235 Gold St. in Brooklyn. “To clarify, you want no payments to HRH Construction for either project right now,” the email said. “You would like the payments made to Leviathan.”

In 2007, HRH Construction, the company that built Citicorp's headquarters and was Donald Trump's contractor of choice, placed No. 7 on Crain's list of top area contractors, with revenue of $455 and profits of $3.7 million.

In 2009, the 86-year-old company earned just $1.2 million and filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. It hit bottom earlier this year, abandoning its reorganization and moving to a Chapter 7 liquidation.

HRH Construction's demise is a tale of skullduggery and alleged fraud. Its downfall was accelerated by Local 46, which suspected the firm had set up a nonunion alter ego to sidestep its labor contracts, a practice known as double-breasting. The union bought several claims, including one for $1,246.31 owed to a Yonkers exterminator, to gain standing in bankruptcy court, and then set out to prove its case.

HRH Construction paid health insurance premiums and office expenses for Leviathan Construction, and that its principal employees had all worked for HRH Construction. Documents revealed that HRH Construction had guaranteed Leviathan Construction's work. The unions believed HRH Construction had run money through Leviathan Construction to keep it from creditors.

In addition to the charges against Lalezarian Developers, the suit alleges that JMH Development also participated in the alleged racketeering scheme in its project at 184 Kent St. in Brooklyn.

Racketeering suits filed by employers against unions are commonplace, but ones brought by labor groups against companies are highly unusual, legal experts said. Mr. Kennedy called the case “unprecedented” because of the level of detail on the inner workings of the companies the unions were able to dig up through HRH Construction's bankruptcy. “We think that this case is merely the tip of the iceberg,” said Robert Ledwith, business manager of Local 46. “We know this kind of illegal activity is widespread throughout our industry.”

Crain's New York Business

Monday, September 19, 2011

AvalonBay Pulls Plug on Big West Side Project

After three years on hold, plans to construct a 44-story tower with 700 rental apartments on a block between Eleventh and Twelfth avenues are abandoned.

AvalonBay Communities has nixed plans to build a new luxury rental development on Manhattan's far West Side. The big real estate investment trust decided not to lease four parcels of land owned by Four Plus Corp. located on a block bounded by West 56th and West 57th streets and Eleventh and Twelfth avenues.

The site is across the street from The Helena, the Durst Organization's LEED-Gold-certified luxury rental complex. A lease deal had been pending since February 2008, but it was put on hold due to the recession. The land is currently occupied by auto dealerships and parking garages.

According to reports, AvalonBay had planned to build a 44-story rental development with retail on the ground floor and roughly 700 apartments, including some affordable-housing units, on the site.

Officers of AvalonBay have confirmed that the company is no longer working on the project, stating that AvalonBay is focusing its efforts on projects where it owns the land. That includes its new 691-unit Chelsea development near the High Line and a planned 800-unit rental development called AvalonBay Willoughby in downtown Brooklyn, blocks away from its recently completed Avalon Fort Greene tower.

According to sources, TF Cornerstone is interested in leasing and developing the site.

While the 56th Street site is ideal for residential development, there is one downside. The property is adjacent to a city-owned garbage truck station. Supermarket magnate and one-time mayoral candidate John Catsimatidis owns two properties on the southeast corner of the block. His company Red Apple Group is headquartered at one of them, at 823 Eleventh Ave.

Four Plus owns properties valued in excess of $100 million in NYC. The Durst Organization's residential building, The Helena, stands on a 160,000-square-foot plot that it leases from Four Plus. 

Crain's New York Business

Friday, September 16, 2011

New York University Revises Expansion Plans

In an effort to overcome fierce neighborhood opposition to its growth strategy, New York University announced another tweak to its ambitious expansion plans on Thursday: the school will guarantee that two plots will permanently remain as parkland.

The university has decided against purchasing all the strips of land that are owned by the city in and around the Washington Square Village super-block just a block above Houston Street in Greenwich Village. Instead, the school will seek to designate two of the strips along LaGuardia Place and Mercer Street, east and west of the Washington Square Village, as parkland. As a result, NYU will revise plans for the two academic buildings it has proposed to build on the block so that “no portion of them will rest on the newly-designated parkland.”

The change will be reflected in the school's application to the Department of City Planning as it starts the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, the lengthy public-approval process that NYU needs to go through before it can build.

Community groups and elected officials had rallied against NYU’s plans to take over more than two acres of city-owned land in the area for its expansion plans. Community Action Alliance on NYU 2031 and Community Board 2 were not informed of the change and could not comment.

NYU has proposed a 14-story building on the eastern edge of the Washington Square Village block, along Mercer Street, and an eight-story building on the west side of the block off the LaGuardia Place strip.

On Thursday, NYU also reaffirmed that it will donate the corner of Houston and Bleecker streets to the city for a seven-story, 100,000-square-foot public school in place of what is now a Morton William’s Supermarket. The store will be relocated.

NYU's 20-year growth plan calls for the addition of 6 million square feet. Half of that will be in Greenwich Village and the areas surrounding Washington Square Park.

Proposed Construction Projects
Below is a listing of 33 construction projects under review by the NYC Department of Buildings to be built in the Washington Square area over the next five years. (Download the complete list by clicking here)

Monday, September 12, 2011

Thieves Targeting Contractor Vans Raise Security Fears

Police have recovered two of the three missing vans stolen from a World Trade Center contractor, which raised security fears as the city marked the tenth anniversary of 9/11. None of the thefts were connected to a specific plot, but had unusual circumstances above the average stolen vehicle, authorities said.

Both vehicles were found empty and parked on quiet residential streets in Flushing over the weekend. A third is still missing. New Yorkers shouldn't expect security measures that made getting around difficult Sunday to disappear, though.

A green Econoline van stolen from World Trade Center contractor Tully Construction was found Saturday night, while police recovered a box truck - also stolen from Tully - Sunday afternoon. Both vehicles were found empty and parked on quiet residential streets in Flushing.

Tully Construction was one of four contractors chosen to perform the clean up work at Ground Zero after the Twin Towers collapsed, and is currently doing roadwork on West Street - directly adjacent to the 1 World Trade Center construction site.

The van was stolen on September 2nd, from a construction site on 94th Street near the Grand Central Parkway in Queens. At least three thieves loaded the van with more than $80,000 worth of equipment and tools, after finding the keys hanging from a ladder stored atop the vehicle, cops said.

They also cut the phone lines and alarms, before making off with the fully loaded vehicle, taking with them the surveillance video, in an extensive effort to cover their tracks - in a way that seemed different from the average grand larceny.

"These may be nothing more than industry-savvy thieves with an appetite for expensive construction tools but they're receiving greater scrutiny in order to eliminate the possibility of something more sinister," said a police spokesman.

Police in New York have been on a heightened state of security since Thursday evening after federal officials said they were chasing a credible but unconfirmed al-Qaida threat to use a car bomb on bridges or tunnels in New York or Washington.

Police patrols have been stepped up, and vehicle checkpoints now in place at all area bridges and tunnels. Scrutiny of all box trucks and construction vans entering Manhattan have been placed on highest priority.

Police are also sweeping all Manhattan parking garages and are immediately towing any illegally parked vehicles. More radiation detection equipment, as well as license plate readers, are now being used.

Calls of suspicious packages and vehicles have increased since the report was made public, but all have been false alarms, according to police. Detectives are also speaking with all area truck rental companies, fertilizer retailers and businesses that sell components that could be used to make bombs.

By Peter Coyne

Friday, September 9, 2011

Union Membership Falls in NYC, Study Finds

The percentage of the city workforce that is unionized is shrinking, though it remains double the U.S. average. And the gap between public-sector and private-sector unionization is at an all-time high.

Organized labor has been all over the local news lately—from an ongoing walkout at the Central Park Boathouse, to the recent Verizon strike, to a summer of contract squabbles in the construction industry.

But while unions remain influential in the city, substantial erosion has occurred in recent years in their membership rates, according to a new report by City University of New York researchers.

Among workers living in the city, 22.9% were union members in the 18 months ending in June, down from 24.6% in January 2009 through June 2010, the report found. Losses in union membership have been disproportionately concentrated in the private sector.

The authors hypothesize that employment has contracted in highly unionized areas and expanded in sectors with low union participation. They do not point to specific examples, but during the period studied, the heavily unionized construction industry has been decimated and the Old London factory that produced Melba toast took its 228 jobs to North Carolina.

Despite the erosion, New York's unionization rate remains the highest of the 50 states and more than double the U.S. average of 11.9%, largely on the strength of union density in the public sector. New York's count of more than 1.9 million union members is more than any state except California, which has a far larger population. The city has more than 750,000 union members, about 40% of the state's total.

Among private-sector workers in the city, 14% are organized, twice the national rate and slightly higher than the state rate. Nearly 71% of public-sector workers in the city and state are in unions, almost double the national public-sector rate.

The 57-point gap between public and private sector unionization rates is an all-time high, according to Ruth Milkman, professor of sociology at the CUNY Graduate Center and one of the report's authors. As recently as 1986, the city's private-sector union density was 25.3%.

“The gap is huge, and the risk is that the public-sector union world becomes isolated socially and politically from the rest of society,” she said.

Indeed, in many of the recent labor battles around the country, a familiar refrain has been that public-sector workers receive benefits that many private sector workers don't. As the gap between public- and private-sector unionization widens, it becomes harder for the public sector unions to hang on to their gains.

“Like your grandmother said, ‘You don't put all your eggs in one basket,'” said Ed Ott, a distinguished lecturer at the Murphy Institute for Worker Education and Labor Studies and former labor leader. “We're too heavily concentrated in the public sector.”

And as the economy sputters, that sector’s density is now also in danger of declining. “In the wake of the fiscal crises generated by the current economic downturn, public-sector unions have been increasingly on the political defensive,” the report argues. “Thus despite New York City and State’s unusually high density levels … this is a period of profound challenges for organized labor.”

Three predominantly public-sector industries account for 63.2% of unionized workers in the city: education, health care and public administration. Manufacturing accounts for a far smaller share of union membership in the city than in the nation, at 1.7% versus 9.9%.

Within the city, union density was highest among residents of Staten Island, at 34%, and lowest among residents of Manhattan, at 15%. It was also most prevalent among workers aged 55 and older. Some 33% of those older workers belonged to unions, versus 28% of workers 25 to 54 and just 10% of workers 16 to 24.

The study suggested that the higher rates of unionization among older workers reflects the limited extent of union organizing among new entrants to the workforce.

Looking at unionization rates among immigrants, it found that recent immigrants have low rates. Some 11% of immigrants who arrived between 2000 and 2010 are in unions, compared with 33% of those who arrived before 1980.

By Daniel Massey
Crain's New York Business

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Praise Flows at World Trade Center Site

Officials take stock of complex rising from the ruins, including the office towers and memorial with its dramatic waterfalls and mini forest, and pay tribute for jobs well done.

On the cusp of the World Trade Center site opening to visitors for the first time since the attacks of Sept. 11, there is already much to see. All told, 225 trees have been planted at the memorial, the site's signature skyscraper reaches 80 stories into the sky and another rising tower stands at 40 stories.

On Sunday, a ceremony marking the tenth anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks will dedicate the memorial, which features two pools with waterfalls in the footprints of the old twin towers. President Barak Obama, Gov. Andrew Cuomo of New York, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey and Mayor Michael Bloomberg will speak at the ceremony, as will those who held those positions on that fateful day a decade earlier.

“It promises to be a moment to reflect…to remember… and to rededicate ourselves to the values and freedoms that made New York a target for evil,” said Mayor Bloomberg, while speaking at a press conference overlooking the site. “It also inevitably will be a moment to take stock of how far our city has come since that terrible morning.”

Among other accomplishments, he noted there are now more businesses operating in lower Manhattan than there were on Sept. 10, 2001 and there are more people living in the neighborhood than at any time since 1920.

Most of the praise was for the site itself. The mayor, who is chairman of the 9/11 Memorial & Museum said that $400 million has been raised for the project from contributors from all 50 states and 41 countries. He reiterated the museum would open next year and said he hoped federal aid to keep the entrance fee reasonable.

Mr. Bloomberg also said that work may start on a planned arts center by 2015 but there is still no design or fundraising initiative for the building, which is being designed by Frank Gehry.

But the towers are rising. One of three towers being constructed by Silverstein Properties is already 40 stories and will be 65 floors upon its completion, which is slated for 2013. Meanwhile, 1 World Trade Center is also scheduled to be completed in 2013 and will stand at 104 stories when it is finished. That signature tower, which is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, cemented its place as a premier business address when publisher Condé Nast agreed to lease one million square feet there.

This is all happening because New Yorkers refused to give up,” said Silverstein CEO Larry Silverstein at a press conference downtown. “New Yorkers believed that we could and would create a World Trade Center in the heart of a new downtown that is even better than before.”

By Theresa Agovino
Crain's New York Business

Friday, September 2, 2011

Three New Construction Projects Break Ground in Chelsea

Latest sign of the Chelsea construction boom: Three new projects break ground along a five-block stretch of 15th Street, between Union Square and Ninth Ave.

10 East 15th Street:

The New York City School Construction Authority acquired the two-story building at 10 East 15th Street for $39 million from the Teamsters Local 810. The SCA completed demolition of the old union hall, which had had been vacant since 2008. A new 8-story school will be constructed to house 350 middle school students from the Clinton School for Writers and Artists, and a 550-seat high school, an SCA spokesperson said.

While it is too early in the design process to estimate the project's costs, the city has tapped PKSB Architects for the job, which is slated for completion by September 2015.
31-35 West 15th Street:

Alchemy Properties recently demolished the old Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers union hall at 31-35 West 15th Street using a non union crew, and racking up a huge list fines from OSHA to the NYC Department of Buildings.

Construction of a 32-story condominium will begin late this year, with six floors reserved for the expansion of Xavier High School, which sold the air rights above the existing school to the project.

414 West 15th Street:

Across from Chelsea Market, a partial foundation has been poured for a new 25-story residential building designed by H3 Hardy Collaboration Architecture. Construction, which was halted in 2007, will resume this fall, according to developer LM Legacy Group.
By Peter Coyne /

Thursday, September 1, 2011

NYC Taps New Construction Czar

Veteran Skidmore Owings & Merrill architect to lead charge in new post designed to speed up construction-approval process; will manage efforts to aid development, up efficiency of plan reviews.

In an effort to make the city's construction-approval process easier to navigate, the city's Department of Buildings announced Thursday that it has created and filled a new senior post, whose occupant will oversee the streamlining of the entire process.

Taking the job with the title of deputy commissioner of building development will be Fred Mosher. An architect at Skidmore Owings & Merrill with more than 24 years of design and construction experience, he will be in charge of construction-plan examination operations and the issuing of permits in all five boroughs. In addition, he will manage new efforts to aid development throughout the city and help to increase efficiency of the construction plan review process.

“New development is critical to ensuring that our city continues to grow, and Fred Mosher's expertise will help move more projects forward so more people can go back to work,” said Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri, in a statement. At Skidmore Owings & Merrill, where he worked for nine years, Mr. Mosher was a senior technical architect.

In his new post he will also lead the Buildings Department's “Get it Done Together” pilot program. It launched in May and is designed to eliminate the red tape and speed up the construction-approval process by bringing all the necessary city agencies under one roof to review and approve projects. In June, the city said that 385 construction projects were approved as a result of the new program.

Mr. Mosher has supervised teams of architects and engineers in the design and construction of some of the largest government-sponsored projects in the world, including the Toronto International Airport in Canada, the Kuwait Military Academy in Kuwait City, and the reconstruction of the Cortlandt Street subway station in Lower Manhattan.

By Amanda Fung
Crain's New York Business