Saturday, October 29, 2011

Final Frontier: A NYC Space Hub

The Intrepid Museum is planning to build a 75,000 square foot Exhibit Hall on 12th Avenue to house the space shuttle Enterprise.

Last April, NASA chose the Intrepid Museum as the future home for the space shuttle Enterprise and museum officials want to build a grand annex to house the craft, along with a beefed-up space and science program. What a tremendous cultural and educational boon for the city. We’d finally have our own premier space-and-science center. How cool is that?

On the drawing board: a spectacular 75,000-square-foot glass structure on what is now a parking lot across 12th Avenue, near the museum’s home aboard USS Intrepid -- the storied World War II-era aircraft carrier docked at Pier 86 near West 46th Street. The shuttle would be the main attraction, but the building would also offer other exhibits, interactive displays, classrooms and labs for educational programs, a rooftop cafe and other amenities.

There’d be a plethora of activities: films, talks and other events focusing on NASA, space exploration, flight, their history and the science behind them -- presented with state-of-the-art technology. Cool indeed.

True, the museum already has an admirable section devoted to space (its full name is the Intrepid Sea, Air and Space Museum Complex). But the current program is nothing next to what’s on tap when the new facility opens in 2014, featuring a real space shuttle (actually, Enterprise was a prototype, but a key part of the shuttle program).

With the other retired shuttles based elsewhere in the country, the Intrepid will instantly become the preeminent space museum in the entire Northeast. Cooler still. That, by the way, means incalculable benefits for New York -- the coolest part of all.

The most exciting perk: its impact on education. The idea is to turn on young minds not only to space, but to what educrats refer to as the STEM sector: Science, Technology, Engineering and Math. Galvanizing generations of superstars in those fields is vital not only to New York, but America.

There’d be formal educational programs and link-ups with area schools. Let’s be honest: What kind of stuffy schoolhouse lecture can capture a kid’s imagination like a real, live space shuttle? Kids will be tackling Bernoulli’s Principle and the Cold War space race without even realizing it.

Other goodies? The center would fill a gap in the city’s cultural offerings, boosting the Big Apple’s image and attractiveness as a tourist destination. The jolt to economic activity in that neighborhood and beyond would be hefty: Early estimates cite hundreds of new jobs, more than $100 million in new business and $6 million in tax revenue to start, with possibly more later.

Why would such a no-brainer plan face an uphill battle? For starters, money. Officials need $85 million -- about $45 million from government and $40 million from private donors. That won’t be easy. Plus, the state, which owns the parking lot, has to agree to hand it over. And the city needs to OK zoning changes.

Meanwhile, cities that lost out on shuttles during NASA’s competition (Houston, Seattle and Dayton, for example) see the new plans as grounds to reopen the contest. Officials in Ohio, Texas and Washington have called on NASA to review its decision. This week, a petition got the required 5,000 signatures needed to trigger an official review.

“New York, which received the decommissioned Enterprise space shuttle under the premise that it would house it in the Intrepid ... now plans to build a separate museum for the Enterprise,” the petition whines. Those arguments, of course, are ridiculous. If the Intrepid’s new plans weren’t superior to what was originally envisioned, the museum wouldn’t be pursuing them.

It would be a tragedy of galactic proportions should New York miss this rare chance for top-rate space museum. Local officials should move heaven and earth to see the plan to fruition. But New Yorkers themselves would be wise to take a stand, too, demanding action from the pols -- and perhaps even donating a few bucks. The rewards could be ... out of this world.
Adam Brodsky / New York Post

Friday, October 28, 2011

Comex Copper Continues Furious Rally

Comex copper prices jumped this week in frenzied trading, after grinding to a 15-month low on October 20th. Futures rose for the next five sessions, climbing by 21% as Europe closes in on Greek debt deal.

Copper futures continued to rally  Friday as the rush to risky assets in the wake of the euro-zone debt deal paused as investors scrutinized the details of the plan.

Futures on Thursday capped a frenzied rally that took futures to five-week highs, as investors anticipated progress in the effort by European leaders to shore up the region's battered financial system.

The benchmark contract surged along with other growth-sensitive assets such as stocks and some commodities on Thursday after the news that euro-zone leaders had agreed to an outline of a plan to ease Greece's debt burden, boost the currency union's bailout fund and pump cash into its banking system.

The most actively traded copper contract, for December delivery, recently rallied to $3.7250 a pound on the Comex division of the New York Mercantile Exchange.

Currency markets provided a headwind to copper on Friday, as the euro drifted lower against the U.S. Dollar after touching its highest levels since early September. A stronger dollar can hit dollar-denominated commodities by making them more expensive for buyers using other currencies.

Copper futures plunged in recent months on worries that Europe was sliding toward a credit crunch, as investors were concerned that the financial troubles could shackle the industrial economy. The metal sees widespread use in construction and manufacturing, making it particularly sensitive to the economic outlook.

But after futures grinded to a 15-month low on Oct. 20, some investors began to view the market as undervalued should European leaders succeed in staving off a financial crisis. Futures rose for four of the next five sessions, climbing by 21% as euro-zone officials closed in on a debt deal.

Visit to track copper prices in real time.

Dow Jones Newswires
10/28/2011   2:05 PM

New 20-Story Luxury Tower Coming to Upper West Side

A 20 story, 181 luxury apartment building is being constructed on Broadway at 77th Street. The Larstrand, is being developed by Friedland Properties and Rose Associates

A $125 million loan was funded by the issuance of bonds that were provided by New York State Housing Finance Agency, a state agency that works "to create and preserve high-quality affordable multifamily rental housing" through out the state. 37 of the units at The Larstrand will be designated affordable.

The site is shovel ready, construction is supposed to begin immediately with completion scheduled for 2013.

The building will feature a mix of studio, one, two and three bedroom rental apartments. There will be 40,000 square feet of retail space along Broadway between 77th and 78th Streets.  CVS has agreed to lease a portion of the space.

Peter Coyne

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Stanford Proposes $2.5 Billion Campus Roosevelt Island

Stanford University submitted plans Wednesday to build a $2.5 billion, 1.9-million-square foot tech campus on Roosevelt Island. The 10-acre campus would open in 2016, housing 200 faculty and 2,000 students. Cornell University is vying for the same site.

The Palo Alto, Calif.–based university's 600-page submission says it will commit an initial $200 million towards the Roosevelt Island campus to cover start-up costs and create an endowment to support research on the campus. If the proposal is chosen by the Bloomberg administration, Stanford would launch a $1.5 billion, 10-year fundraising campaign to finance the new campus and build the endowment. The project would create more than 7,000 construction jobs.

Called Stanford-NYC, the campus would be built out over 30 years and focus on graduate-level teaching and research in engineering, technology and entrepreneurship, with an emphasis on turning research into viable businesses. The academic program will initially focus on finance and media, industries where the city is already strong.

“StanfordNYC has the potential to help catapult New York City into a leadership position in technology, to enhance its entrepreneurial endeavors and outcomes, diversify its economic base, enhance its talent pool, and help our nation maintain its global lead in science and technology,” said John Hennessy, the university's president.

Stanford's schools of engineering and business, institute of design and technology ventures program would participate in the city campus, which would be an extension of Stanford's Palo Alto operation. If 50% of the university's track record in Silicon Valley is replicated here, the campus could create some 100,000 jobs.

Stanford would launch its program at the City College of New York, beginning in 2013 as the Roosevelt Island campus is built. It plans to partner with K-12 schools as part of a community engagement program outlined in its proposal.

Cornell University, which also wants to build a campus on Roosevelt Island, earlier this week unveiled details of a proposal with the Technion-Israel Institute of Technology for a campus that would grow over time to 2.12 million square feet. The Cornell-Technion proposal, which must be submitted this week, will include plans for a 150,000-square-foot building that, if built today, would be the largest net-zero energy building in the eastern U.S. Their plan calls for ambitious use of solar energy and geothermal wells and 500,000 square feet of public green space.

Other proposals are expected to come from Columbia University, a consortium led by New York University and a partnership between Carnegie Mellon University and Steiner Studios. None of those groups have asked for land on Roosevelt Island.

Crain's New York Business

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

50 New Hotels To Open In NYC Through 2013

Building a hotel in New York City is becoming more affordable than buying one, as demand from investors helps drive a surge in property prices. Fifty new hotels are set to open by the end of 2013, with sixty-eight more scheduled for completion by 2014. According to hotel-consulting firm Lodging Econometrics, Manhattan lodging properties sold for an average of $505,157 a room.

Increased competition for purchases has led developers to plan the opening of about 50 new hotels through 2013 in New York, more than triple the number in Washington, D.C., the next-busiest U.S. city for construction, according to hotel-consulting firm Lodging Econometrics. Sixty-eight more are set for completion in 2014.

Hotel developers, many of whom stopped building in Manhattan and other New York boroughs when financing dried up during the recession, are returning following a gain in commercial-property prices, which are at their highest since a record reached in 2006.

“Right now, it is cheaper to build than to buy in New York,” said Bruce Ford, senior vice president of sales at Lodging Econometrics. “Most developers would argue that nationwide, it's better to open a hotel in 2013 than in 2012, but in New York City, a market that leads the cycle, next year bill excellent.”

Manhattan lodging properties sold for an average of $505,157 a room this year through Sept. 30, up from $344,799 for all of last year and $413,644 in 2009, according to research firm Real Capital Analytics Inc. At the 2006 peak, the average was $632,894. Meanwhile, companies including DiamondRock Hospitality Co. and Hidrock Realty Inc. are building hotels for $300,000 to $450,000 per room.

Hotel construction in New York City includes the gutting and redevelopment of office buildings, as well as the demolition of existing structures to make way for ground-up buildings.

Ian Schrager, a pioneer of the boutique hotel concept, said earlier this month that his company agreed to buy a development site in New York City and was close to completing a second Manhattan deal as part of a plan to develop trendy, less-expensive properties in “gateway” cities. He declined to give details of the plots or say how much he's paying for them.

“As long as a new build is around $400,000 to $500,000 a key, you can build all day long in New York because it's in line or below what you would pay for an existing building,” Mr. Schrager said earlier this month.

Real estate investment trusts have been contributing to the increase in prices for existing hotels, making $1.14 billion in lodging purchases in Manhattan this year through Sept. 30, according to Real Capital. That accounted for 38% of the total traded in the city.

Fourteen New York hotels sold from May through August, all of which went for more than $400,000 a room. They include the Radisson Lexington Hotel, the Four Points by Sheraton Midtown-Times Square, Affinia Gardens and the Yotel, which features small “sleeping cabins,” PricewaterhouseCoopers said.

Among the costliest transactions was Morgans Hotel Group's sale of the Royalton New York to Irving, Texas-based Felcor Lodging Trust Inc. for $84.6 million, or $500,447 a room. Affinia Manhattan sold for $560,685 a room, while Affinia Gardens, which has residential-style suites, traded for $910,866 a room, according to the PricewaterhouseCoopers study.

The price surge has helped spur development. In New York's five boroughs, which have the most hotel rooms in the pipeline after Shanghai and Dubai, there were 25 hotel openings in 2008, 27 in 2009 and 34 in 2010. This year, 22 are coming on line, followed by an expected 23 in 2012, nine in 2013 and 68 in 2014 and beyond, according to Lodging Econometrics.

“Manhattan is an under-supplied market because it's a seven-day market,” said David Loeb, a hotel analyst at Robert W. Baird & Co. In one week in early October, New York hotels were 91.7% occupied. “Very few other markets even come close to that,” Mr. Loeb said.

Earlier this year, Bethesda, Md.-based DiamondRock agreed to buy a hotel being developed in Manhattan's Times Square area by a joint venture of Walton Street Capital and Highgate Holdings. The price will be between $112.5 million and $135 million, or about $450,000 a room, DiamondRock said in January. The cost of the property, scheduled to open in 2013, will depend on its ultimate number of guest rooms.

Starwood Capital Group, the buyout firm founded by Barry Sternlicht, agreed in March to take over a development contract from Orient-Express Hotels Ltd. for the New York Public Library's Donnell branch on West 53rd Street, in a partnership with Tribeca Associates. The buyers plan to spend $400 million on the site, which includes condominiums, hotel rooms and a library.

Crain's New York Business
October 24, 2011

Saturday, October 22, 2011

$300 Million Northside Piers Tower Will Break Ground By March

Edge developer Douglaston Development has taken the lead on building 3 Northside Piers in Williamsburg. While the third tower at the Edge itself remains on hold, Douglaston plans to break ground on the $300 million, 40-story rental tower in March.

Unlike the first two Northside Piers towers, which were built by Toll Brothers, the third will be built by Edge developer Douglaston Development in partnership with L&M Development Partners. The 500-unit rental building will have fittingly Edge-like amenities: pool, lounge, screening room, weight-training room and business center.

The tower was originally supposed to be part of a three-building complex developed by Toll Brothers, L&M Development Partners and RD Management, but after sales were slow -- even after price cuts -- in the first two Northside Piers buildings, Toll Brothers backed out of the project. L&M and RD will help on Douglaston's version of the tower.

"The Williamsburg market is strong, but for most of us developers, it's not a place where we were making a lot of money," said David Von Spreckelsen, a senior vice president at Toll Brothers. "There's so much product, competing for price against each other."

Douglaston still has a third tower of its own to build at the Edge complex. The developer never broke ground on the third building after sales started sluggishly in the 565 units that comprise the first two structures. However, sales have picked up in recent months, and The Edge is now about 70 percent sold.

By Peter Coyne

Friday, October 21, 2011

1 WTC, 4 WTC to Top Out in Early 2012

Nearly 1,000 workers are now at work building what will soon be New York’s tallest skyscraper, 1 World Trade Center (WTC). The tower, under construction since late 2008, now stands 86 stories tall, on its way to topping out at 104 stories of steel in the first quarter of 2012.

Across the site, 4 WTC steel has reached the 44th floor, also set to top out in early 2012 at 64 stories. Already its sub-grade construction is more than 90 percent complete, with utilities and concrete pours steadily progressing on upper stories.

The construction update was presented to Community Board 1’s WTC committee by the Port Authority and Silverstein Properties this week. The Port Authority’s Assistant Director of WTC Construction Quentin Brathwaite reported several more rebuilding milestones, including that the Port’s work on the western concourse, also called the “east-west connector,” is expected to be complete by the end of this year. It then will be turned over to World Financial Center owner Brookfield Properties for finishing work that will tie into the new entry house at the Winter Garden.

At the WTC’s south end, Brathwaite said that excavation in the south bathtub for Vehicular Security Center (VSC) construction is proceeding at an accelerated pace at the 130 Liberty Street site. On the site’s west side, a new crane was recently installed to lift in oversized steel members that will form the substructure.

Running through the center of the WTC’s 16 acres, the Port Authority is rebuilding Greenwich Street. Brathwaite told CB1 that the intersection of Liberty and Greenwich Street will open first, though that date is still some time away. But the opening of Greenwich Street will proceed one segment at a time from south to north, up to Vesey Street.

The Port Authority also continues its foundation work for the Transportation Hub, which includes formation of the oculus substructure. It will mark the Hub above street level, topping the multi-level main hall, whose total square footage is roughly the equivalent of three football fields.

Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center

October 21, 2011

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

It's Official, $1Billion Tower To Rise On Park Avenue

The site of the former Drake Hotel, recently named the most valuable development lot in the city, will be home to a 1,420-foot tall residential tower, the tallest in the city.

According to the Wall Street Journal, CIM Group and Harry Macklowe plan to erect a slim condominium and retail complex designed by Uruguayan-born architect Rafael Vinoly  on the 440 Park Ave site. The tower will boast 128 units with 12-foot high ceilings.

The $1 billion project, at newly addressed 432 Park Avenue near 56th Street -- recently changed from 50 East 57th Street -- will included a 5,000-square-foot partial enclosed driveway, golf training facilities and private dining and screening rooms. Macklowe has no equity in the mega-project, but has remained involved in the decision making.

CIM is confident it will soon close on a $700 million construction loan, with the balance of construction costs self-financed. The private equity firm has $9.5 billion under management, and its Urban Real Estate Fund has an annual return of 7.4% compared to a 20% annual decline for similar funds.

By Peter Coyne

Friday, October 14, 2011

Construction Worker Electrocuted; Plummets To Death Inside NYC Church

A construction worker, who plunged 12 stories to his death while installing a safety net under the ceiling of an upper West Side church on Thursday, was electrocuted according to investigators. The worker was not wearing a safety harness.

Janusz Zdybel, who lived in Greenpoint with his wife, crashed into the center aisle of the historic Church of St. Paul the Apostle on West 60th St. just off Columbus Circle about 9:30 a.m. on Thursday morning.

Investigators from the FDNY and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have determined that the worker, who was using an electric drill to install a safety net on a sub ceiling in the arch of the 126-year-old Catholic church, lost his footing on a metal ladder when both he and his 23-year-old assistant holding the ladder were shocked.

The drill had been plugged into an ungrounded outlet.

Father Gilbert Martinez, pastor of the parish, performed last rites on the body.

Mr. Zdybel, who was employed by West New York Construction & Remodeling Services, had been working on the restoration project at the church for the past two years.

OSHA fined the contractor for violations of safety standards, lack of safety harness, failure to provide ground-fault circuit interrupters for personnel protection, exposing employees to the risk of electric shock, and unsafe work practices.

Officials stated that, "this was a tragic accident that should have been avoided."

By Peter Coyne

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

$2.2B Of New CUNY Buildings In The Pipeline

Borough of Manhattan Community College
Fiterman Hall Replacement
- $325 million
This new 390,000-square-foot building will contain classrooms, instructional laboratories, computer labs, faculty offices, administrative offices, student/faculty services, building services, and support functions, as well as an art gallery on the main floor.

Bronx Community College
North Instructional Building and Library
- $102 million
This new 98,000-square-foot facility will have 15 large classrooms and a café on its first floor; the second floor will house the two-story information commons, along with a ring of small group-study rooms and lounge.

City College Campus
Advanced Science Research Center and New City College Science Facility
- $744 million
The new Advanced Science Research Center will be a 206,000-square-foot research facility providing state-of-the-art laboratories for research in nanoscience, photonics and environmental remote sensing.  A second 190,000-square-foot science lab building will provide new facilities for City College's Science Division.

City College Campus
Marshak Building
- $45 million
This project will replace the facade and install a new curtain wall in the building, which currently houses most of the college's science research facilities.

Hunter College
School of Social Work
- $141.3 million
A property in Harlem was purchased to relocate the school from its current leased facility on Manhattan's Upper East Side, giving the school a permanent, owned facility. This new 147,000-square-foot building will house the School of Public Health and faculty housing

John Jay College
New multi-use building
- $587 million
This 600,000-square-foot building will provide classrooms and lecture halls, modern forensic science labs, instructional and research laboratories, faculty offices, student activities and academic support services, administrative offices, and campus services.

Lehman College
New Science Facility,
Phase I
– $77 million
This 169,000-square-foot building is the first of a three-phase facility that will create the cornerstone of the sciences at Lehman. The project is expected to be the first CUNY building to receive a LEED Gold Rating from the U.S. Green Building Council.

Medgar Evers College
Academic Building I
- $235 million
This building will provide state-of-the-art classrooms and computer labs for all disciplines, as well as instructional labs and faculty offices for the School of Science, Health and Technology. The 195,000-square-foot structure will also house the college's main dining facility.

Monday, October 10, 2011

$200M Renovation Announced For Park Avenue Armory

The Park Avenue Armory - at 643 Park Avenue between 66th and 67th streets - has announced plans for a $200 million renovation of the site. The news is hardly unexpected, as it has been clear for some time that this former military structure was meant for better things.

The Gothic revival building, which opened in 1881, was designed by Charles Clinton, and consists of a five-story front section along the avenue and, behind it, a cavernous 55,000-square-foot enclosed area, known as the Wade Thompson Drill Hall.

As so often in New York City in recent years, what originally served a serious function, will be reborn as cultural venue. The drill hall has become a center for exhibiting visual art projects and live performances, that could not fit in many other spaces around the city. The space has also served as the venue for the Royal Shakespeare Company and for Merce Cunningham's dance company. It has also been the preferred context for various high-profile art and antiques fairs.
It was announced this week that the Swiss firm of Herzog & de Meuron would touch up the entire space, including not only the drill hall period rooms -- designed by the likes of Louis Tiffany and Stanford White -- that grace the front of the building. This firm is most famous for its creation from scratch of Ian Schrager's 40 Bond Street.

The renovation will occur over the next two years, and include new performance and rehearsal spaces.

By Peter Coyne

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Lenox Hill Hospital To Begin Construction At St. Vincent's Site in December

North Shore-LIJ and Lenox Hill Hospital gets thumbs up from a state committee to construct $125 million emergency department on site of bankrupt St. Vincent's Medical Center.

A controversial proposal to build a freestanding emergency department on the campus of the former St. Vincent's Hospital in Greenwich Village was approved Thursday morning by a key state planning committee. The application, from North Shore-LIJ Health System's Lenox Hill Hospital division, must now be approved by the state health commissioner. The Department of Health has already signaled it favors the plan.

The facility will be known as the Lenox Hill Hospital Comprehensive Care Center.

Activists and some health care advocates have pushed politicians to try to defeat the plan and instead hold out for a proposal that could result in a new full-service hospital on the bankrupt St. Vincent's medical complex.

The freestanding emergency department is a "hybrid model of care" according to the applicant. The facility would be located in the O'Toole building on Seventh Avenue, a former maritime union hall. Construction would involve gutting the building and reducing its 160,000 square feet to 140,000 square feet. Most of the money would come from Lenox Hill, with the Rudin Group real estate firm contributing $10,000.

The $125 million center will be classified as a hospital and will operate under Lenox Hill Hospital's operating certificate. The facility will have paramedic-staffed ambulances standing by around the clock, and board-certified emergency physicians on duty. It will be able to treat and release an estimated 90% of patients and stabilize others so they can be transferred to other hospitals.

Construction will begin in December 2011 and the facility would be operational by April 2014.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Five Universities Propose New Campuses In NYC; To Open By Fall 2013

Cornell, Stanford, NYU, Columbia and Carnegie Mellon Universities have each submitted proposals in the citywide competition to build tech campuses for the fall 2013 semester.

The two engineering powerhouses, Cornell and Stanford, have proposed Roosevelt Island campuses. But three other bids—led by New York University, Columbia University and Carnegie Mellon University— have proposed other sites which are strong contenders to be chosen in the multiple winner competition.

New York University is teaming up with Verizon and Apple Computer in their proposal for a downtown Brooklyn campus centered on science and technology. It wants to build an 450,000-square-foot campus at 370 Jay St., a city-owned building that is leased to the Metropolitan Transportation Authority. The city’s Economic Development Corp. and the MTA are putting together a request seeking proposals for the site, which currently houses equipment and about 240 MTA employees.

NYU is teaming up with the City University of New York and Carnegie Mellon (which is also the lead on a separate proposal). Corporate partners will be a big piece of the proposal, with IBM serving as a key member of the bid. Cisco Systems, Siemens AG, and Consolidated Edison will also play roles and talks are underway with Xerox and other firms.

The campus, which would be in the shadows of Polytechnic Institute of New York, would initially include about 600 masters and up to 100 Ph.D. students, about 60 faculty and 30 visiting scientists from the industry partners. Students would be admitted for the fall 2013 semester and will expand in future phases via the use of air rights that NYU has in the area. Students at the new campus will use Polytech’s science and engineering labs.

Columbia, which had initially planned to partner with the City University of New York, is flying solo on its proposal. The school is proposing a one-million-square-foot data science institute on its new Manhattanville campus, north of West 130th Street between 12th Avenue and Broadway. Two new buildings would be constructed and an old auto factory would be refurbished.

The new multi-building complex - which is not part of the original Columbia University expansion program announced in 2007 - would focus on new media, smart cities, cyber security, health analytics and finance. It would involve the university’s business, journalism, engineering, international and business schools.

The first phase of the project would include about 100 new faculty members and 1,000 postgraduate students for the fall 2013 semester. The university already has all the permits that would be needed for the construction and that most infrastructure costs have already been built into its Manhattanville expansion plans, meaning Columbia will ask for less than the $100 million the city is making available for infrastructure upgrades.

Carnegie Mellon’s proposal is altogether different. The Pittsburgh-based university is partnering with Steiner Studios to propose an entertainment technology center adjacent to Steiner’s home at the Brooklyn Navy Yard. The site is one of three the city had suggested to prospective applicants in its request for proposals. The school and studio have long had a relationship, with Carnegie Mellon students doing internships at Steiner.

A spokesman for Carnegie Mellon confirmed the university has submitted its bid, but declined to offer details. Douglas Steiner, chairman of Steiner Studios, said the proposal calls for an entertainment technology center like ones Carnegie Mellon created in Pittsburgh with Disney and Google. The initial phase calls for about 450 students in two existing historic buildings, totaling about 150,000 square feet. Additional buildings would be added over time.

“It think it’s a really good fit, considering all the mayor has done in growing the production business in New York City,” Mr. Steiner said. “If we can bring Carnegie Mellon … I think we forever change the relative weight of New York in the production business. The media capital of the world in terms of headquarters is New York, but not production.”

The deadline for submissions to the EDC is Oct. 28. City officials with $100 million in infrastructure money earmarked for the project.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Only 85 Days Until 100-Watt Lamp Phaseout

Thomas Edison might roll over in his grave, but the experts say the rest of us should rejoice! The reason? The 100-watt light bulb is on its way out.

Why? Because this still-popular horse-and-buggy era light bulb wastes up to 90 percent of the electricity it consumes as heat, burning up hundreds of dollars every year in American households and increasing air pollution that harms human health and the environment, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council. However, much of this expense is unnecessary and easily avoidable.

Enter the Energy Independence and Security Act, enacted by the federal government back in 2007. According to this act, manufacturers must stop producing the horse-and-buggy era 100 Watt A line incandescent bulbs in January 2012. 75 Watt A line incandescent bulbs will phase out in 2013, followed by the 60 and 40 Watt A line incandescent bulbs in 2014.

Did You Know?
  • As a nation, we spend about more than one-quarter of our electricity on lighting, at a cost of more than $37 billion annually, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.
  • Only 36% of Americans are aware that federal legislation will phase out standard incandescent light bulbs and only 19% know that the 100-watt will be phased out first, starting January 1, 2012.
  • Sixty three percent (63%) of the 7 billion lamps in the United States are incandescent, which only produce 10% of their energy as light. The remaining 90% is given off as heat.

By Peter Coyne

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Schumer Bill Targeting China's Trade Practices Ready To Pass Senate

Chinese unfair trade practices and currency manipulation have resulted in .loss of over 160,000 jobs in New York state since 2001; Legislation to move in senate this week.

Chinese companies who can submit lower bids due to unfair trading practices, have outbid New York companies on projects; according to a recent report, an estimated 61,000 jobs in New York City, 23,000 on Long Island, and 27,000 in the northern suburbs have been lost due to unfair Chinese trade practices.

To fight back against unfair trade practices, Schumer introduced bi-partisan legislation to crack down on China’s currency manipulation. He expects the bill to pass in the Senate this week. The bill faces a less-certain future in the House of Representatives, where Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, has opposed it, saying it could ignite a trade war.

Schumer said the issues with China are currency manipulation by methods that undervalue the Chinese yuan versus the dollar and "paying workers next to nothing."

The bill seeks "tough penalties against China or any other country that undervalues their currency," he said. "If we level the playing field, New York manufacturers can compete fairly and keep jobs local."

"The U.S. government could put tariffs on imported goods from China that compete with goods here when the currency is misaligned, which it is," he said. "No longer will Uncle Sam be Uncle Sap when it comes to China," Schumer said.

 Speaking on Schumer's conference call with reporters was Brett Wallace, vice president of Brewster Plastics in Brewster, Putnam County, which employs 45 people doing injection molding of parts for industries.

 Setting up for a contract involves expensive tooling, and he said he just lost a job to a Chinese competitor who had a tooling bid of $19,000 competing with Brewster's cost of $49,000. Wallace said $19,000 "doesn't even cover the raw material to start production of the tooling, much less to fabricate it."

China is subsidizing its exports by $450 billion a year. It prints its currency and sells it for dollars, a technique to keep the yuan artificially cheap along with exports. U.S. economists believe that Schumer's bill would help.

An Economic Policy Institute report that said the U.S. lost 6 million manufacturing jobs in 10 years, 1.9 million of them due to Chinese imports and currency manipulation. New York's loss was 161,414, by Schumer's calculations.

By Peter Coyne

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

1,000+ Feet Now The Magic Number, As 1,420-Foot Tower Breaks Ground

Three new construction projects in Midtown will each successively eclipse 8 Spruce Street as the tallest residential building in the Americas.

Not content to let New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street hang onto the tall building spotlight for too long, One57, the 57th Street Extell-developed mega-tower will be starting sales this fall. Nearly thirty of 90 floors have been built for the 1,004-foot building - and since New York by Gehry is only 870 feet tall, One57 will soon take away the hemisphere's "tallest residential building" crown.

The attorney general's office has already approved sales, and there are contracts out at prices of around $5,000/square foot. And for whatever doesn't get sold, Extell has an insurance plan: the Abu Dhabi government fund has a contract to buy any unsold units.

If they do all sell, there will soon be two other 1,000-foot-plus options nearby.

There's the recently-resurrected, 1,050-foot Tower Verre, (formerly MOMA Tower) at 53 West 53rd Street, which has been scaled back from its original 1,250 feet to conform with newly-enacted City Council restrictions for the site.

And then there's the CIM tower being built on the former Drake Hotel site, where ground breaking continues for the 70-story Rafael Vinoly designed tower. The new building will wrap around 450 Park Avenue, from 440 Park Avenue to East 57th Street, topping out at 1,420-feet

When completed, 440 Park Avenue will be the second tallest building in New York City, and have the highest occupancy level. It would actually be taller than One World Trade Center - if not for the inclusion of the downtown building's antenna in its overall height.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

East 57th St Holdouts Creating Construction Headaches At Former Drake Site

California-based private equity firm CIM Group and Macklowe, its development adviser, are itching to get started on a huge 1,420 mixed-use tower. Much of the bulk of the 70-story Rafael Vinoly designed tower would rise on the barren, former Drake Hotel site off East 56th Street, with the new building wrapping around 450 Park Avenue, to front on retail-heaven East 57th Street.

Wherever Harry Macklowe and a new development project are involved, you can count on an entertaining tussle involving property owners and tenants who won't budge. Offers are made to move out, and occupants balk; and demolition of Macklowe-controlled properties begins before he's nailed down the ones next door.

Take East 57th Street between Park and Madison Avenues, site of seven elegant, mostly low-rise retail buildings - just west of the corner office tower at 450 Park Avenue. The owners a townhouse in the middle of the massive building site near the former Drake Hotel, is now snared in a demolition squeeze.

After two years of pressure, Turnbull & Asser, the British shirt maker owned by the family of Harrods' owner Mohammed al-Fayed, is still refusing to sell its townhouse at 42 E. 57th St. -- one of seven store buildings Macklowe hoped to raze for the new project, or perhaps incorporate into its facade if the right retail tenant came along. Turnbull bought No. 42 E. 57th St in spring 2008 for $32.5 million, says it has no intention of leaving the block. "We have wealthy customers who stay at the Four Seasons Hotel across the street, and we're not about to lose them."

CIM acquired the Drake Hotel site from Macklowe's lenders when he defaulted in 2008, but kept Macklowe in the picture as its development "consultant." Prior to losing title, Macklowe had also purchased the retail buildings at 38, 40, 44, 46, 48 and 50 E. 57th St., which became part of CIM's assemblage. CIM and Macklowe have negotiated for months about moving the store four doors east to 50 E. 57th St., an equally attractive building owned by CIM. But no deal has yet been struck.

Meanwhile, demolition has already begun at 44 through 50 East 57th, and a Buildings Department demolition permit recently went up on vacant 38 and 40 E. 57th St. next door to Turnbull. The buildings are covered in plywood and appear not long for this world.

Read more about the mega tower slated for construction at 440 Park / 50 East 57th Street, in Wednesday's ElectricWeb | Blogger.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Copper Prices Fall Below $3 Dollars; Metal Theft Still Rising

Stolen wire, a death suspected to be the result of an electrocution, and fires at area buildings all have one connection that inspectors know all too well - scrap metal.

Managers at scrap metal recyclers have taken precautions to avoid buying stolen scrap metal, but the issue is drawing the attention of state legislators. "There's only so much stolen material you can knowingly buy," states one recycler. "You'd be a fool to think you're going to get away with it."

In September alone, more than 250,000 pounds of copper were recycled in the metropolitan area. One legislator believes that scrap metal thieves see it as an easy buck. "I think people think there's a lot of money in scrap, but it's a lot of work for the amount that you're stealing. " he said. "It's really not worth it."

However, copper is bought for a far higher price than steel or other metals, he said. Copper prices can reach up to $4 or more for one pound.

Metal recyclers have begun taking inbound and outbound photos of loads, are capturing the license plate of each vehicle coming in, and are holding loads for a week - just to be sure none of the metal has been reported stolen - in anticipation of new state regulations.

Most buyers of scrap metal, particularly those that deal in cash, will likely encounter stolen scrap. "Metal theft has become a major problem because stolen metal can easily be recycled for cash. You ask questions about where it's coming from just to make sure," he said of dealing with sellers. "You can catch a liar really quickly."

A recent university study showed a relationship between the price of copper and the number of scrap metal crimes. As the price went up, incidents of copper theft also went up. "Economic hardship, in most instances, may drive an individual to uncharacteristic behavior, " one researcher said. "Economic desperation might provide sufficient justification to break the law."

Peter Coyne /
October 3, 2011

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Extell To Build New 54-Story Times Square Hyatt

Good news for the New York hotel scene: Extell Development Co. will construct the new 54-story Hyatt Times Square in New York City, slated for completion in 2013. Follows the recent news that Marriott is currently building the city's tallest hotel.

The new Hyatt Hotel Gary Barnett's Extell Development Company is building in Times Square will have 54 stories, 487 rooms and is expected to be completed in 2013, Hotels Magazine reported.
The hotel will rise 550 feet at 135 West 45th Street and will be designed by SLCE to feature a rooftop terrace and sky lounge.

This follows Friday's announcement that Marriott International and Granite Broadway Development will develop New York City's tallest hotel complex. (See ElectricWeb | Blogger: October 1, 2011)
Extell Development sold the site to Hyatt in a deal that closed in July, but remained the developer of the hotel. Mr. Barnett had originally intended to build a 50-story condominium and hotel, according to plans presented in 2007.

By the time the Times Square Hyatt is built, three other Hyatt hotels will have opened in Manhattan.

 Hersha Hospitality Trust just opened a Hyatt near Lexington Avenue and 48th Street and plans to open another at 132 Fourth Avenue in Union Square next fall. Meanwhile Extell plans to unveil the Park Hyatt - which is presently under construction - at 157 West 57th Street later this year. (See ElectricWeb | Blogger: July 30, 2011)

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Marriott To Build New York's Tallest Hotel

Marriott International and Granite Broadway Development will develop New York City's tallest hotel complex, the Courtyard and Residence Inn Manhattan/Central Park, scheduled to open in 2013.

The soaring 68-story property will house two distinctly different hotels-- the 378-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel and the 261-room Residence Inn by Marriott hotel--at Broadway and 54th Street. The multimillion-dollar project will be managed by Interstate Hotels and Resorts.

Designed by architect Nobutaka Ashihara, the building will rise 752 feet, nine inches high, making it the tallest stand-alone hotel building (without office or residential space) in New York.

“This project is a long time coming,” said Ronnie Gross, vice president of Granite Broadway Development. “The building will be absolutely stunning, and the hotels are the right lodging brands for this wonderful location."

"We are thrilled that this development is becoming a reality and will feature two of our strongest brands--Courtyard and Residence Inn--at such a premier location,” added David Marriott, chief operations officer, Marriott International.

 The hotels will share a main entrance and arrival lobby on 54th Street, with public areas for the Residence Inn on the 3rd floor and for the Courtyard on the 4th floor. Guest rooms for the Courtyard will be located on floors 6 through 32 and for Residence Inn on floors 36 through 64, with separate elevator banks to serve the guestrooms and public areas for each brand.

The project will include ground-floor retail space; a leased restaurant on the second floor; a lounge and terrace with outdoor seating and views of Broadway on the fifth floor; and a fitness center, for use by guests of both hotels, on the 34th floor.

Currently the tallest all-hotel building in New York is the 52-story Four Seasons New York at 682 feet tall.