Tuesday, January 31, 2012

NYC Construction Starts Decline 31% in 2011

An ElectricWeb analysis of McGraw-Hill construction data found that $13.8 billion worth of construction projects started in 2011, a decline of 31% from 2010, when $20 billion in projects began. While residential construction rose 24%, starts on non-residential and public works projects declined 39%.
The data used in this report encompasses all project starts, including brand new construction as well as alterations and renovations to existing structures, and reflect the estimated value of each initiated project through the entire period of construction.

The 31% decrease in starts from the previous year was due primarily to a major decline in the non-residential sector, which includes offices, hotels, schools, hospitals, transit, power plants and institutional buildings. Construction starts in this sector decreased 39% – from $13.7 billion in 2010 to $8.4 billion in 2011. Last year's results are a complete reversal from 2010, when non-residential construction starts rose by 41%.

It was a down year as well in the public works sector, which covers government
infrastructure construction starts, including roads, bridges and water systems. Construction starts in this area declined 35%, from $4.0 billion in 2010 to $2.6 billion in 2011. Starts in this sector have declined in each of the past three years and are down 54% from 2008, when public starts reached $5.7 billion.

On a positive note, residential construction starts jumped 24%, from $2.3 billion in 2010 to $2.9 billion last year. While 2011 starts remained 51% below the 2008 level, the data suggest that the residential sector has bottomed out.

Led by work at the World Trade Center and on two major arenas, New York City benefited from seven construction starts valued at more than $500 million or greater in 2010. That number dropped to just two in 2011, however – the $1.2 billion redevelopment of Terminal 4 at JFK Airport and the Number 7 subway line extension ($514 million). These projects were followed by Gotham West apartments ($362 million), work on the Second Avenue Subway's 86th Street station ($302 million), the Whitney Museum of Art ($300 million) and the restarted Boston Properties office tower on West 55th Street, the balance of which is valued at $285 million.

New, ground-up construction projects accounted for 57% of all construction starts, while the other 43% were alterations and renovations to existing facilities. In 2010, new construction accounted for 63% of all project starts.

Given that 2010 was the year of the big-ticket construction project – with the World Trade Center, Madison Square Garden and Barclays Arena accounting for $6 billion in construction starts alone – it is not very surprising to see a dip in 201. Still, the 31% decline in New York City is very troubling.

McGraw-Hill Construction
Crain's New York Business
New York Building Congress


Sunday, January 29, 2012

Thomas & Betts Sold for $3.9 Billion

ABB, the world’s largest maker of power-distribution equipment, agreed to buy Memphis, Tennessee-based Thomas & Betts Corp. for $3.9 billion to expand its North American offerings of low voltage equipment.

ABB is paying $72 per share in cash for Thomas & Betts – 24% higher than Friday's closing price on the New York Stock Exchange. Thomas & Betts employs 9,400 people, generating more than $2.3 billion in revenue last year.

Thomas & Betts marks the second major acquisition for Zurich-based ABB under Chief Executive Officer Joe Hogan, who joined the company in 2008 from General Electric. 

He bolstered ABB's market position in the U.S. with the January 2011 purchase of motor giant Baldor Electric for $3.1 billion. That deal added industrial motors and drives and gave ABB heft in automation, where it competes with Siemens.

“Because our products are complementary, we’ll go to market with one of the broadest offerings in the industry,” Hogan said in the statement. “Strategically, it’s a great fit.”

ABB said it plans to reap $200 million annually from the purchase by 2016, mainly from sourcing and purchasing. Thomas & Betts CEO Dominic Pileggi will be in charge of the new global business unit, ABB said.

Thomas & Betts was founded in New Jersey in 1898, as a sales agency for electrical wire and raceway.  It now makes cable ties, electrical fittings and steel outlet boxes used in the electrical, telecommunications, construction and utility industries. 

ABB has said the Thomas & Betts purchase may boost annual sales growth by as much as 4 percent until 2015. 

By 2015, ABB wants to generate as much as 30 percent of revenue from the region, compared with 19 percent in 2010. 

The company has said that it will continue to focus on power and automation and does not intend to divest assets.

MTA's East Side Access Shake Up

Construction of the East Side Access project includes drilling tunnels under the East River, excavating deep underneath Grand Central Terminal to create a subterranean concourse, and building a huge ventilation system on East 50th Street. When the $7.4 billion project is completed, Long Island Rail Road commuters will be able to travel directly to Grand Central.

On Friday -- in an effort to fast-track the much-delayed mega project -- the MTA removed construction giant Dragados from much of the Grand Central portion of the job, because it missed too many deadlines. 

Dragados was holding up other parts of the massive project, according to the watchdog agency covering the MTA.  

The holdups were causing backups for the entire undertaking, because other contractors couldn't begin work on some sections until Dragados had finished its work and cleared the area.

The MTA's reduction of Dragados' work could save money since construction companies, which now must bid for the Grand Central excavation work, are so competitive in today's economy. The move is expected to shavemore than two years off the excavation deep beneath Grand Central Terminal, a key element of the largest infrastructure project in MTA history.

The excavation work was once slated to be finished by this summer. But last fall, contractor Dragados told the MTA it didn't expect substantial completion of work until as late as 2015. In a newly restructured system of incentives and penalties, Dragados could now be docked as much as $49.5 million for future delays on its outstanding work, but could reap as much as $16 million in incentives if it finishes the digging on the main tunnel by August of 2013.

The MTA has told the federal government this East Side Access program will be completed sometime between June of 2016 and April of 2018. But no one will commit to that date because there are so many factors like Amtrak building under the East River near where the MTA tunnel is.

That project involves replacing all of the tracks inside the four East River tunnels which could take up to four years and is being staged from the same Long Island City rail yard used for the East Side Access project.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Copper Hits Four Month High

Copper prices have risen 16% in January, reaching a four-month high this week as signs of an improving economic outlook in China and the US boosted demand prospects. The Federal Reserve's pledge to hold interest rates near zero have encouraged higher prices for the metal.

The current contract (Mar-12) settled at $3.94/lb on Thursday, the highest Comex close since September 2011. Prices pulled back slightly on Friday as investors cashed in profits.

The decline in copper prices in late 2011 had spurred buying by consumers looking to lock in supply at a bargain price.

Physical demand for copper have forced prices higher as Chinese copper imports reached a record high in December. Bullish speculators have been snapping up Comex contracts as the weaker dollar boosts dollar-denominated copper by making the futures appear cheaper for buyers using other currencies.

Thursday, January 26, 2012

Institutional Buildings Become Exclusive Condos

Two recently unveiled projects are the latest sign that the Manhattan residential development engine is beginning to crank up again - from river to river.

Hudson Street Nursing Home Soon to be The Abingdon

At 607 Hudson Street in the West Village, a red brick building that was once the Village Nursing Home is being converted to condominiums by Flank, a design and development company in Chelsea. Not long ago, 607 Hudson housed some 200 residents, but soon it will be just 10 apartments.

The century-old building at Hudson Street and West 12th Street was converted from a hotel to a nursing home in 1958. Although it was renovated in 1981, the building was no longer adequate to serve its patients and was sold in 2008.

FLAnk was able to secure construction financing from Quinlan Development Group to convert the property into 10 condos ranging from 3,300 to 9,600 square feet. The dimensions of the former nursing home, with three street frontages and four exposures, were conducive to sprawling units, as was the location, in one of the most picturesque parts of the West Village.

FLAnk plans to do a gut renovation of the property and bring condos to market in the summer of 2012.

The building will be FLAnk's third recent condo development in the West Village. In 2007 the group turned a 150-year-old church on West 4th Street into an eight-unit condo called the Novare. Completely sold, units garnered sales prices ranging from $2.4 million to $6.3 million. 

In 2009 the company built 385 West 12th Street, a luxury building with a copper facade, which has sold 11 out of its 12 units. Its 12th unit is set to come on the market this month for $7 million.

Former Salvation Army Building Getting a Makeover

18 Gramercy Park South once housed the Parkside Evangeline Residence, run by the Salvation Army, which for more than 40 years provided affordable housing for women. 

Now, what had been a 300-bedroom building will be converted into 17 condos, each of 4,500 square feet or more.

Plans call for a gut renovation of the 17-story building, and construction of 15 full-floor residences and two duplexes.

Part of the first floor and a mezzanine will be combined into one unit, while floors 16 and 17 will turn into a dramatic duplex. The full-floor, family-sized apartments will spread just over 4,500 square feet -- and buyers get a key to the very private and tranquil Gramercy Park.

The team behind the project - which also built 15 Central Park West - includes developers William and Arthur Zeckendorf and architect Robert A. M. Stern.

Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Massive Medical Expansion on Manhattan's East Side

At a time when the city’s public hospitals are struggling and facing possible closures, top-tier East Side institutions — including the Hospital for Special Surgery, NYU Langone Medical Center, Lenox Hill Hospital, Weill Cornell Medical College and Mount Sinai Medical Center — could dramatically reshape the city's landscape over the next five years as they expand their footprints, modernize and adapt to upcoming health care reforms.

A 16-story medical facility could soon soar over York Avenue between East 61st and 62nd streets, adding 179,000-square-feet of outpatient services to Memorial Sloan-Kettering's fight against cancer.   

But residents in the co-op next door at 440 East 62nd Street are saying the 172,000-square-foot, 261-foot-tall facility would be so close to them it would block daylight.

They say it's too big, and adds to a neighborhood already jammed with new or proposed medical facility expansions. 
NYU Langone Medical Center's Kimmel Pavilion on East 34th Street will create 800,000 square feet of new space next to Tisch Hospital, freeing up the hospital to create all single-bed rooms. 
Some projects are changing the faces of existing hospitals.
At the same time, the Hospital for Special Surgery has added five new floors on top of its eight story building on East 70th Street, and the Manhattan Eye, Ear and Throat Hospital is gearing up for a four-year renovation of its East 64th Street facility.
Other projects are in the works, with East Side hospitals gobbling up land.
Sloan-Kettering recently bought the former Hertz rental car facility at 327 East 64th Street for $19 million and paid more than $83 million for the former Cabrini Medical Center buildings on East 19th Street. Unlike the York Avenue site, they don't have plans to immediately develop these sites.
Mount Sinai recently paid $25 million for a 15,000-square-foot parking lot on East 103 Street next to its main campus, but hasn’t announced development plans.
Hospital construction around the country is dead;  The fact that new construction is flourishing in Manhattan is amazing.
A $240 million cancer treatment center, to be run by NYU and Sloan-Kettering, is the anchor tenant for a new tower being developed by Related Companies. The controversial residential tower is slated to rise at Ruppert Playground on East 93rd Street.
NYU is creating a new ambulatory care facility on 13 floors of the former Verizon building at 240 E. 38th Street. The Hospital for Special Surgery is gearing up to open its Center for Pain Management at East 75th and York.

The Belfer Research Building will more than double Weill Cornell’s 400,000 square feet of research space, enabling them to recruit more top-tier scientists working on cures for cancer and neuro-degenerative disorders.

Other East Side construction has been spurred by competition for federal research grants. Sloan-Kettering, Mount Sinai, Rockefeller University, NYU and Weill Cornell Medical College have all got projects ready for construction.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Incredible: NYC Buildings Smash Records

In a year marked by continued economic malaise, several developers made headway on towers that, when completed, are set to surpass the highest points in the current skyline. The most notable, of course, is One World Trade Center, which will be New York’s tallest building when it reaches its full height of 1,776 feet.  

Builders, buyers and sellers, landlords, lenders - even tourists - all broke New York City records last year. Here is a list of some of the all-time highs reached in 2011:

The Tallest:

The lofty One57 condo tower, which broke last year, is slated to become the city’s tallest residential building at 1,004 feet, eclipsing the current residential giant: the 870-foot New York by Gehry at 8 Spruce Street. In short order, the mega-tower starting up at 432 Park Ave will surpass One57 by more than 400 feet - solidly positioning itself as the tallest residential building in the western hemisphere.    

 (See ElectricWeb Blogger- Oct 5, 2011)
The Big Boys:

Marriott International’s under-construction hotel at 1717 Broadway, which was announced in August, is set to become the tallest standalone hotel structure at nearly 753 feet. Meanwhile, Bruce Ratner’s Forest City Ratner recently unveiled plans to build the largest-ever prefabricated tower, which would rise 32 stories at Brooklyn’s Atlantic Yards.
 (See ElectricWeb Blogger- Nov 6, 2011)

Priciest Office Tower:
One World Trade Center is not only tall — it’s expensive. Indeed, at $3.2 billion, or $1,250 per square foot, the central structure to go up as part of the World Trade Center’s reconstruction dwarfs the cost of other glitzy office buildings in the city — and the country. 
 (See ElectricWeb Blogger- Aug 9, 2011)
Hotel Construction:

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. 50 new hotels are set to open by the end of 2013, with 68 more scheduled for completion by 2014.

Priciest Residential Sale:
The sale of former Citigroup chairman Sandy Weill’s 15 Central Park West penthouse may be the most expensive residential deal ever. Weill sold the spread to Ekaterina Rybolovleva, the 22-year-old daughter of Russian fertilizer magnate Dmitry Rybolovlev, for $88 million and vowed to donate the proceeds to charity. In a recent interview, Ekaterina said the condo will be "her dorm to stay at while studying at NYU." At $88 million, the sale kicks Christopher Flowers’s $53 million purchase of the Harkness Mansion for a field goal.
Most Expensive Development Under Construction:
One57, the $1.4 billion project, across from Carnegie Hall, is more than 60 floors above ground. When completed next summer, the 90-floor property will tower over Central Park with penthouses listed at $98.5 million each. Most apartments in the tower, though, are much more affordable - listed between $21 to $45 million each. 

(See ElectricWeb Blogger- Dec 9, 2011)

Costliest Foreclosure Sale:
The Henry Sloane Mansion at 18 East 68th Street, on the market for $69 million, could have set a record for the city’s priciest townhouse sale. Instead, it was sold to billionaire Alexander Rovt at the city’s costliest foreclosure auction. Rovt, who also made his fortune in fertilizer, successfully bid nearly $37 million — the total owed to the mortgage lender.

Record Residential Asking Price:
The estate of fitness mogul Lucille Roberts recently put the Woolworth Mansion at 4 East 80th Street up for sale. The $90 million asking price is the largest on record for a townhouse property.
Priciest Retail Sale:
Spain’s Inditex, parent company of fashion retailer Zara, in March closed on a deal to pay $331.6 million for a 39,000-square-foot slice of a 666 Fifth Avenue retail condo. At $8,300 per square foot, it was the highest price ever paid for a U.S. retail property.
Highest Retail Rent:
Vornado Realty Trust is shopping the 1,402-square-foot retail space at 691 Fifth Avenue occupied by the Elizabeth Arden Spa. At $3,000-per-square-foot, the asking rent for the ground-floor space is a record for Fifth Avenue, the city’s priciest retail district. The property is still available.
Tourist Volume:
The number of hotel rooms in New York City hit a record high of 90,000 in 2011, growing 24 percent from 2006, according to Mayor Bloomberg, who has been pushing to increase tourism to the city. Likewise, the 50.2 million tourists who visited New York last year represented the highest number yet, topping the 48.8 million who came here in 2010.


Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Related Names Construction Firm for Hudson Yards Project

The long-delayed Hudson Yards project on Manhattan's far West Side took another step forward Tuesday when the Related Companies named a contractor for the massive $15 billion, 26-acre project.

The Related Companies tapped Tutor Perini Corporation as general contractor for Hudson Yards. The key to Related's decision:
Tutor Perini owns various subcontractors and can do a wide array of construction work - including excavation, concrete forming, steel erection, electrical, mechanical and plumbing - on it's own. Tishman Construction will work as building partner on the project.

Hudson Yards Development, a massive $15 billion project to build 13 massive office towers and residential buildings over what's now the West Side Rail Yards, was kick-started in November when luxury handbag maker Coach announced it would anchor the development's first building. 

(See ElectricWeb Blogger- Nov 5, 2011)

Construction on the 1.7 million-square-foot Coach Tower, at the southeast corner of the rail yard, is set to begin by Memorial Day.

Related has also retained Tutor Perini for two new residential apartment towers just south of the Hudson Yards project, at West 30th Street and 10th Avenue. 

(See ElectricWeb Blogger- Nov 29, 2011)

Tutor Perini is one of the largest general contractors in the country, and has worked on runway reconstruction at JFK Airport, the AirTrain Terminal at Jamaica Station, the Greenwich Street Corridor Project at the World Trade Center, and the recently opened Resorts World Casino at Aqueduct Racetrack. Tishman is currently managing the construction of One World Trade Center.

Hudson Yards Development - Interactive Map 
Click on the buildings to learn about each project

Hudson Yards will offer over 13 million square feet of commercial and residential space when completed. Numerous developers have recently begun unveiling their own projects to develop skyscrapers nearby. 

Soon, a brand-new neighborhood will begin to rise on the Far West Side.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Cornell to Pay $10M Next Week to Start Construction Process

Cornell University will pay the city $10 million by next week as the first step in getting its new Roosevelt Island campus off the ground, according to a lease agreement released Monday. The university must submit a $5 million pre-development deposit and a $5 million security deposit by January 17. The deal includes stiff penalties if Cornell does not adhere to a detailed timetable to get the project off the ground quickly.

Cornell has until November 10 to submit its Uniform Land Use Review Procedure application, or face fines of $1,000 a day, increasing to $6,000 a day after 10 months. A late draft environmental impact statement would cost it another $1 million.

The deal calls for three phases of construction, with the first commencing January 1, 2015, and including 300,000 square feet of space to be built by June 30, 2017. By the time the third phase is completed,  the campus will encompass some 1.8 million square feet of buildings.

To accelerate the project, the agreement includes many provisions that are typically negotiated at a later phase. Construction workers must be paid at prevailing wage or via approved project labor agreements and there must be M/WBE participation to ensure minorities and women are included in the construction process.

Cornell, teaming up with Technion-Israel Institute of Technology, and will get $100 million from the city to help defray infrastructure costs. The mayor has not ruled out selecting a runner-up or runners-up from among several remaining contenders.

Another West Side Mega-Project Gets Underway

The far west side of Midtown, notable for being home to the Javits Center and the city’s few remaining stables, is quickly becoming known for huge residential projects like Silver Towers, MiMA, and Mercedes House. Now comes Gotham West, a vast $520 million complex which will fill almost an entire city block between West 44th & 45th Streets and 10th & 11th Avenues.

The LEED certified mega-project at 550 West 45th Street will include apartment 4 buildings, a 200 space parking garage and ground floor retail space. Construction of Gotham West will involve a feat of engineering: the extension of a platform over below-grade railroad tracks that bisect the site.

Expected to open in 2013, Gotham West is packing a remarkable amount of housing onto 4 acres. Its 1,263
units will include luxury market-rate apartments, income-restricted apartments, as well as condominium units.

According to renderings from the developer, Gotham Organization, 556 luxury market-rate apartments will be clustered in a single U-shaped brick building - varying in height  from 7 to 31 stories - on the west side of the development.

The project will include ground floor retail, a supermarket and a landscaped, Wi-Fi-enabled two-level private courtyard.

But the bulk of the project will be affordable housing units, 682 of them, or more than half the total homes. In fact, Gotham West represents the largest-ever affordable project undertaken in New York by a private developer, according to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which previously controlled the site.

An additional 243 affordable apartments will be built in a pair of 14-story towers on the development's east side, over the railroad tracks. Finally, 25 condos will be created in the former PS 51, a 50,000-square-foot red-brick building on West 45th Street. 
Behind the recently vacated school, construction of a new 95,000-square foot replacement school is being overseen by the City’s School Construction Authority. The new school will have approximately 630 seats. 

The site was condemned by the city in the 1970s and largely cleared, to make way for new buildings that never materialized, despite a range of proposals.   

The most recent one, in the early 2000s, was to erect Studio City New York, a 15-story complex with 7 film and TV soundstages as well as a restaurant and shops.

Instead, the site has been a place to park cars and board police horses. What changed is Hudson Yards, the mega-development planned for a few blocks south. As part of the deal that allowed that area to be rezoned for offices and homes, Clinton residents were promised more below-market-rate housing, which led to the approval of Gotham West.

Saturday, January 7, 2012

West Side 7 Line Extension Steams Ahead

Lucky Seven: The project is ten months ahead of schedule and under budget. With the Second Avenue subway progressing in fits and starts, hobbled by community complaints, the new Number 7,  which boasts few residential neighbors, looks poised to take the prize as New York’s first new subway station to  open in nearly a century.
Detail of the lower mezzanine's arc.

In the early days of 2012, Shawn Kildare gave a tour 130 feet below Eleventh Avenue. Kildare, a senior vice  president at the MTA, delivered some good news to the small group gawking at the huge caverns carved for the  Number 7 Subway Extension. The project, he said, is ten months ahead of schedule and under budget. With the Second Avenue subway progressing in fits and starts, hobbled by community complaints, the new Number 7,  which boasts few residential neighbors, looks poised to take the prize as New York’s first new subway station to  open in nearly a century.

The new station, engineered by Parsons Brinkerhoff, will take one of the system’s busiest train lines from its  westernmost terminus at Times Square, to Eleventh Avenue and 34th Street—and perhaps, one day, to New Jersey. The extension may prove a viable alternative to the regional tunnel that New Jersey governor Chris Christie squashed in 2010. As currently planned, the new station will serve the mass-transit-challenged Javits Center and Related Hudson Yards project, to say nothing of Brookfield Properties’ Manhattan West proposal. It will  accommodate 25,000 commuters per hour, and an additional six trains added to the line will find room to park and/or maneuver on extra tracks positioned just north and south of the new subway platform.

From top, left to right: Rendering of The lower mezzanine above tracks; Workers prepare a new communication center beneath Eleventh Ave. as ventilation rises at right; Subgrade work continues for parkland entrance to subway; Two tunnels run east to meet the park entrance; Cross section from left to right (west to east) shows tracks and lower mezz, escalators, upper mezz, and park entrance.

Kildare noted that this was the first time that a tunnel-boring machine set the precast concrete arch segments into a “mixed-face condition,” where rock and soil meet. “A tunnel-boring machine is just like any other drill,” said Kildare. “If you take a drill and you have wood on one side and steel on the other, the drill is going to try to run  toward the wood, the path of least resistance.” Similarly, a boring machine will try to grind away from rock and  toward soil, which will create water infiltration. In this project, the boring machine drilled through rock and frozen  soil. Just behind the drill, the machine placed the five precast segments into position and workers immediately pumped concrete grout between the panels and the rock or soil.
Along Eleventh Avenue the tunnel dodged Amtrak and Lincoln Tunnel tubes before curving east to meet the  existing Number 7 tracks. This meant digging beside the Port Authority Bus Terminal while passengers disembarked 20 feet away. A few blocks west, the sandhogs borrowed beneath the Times Square/Eighth Avenue  pedestrian passageway while commuters crisscrossed overhead.

Clockwise from top left: A back of the house ventilation chamber that will not be seen by the public; The Number Seven line extension tunnel; An elbow arch is a place holder as future access point not currently in plan; Workers prepare rebar; The varying placements of the keystone panels were determined by computer; Cement being sprayed atop Manhattan schist.

Dattner Architects, designers of the new station, found the Canary Wharf station on the Jubilee Line in London to be a suitable prototype, if not an inspiration. “It had many of the same characteristics as this project, which is an  extremely deep station requiring some very long escalator runs,” Richard Dattner said of the Norman Foster– designed station in London. The new station will also include incline elevators, another first for New York City.  Another similarity to Canary Wharf is that both stations open to an aboveground park, in this case one designed by Michael Van Valkenburgh. Down at train level, a generous 35-foot-wide column free platform will greet passengers.

Rendering of the column free platform.

Currently, the smoothly finished raw concrete and large arc of the mezzanine level recalls London’s Tube or  Washington, D.C.’s Metro. But the finished design blunts the curve with a drop ceiling to accommodate current  safety codes requiring substantial ventilation and exhaust ducts. “When you see a diagram of the cavern and the  final station, something like 30 percent of the actual cross section will be used for exhaust and supply ventilation,” said Dattner.

While the entrance level will feature installations recessed into the ceilings by artist Xenobia Bailey, much of the  design remains clean, bright, and utilitarian with clearly defined circulation. But for now, in its unaltered concrete state, the station appears as an unadorned and impressive subterranean feat, like an elegant cistern without  water. 

Rendering of Upper mezzanine which will feature ceiling artwork

Friday, January 6, 2012

2012 Outlook for Four Mega Projects

After two years of slow but relatively consistent growth, developers are expecting that 2012 will be the one in which tower cranes start rising. Here's a look at a few projects we have been following closely, and their outlooks for getting started this year.

Project:              432 Park Ave.
Developer:          CIM Group/ Harry Macklowe
2012 Outlook:     Good

Los Angeles-based CIM Group owns one of the country's most desirable development sites: 432 Park Avenue, home of the former Drake Hotel. The firm, working with developer Harry Macklowe, plans to build a 1,400-foot tower filled with condominiums and retail space.

    See $1Billion Tower To Rise On Park Avenue  [ElectricWeb | Blogger, Oct. 19, 2011]

CIM is in a good position to build. The remaining hurdle is closing on financing deals with lenders at a time when few banks are willing to give large loans for condo projects, even in Manhattan.


Project:               Hudson Yards - Tower 1
Developer:           Related Cos.
2012 Outlook:      Good

For decades, planners have hoped to develop the 26-acre West Side rail yards, by the southern end of the Javits Convention Center, in a bid to remake Manhattan's far West Side into a business district.

     See Hudson Yards Massive $15 Billion Development  [ElectricWeb | Blogger, Nov. 5, 2011]

Related Cos. is closer than anyone before: Handbag maker Coach Inc. has announced plans to buy one-third of the 1.8-million-square-foot planned first building on the site, and Related says it expects to start construction early this year.

Project:               3 World Trade Center
Developer:           Silverstein Properties
2012 Outlook:      Fair

The third building slated to rise at the World Trade Center site, the base of the planned 2.8 million square foot 3 World Trade Center is already under construction.

     See 1 WTC, 4 WTC to Top Out in Early 2012   [ElectricWeb | Blogger, Oct. 21, 2011]

But based on a deal struck for a public-sector-financing package in 2010, construction won't continue above the first few floors of retail space until Larry Silverstein finds tenants for at least 400,000 square feet.

That's going to be tough, given the other office development under way at the World Trade Center site. There's already about 5 million square feet of space being built but tenants have signed commitments for only half of that.


Project:              15 Penn Plaza
Developer:           Vornado Realty Trust
2012 Outlook:      Poor

Vornado Realty Trust has long dreamed of demolishing the Hotel Pennsylvania across from Penn Station, and replacing it with a soaring office tower.

     See Manhattan developers push office construction  [ElectricWeb | Blogger, May 21, 2011]

But Vornado, one of the most cautious large developers in the city, has no tenants for the 2.8-million-foot tower. Further, the 1,700-room hotel generates gobs of cash—$18 million in the first nine months of 2011—and its revenue goes up every time the economy improves, offsetting the appeal of an office tower.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Cuomo Signs Agreement for World's Largest Convention Center at Aqueduct

Genting Group of Malaysia pledges $4 billion to construct the world's largest convention center and hotel complex at Aqueduct racetrack creating tens of thousands of construction jobs, Governor Cuomo announced Wednesday.

Before Governor Cuomo’s State of the State address Wednesday highlighted his vision to build the nation’s largest convention center at Aqueduct racetrack in Queens, the plan had already taken a major step forward.

On Tuesday, the Cuomo administration quietly inked a letter of agreement for the project with the operator of the Aqueduct racino, Genting New York. In the letter, the Malaysia-based casino operator pledged to invest $4 billion to build the 3.8 million-square-foot facility. Genting runs the video slot machine center at Aqueduct under a state license at the state-owned race track operated by the New York Racing Association.

Genting already controls 67 acres at the South Ozone Park site. But the source said the state will help make adjacent Port Authority land available for the project, and turn existing mass-transit infrastructure into a “convention center” train.

Cuomo’s plan to replace the undersized Jacob Javits Center in Manhattan with a mega-facility at Aqueduct is a key part of his push to jump-start the state economy. “Right now, the Jacob Javits Convention Center is not competitive,” Cuomo said. “That hurts the New York economy because we’re just not getting the shows here.”

The massive project would generate tens of thousands of construction jobs and fuel major economic activity, Cuomo said in his hour-long address Wednesday. It would also create up to 3,000 hotel rooms and complement Cuomo’s call for a constitutional amendment to legalize casino gambling in the state — and possibly bring a casino to Aqueduct.

Although tourists spent $50 billion in New York in 2010, the city’s tourism haul is held back by the Javits Center, which at just 842,000 square feet is only the 12th largest convention center in the nation. Chicago has the country’s largest facility, at 3.1 million square feet. With the Aqueduct proposal, Cuomo said the state would “go from No. 12 to No. 1 — because that’s where we deserve to be.”

Cuomo also wants to come up with a plan to redevelop the Javits site. Such a plan, he said, would be modeled after the redevelopment of Battery Park City, which featured new residential and commercial space, restaurants, hotels, recreational facilities and parks.