Friday, October 26, 2012

Watch Where You Walk! Hardhats Busted in OSHA Card Scam

Authorities have busted 30 construction workers and confiscated more than 70 fraudulent certification cards at job sites around Manhattan and Brooklyn, the Department of Investigation announced yesterday. The arrests were the result of a two-week sweep with the Buildings Department, whose inspectors issued full and partial stop-work orders at 14 different job sites.

One construction-company owner was charged with possessing 32 of the bogus cards. The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cards are required to work on scaffolding, sidewalk sheds, and at large job sites in New York City. In May, a 72-year-old woman was hurt by falling debris while walking beneath a sidewalk shed on West 23rd Street.

Arrests occurred at the following sites where DOB inspectors found violations:

236 E. 47th St., Manhattan  - partial stop work order issued for work inadequate protection of  sidewalk and walkways in front of building.  (1 arrest)
530 Park Ave., Manhattan - partial stop work order issued for work inadequate protection of sidewalk and walkways in front of building.  (1 arrest)
502 Park Ave., Manhattan – partial stop work order issued for work contrary to approved plans regarding the installation of supported scaffolding. (2 arrests)
923 Fifth Ave., Manhattan – partial stop work order issued for not having correct training certificate cards for workers on supported scaffolding. (1 arrest)
444 E. 75th St., Manhattan – partial stop work order issued for work contrary to approved construction and  inadequate protection of sidewalk and walkways in front of building.  A violation was issued for a worker on site without a valid OSHA card. (1 arrest)
425 E. 86th St., Manhattan – partial stop work order issued for work contrary to approved  documents, including the installation of the supported scaffold on the main roof. (1 arrest)
304 E. 42nd St., Manhattan – full stop work order issued for the use of supported scaffold without certification and inadequate protection of sidewalk in front of building. (6 arrests)
401 E. 34th St., Manhattan – full stop work order issued for inadequate protection of sidewalk and walkways in front of building. (10 arrests)
201 E. 21st St., Manhattan – full stop work order issued for work contrary to plan and inadequate protection of sidewalk and walkways in front of building. (5 arrests)
325 Clinton Ave., Brooklyn – partial stop work order issued for a lapse of workers’ compensation insurance and violations for inadequate safety measures in place. (2 arrests)

Of the 30 individuals charged, 28 were referred for prosecution to the office of the New York County District Attorney.

DOI Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn said, “Safety at construction sites is a priority, and this joint sweep underscores the City’s commitment to enforcement. Using fake certifications to bypass required training is wrongdoing that puts workers and the public at risk and will not be tolerated. I commend the DOI investigators and the DOB inspectors who uncovered and stopped this hazardous conduct. DOI’s effort in this area continues.”

DOB Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri said, “Safety training is essential to safe construction operations, and these arrests send a clear message that anyone who attempts to circumvent these regulations will face serious consequences. Construction is vital to our City's growth, but those who cut corners on the job site are putting the safety of all New Yorkers at risk. I would like to thank Commissioner Rose Gill Hearn and her staff for their great work, as well as our inspectors who participated in this important investigation."

Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., said, “Cutting corners on construction projects is not only dangerous, but possibly criminal. Everyone in the construction industry must make safety a priority. New Yorkers walk under scaffolding every day on their way into their homes, to work, to school. The integrity of construction scaffolding must be upheld, and I thank DOI and DOB for conducting this investigation.”

Brooklyn District Attorney Charles J. Hynes said, "These rules are in place to protect the public. Bypassing regulations at construction sites puts us all at risk. These offenders will be prosecuted to the full extent of the law."

DOI initiated this operation after DOB reported in September that its inspectors had found fraudulent scaffold certification cards at numerous work sites in Manhattan. DOI coordinated a response with DOI investigators and DOB inspectors visiting 16 work sites in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Queens beginning on Friday, October 12, and resulting in arrests at ten of the locations.

Three individuals were charged with Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Second Degree, a class D felony, and the remaining individuals were charged with the class A misdemeanor Criminal Possession of a Forged Instrument in the Third Degree.

The forged cards displayed numbers that were never issued and training courses that did not exist, used thin paper instead of plastic, and included typos, among other  irregularities. Defendants indicated they purchased individual bogus cards for between approximately $25 and $450 at locations throughout the City.

No individual may use a supported scaffold without a scaffold user certificate. Valid scaffold certification cards are required under Local Law 52 and must be obtained from OSHA, OSHA-trained or certified providers, or a provider of a training course reviewed by DOB, which has posted on its website a list of courses in keeping with the local law.

Separately, workers performing construction work at major New York City buildings must complete an approved course in construction safety approved by OSHA.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Hudson Yards Tower Ready to Break Ground

The Related Cos. has reached an agreement in recent days for more than $400 million in construction financing for the new Coach Tower it is planning to build on the West Side rail yards. The loan is seen as the last hurdle to breaking ground on the 1.7 million-square-foot skyscraper, which is projected to cost about $1.2 billion and will kick off development at the 26-acre rail yards site known as Hudson Yards. Related is planning to build about $15 billion of mixed-use development there over the next decade.

Related has been in talks for months with luxury accessories company Coach Inc. to anchor the new tower in a 740,000-square-foot deal in which Coach would acquire its space as a condominium for roughly $500 million.

Coach's half-billion-dollar contribution to the project was why Related and its partners in the building need only $400 million in financing to break ground on the building, which will sit at the corner of 10th Avenue and West 30th Street.

The name of the project will be 501 West 30th Street.

Related has scrambled to begin the building after Coach placed a year-end ultimatum on the developer, according to a source with knowledge of the various players. Now, Related is said to be talking to other tenants to take hundreds of thousands of square feet of space in the office tower, including the cosmetics company L'Oreal and German technology giant SAP.

"It's all about the tenants: How do you build on spec without a tenant like Coach in hand?" said an unnamed executive involved with the project. "It certainly sounds like the stars are finally aligned: Related has the financing and the tenant."

The building will sit on a section of the rail yards at grade level. The rest of the large site requires a costly platform to be constructed as a foundation over the working train yard below for the billions of dollars of office, residential, retail and public space Related is planning to build there.

[See ElectricWeb | Blogger, Oct 10, 2012]

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Funding Secured For Massive New Projects in LIC

Lightstone Group has secured a $51 million construction loan to build a 200-unit rental apartment complex off the Long Island City waterfront in Queens.The Manhattan-based developer is building a 13-story luxury building at 50-01 2nd Street, directly across the street from the city's massive affordable-housing development known as Hunter's Point South on the Long Island City waterfront.

The building is part of the massive Powerhouse Redevelopment Project in Long Island City – located on the site of the old Westinghouse Power station and the Schwartz Chemical Factory.

5,000 residential units will soon be built at Hunter's Point South on 2nd Street, just south of the site.  Also planned is a five story 1,071 seat middle school / high school.  Another new development directly across the street will have approximately 1,500 apartments.

The new rental development, which has already broken ground, will include a 24-hour doorman, state-of-the-art fitness center, yoga studio, roof deck and tenant lounge. It is expected to be completed by April 2014. Asking rents for the apartments have not yet been disclosed, but median rent based on listings in the area is $43 per square foot. The development is the developer's first project in New York City to get underway.
"We are excited to be moving forward with this project and to have CIBC as our partner," said David Lichtenstein, chief executive of The Lightstone Group, in a press statement. "This transaction shows the commitment that we at Lightstone have to development in New York City, as 50-01 2nd St. is one of several projects we hope to soon have underway here."
The developer though, expects to fetch about $48 per square foot for apartments, as the proximity to Manhattan and the waterfront allows it to fetch a premium.

In recent weeks, Lightstone has garnered attention for its proposed 700-unit residential rental project at the Gowanus Canal in Brooklyn that would include a waterfront esplanade. The developer took over a similar project that had been planned for the site by homebuilder Toll Brothers. That company, however, pulled out after the area was designated as a contaminated Superfund site two years ago.
"We are willing to take on the risk," a company spokesperson said. "We are working through what we think will be a successful project and good thing for the community."
Meanwhile, in the Bronx, Lightstone is in the preliminary stages of planning to build a 1 million-square-foot site that is currently home to the Whitestone Multiplex Cinemas at 2505 Bruckner Boulevard in the Castle Hill section of the Bronx earlier this year.  One option would be a 600,000-square-foot outlet mall.   [See ElectricWeb | Blogger, July 16, 2012]

Nothing has been finalized yet for that site, with Lightstone continuing to look at other development sites.

Sneak Peak:
ElectricWeb Exclusive

Yet Another Huge New Building Coming to Queens Plaza South

A row of dilapidated storefronts at the corner of 27th Street and Queens Plaza South, will soon meet with the wrecking ball.

According to our sources, a 450,000 square-foot, 22-story mixed-use tower may rise on the site as early as the middle of next year.

The seedy building has been the site of numerous failed nightclubs over the years, and two fires in recent years have left the second level crumbling.

Friday, October 19, 2012

A Closer Look: Downtown Flushing, $1B in Development

Five Queens projects - with a total price tag in excess of $1 billion - will soon be breaking ground in Downtown Flushing. The $850 million Flushing Commons and Macedonia Plaza projects will help to revitalize the Borough of Queens, creating about 2,600 construction jobs, while a smattering of smaller projects along the Main Street / Northern Boulevard shopping corridor, will add to the construction chaos.

Flushing Commons
is a $850 million project that will transform the 5.5-acre, city-owned Municipal Parking Lot #1, into a 1.75 million-square-foot, mixed-use development.

The project will include 220 condominiums; a 250-room hotel; 1.5-acre town square with a fountain and plaza; 250,000 sq ft of community space; a 500,000 sq ft indoor shopping complex, and 50,000 sq ft of office space. A 'robotic parking facility' for 2,800 cars will also be built on the site.

Macedonia Plaza
is the companion project to the Flushing Commons development.

The 163-unit affordable housing project will be developed on a 35,000-sq-ft portion of the site owned by the Macedonian Community Development Corporation, an extension of the Macedonia AME Church. The project will also contain 7,500 sq ft of ground floor retail, 5,900 sq ft of community space and 19,000 sq ft of open public space.
36-14 Main Street
A new 150,000 square-foot building will break ground later this year at 36-14 Main Street, a long, narrow 20,000 sq ft lot, just off Northern Boulevard.

Designed by Raymond Chan (see Flushing Commons project, above),  the 16-story mixed-used project will feature retail on the first two floors; indoor parking on the basement and third levels, and condominiums on floors four through sixteen.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Cuomo Signs Initiative to Spur Solar Installations

Aiming to create green jobs and make solar energy more affordable for homes and businesses, Governor Cuomo signed a series of bills into effect to foster solar and renewable energy development and growth across the state. Legislation has been enacted that introduces tax credits for power purchase agreements and solar energy equipment, sales tax exemptions for commercial solar equipment, and a property tax abatement for solar installations in New York City.

The governor’s NY-Sun initiative aims to foster installation of twice as much solar power capacity in New York in 2012 as compared to 2011, and quadruple that total in 2013. Ratcheting up NY-Sun-related efforts, Cuomo has announced $107 million in incentives for the installation of new solar PV systems.

Dubbed the NY-Sun Competitive PV Program, grant awards are available to applicants installing large-scale solar PV systems over 50 kW.
“The bills signed today continue to build momentum for the state’s NY-Sun Initiative by accelerating the installation of solar power while making it a more affordable option for residents and businesses,” Governor Cuomo was quoted in a press release. “Together with other NY-Sun incentives, these bills demonstrate the state’s commitment to reducing energy costs, growing our green energy sector, creating jobs, and protecting the environment.”
Francis Murray, CEO of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) added,
“Governor Cuomo’s NY-Sun Initiative continues to send the message that New York is ramping up its efforts to deploy solar energy and develop the advanced technologies to support the state’s growing clean energy economy. New York is focused on expanding and developing its renewable energy resources, ensuring the state maintains a diverse renewable energy portfolio.”

NYC Solar Photovoltaic Installations Rising

The new laws provide statewide tax credits for homeowners who lease or obtain solar power equipment through a power purchase agreements (PPA) with a term of at least ten years. Tax credits top out at $5,000 per annum and can span 14 years. The law takes effect immediately.

Reducing the upfront costs of having a solar PV system installed, solar energy systems leases and residential PPAs have been catching on fast in New York and across the US. Murray noted that, while a typical home solar PV installation might run as high as $40,000, various government incentive programs and tax credits bring that all the way down to around $16,000… and prices continues to decline.

Another new law exempts purchases and installation of commercial solar PV systems equipment from sales taxes and allows cities and municipalities to exclude these costs from local sales tax. The new law goes into effect January 1, 2013.

Thirdly, Governor Cuomo signed a bill into law that extends through 2014 the property tax abatement for solar PV generating systems in New York City. Reasonable expenditures for materials, labor costs applicable to on-site preparation, assembly and original installation, architectural and engineering services, and directly related designs and plans are all covered in the new law, which will go into effect January 1, 2013.
 "Joining legislators supporting the new solar energy legislation, Assembly Member Steve Englebright said, “We can simultaneously create new jobs and achieve the goals set for New York State’s electricity needs through clean renewable energy. Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, we will be doing just that by encouraging large-scale commercial investment in solar energy by eliminating all state sales taxes on commercial solar purchases and installations.”

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Times Square Gateway Center to Have Largest LED Screen

A new $800 million hotel/retail complex will soon rise at 701 Seventh Avenue in Times Square, at the corner of 47th Street. The project, called the Times Square Gateway Center, will rest atop a multi-story retail shopping complex, which will be covered by a 100-foot tall LED screen. The project will rise 36 stories, with a 500-room hotel tower sitting above the giant screen. At 24,000 square feet, the LED screen will be the largest in the United States, and the development's most prominent feature.

The iconic Times Square Gateway Center development, located at 47th Street and Seventh Avenue, will dramatically transform a prime corner of Manhattan's Times Square.

When fully complete in three years, the $800 million project will feature 130,000 square feet of best-in-class multistory retail space facing Times Square, a 24,000 square-foot state-of-the-art LED sign wrapping around its facade at 100 feet of height, a dramatic rooftop and entertainment venue overlooking Times Square, and a world-class 500-room hotel tower.

The podium building will deliver retail space with an unparalleled technology infrastructure, large floor plates, and wide open unobstructed areas to serve the hundreds of millions of consumers who come through America's number one tourist destination.

Maefield Development and The Witkoff Group purchased the development site for $430 million in September, after years of negotiations with the various interest holders. The assemblage of all the purchase rights needed to create a developable site of this scale required securing purchase agreements for the land from the owners of the 701 Seventh Avenue property, lease buyout agreements from the long-term retail tenants on the the ground floor, and purchase agreements for the existing signage -  all of which came together during this summer.

The existing eleven-story turn-of-the-century office building currently on the site will be demolished to make way for the project's retail and signage complex, expected to be operational within two years. The joint venture will spend $330 million to develop the retail complex and another $470 million for the hotel tower.

Starwood Capital is providing $475 million in combined acquisition and construction financing for the development. This transformational development is a testament to New York City's resilience and staying power in the midst of a slow national economic recovery. NYC's intellectual energy and economic vibrancy continues to inspire entrepreneurial risk takers to take large bets with the potential to generate thousands of new jobs for the City.

Some may disagree with the gigantic advertisements, but they have been a part of Times Square's history since the nineteenth century. In this case, the bigger the better. Ironically, some towers in Times Square have come to function as billboards rather than buildings, with One Times Square having stood empty on the inside for years.

Times Square's renaissance has been remarkable over the last 15 years. It has regained its dominance as the most highly visited urban corridor in the world, offering global retailers and brands unparalleled foot traffic and visibility. Today, retail, lodging and entertainment together generate over $5 billion in sales annually in the Square. In April of this year, the Bloomberg administration announced a $50 million overhaul of Times Square's streetscape to include new pedestrian areas, new sidewalks, granite benches, and lighting fixtures which are expected to give the venerated urban square a more modern feel and a fresh new look.

Nonetheless, the Gateway Center snagging the title of largest LED screen is impressive. Many speculate that 701 Seventh Avenue could trigger a new war for the largest LED screen in Times Square.

Friday, October 12, 2012

Council Approves Giant Lower East Side Project

Almost five decades in the marking, plans for the massive Seward Park mixed-use development has finally won City Council approval. The giant 1.8 million-square-foot project south of Delancey Street now moves to the mayor's office for final sign off. The Seward Park project will be largest redevelopment of underutilized city-owned land south of 96th Street in Manhattan in more than forty years. A formal request for proposal to find a developer could happen as soon as early next year.

Plans for the massive Seward Park mixed-use development finally won City Council approval Thursday afternoon. The redevelopment of the seven-acre Lower East Side site has been more than 50 years in the making.

[ElectricWeb | Blogger, June 6, 2012]

The City Council voted unanimously in favor of the modified version of the plan that was approved by two City Council subcommittees last week.

The revised strategy involves transforming city-owned parking lots south of Delancey Street, near the Williamsburg Bridge, into a mixed-use development boasting nearly 2 million square feet. The site has become known as the Seward Park Urban Renewal Area.

The Seward Park project, the largest redevelopment of underutilized city owned land south of 96th Street in Manhattan in years, will now move to the mayor's office for final sign off, which is expected later this month.

"Today's vote to approve development on the Seward Park site is truly history in the making. This is a significant step toward alleviating the chronic problem of overcrowding in our community," said City Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who represents the area, worked with the community and negotiated with the city on some tweaks to the project. "This is not only a momentous vote, but an example of what we can accomplish when the city and our partners in the community work together."

The redevelopment of the lots, formerly home to tenements that were demolished by the city in the late 1960s, has been controversial for years. Prior to this latest project, there were several proposals for the site. All of them failed because the city and community could not agree on the details of the redevelopment. Affordable housing was a big roadblock for the project, one earlier proposal called for all low-income housing. Many in the community wanted the project to be 100% affordable, but they eventually conceded it would not be financially feasible without enough market-rate apartments.

The entire 1.78 million-square-foot, mixed-use development would be 40% commercial and 60% residential. Originally, the plan called for half of the 900 proposed residential units to be affordable. Under the revised plan, there will be 1,000 units, 500 of them affordable.

Most eventually accepted that market-rate apartments were necessary to make the project financially feasible. Additionally, as part of the plan the city has promised to build another affordable housing complex offsite at an underutilized site at 21 Spring St. to meet the needs of the community.

Affordable housing had been a major issue for the project in the past and many in the community had wanted 100% of the residential units planned for the site to be affordable. Most eventually accepted that market-rate apartments were necessary to make the project financially feasible.

While concerns over affordable housing have dwindled, new issues have emerged. Community Board 3, which was instrumental in getting the latest plan through the city public review process, wants to remain actively involved in the redevelopment. Some in the community would like to see a school included in the project. Others want to make sure that a big-box retailer does not occupy the space.

Adjustments to the original plan include the city reserving 15,000 square feet of space at the site until 2023 for a potential public school in case it is determined there is a need for it. Also, the city will establish a community task force that will be involved in shaping the project and will play an instrumental role in drafting the formal request for proposals seeking a developer to build on the site as well as the selecting the winner of the request for proposals.

Other assurances to the community include if a new Essex Street Market is built, it will remain a public market and vendors at the existing building will have first dibs at comparable space at the new facility and hiring preferences for jobs created from the project for local residents.

"We are hopeful about the move and expansion of the Essex Street Public Market and the accommodation of existing merchants with moving costs and comparable rents and spaces," said Ms. Chin.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

New Construction Exploding in Long Island City

Long Island City is on the rise — one tower at a time. Thanks to a host of new developments defying the bleak real estate market, another 1,250 condos and rental apartments are slated to hit the market next year. 

And that's just the beginning of what is planned. Over the next few years, the once predominantly industrial area will receive more waterfront parkland, a new library and a completely transformed Queens Plaza.

Long Island City is an ever-evolving neighborhood, and due to an industrial-to-residential zoning change, the area is no longer architecturally limited.
  • TF Cornerstone is halfway done erecting seven condominium and rental apartment towers that will make up its East Coast development, which stands on 21-acres of prime waterfront property. 
  • Rockrose Development is topping out its 42-story tower at 4300 Crescent Street, which is slated to open in 2013. Linc LIC will feature more than 700 rental units. 
  • Vantage Partners is also in the middle or planning stages of construction on three condominium buildings throughout the neighborhood.
This is all in addition to the roughly 5,000-unit Hunter’s Point South project, which includes an intermediate and high school, five acres of waterfront parkland and retail space. At least 60% of the units will be reserved for low- and middle-income residents, according to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

The first phase of the project, which includes two residential towers and the school, is expected to be completed in 2014. A new Hunter’s Point library is also open around the same time.

Seth Bornstein, executive director of the Queens Economic Development Corp., said more Manhattanites will cross the river when they realize they can score luxury waterfront housing without the Manhattan price tags. “Long Island City has been a focus of development for the last 20 years,” he said. “It’s five minutes from midtown Manhattan and has great transportation.”

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Hudson Yards Massive $6B Phase One

Related Companies will break ground on its massive 26-acre Hudson Yards development in the next couple of weeks. Recently, all the designers met to discuss their respective buildings. Here's a look at the details of the $6 billion first phase. The city-within-a-city will cap the yards with an $800 million concrete roof and top it with the country's largest and densest real-estate development. Imagine the Time Warner Center at Columbus Circle, only five times bigger.

> Click here to see the Master Plan

The Office Towers
Designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox, the tallest buildings within Hudson Yards will be two office towers, one of which will house Coach.

According the designer, the tower at 30th Street "genuflects toward Tenth Avenue on muscular concrete legs, and the crown greets the skyline at a jaunty tilt."

At West 33rd Street, another tower rises 1,300 feet, sloping away from its sister, creating a cone of space in the skyline.

The Retail Plaza
The two office towers will be linked by a five-floor, two-block long retail space. Its architect Howard Elkus says, "We don't want this to feel like a mall." Pedestrian walkways will extend the streets inside, cutting through the building, and glass walls to let in sunlight.

On the fourth floor, restaurateur Danny Meyer will curate a slew of "informal, but high-end" food options. The fifth floor will have restaurants that are more expensive and a ten-screen movie theater.

The Culture Shed
Davidson calls the Culture Shed the "most intriguing and mysterious" piece in the Hudson Yards development. The city refuses to discuss details of the space, like what it would be used for, but Related really wants it to happen.

DS+R Architects and the Rockwell Group worked together to design a flexible gallery complex that could accommodate just about anything. The architect believes it will give the project "the highbrow legitimacy and cutting-edge cool it needs, to become an integral part of New York."

The Residential Tower
Designed by Diller Scofidio + Renfro, the project's only all-residential tower (680 apartments in all) sits at 30th Street and 11th Avenue.

"It's an architectural griffin, grafting together rectilinear rental units on the lower floors with flower-petal condo layouts up high.

The idiosyncratic bulges and dimples join in complicated ways that make the glass facade look quilted."

The Everything Tower
David Childs of Skidmore Owings and Merrill is tasked with creating a tower to house a large Equinox gym, offices, an orthopedic hospital, a sports emporium, a hotel, as well as luxury condominiums.

The slender tower has a curved base and textured exterior that has "vertical folds with stone on one side and glass on the other, as if a palazzo had merged with a modernist shaft. Hudson Yards is a city within a city. This tower is a city within a city—within a city," says Childs.

The Public Space
Stephen Ross, chairman of Related, sees the public plaza as "a modern-day Trevi Fountain, a town square alive with purpose and electricity." Landscape architect Thomas Woltz was tasked with designing the five-acre space, and plans are still somewhat up in the air.

Currently, the design is a paved eclipsed outlined with artistically trimmed trees. Ross is still searching for an artist to create the monumental fountain.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Soccer League Enlists Barclays Team for Queens Stadium

Major League Soccer has asked SHoP Architects, the firm that designed the newly opened Nets arena in downtown Brooklyn, to prepare initial designs for a 25,000-seat soccer stadium to be built in Flushing Meadows Corona Park. According to officials from MLS, the privately financed $300 million project could be built within one to two years, and create up to 2,300 construction jobs.

That Major League Soccer is working with a New York firm that just successfully delivered an architecturally well-regarded stadium to Atlantic Yards - perhaps the city's most disputed development site - may indicate something about the seriousness of the league's intent to build  on an eight-acre site in Queens, political controversy and byzantine development processes notwithstanding.

According to the MLS presentation given to city officials in July, the stadium will create 2,000 construction-related jobs, and 300 full-time and 900 part-time jobs. It will also need 4,500 parking spots for fans—who would park in the Mets parking lots—and 375 parking spots for players and VIPs.

[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, June 25, 2012]

According to Major League Soccer, those numbers have since changed. Now, the league anticipates creating more construction-related jobs—between 2,100 and 2,300 construction-related jobs, and fewer full-time and part-time jobs, 160 and 750, respectively. In addition, the league now estimates it needs 4,100 parking spots for fans and 300 spots for players and VIPs.

A home in Flushing Meadows Corona Park would put the stadium near other major sports venues, CitiField and the USTA's Billie Jean King National Tennis Center.

The league has scoped out several sites in the city in recent months, including Willets Point in Queens and Pier 40 on the Hudson River Park. The Pier 40 proposal was criticized after the plans became public this spring. Community members were concerned the stadium would overwhelm the popular waterside park and lead to parking and transportation problems.

[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, September 6, 2012]

If indeed, the league ends up building on the site of the park's historic, yet long-disused Fountain of the Planets, which will not happen without a fight, it will have to replace the acreage it occupies by creating new parkland elsewhere.

Six acres of the eight-acre site are currently occupied by a fenced off concrete pool filled with stagnant water, which would be an improvement for the park. As part of the proposal, the league would also refurbish public soccer fields on the site and create a cricket field and volleyball courts.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Media Center Project to Be Built In Dumbo

Made in NY Media Center, a project for the city's media industries, will soon be built in Brooklyn's DUMBO Historic District. The center will open next year at 20 Jay Street, a landmark building that used to house Arbuckle Brothers, once the nation's largest coffee roasting company. The media incubator will bring together professionals across the film, gaming, marketing, and branding industries. The city has selected Two Trees Management to develop the site.

The Made in NY Media Center, a project touted by Mayor Michael Bloomberg, will be run by the Independent Filmmaker Project, a nonprofit film organization, and will bring together professionals across the film, gaming, marketing, and branding industries. The mayor announced the news at a press event Thursday.

"New York City's technology and entertainment industries have never been more exciting than they are today, and our new Made in NY Media Center will help bring developers, entrepreneurs and artists together to continue their growth," Mr. Bloomberg said.

About 1,000 tech startups are based in the city, according to city officials. In addition, 200 films are shot annually throughout the five boroughs, as are more than 150 television and online series.

The city's Economic Development Corp. and mayor's office called for proposals earlier this year to develop, market and manage the new center. The 80,000-square-foot facility will provide media entrepreneurs with affordable workspace and serve as a meeting place for classes and collaborations across industries.

The Independent Filmmaker Project will work with Dumbo's dominant development firm, Two Trees Management Co., to develop the media incubator, according to the city. Brooklyn-based MESH Architects will design the space.

General Assembly, a Manhattan-based education company, will collaborate with IFP to provide classes and workshops in technology, entrepreneurship and design. The space will feature short-term rental work areas, production suites, classrooms, a public cafĂ©, media arts gallery, conference rooms and a 98-seat multimedia screening room.

Media professionals can gain access to the center's facilities via various membership levels, which include desk space, use of the screening room, access to monthly classes and invitations to cross-industry networking events.

Sunday, October 7, 2012

More Fun Proposed for Coney Island Boardwalk

Next year Coney Island will boast even more amusements and attractions, if Mayor Bloomberg has anything to say about it. The city is seeking a developer and operator to breathe new life into a vacant lot that sits between the Scream Zone and what next summer will be Steeplechase Plaza --a 2.5-acre plot which will be the home of the restored B&B Carousel, Coney Island's last historic carousel. The winning developer will be announced later this year.

The city is seeking proposals for the one-acre lot located at 1502 Surf Avenue, adjacent to the famed Coney Island Boardwalk, and next door to a privately owned site where the famed Thunderbolt roller coaster once stood. The city wants to lease the site for a suggested 10-year term as is.

The selected respondent will be responsible for all costs and expenses involved in building and operating the site, according to the request for proposals, which was issued last month. Responses are due October 23rd.

"The activation of the site will further expand the amusement core, and build on the ongoing revitalization taking place in Coney Island," said Seth Pinsky, president of the city's Economic Development Corporation.

The proposals request is the latest effort by the city to transform Coney Island into a thriving amusement destination in the city. That effort started in 2009, when the city finally acquired 6.9 acres of land in the area from a developer for roughly $96 million, after years of intermittent negotiations.

Scream Zone, which opened in 2011 with four rides for thrill seekers, expanded its operation this year with go-karts and the Boardwalk Flight sky coaster ride. That amusement park along with Luna Park, the 19-ride, family-friendly park, was built and is operated by Central Amusement International, the New Jersey-based subsidiary of the 150-year-old Italian ride manufacturer Zamperla.

Central Amusement International, which leases the land that both parks sit on from the city, has invested close to $30 million in constructing Luna Park and Scream Zone. The city has invested more than $6.6 million to support both parks.

"The market for amusement operations in Coney Island is strong," the proposals request said. "The past three summers have witnessed great growth in visitors and the introduction of new amusement attractions." Currently, as many as 5 million visitors come to Coney Island every year.

Although the request said the selected respondent should plan to operate the amusement or attraction during the summer of 2013, the city would "consider proposals for later operation commencement dates based on the quality and investment proposed by respondents." The city expects to select a winner and a sign a lease on the land by the end of this year.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

JetBlue Breaks Ground on Expansion at JFK

JetBlue Airways broke ground Monday on an extension project to its terminal at JFK Airport. The project, expected to be completed in early 2015, will add 150,000 square feet of space and three additional gates to the airline’s Terminal 5. The $200 million expansion will be known as "T5i”, and will stand on the former site of TWA's Terminal 6, where JetBlue operated until moving in 2008.

With the conversion of three existing gates, JetBlue’s new terminal will have six international arrival gates as well as an International Arrivals Hall with facilities for U.S. Customs, Border Protection and Federal Inspection services.

“Today is truly a groundbreaking day for JetBlue as we begin work on our international arrivals terminal at T5,” JetBlue President and CEO Dave Barger said. “We’re excited to work with all of our partners at JFK and beyond to move forward with this project which, when completed, will make all domestic and international operations seamless and convenient for our customers and consolidate our flight operations under one roof.”

The airline opened Terminal 5 in 2008, amid an international expansion to countries such as Colombia and Bermuda. The company plans to add more international destinations later this year.

He said the design of the expansion would mirror that created by Gensler Architects for the existing terminal in order to create a “seamless ground experience” for passengers. The design attributes include an abundance of natural light, low-flow water fixtures, an efficient heating and cooling system and circulation paths designed to get customers through gates and customs with ease.

Berger said the building would even use concrete reclaimed from JFK’s aircraft apron as the base for the concrete within the new building.

“We designed this addition to T5 to welcome people to New York, greeting them with natural daylight and a view outside,” Gensler Principal Bill Hooper said. “Our goal is to put passengers first and make it easy and fast for people to get where they want to be.”

After the ceremony, Mr. Barger said the $200 million project will be "the next but not last" phase of JetBlue's expansion at JFK, pointing to the airport's expansive acreage and advantageous location as an international hub.

"This is the best gateway in the world," he said. "The brand is a New York brand. We bring the footprint of New York wherever we fly."

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Broadway Hotel Tallest in Western Hemisphere

The new 68-story hotel located at 1717 Broadway at 54th Street -- which has the distinction of being the tallest in the Western Hemisphere -- has topped out at lofty 750-feet, the tower’s developer Granite Broadway Development announced yesterday. The development's 634 rooms will actually be two hotels: the lower 24 floors will be a 378-room Courtyard by Marriott hotel, and the upper 30 floors will be a 261-room Residence Inn. Both hotels are slated to open in late 2013.

 The midtown hotel will feature 20,000-square-feet of ground-floor retail space, a leased restaurant on the second floor and a lounge and terrace with outdoor seating and views of Broadway on the fifth floor. The development is the largest new hotel project in New York since the 863-room Westin New York at Times Square opened in 2002.

When completed, 1717 Broadway will be 70 feet taller than the Mandarin Oriental at Time Warner Center, and more than 155 feet taller than the Trump International, making them the tallest hotels the Western Hemisphere.

See ElectricWeb | Blogger (May 15, 2012)

As its height suggests, it will permit its guests impressive views of the city. But in the dog-eat-dog world of New York City real estate, so too will the building - already distinct for the way its thin profile dramatically contrasts with its soaring height - also stand in the way of such views from the upper floors of its neighbors.

1717 Broadway will obstruct the eastward views for 250 West 55th Street, a new million-square-foot office tower just a block west that is in the process of being developed by Boston Properties. The situation is not the first time a new tower has been built only to have its views usurped by a rival’s. There is a ruthless math to tower development in Manhattan and the addition of one building to the skyline always subtracts from the views of another.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Huge Lot on Queens Waterfront to be Developed

A Queens developer has taken ownership of one of the largest vacant waterfront properties in New York City, with plans to build 52 single-family Whitestone homes. Originally zoned for manufacturing, the 13-acre industrial property has been rezoned for residential use; the property also includes 8 acres of water rights and will feature a publicly accessible waterfront park. Groundbreaking is expected by the middle of next year.

A group of investors involved with Barone Management, a firm that has both construction and development arms and is based in Whitestone, have paid a deposit on the 13-acre property, at 151-45 6th Road, and will likely take full possession of the property later this month, according to Scott Barone, whose family owns the firm.

The property also includes 8 acres of water rights and will feature a publicly accessible waterfront park, as is required by city regulations. “In a perfect world, development will begin in the middle of next year,” he said.

It was originally zoned for manufacturing until about 2005, when a development firm called Bayrock Group bought the site and sought to rezone it for residential use. State inspectors have been inspecting the site to check for evidence of any contaminated soil dumped there.

The city modified the zoning to specifically allow for the development of 52 single-family homes, according to area lawmakers, but Bayrock went bust and the property descended into foreclosure.

Barone said the development would be a boon for the area, setting a precedent on converting old manufacturing sites into residential tracts in character with the rest of the sleepy neighborhood.

Nevertheless, changing industrial sites to residential properties often involves environmental remediation, and the Whitestone lot was no exception. The soil at the site was contaminated and needed to be entirely replaced before a shovel could hit the ground. It was entered into the state’s Brownfield Cleanup program, which works with developers to clean toxic sites and prep them for development.

The court-appointed receiver for the property hired the construction arm of Barone to perform complete remediation at the site, which concluded in the fall of 2011.

State Senator Tony Avella has asked the state Department of Environmental Protection to look into the replacement soil to ensure it is not itself contaminated. Avella had previously sent a letter to the DEC, urging them to investigate the site for dumping of contaminated material, a prospect Barone found insulting.

The developer contends he has logs to show where each ounce of soil came, proving it is clean, and inspections undertaken by DEC and 24-hour security have made it impossible to sneak any unauthorized material onto the property.