Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Union Labor to Build Park Ave South Tower

One of unionized labor’s harshest critics, Equity Residential Chairman Sam Zell has chosen union labor to construct the $190 million Park Avenue South tower he’s developing with Toll Brothers. Zell’s construction manager, recently penalized Lend Lease Construction, struck an agreement with the Building and Construction Trades Council that will reduce standard union labor costs by 20 percent.
Zell famously caught heat for using non-union workers to construct his 111-unit apartment building at 500 West 23rd Street. But it's speculated that his recent decision at Park Avenue South and East 28th Street isn’t a change of mindset for the developer, but rather a decision made because of the discount, the size of the project and the need to curry favor with local officials for future projects.

Zell is close to reaching a similar agreement for the 230-unit project at 170 Amsterdam Avenue between West 66th and West 67th streets through construction manager Plaza Construction.

He is also hoping for one at his Church of St. John the Divine site in Morningside Heights, as well.

While the new union contracts may have been facilitated by last summer’s extensive contract negotiations, There’s still much work to do before all big developers return to using unionized construction labor.