Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Two Electrical Contractors Arrested in $200,000 Labor Scam

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the arrests of the owners of Staten Island electrical contractor R3 Electrical, Inc., on felony grand-larceny charges. The owners and the company are charged with failing to pay more than $200,000 in legally required wages on projects upgrading the science labs at five City University of New York campuses and boilers at the city-run Rutgers Houses on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. If convicted, the contractors face up to 15 years in prison.

R3 Electrical, located at 541 Port Richmond Avenue, were hired as an electrical subcontractor on the 2008-2009 CUNY project and then on a 2009 job funded by the New York Power Authority to upgrade the boilers at the Rutgers Houses, a New York City Housing Authority development.

The owners, Ronald Bartiromo and Raymond D’Auria were arrested on four felony charges, including grand larceny and violation of labor law.

The two allegedly underpaid at least seven employees who repaired science labs at five City University of New York campuses, and at the lower East Side housing project.

Both projects were funded by taxpayers.

New York Labor Law and the contract terms for both projects required the defendants to pay prevailing wages and to submit certified payroll reports showing all hours worked and wages paid. The defendants failed to pay the legally-required wages on both projects to at least seven employees, who worked as electricians, resulting in total underpayments of over $200,000.

The defendants submitted payroll reports to CUNY and NYPA falsely claiming they paid all the workers on the project the required wage. That underpayment was taxpayer dollars that should have gone to the workers.

The 48-year-olds allegedly pocketed the money, and then falsely reported their incomes on their federal and state tax returns.

The defendants were arraigned in Manhattan Criminal Court, each charged with:
(2) counts of Grand Larceny in the Second Degree, a Class "C" felony;
(2) counts of Violation of Labor Law, a Class "C" felony
(20) counts of Offering a False Instrument for Filing in the First Degree, a "D" felony
(20) counts of Falsifying Business Records in the First Degree, a Class "E" felony.
Both face a prison term up to 15 years.
The company faces the same charges and fines of up to $10,000 on each count.

New York's prevailing wage laws seek to ensure that government contractors pay wages and benefits that are comparable to the local norms for a given trade.

Schneiderman promised to come after “government contractors who cheat their employees and falsify records as they attempt to conceal their misdeeds. Protecting taxpayer dollars and the livelihoods of hard-working New Yorkers is a priority for this office."

City Approves $200M Rebuilding of Pier 17 Mall

The New York City Council unanimously approved plans to tear down the current Pier 17 in the South Street Seaport and replace it with a sleek new $200 million complex with a green roof, marking the end of the long and contentious approval process.  Developer Howard Hughes Corp. made concessions to the council including pushing back construction on the project to allow Hurricane Sandy-battered tenants to have an additional summer season, with construction now scheduled to begin on Oct 1st.

The project calls for a mix of boutique and large retail spaces inside the 250,000-square-foot facility connected by open air pedestrian corridors.

Large glass garage doors can be lowered during inclement weather to protect these open spaces. The new building will include restaurants, rooftop shops, a concert venue and museum, and will be capped with a sustainable green roof.

As part of the City Council approval, the developers will also build two new food markets adjacent to the new structure in the old Link and Tin Buildings.

The developer had wanted to start construction on Pier 17 by July 1 and had asked tenants to leave the building by April 30. But retailers at the storm battered neighborhood, which was shut down for several months following Superstorm Sandy—some businesses are still closed—lobbied to remain open for the summer in order to recoup their losses. Under the agreement, they can stay until Sept. 9, with construction beginning on Oct. 1.

One of the food markets will go into the Tin Building, where the Fulton Fish Market had been before it moved to the Bronx. Howard Hughes had expressed interest in developing the Tin Building and the neighboring New Market building and it has until June 30 to submit a proposal to the city's Economic Development Corp., which controls the land. The City Council deal requires any plan for the Tin Building to include 10,000 square feet for a year-round, seven days a week public market.

Howard Hughes will also be required to develop a second food market selling locally sourced food, likely to be in what is called the Link Building, which is adjacent to the Pier 17 mall and now is home to restaurants and clothing retailers.

The $200 million project is expected to be completed by 2015.
Related Articles:

[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Apr 18, 2012]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Sep 12, 2012]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Nov 29, 2012]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Dec 2, 2012]

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Green Light for Review of $3B Willets Point Project

The $3 billion plan to clean up and develop the Iron Triangle is ready to step right up and meet the public, kicking off the formal review process of the mega development at Willets Point.  On Monday, the City Planning Commission certified zoning changes the commercial and retail project near CitiField, beginning the 7-month public review process. The Queens Development Group, a joint venture between the Related Cos. and Sterling Equities, is scheduled to present its plan to develop 23-acres of the Iron Triangle to the Queens Borough President’s office and the City Council, early next month. One of the centerpieces of the first phase of development, Willets West, will erect a 1.4 million-square-foot mall on the current CitiField parking lot.

The land will have to be remediated and cleaned of its toxins before construction can begin, officials said. The environmental impact study, which analyzes the consequences of construction including transportation, air quality and noise, weighed in at over 2,000 pages.

With the changes to zoning certified, the Queens Development Group, a joint venture between Sterling Equities and the Related Cos., hopes to begin the remediation of the area in February 2014.

In 2008, the city gained approval for 9 million square feet of land to be developed, before any developer was attached to the project. A joint venture between the Related Cos. and Sterling Equities was designated as the developer of a 23-acre parcel of the site

The joint venture will be responsible for 5 million square feet of new development — a mix of retail, entertainment and housing.

The Proposal

The proposal, as laid out by the City Economic Development Corp., aims to expand on the City’s November 2008 Willets Point Redevelopment Plan, which created the Special Willets Point District and called for the development of a mixture of uses, including commercial, residential and publicly-accessible open spaces, along with 5,500 residential units, 35 percent of which would be designated as affordable housing.

The $3 billion project announced in June by Mayor Mike Bloomberg is a joint venture of Related Companies and Sterling Equities Inc., the investment arm of the Wilpon family, which owns the New York Mets. After the remediation, the first phase of the project will create retail, restaurants and a 200-room hotel on 126th Street.

Bloomberg said during the announcement that the project would create 12,000 union construction jobs and more than 7,000 permanent jobs once the project is completed. He cited the project as an example of the City’s recovering economy.

Community Board 7 has 60 days to mull the project and form its advisory opinion.

Next, Queens Borough President Helen Marshall gets to stake out her stance on the project.

The City Council will be the final leg of the land use review process, and has the final say on whether to approve construction of the sweeping project.

The Willets Point proposal would create 9 million square feet of new development, including 2,500 housing units, 875 of which would be allocated as affordable housing.

Not everyone is pleased with the proposal, however.

A business coalition, Willets Point United, is in a fight against the city over its eminent domain claim, there are eight businesses in phase one that have yet to cut deals with the city on their properties, and many of the larger holdouts remain in the later phases of development.

Officials with the city Economic Development Corp. said the decision is a landmark step toward revamping the Iron Triangle.

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[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Jun 18, 2012]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, May 9, 2011]

Monday, March 25, 2013

Times Square Developers Will Keep Contractors Busy

Some two decades ago, New York City began a huge cleanup of its downtrodden theater district, vastly improving the fortunes of the pedestrian-clogged Times Square neighborhood. In recent months, that progress has gone into high gear, with several redevelopment projects about to get underway. Ground is scheduled to be broken this year on an $800 million, 39-story hotel and retail complex at 701 Seventh Avenue, at the northern edge of Times Square, and plans for a $140 million renovation of the retail beneath the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square are also under way.

Each day 370,000 pedestrians traipse through the Times Square bow tie, where Broadway and Seventh Avenue intersect, and each year shoppers spend $6.5 billion in the area’s stores, according to the Times Square Alliance. That spending has contributed to the skyrocketing retail rents.

Rents in the area are approaching Fifth Avenue levels, and while a lot of this is due to the cleanup that began in the 1990s, even more is due to the massive influx of tourists over the last few years. The city expects more than 54 million tourists this year.

In the wake of such demand, developers are snatching up properties and repositioning buildings to create additional supply. One of the largest projects is at 701 Seventh Avenue, at 47th Street, where a building will be razed and replaced by 85,000 square feet of retail space and a 500-room Marriott Edition boutique hotel.

The retail space, which will feature 25-foot glass storefronts, will be spread across the first four floors and two basement levels, and 40,000 square feet on the seventh and eighth floors will be set aside for an event space, club, several restaurants and 6,000 square feet of terraces. The building will have a 20,000-square-foot LED sign on its facade.

One block south, Vornado Realty Trust has been leasing retail space at its building at 1540 Broadway, between 45th and 46th street, signing a deal with Sunglass Hut for $2,025 a square foot, a record for the neighborhood.

Vornado also plans a $140 million redevelopment of the retail space across the street at 1535 Broadway, underneath the New York Marriott Marquis Times Square. The project, which would include closing the arcade that runs under the hotel, is in the planning stages. Ground is expected to be broken late this year or early next.

As part of the redevelopment, Vornado plans to create a glass facade for the stores, which will include 20,000 square feet on the ground floor and 25,000 square feet below ground, and reposition them to face Broadway.

Vornado is also installing a 25,000-square-foot, 80-foot-high LED sign that will cover the Broadway face of the hotel and wrap 50 feet around each side of the building. Vornado declined to comment.

New development is also under way at 1565 Broadway, at 47th Street. The landlord acquired the two-story building recently for $30 million. He is planning to demolish the building and replace it, and will expand the current two-story sign into a large 14-story LED sign.

Activity also is occurring along side streets. At the former headquarters of The New York Times, at 229 West 43rd Street, the landlord is asking $2.2 million a year for the 28,000-square-foot space which has a marquee and conspicuous signs.

Related Article:


Sunday, March 24, 2013

NY-Presbyterian Gets Nod for $1B in New Construction Projects

New York-Presbyterian Hospital is about to get a lot bigger with more than $1 billion in new construction projects in the works. Plans include building a behemoth $896 million ambulatory care center at 1283 York Avenue and the takeover of New York Downtown Hospital. The hospital has already received approval for its ambitious expansion plans from state health regulators.

New York-Presbyterian is joining other large hospitals, including Montefiore Medical Center, the North Shore-LIJ Health System, in building "hospitals of the future", which really isn't a hospital at all.

Large ambulatory care centers are under construction across the city as one-stop shopping pavilions where patients can access preventative and specialty care, as well as services that in the past were delivered within hospital walls.

Like its competitors, New York-Presbyterian is moving ambulatory care services out of the hospital in a bid to transform how it delivers care to ambulatory patients. The hospital plans to build an ambulatory care center at 1283 York Avenue, across the street from New York-Presbyterian Weill Cornell Campus at 525 East 68th Street. The new building will house surgery, primary care and infusion therapy services, radiology, Cyber Knife, MRI, PET scanner and linear accelerator services. The price tag: $895.5 million.

The state's Public Health and Health Planning Council, a body that regulates large construction projects by New York State hospitals, are expected to approve New York-Presbyterian's projects at its April 11 meeting.

New York-Presbyterian plans to pay for the huge construction project by fundraising $395.5 million of the cost and taking on a $500 million mortgage at 6% interest for a 25-year term.

Construction is set to start on August 1, 2014. The hospital plans to spend $7.3 million to relocate residential tenants in the two adjacent buildings on the site, and relocate the hospital's administrative offices that occupy the lower floors.

A second project for New York-Presbyterian is the renovation of 10 existing inpatient units located at its Milstein Building on the Columbia University campus. That project will cost $111.4 million, funded through donations. Construction is scheduled to begin in December.

The hospital's emergency department at Columbia is getting a $74 million overhaul, to be financed through fundraising. When finished, that department will have 66 acute care treatment areas, up from 45, and 22 rapid medical evaluation areas, up from 10. Construction will finish by April 1, 2017.

New York-Presbyterian disclosed in its state filings that it earned a profit of $159 million in the first 10 months of 2012. Its tab for the three construction projects is about $1.08 billion.

The state health planning committee also gave preliminary approval to New York-Presbyterian's proposed takeover of New York Downtown Hospital. According to the hospital's application that the state is reviewing, New York Downtown lost $12.5 million in the first 11 months of 2012. The hospital blamed the loss on cuts in state and federal reimbursement, and its limited ability to increase revenues.

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[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Feb 17, 2013]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Mar 6, 2013]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Jan 24, 2012]

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A Look Inside the Caverns Under Second Avenue

In Manhattan, where rush hour traffic resembles a parking lot, only one subway runs the length of the East Side. Every weekday, 1.3 million passengers — more than are carried in 24 hours by the transit systems of Boston, Chicago and San Francisco combined — cram onto the Lexington Avenue line. Amid the chaos above and below, 475 laborers have dug 25 million cubic feet of rock and 10 million cubic feet of soil — roughly an Empire State Building by volume — out from under two miles of the Upper East Side. 

In December 2016, that tunnel will make its debut as a portion of the Second Avenue subway — the great failed track New York City has been postponing, restarting, and debating, financing, definancing and otherwise meaning to get in the ground since 1929.

This winter, between 69th Street and 96th Street on Second Avenue, cages descended every eight hours, five days a week, lowering roughly 50 men in neon vests and hard hats into deep holes filled with, fluorescent bulbs and yellow ventilation tubes.

Up above, men with tripods surveyed; men with blowtorches welded; men guiding hoses poured concrete, while cools winds filled the voids below with the aroma of explosives.

The hurry actually began more than 80 years ago, when city leaders first proposed constructing a new subway parallel to the Lexington line to serve the developing East Side. It would run from 125th Street south to Houston and cost $86 million.

Then came the Great Depression. And then, World War II.

In the early 1970s, short sections of the Second Avenue tunnel were burrowed at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge, between 99th Street and 105th and between 110th and 120th, before the city’s looming bankruptcy in 1975 halted all digging.

The dream of a Second Avenue subway lay dormant until April 12, 2007, when contractors again broke ground — to extend the Q line from 63rd and Lexington over to Second Avenue and up to 96th Street. That alone costs $4.5 billion. Eventually they will lengthen the Q to 125th and dig a new line, the T, from the Financial District straight up Second Avenue to 125th Street.

At least that’s the plan.

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Friday, March 22, 2013

A Closer Look at the East Side Access Project

Construction has paused at the rapidly-rising 432 Park Avenue after an accident damaged a neighboring building, resulting in a stop-work order. The Department of Buildings reports that there were five safety violations found at the site on earlier this month, explaining the lack of workers onsite and lack of progress in recent days. The project has risen quickly, and the speed of construction is partially to blame for the accident. The site of the former Drake Hotel, named the most valuable construction site in the city, will be home to a 1,420-foot tall residential tower, the tallest in the Western Hemisphere.

In the most recent the violation, damage occurred to the parapet of 48 East 57th Street as safety-netting was being raised at the site.

Coincidentally, the owner of 48 East 57th is Jacobs & Co., which was the sole holdout against 432 Park's developer when it was acquiring land for the tower.

Safety violations are quite common in New York City, though stop-work orders are more infrequent.

432 Park's $1.25 billion price-tag means the ongoing pause in construction will be rather costly. Officials from the city's Department of Buildings hope the inconvenience will prompt CIM Development to review their safety standards for the site, as recent major accidents at One57, 303 East 51st Street, and TF Cornerstone's East Coast Long Island City have all been preventable.

The site of the former Drake Hotel, named the most valuable construction site in the city, will be home to a 1,420-foot tall residential tower, the tallest in the Western Hemisphere

The $1 billion tower will boast 128 only units, each with 12-foot high ceilings. Amenities will include a 5,000-square-foot enclosed driveway, golf training facilities and private dining and screening rooms.

Related Article:

[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Oct 19, 2011]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Jan 6, 2012]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Jan 20, 2012]

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Deduction for Commercial Lighting Upgrades Set to Expire

The Energy Policy Act of 2005 created the Energy-Efficient Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction to encourage investment in energy-efficient interior lighting, up to $1.80/sq ft. The deduction allowed the owner to write off the entire cost of the new installation during the first year, instead of over time. This is the last year the deduction - which makes lighting retrofit projects economically attractive - will be in effect in its present form. The industry incentive is set to expire on December 31, 2013.

At this time, the only effort to continue the tax deduction is the Commercial Buildings Modernization Act, introduced in the Senate, which would extend it through the end of 2016.

The incentive would be larger, and it would include outdoor lighting as well as indoor. However, it would be much harder for new lighting systems to qualify for the deduction, as the new system would have to achieve a higher standard of savings.

Moreover, with little support among Republicans, it is highly uncertain whether the bill will be signed into law.

The Interim Lighting Rule

The Interim Rule permits owners of commercial buildings to deduct the full cost of new interior lighting—up to $0.60/sq ft —based on achieving 25% to 40% power savings.

The exception to the sliding scale is warehouses. The interior lighting power consumption must be reduced by at least 50% to earn a CBTD deduction.

Besides achieving a 25% to 40% reduction in power consumption, the project must satisfy these conditions:.
Bi-level switching must be installed—which may be A/B, step dimming or continuous dimming in all rooms — except hotel and motel guest rooms, storerooms, restrooms, public lobbies and garages.
The project must achieve minimum calculated light levels as prescribed in the Ninth Edition of the IES Lighting Handbook.
Additionally, if more than 50 percent of the light fixtures are replaced, the lighting controls must also be replaced.
Lighting systems

All lighting fixture must be permanently installed, so portable task lighting does not contribute to qualification. The law exempts also exit signs from interior power calculations, so exit sign upgrades do not contribute either. In both cases, however, good energy savings may result, so the upgrades nonetheless should be considered.

The law requires the maximum-labeled wattage of the ballast to be used in interior lighting power calculations.

However, to avoid penalizing lower actual wattages achieved in retrofits through energy-saving lamps such as 25W and 28W T8 lamps, the standard recognizes the maximum-labeled wattage of the light fixture as an alternative value.

This would entail producing a new fixture label with the lamp-ballast information that would affix in the existing fixture, according to NEMA on its website:

“If you are using a system with a lower wattage than the maximum labeled wattage, then you will need to have a label made and installed in the luminaries indicating the actual system wattage and the appropriate replacement lamp for the project.

This will provide information to the certifier and the maintenance personnel performing maintenance on the system in the future. Remember, the complete bill of material used in a project must be supplied to the certifier so he/she can confirm that the equipment specified is installed.”

Alternately, a ballast could be specified with a custom ballast factor that tunes light output and input watts at the ballast, not the lamp.

At a minimum, lamps and ballasts must be replaced or new fixtures installed; a simple lamp retrofit (e.g., an upgrade from incandescent to screw-base compact fluorescent lamps) would not comply because the installation is not permanent and the resulting expense is considered maintenance and not a capital expense for tax purposes.

Project certification

For a building owner to claim the deduction, a qualified contractor or engineer must certify the project. The individual must demonstrate in writing to the owner that he or she has the qualifications to do the certification. The National Electrical Manufacturers Association (NEMA) has published a series of sample certification letters on its CBTD website:

The qualified individual must document the reduction in lighting power density, with the certification including:
Contact information for the qualified individual performing the certification;
Address of the building to which the certification applies; and3
A statement by the qualified individual that the interior lighting systems have been, or are planned to be, incorporated into the building that meet all of the requirements of the Interim 

Lighting Rule

The certification must also include a statement by the qualified individual that:
Field inspections were performed by a qualified individual after the lighting was placed in service;
Inspections must confirm that the building is meeting the specified reduction in lighting power density.
The qualified individual must also provide a:
List showing the energy-efficient lighting components and features of the building and projected power density;
A statement that the building owner has received an explanation of the energy efficiency features of the building and projected power density; and
This declaration: “Under penalties of perjury, I declare that I have examined this certification, including accompanying documents, and to the best of my knowledge and belief, the facts presented in support of this certification are true, correct and complete.”
The certification must include a spreadsheet used to calculate energy and power consumption and costs.The building owner should keep a copy of the certification in their tax records.

Last chance

This is the last year the Commercial Buildings Tax Deduction will be in effect in its current form, offering a potentially valuable tool to help make lighting retrofit projects more economically attractive.

If the Commercial Buildings Modernization Act introduced in the Senate is passed as written today, the maximum deduction would increase and exterior lighting would be covered, but the standard would tougher to beat. Again, given the current state of Congress, there is a great deal of uncertainty about whether it will become law.

For more information, visit

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Three New Skyscrapers Planned Near Ground Zero

Plans that call for three new skyscrapers to be built near the World Trade Center, will further change the face of lower Manhattan. A proposal from Fisher Brothers, which recently purchased the old American Stock Exchange, calls for a transformation of 86 Trinity Place into a 174-suite hotel with 100,000 square feet of retail, while also erecting 60-story residential building, next door at 22 Thames Street. In addition, Selldorf Architects has unveiled its vision for a 637-foot, 54-story tower to rise at 111 Washington Street.

The two Fisher Brothers properties are a block south of the World Trade Center site in the Financial District, an area that was hit hard during the economic downturn but recently has shown signs of snapping back. They acquired the former American Stock Exchange buildings, which have been mostly vacant since the exchange merged with the New York Stock Exchange in 2008.

The developer plans to turn the Trinity Place building into a retail complex with a handful of shops and at least one high-end anchor tenant. Above the retail complex, they are planning a 174-room boutique hotel. The partners plan to renovate and convert that building, which includes a former trading floor, 60-foot ceilings and a 15-story tower that they say is suitable for hotel development.

They plan to tear down the 10-story building at 22 Thames Street and construct a 60-story residential building that is likely to be luxury rentals. The new owners have the right to build 400,000 square feet of residential property. They declined to say how much they expect to spend on the construction work, which is estimated at around $750,000 million
Fisher Brothers bet on the financial district comes, as developer interest in the area is showing signs of turning around after a brutal period when a number of residential projects halted construction or never got going.

Since the mid 1990s, when the city began offering tax incentives to developers who converted obsolete office property into apartment buildings, the area's population has exploded. Even after the tax credits expired, building continued rapidly until there was a glut of supply during the downturn.

The empty ICON parking garage that closed down at 111 Washington Street, across from the W hotel, has shown little movement since 2008.

The lot, plus some adjacent ones and air rights, was once part of plan for a 300-unit condominium building. Then it re-imagined as a designer hotel. However, the contract never closed once the market slumped, and the spot has been quiet ever since. Until now.

Selldorf Architects recently unveiled a prismatic tower design for the site near the World Trade Center at 111 Washington Street. The 54-story building would replace the parking lots that were sold late last year.

The first five floors would hold retail and residential amenities, which would be topped by two floors for performing arts, with the tower rising 637-feet above that.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Solar-Powered House to be Constructed on CCNY Roof

This summer, City College of New York will welcome home its 2011 entry to the U.S. Solar Decathlon. The solar-panel-topped house, dubbed the Solar Roofpod, will be fully reassembled in its new home atop the Spitzer School of Architecture in time for the fall semester, flanked by rooftop gardens and an energy-generating windmill. The house - designed to demonstrate that the urban house of the future can be energy efficient and attractive - will be used as a meeting space and teaching device to show the benefits of environmentally-friendly design and materials.

Solar Roofpod was designed as a prototype structure that could easily attach to the roofs of buildings in high-density neighborhoods in cities like New York.

A team of more than 100 students at the Spitzer School of Architecture and the Grove School of Engineering designed and built the structure.

More than 100 students participated in the design and construction of the pod, which contains a cooling system run off heat, known as an exhaustive cooling system, and a glass with a reflective coating that is invisible to the human eye but is visible to birds to prevent them from crashing.

The pod has all sorts of potential applications when it comes to urban housing. Flooding from Hurricane Sandy showed how important it was to lift the mechanical elements of buildings out of the basement. Placing them on the roof using the pod design is one possibility.

The roofpod has a modular design, making it easy to assemble on the city's rooftops. It also features rainwater collection, and windows and blinds have been programmed to open and close to keep the space at an optimal temperature to save energy. Portions of the pod could be controlled from an iPhone.

More than $1 million in donated material and volunteer hours was used to construct the roofpod, which was completed in August 2011 before it was dismantled, shrink-wrapped and shipped to Washington, D.C., for the competition.  [see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Jul 7, 2011]

The Solar Roofpod  was built, designed and decorated by students. It was displayed on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., in 2011 as one of the finalists in the U.S. Department of Energy's Solar Decathlon, a biennial student competition to design ultra-sustainable homes. The solar roofpod had been disassembled and stored in a New Jersey warehouse following the competition.

In June, the process will begin to place the roofpod on the City College campus.

Monday, March 18, 2013

High Line Park To Get New 170,000 SF Neighbor

A developer has finalized its vision for a new office tower it plans to erect next door to the High Line Park, at 510 West 22nd Street. Plans recently submitted to the city by Garden City-based developer Albanese Organization, for the 170,000-square-foot tower just west of the elevated greenway, are considerably different from last year's proposal— inside and out. What was originally to be a glassy nine-story, all-steel structure will now be a 10-story concrete one. 

Frank Gehry’s IAC building was a shot of glamour for West Chelsea when it was built in 2007, an almost ethereal assemblage of white, sail-like forms at 18th Street and the West Side Highway.

At 130,000 square feet, it is one of the largest commercial buildings in the neighborhood.

Now, it may have a rival, at least in size. The Albanese Organization just closed on a deal for a nondescript warehouse abutting the High Line elevated park that was once intended to be a hotel built by the musician Jay-Z. Albanese plans to replace it with a nine-story 175,000-square-foot office building.

The $140 million project, at 510 West 22nd Street and 10th Avenue, a few blocks north of the IAC building, is to have 160 feet of frontage on the High Line, 14- to 20-foot-high ceilings and floor plates of 15,000 to 20,000 square feet.

“The IAC Building was ahead of its time,” said Mr. Albanese, “but there is demand for another corporate headquarters-type development now in the neighborhood.”

Cook + Fox Architects is designing the structure and is hoping to obtain LEED Platinum certification as a sign of its green credentials. “It will have entirely new infrastructure, and from the interior you will feel engaged with the High Line and with nature,” said Richard A. Cook, a partner at the firm. There will be terraces on the north and south sides of the second floor, as well as a penthouse-style setback on the ninth floor and a planted roof. The ground-floor retail space will most likely be for a gallery or events, Mr. Cook said. Ceiling heights will average 10 feet; column-free window expanses will offer far-ranging views.

The originally all-glass structure with non-opening windows will now include some operable ones, rare in an office building — architect Rick Cook of Cook + Fox “thought it was critical because of the uniqueness of the site for an office building.”

The 510 West 22nd Street address is now a vacant five-story garage, a small chunk of which will be retained to meet zoning requirements.

What’s now a blank wall abutting the High Line — one of the insanely popular park’s few eyesores, although largely shielded by trees until winter — will become a “reach out and touch it” glass facade, similar to those of apartment buildings astride the park.

The developers want to break ground as soon as it can to exploit the High Line corridor’s singular commercial appeal, a function of the park’s gravitational pull on fashion and media tenants, and limited office supply compared with apartments.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Designing Tomorrow: America's World's Fairs of the 1930s

Museum of the City of New York  - through Mar 31

Designing Tomorrow: America's World's Fairs of the 1930s showcases six Depression-era expositions that brought visions of a brighter future to tens of millions of Americans. As many Americans still waited on bread lines, fairs in Chicago (1933/34), San Diego (1935/36), Dallas (1936), Cleveland (1936/37), San Francisco (1939/40), and New York (1939/40) foretold much of what would become commonplace in postwar America--from highways and the spread of suburbia to modernist skyscrapers and products such as electric toasters, nylon stockings, and television. The fairs looked forward to an era of prosperity, when ingenuity and innovation would transform not only American cities but also the everyday lives of American citizens. 

Between 1933 and 1940 tens of millions of Americans visited world's fairs in cities across the nation.

Designing Tomorrow explores the modernist spectacles of architecture and design they witnessed -- visions of a brighter future during the worst economic crisis the United States had known.

The fairs popularized modern design for the American public and promoted the idea of science and consumerism as salvation from the Great Depression.

Participating architects, eager for new projects at a time when few new buildings were being financed, populated the fairgrounds with an eclectic modern architecture. Pavilions housed innovative and dynamic exhibitions that paid tribute to factory production, technology, and speed.  Exhibits forecasted the houses and cities of tomorrow and presented streamlined trains, modern furnishings, television, and talking robots.

Visitors will see sleek, modern furniture and appliances of the era, vintage footage from the fairs, and futuristic drawings of the New York World's Fair's buildings from the Museum's collection.

To view New York World's Fair artifacts in the Museum's collection, browse these image selections on the Collections Portal.

A first-of-its-kind exhibition, Designing Tomorrow features nearly 200 never-before-assembled artifacts including building models, architectural remnants, drawings, paintings, prints, furniture, an original RCA "TRK-12" television, "Elektro the Moto-Man" robot, and period film footage.

The artifacts are drawn from the featured expositions: Chicago, IL—A Century of Progress International Exposition (1933–34); San Diego, CA—California Pacific International Exposition (1935-36); Dallas, TX—Texas Centennial Exposition (1936); Cleveland, OH—Great Lakes Exposition (1936-37); San Francisco, CA—Golden Gate International Exposition (1939-40); and New York, NY—New York World's Fair (1939-40).

Designing Tomorrow: America's World's Fairs of the 1930s was organized by the National Building Museum and expanded and adapted by the Museum of the City of New York.

The Museum of the City of New York
1220 Fifth Ave, Manhattan, NY 10029
(212) 534-1672

This exhibition has been made possible by a major grant from the National Endowment for the Arts.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Accident, Safety Violations Halt Construction at 432 Park

Construction has paused at the rapidly-rising 432 Park Avenue after an accident damaged a neighboring building, resulting in a stop-work order. The Department of Buildings reports that there were five safety violations found at the site on earlier this month, explaining the lack of workers onsite and lack of progress in recent days. The project has risen quickly, and the speed of construction is partially to blame for the accident. The site of the former Drake Hotel, named the most valuable construction site in the city, will be home to a 1,420-foot tall residential tower, the tallest in the Western Hemisphere.

In the most recent the violation, damage occurred to the parapet of 48 East 57th Street as safety-netting was being raised at the site.

Coincidentally, the owner of 48 East 57th is Jacobs & Co., which was the sole holdout against 432 Park's developer when it was acquiring land for the tower.

Safety violations are quite common in New York City, though stop-work orders are more infrequent.

432 Park's $1.25 billion price-tag means the ongoing pause in construction will be rather costly. Officials from the city's Department of Buildings hope the inconvenience will prompt CIM Development to review their safety standards for the site, as recent major accidents at One57, 303 East 51st Street, and TF Cornerstone's East Coast Long Island City have all been preventable.

The site of the former Drake Hotel, named the most valuable construction site in the city, will be home to a 1,420-foot tall residential tower, the tallest in the Western Hemisphere

The $1 billion tower will boast 128 only units, each with 12-foot high ceilings. Amenities will include a 5,000-square-foot enclosed driveway, golf training facilities and private dining and screening rooms.

Related Article:

[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Oct 19, 2011]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Jan 6, 2012]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Jan 20, 2012]

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

200-Room Hotel Planned for Brooklyn Cultural District

A growing cultural district that includes the Brooklyn Academy of Music has become such a tourist draw in recent years that it’s getting another new tower, this time a hotel. The 200-room hotel will rise at 95 Rockwell Place, not far from the 32-story apartment building planned by Two Trees Development. The hotel is being designed by Thomas Leeser, who has received rave reviews for projects including the London 2012 Olympic Park and Museum of the Moving Image in Astoria. The tower will rise 30 stories, with angular cutaway strips breaking up the facade. Second Development Services expects to begin construction this fall and complete the building within two years.

The new hotel will include basement performance space, a rooftop bar, banquet hall and a ground-floor restaurant overlooking an outdoor arts plaza currently being built. Currently, a five-story structure built in 1906 occupies the site, which is directly beside BAM's Theater for a New Audience.

Gregory Atkins — Project manager and former chief of staff for Borough President Marty Markowitz — said the district was long overdue to get a hotel. The closest hotel is a half mile away on Duffield Street in Downtown Brooklyn.

“The arrival of the Barclays Center coupled with the pipeline of new cultural-district projects in Downtown Brooklyn is driving demand for further hotel development,” said Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership.

“As a result, hotel development is jumping across Flatbush Avenue, creating another employment opportunity for the area.”

The news of the planned hotel comes while the cultural district is in the midst of big changes.

Developer Two Trees Management Co., known largely for its work in DUMBO, is planning a 32-story, 300-plus-unit apartment tower for Flatbush Avenue and Ashland Place with 50,000 square feet of cultural space to be set aside for new movie theaters for the Brooklyn Academy of Music, a new branch of the Brooklyn Public Library and a performance area for local artists.

A development team of Gotham Organization and DT Salazar, Inc. is building 600 apartments -- half of which will be affordable units -- as well as new cultural, community and commercial space on property bounded by Fulton Street, Rockwell Place and Ashland Place.

And the city is planning to select a developer to bring new residential, cultural and commercial space to a city-owned site lot at Ashland Place and Lafayette Avenue.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Securing Liberty: Site Below WTC Takes Shape

As the 11th anniversary of the September 11 attacks quietly fades from memory, another major design element has quietly moved forward at the World Trade Center site: the design of the St. Nicolas Greek Orthodox Church and a landscaped park that will mask the underground Vehicle Security Center at the =southernmost edge of the site. State of the art security, engineered by Liberty Security Partners, will allow police to x-ray all vehicles on their way in. In addition to the Vehicle Security Center, the performing arts center planned for the World Trade Center site has received a boost after being in limbo for years. The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. approved $1 million to hire staff and develop building plans.

Most World Trade Center maps don’t include the Vehicle Security Center or the Greek Orthodox Church, which will sit south of Liberty Street.

It was less than a year ago that the Governor Andrew Cuomo brokered an agreement that allowed the church to return to the site near its former home on Cedar Street.

A decade-long battle with the Port had kept its fate in the courts.
Now, the steel latticework of the Vehicle Security Center’s truck ramp is clearly visible from nearby towers. In addition to being the entrance and exit for deliveries, the center of the doughnut-shaped ramp will also support the 60 by 60 foot church sanctuary.

Steve Plate, the Port Authority’s director of construction, said work on the park will begin later this year. AECOM is designing an open space that will swell approximately 30 feet above the Liberty Street entrance to the Vehicle Security Center, creating a man-made hill on the south side of the World Trade Center site.

State of the art security, engineered by Liberty Security Partners, will allow all vehicles to be x-rayed on their way in.

The Greek Orthodox Church will rise another 56 feet above Liberty Street, or 78 feet above the sidewalk below. Architect Nicholas Koutsomitis said that the Port Authority stipulated that the church not rise above the roof of the September 11th Memorial Museum. An additional emergency exit will drop Cedar Street below grade and into the Vehicle Security Center complex.

Fritz Koenig’s Sphere for Plaza Fountain, which sustained substantial damage on 9/11 and now sits in Battery Park, is destined for the Vehicle Security Center site as well. It appears prominently in the renderings, and Port Authority officials have confirmed that the sculpture will be included in the new park.

Related Article:
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Feb 1, 2012]


World Trade Center Performing Arts Center Gets Boost

The performing arts center planned for the World Trade Center site has received a boost after being in limbo for years. The Lower Manhattan Development Corp. approved $1 million to hire staff and develop building plans.

With the approval, the center could open as planned in 2017.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp had withheld the seed money, citing concerns over the project’s cost and fundraising ability. A board of directors was named to the center last year.

The Frank Gehry-designed center would include a theater for contemporary dance.

The Lower Manhattan Development Corp has already committed $155 million for construction. The total cost is estimated at $450 million.

Related Article:
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Monday, March 11, 2013

Plans to Raze Hotel Pennsylvania Averted

New York's famed Hotel Pennsylvania is safe from the wrecking ball, rescued by the economy rather than preservationists. Plans to knock down the century-old hotel, where jazz great Glenn Miller and his orchestra broadcast in the 1940s, and replace it with a 67-story office tower are on the shelf. Although City Council approval of zoning changes for a tower to replace the 1,700-room hotel remains valid, the weak economy has led Vornado to switch gears. The company plans to renovate each of the hotel's more than 1,700 rooms, possibly beginning as early as this summer, but declined to provide additional information about its plans for the building

Vornado was near a deal in 2007 to build a tower to house new trading floors for Merrill Lynch, but the brokerage's board backed away from the plan days before it was expected to finalize the deal.

Less than a year later, Merrill was on the verge of collapse when it was bought by Bank of America, as the economic crisis neared its peak.

Vornado went ahead with designs for the building and received City Council approval for needed zoning changes in 2010.

The approval came despite objections from Empire State Building owner Anthony Malkin, who complained that a tower, 825-feet high, would block views from the Midtown landmark's observation deck.

Local preservationists also objected to the plan failed to get landmark status for the hotel, which opened in 1919 and was designed by renowned architects McKim, Mead & White.

Steven Roth, chairman of Vornado Realty Trust, which has owned the building since 1998 said, "It's an interesting option to have, but it's not possible today," Mr. Roth said at an investor conference earlier this week. "We're not going to tear down the hotel. In fact, we're going to invest in it aggressively and try to make it into a really profitable, really good hotel."

Mr. Roth said the company is in discussions with a partner and developer to help restore the hotel's former grandeur.

While its lobby retains traces of its origins and it still has the "Pennsylvania 6-5000" phone number made famous by Miller's orchestra, the Hotel Pennsylvania is now a budget-priced destination with a less-than-luxurious reputation among tourists.

The hotel averages 2 1/2-star reviews on travel websites and has been known for bed bugs, a common problem in Manhattan hotels. A recent comment summed up what many of today's patrons say about the hotel: "Affordable and you get what you pay for."

In an interview, Mr. Malkin focused on the prospects for improving the hotel. "I think an upgraded Hotel Pennsylvania will be fantastic for the area," he said, noting that the neighborhood has a few hotels but can use more.

The Hotel Pennsylvania Preservation Society has found some parts of the stately interior of the original hotel remain, but were covered by alterations done in the 1980s. The group intends to encourage Vornado to restore the building rather than simply renovate it.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

Surge of Residential Development Hits Downtown Brooklyn

The forest of apartment towers that has sprouted in downtown Brooklyn in recent years may just be the beginning of the area's upward growth according to a local business group, which predicts a second wave to the recent construction boom. Some 14 residential projects, including a few over 50 stories tall, are expected to be added in the area in the next two to three years. Of the 4,746 planned apartments, more than 20% of the units will be earmarked for affordable housing. About half of these projects are already rising, while the other half are currently in the development process. When they are completed, the area's population will rise from a little more than 13,000 to well over 25,000.

The boom began with a rezoning in 2004, which paved the way for new office and commercial towers along Flatbush Avenue and the surrounding blocks. Since then, 29 buildings with nearly 5,300 units have sprung up.

"You look at the residential boom that already took place, you look at the once-in-a-generation projects coming online, like Barclays Center and Brooklyn Bridge Park, you could conjecture, 'Oh, well, that's kind of the exclamation point, and we're done,'" said Tucker Reed, president of the Downtown Brooklyn Partnership. "But no, I think really that's just the beginning, and you start to see that now with the next wave of development that's coming."

The group has also noted an increase in the portion of new units that will be affordable—rising to nearly 22% in the latest wave, from about 9% in the previous one.
This will push the area's ratio of affordable housing to market-rate to about 15%.

Once the current crops of projects are completed, the area will boast more than 1,400 affordable units, according to the partnership's study.

"When the rezoning was done, people complained it did not do enough for affordable housing, but this shows that's not the case," Mr. Reed said. "The rezoning worked."

The rezoning was one of the first major undertakings of the Bloomberg-era Department of City Planning, led by Commissioner Amanda Burden. The city has now rezoned more than one-third of the city's landmass, and the downtown Brooklyn one served as a model for many, pushing inclusionary housing as a means to foster affordable housing development.

Some complained that housing for low- and middle-income families should have been mandatory in all new developments, but the administration prefers a market-driven approach that uses government incentives and tax breaks to promote the private development of affordable housing.

"We're very pleased with the progress occurring in downtown Brooklyn, including a significant increase in the creation of affordable housing," Brooklyn City Planning Director Purnima Kapur said. "This indicates that the 2004 rezoning, in conjunction with other programs that promote affordable housing, is achieving its goals of creating a lively neighborhood with affordable and mixed-income housing, new retail stores, offices, and hotels that bring economic vitality and jobs to this area."

A spokesman for the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which has helped support many projects in downtown Brooklyn, said the neighborhood has become a new home for all New Yorkers where once there was but a few hundred apartments.

"This is good housing policy, but more than that, it is good neighborhood policy and a road map for creating stable and diverse communities," he said.

Among the new developments embracing the public-private model is BAM South, a 32-story tower being built by Dumbo developer Two Trees Management.

In addition to 300 apartments, 20% of which will be set aside as affordable housing, the base of the building will contain 50,000 square feet of cultural space owned by the city.

"Before there were lingering questions about the area's attractiveness after work and on weekends, but the successful opening of Barclay's Center, the growing array of first-rate cultural institutions and more interesting retail options have driven up demand," said David Lombino, Two Tree's director of special projects. "More people want to live in downtown Brooklyn because it's a diverse and vibrant New York neighborhood and the market is responding to that."

Another 80/20 project, The Dermot Company's 47-story project on Flatbush Avenue, known as 66 Rockwell, will be the first to market since the bust, with 327 apartments coming to market in a few months. The Hub, developed by Doug Steiner, owner of the eponymous movie studio in the nearby Brooklyn Navy Yard, will soon rise a few blocks away. That 52-story tower is slated to boast 750 units.

"We called it The Hub because there are so many great neighborhoods radiating out from our site, it's got great transportation, it's got great shopping and restaurants, and now it's going to have the best-in-class buildings," Mr. Steiner said. "Downtown Brooklyn really is becoming the heart of the Brooklyn everybody's talking about."

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[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Jan 16, 2013]
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Friday, March 8, 2013

East Side Access Project: $4.4B Over Budget, Ten Years Behind Schedule

State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli blasted the Metropolitan Transportation Authority for cost overruns and delays on its massive project to connect the Long Island Rail Road to Grand Central Terminal. East Side Access is now expected to cost nearly $8.25 billion and the opening date has been pushed back to August 2019, a dozen years after its groundbreaking. It has been known for years that the East Side Access project would not meet its initial budget and timetable, but the comptroller's office said a full accounting had not been done, nor had the overruns been broken down into components. MTA watchdogs said the most recent findings were beating an old drum.

"I think it's pretty well known that the project is way over budget and way behind its original schedule," said William Henderson, executive director of the Citizens Advisory Committee to the MTA.

"The main question is, will it get worse? Everyone's wondering if another shoe will drop and that opening date will get pushed further into the future."

Mr. DiNapoli's report said East Side Access is now expected to cost nearly $8.25 billion and the opening date has been pushed back to August 2019, a dozen years after its groundbreaking. It is 10 years late and $4.4 billion over budget, figures Mr. DiNapoli labeled "the most egregious example" of the transit agency's tendency to underestimate the cost of its projects.

Mr. DiNapoli also noted that the transit agency had not been including the cost of new rail cars in the project. Doing so boosts the total price tag to $8.76 billion.

With its federal funding capped at $2.7 billion and New York State contributing $450 million, the MTA is being soaked with the cost overruns. The authority's slice has grown to $5.6 billion from less than $2.2 billion, according to the report.
Initially, it appeared that federal funding would pay for up to 70% of the cost, but that figure will ultimately be about 30%. It goes to the whole issue of federal money not really being free.

The comptroller said that city taxpayers bear the brunt of the rising costs for East Side Access, which was designed to shave up to 40 minutes off commute times for 160,000 Long Island riders each day. The primary beneficiaries will be Long Island commuters. The cash-strapped MTA also stands accused of fare hikes that are on track to rise at double the rate of inflation through 2019.

Underestimating the complexity of a massive project is not unusual, Mr. Henderson said. "All kinds of things can go wrong, and in this case, many of them did."  Transit advocates privately acknowledge that costs of projects are estimated as 'best-case scenarios' because figures that are more realistic would dissuade politicians from green-lighting important projects.

A revolving door of MTA bosses also makes it hard to pinpoint who is to blame. The MTA has not had a real chairperson in five years. Joseph Lhota resigned as chief executive of the MTA in December. His predecessor, Jay Walder, left a year earlier to run a transit agency in Asia. You cannot hold anyone accountable, and that is a problem.

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[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Jan 27, 2013]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Sep 25, 2012]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Jan 29, 2012]

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Contractor to Pay Stiffed Workers $1 Million, Three Others Jailed

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced, "My office will aggressively pursue contractors who cheat workers and taxpayers. One general contractor will pay nearly $1 million to laborers underpaid for work on a taxpayer-funded affordable housing project in Brooklyn, while a Bronx contractor was arrested for ripping off workers at a project funded by taxpayers. The owner and two employees are accused of cheating workers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages and forcing some to pay kickbacks. Prevailing wage laws seek to ensure that government contractors pay wages and benefits comparable to the local norms for a given trade, hold general contractors responsible for underpayments by their subcontractors. Both projects were subject to prevailing wage requirements.

Attorney General Eric Schneiderman announced the resolution of an investigation into the labor practices of public-works contractor Procida Construction based on its own underpayments and those by a subcontractor during the construction of two affordable housing projects in Brooklyn.

The Attorney General’s agreement requires Procida to pay back wages totaling $830,000 based on violations by the corporation’s subcontractor, which paid below the mandated prevailing wage rate at the Riverway project in Brownsville.

The company will also pay $100,000 to its own employees for work at a second project, in Crown Heights, and $50,000 in penalties to the State.
“My office will aggressively pursue contractors who exploit affordable housing projects to line their own pockets by illegally underpaying workers,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “Subcontracting out the work on a taxpayer-funded project does not free the general contractor from the obligation to ensure that workers on site are paid their due. Procida will be held accountable for its own violations and for lax oversight of its subcontractor’s practices.”
From October 2011 through October 2012, during construction of the Riverway affordable housing project, at 230 Riverdale Avenue, Procida’s subcontractor paid more than 30 workers far below the wage required by law. The subcontractor failed to pay overtime, failed to pay the required prevailing wages, and violated other applicable labor laws. In addition, between December 2007 and April 2010, Procida itself underpaid four employees at a Crown Heights affordable housing project located at 1055 St. John’s Place.

Most workers will receive between $10,000 and $30,000, depending on the total number of hours they worked without receiving proper compensation.

The settlement contains measures to ensure labor law compliance by Procida and its subcontractors in the future, including independent monitoring of its labor practices on public work projects for two years, with unannounced on-site inspections. In addition, Procida’s contracts with any subcontractor on public or private construction projects must state that compliance with labor laws is a material term of the contract and that the subcontractor may be terminated if it does not fix labor law violations brought to its attention.

Procida must also notify the Attorney General’s Office of any accepted bids to perform work on projects subject to prevailing wage laws and must refrain from using debarred subcontractors on public or private construction jobs.

In an unrelated case, Mohammad Riaz, Mohammad Arshad and Zbigniew Likomiec were arraigned in Bronx Supreme Court for a scam that cheated workers out of hundreds of thousands of dollars in wages and forced some to pay kickbacks. Each could face up to 15 years in prison

Prosecutors say Applied Construction, Inc. underpaid workers, doling out cash off the books between November 2011, and September 2012, at a Bronx restoration site covered by prevailing wage laws.
"Affordable-housing contractors cannot ignore New York State’s labor laws,” Attorney General Eric Schneiderman said.
The takedown, the second such corruption scheme exposed this week, is the latest scandal marring projects by the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Memorial Sloan-Kettering, CUNY Healthy Expansion on Upper East Side

Two new contemporary healthcare centers will soon come to the hospital corridor along the East Side of Manhattan. Mayor Bloomberg, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, CUNY announced plans to build a state-of-the-art cancer center and nursing school in a new million-square-foot building on the Upper East Side. The prominent waterfront location at 525 East 73rd Street will further highlight the city’s position at the forefront of the medical research. The project will create more than 3,200 construction jobs and nearly 830 permanent jobs, and is expected to be completed in 2017.

These two new facilities will allow both Memorial Sloan Kettering and CUNY/Hunter College to move into labs and healthcare units appropriate for the cutting-edge work and care that they both do—and they will look cool doing it.

In a deal with the city’s Economic Development Corporation, the institutions will pay $215 million for a 66,000-square-foot city-owned site at 525 East 73rd Street, a move the mayor lauded as a prime public-private partnership.

Memorial Sloan-Kettering, the world’s oldest and largest private institution devoted to cancer care, which will construct a 750,000-square-foot state of the art cancer treatment facility, will take up most of the space. The aim of the project is to prompt the development of innovative outpatient treatment programs.

CUNY Hunter College will take up the balance of the space with a new Science and Health Professions building that cover some 336,000-square-foot. The project upgrades Hunter’s science and nursing facilities and enables its faculty, researchers and students to work in a location close to its main campus on the Upper East Side. It will also provide efficient and state-of-the-art science and nursing facilities.

The project reflects the Administration’s efforts to expand science and research activity in New York City at a timely moment when the city’s science, technology and research fields are flourishing.

“Thanks to our innovative approach to economic development, today’s announcement is yet another step towards making New York City home to the world’s most talented workforce,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “Not only will these two great institutions play a critical role in creating great jobs in one of the city’s growing industries, but they usher in the innovators and medical advancements of tomorrow.”
“These new facilities will enhance New York’s already first-ranked standing in the areas of medical research, treatment and learning," he said, "and they’ll enable both Hunter College and Memorial Sloan-Kettering to carry out their life-saving missions in state-of-the-art facilities in a beautiful location overlooking the East River."

The Department of Sanitation's East 73rd Street facility was demolished in 2008 with the intention of erecting a new garage. However, when budget constraints delayed the project indefinitely, so the city to capitalize on the site.

And, as well as offering physicians and researchers an inspiring and efficient environment in which to both work and provide care, the new building, designed by Ennead Architects and Perkins Eastman, will be a bold new addition to the Manhattan skyline.

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Construction on Trans-Hudson Train Tunnel to Begin This Year

Construction is expected to start this summer on an 800-foot-long Amtrak train tunnel that's part of a larger rail project to create a new connection between Manhattan and New Jersey, but it will be several years before trains ever traverse the tunnel. The tunnel will one day be a rail link connecting Manhattan's future Moynihan Station with Amtrak's Gateway Project—two things that don't yet exist. So why build the tunnel now? Amtrak must complete the tunnel before Related Companies constructs the Hudson Yards deck over the rail yards, which would make building the tunnel impossible.  Additionally, federal funding has been approved for construction to begin.

Hudson Yards developer, Related Companies, which has begun construction on a 900-foot office tower that will be home to Coach, will build the box tunnel this year and next simultaneous with construction of the Coach tower and other elements of the 26-acre site.

Amtrak will pay for the $150 million project out of funds it will receive through the Federal Transit Administration

The box tunnel will not be designed to carry trains immediately, but will serve as a shell for the Manhattan end of the Gateway tunnel Amtrak hopes to build later.

The box will hold the space for a rail link between the future Hudson tunnel and existing tracks at Penn Station — and for the proposed Moynihan Station if it’s ever built.

With no firm timeline for Amtrak's Gateway project, or Moynihan Station, nobody knows when the new tunnel will actually carry trains, however officials say it is a vital link for an upgraded system. Some of the funding is actually coming from the Hurricane Sandy relief package, as the project is considered "mitigation" to protect transportation infrastructure from future storms and flooding.

The Gateway Project is a proposal to build a high-speed rail corridor to alleviate the bottleneck along the Northeast Corridor between Newark, New Jersey, and New York City.

If constructed, the project would add 25 additional rush hour trains between Newark Penn Station and New York Penn Station.

The project would build new rail bridges in the New Jersey Meadowlands, dig new tunnels under the Hudson Palisades and the Hudson River, convert parts of the James Farley Post Office into a rail station, and build the Moynihan Station annex to Penn Station.

Funding for the Gateway Project is awaiting Federal approval, and is expected to cost $14.5 billion and be completed in 2025.

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Monday, March 4, 2013

On The Waterfront: Domino Factory Gets $1.5 Billion Makeover

Construction and development projects in NYC always involve a fair share of drama, and the Domino Sugar development is no exception. Now, the shuttered factory is coming back to life with a massive makeover planned for the Brooklyn waterfront. The new owner, Two Trees Management, revealed its $1.5 billion-dollar vision for the Williamsburg site, calling for massively tall and architecturally bold skyscrapers that would redefine Brooklyn’s skyline. The iconic landmark of Brooklyn’s industrial past will be the centerpiece of an 11-acre mega project, creating a new neighborhood with 2,284 apartments, a public school and 630,000 sq ft of offices. Construction is expected to begin early next year, bringing 3,500 jobs to the area.

The Domino site is possibly the most prominent piece of real estate in Brooklyn. It sits at the dead center of the Manhattan facing waterfront, and it is what drivers on the FDR Drive see. This has the opportunity to be what new Brooklyn says to the world.

Eye-popping apartment buildings 55 stories and higher designed by SHoP Architects are planned — including one shaped like a giant donut and a pair of needle-thin towers connected by a three-story sky bridge.

With one mega-development, Two Trees Management owner, Jed Walentas plans do to the sleepy section of industrial waterfront what his father did in DUMBO one building at a time: construct a bustling neighborhood where people will want to live, work, and play. Instead of refurbishing old warehouses in piecemeal fashion like his dad David, or sticking to Domino’s original monolithic development blueprint, Walentas wants to build a “family” of post-modern towers clustered around the landmarked refinery.

When Two Trees plunked down $185 million to buy the Domino Sugar Factory development site last summer, the already-approved plans for four-towers and 2,200 apartments were universally hated. The hulking buildings were bland and boxy, so Two Trees went to SHoP Architects and asked them to make it better.

The new high-rises dreamt up by the architects of Barclays Center are far taller, and undoubtedly more eye-catching than the original Domino design. One tower is shaped like a giant zero, another balances apartments atop offices with a hole in the middle, a third features terraced residences stacked along Kent Avenue, and the southernmost edifice is a pair of pencil-thin towers connected by a bridge that could become Brooklyn’s tallest structure at 598 feet and 60 stories.

The century-old factory will retain its signature 40-foot high Domino Sugar sign. Mom-and-pop stores will fill retail spaces in the mini-neighborhood: “No Duane Reades and no Starbucks,” Walentas said.

Two Trees plans five acres of parks with fun features like a floating swimming pool in the East River, a removable winter ice-skating rink like in Bryant Park, a waterfront beer garden and a kayak and canoe launch.

To create easier access to the waterfront, River Street, will be extended through the middle of the property.

Astonishing apartment buildings 55 stories tall or higher designed by SHoP Architects are also planned — including one shaped like a giant donut and a pair of needle-thin towers connected by a three-story sky bridge.

Of the 2,284 rental apartments, 660 units have been set aside as affordable housing - the same number the site’s previous owners promised community groups and elected officials after fierce debate. Thirty percent of the apartments on the site would be set aside for low- and moderate-income families.

The 3.3 million-square-foot mega-project, which will take 10 years to build, requires City Council approval.

Two Trees expects to get permission to proceed by year’s end and start construction early next year, with the first building opening in 2016 - an apartment house with 300 of its 600 units set aside as affordable.

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