Thursday, May 30, 2013

Kickstart for Amtrak’s Gateway Tunnel Project

Since the NJ Transit tunnel under the Hudson River was killed over two years ago, planners have been crossing their fingers for a second “Gateway" tunnel - this one for Amtrak trains.  Now, that hope is getting some serious backing, in the form of a $185 million cash infusion from post-Sandy aid. The funds will be used to build an 800-foot concrete encasement between 10th and 11th Avenues to preserve the tunnel right-of-way, while Manhattan's massive Hudson Yards development project rises.  A complete under-river crossing is still years away. The funding comes from the Sandy relief package, because the storm showed the vulnerability of present Hudson River crossings.

New York will get $185 million in federal aid to begin constructing a new rail tunnel under the Hudson River, a project that has long eluded elected officials and transportation advocates seeking to expand rail capacity along the congested Northeast corridor.

Funding for the full project, known as Gateway, is still years away. But, the U.S. Department of Transportation approved preliminary funding as part of the Superstorm Sandy relief package approved by Congress earlier this year.

Sen. Charles Schumer, standing with U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood on the 11th Avenue overpass overlooking the Hudson Yards, said the funding was important because it will preserve the right-of-way for the full Gateway project to be built, when and if the billions of dollars needed to fund it are secured. The Sandy relief bill provided an expedient way to get the money before the private developers of the rail yards built over where the tunnel must go.

“They weren’t going to wait two years; they were going to build,” Mr. Schumer said, referring to The Related Cos., the main developers of the Hudson Yards project. “Sandy relief funding was available, the criteria fit, and the money was getting through quickly and fit the timetable.”

The funds will go toward building an 800-foot-long concrete casement—known as a “tunnel box”—between 10th and 11th avenues. Mr. Schumer said the hope is to eventually build two flood-resistant tunnels under the river to Manhattan’s Penn Station.

“I don’t know if the Related Cos. could have waited any longer,” he said. “They’ve got loans. Every year they wait to build … is money out of their pocket. We asked them to delay months. But if we’d asked them to delay years, they may have said no.”

Questioned about the chances of funding for the entire Gateway project, Mr. Schumer said there already was money in this year’s budget to begin the planning and design. “There are a lot of ifs,” he conceded. “Can we get $13 billion in two years? What if we get $3 billion?”

Mr. La Hood interjected, “There’s no number right now. This is like building the interstate system. You build part of it, you get the money, and then you build the next part. The answer is there’s no number right now.”

Indeed, that is the typical experience for massive transportation projects, according to industry experts.

But sometimes hundreds of millions of dollars are spent on projects that are never completed or even canceled, as happened with the Access to the Region’s Core tunnel called off by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

Mr. Schumer vowed to scour the federal government for all available dollars, including bonds and loan programs, to help pay for the Gateway project.

The Access to the Region’s Core—or ARC—tunnel, also to be built under the Hudson, was scrapped in 2010 by Mr. Christie, who feared that cost overruns would be borne by his state. The Gateway project came along a year later.

The initial 800-foot concrete encasement is being constructed by general contractor Tutor Perini Building Corp. Estimated costs for the entire Gateway Hudson River Tunnel project range from of $14.5 billion to $18 billion, with an proposed completion date of 2025.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Developers Hope to Raise Nassau Coliseum from Dead

A group of developers is hoping to bring Long Island’s Nassau Coliseum back from the dead — even as its signature hockey team prepares to slide into Brooklyn.  The coalition of entertainment operators, which includes the Yankees, Jay-Z, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov and Live Nation, envision a new future for the Uniondale venue.  The current arena brings in over $200 million annually to the local economy. A decision from Nassau County is due by mid-July.

The sagging 41-year-old Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum is losing its anchor tenant after the 2014-2015 season.  But with the departure of the New York Islanders, four developers are keen to overhaul the Uniondale, Long Island building.

Interest in sports venues has soared after the success of Barclays Center arena in Brooklyn.

Hoping to create the same sort of cash cow on Long Island, two developers have emerged as front-runners with competing blockbuster arena bids: one wants to build over the existing structure, and the other wants to build a new one on the same site tear it down.

Forest City Ratner

The first developer, Forest City Ratner Companies, has assembled a team of world-class event operators and designers. It is led by executive chairman Bruce Ratner and Brett Yormark, CEO of the Brooklyn Nets and Barclays Center.

The group includes Legends, which is co-owned by the New York Yankees and the Dallas Cowboys, as well as concert promoter Live Nation, Jay-Z’s Roc Nation, Nets owner Mikhail Prokhorov, sports financiers Guggenheim Partners and Barclay’s architects, SHoP.

Ratner’s group is primed for a complete design overhaul, taking seating capacity down from about 17,500 to around 13,000. Along with a major international music venue, his plans include a food bazaar and fine dining, a 2,500-seat amphitheater, a 2,000-seat Live Nation-type House of Blues concept and a 50,000-square-foot movie theater.

The total development cost is projected at $230 million. The arena renovation would take 15 months.

“It’s this giant underrated asset sitting there,” Ratner said of the arena. “Live events are the future of how we will get together as people. The experience has to be unforgettable.” His team has the savvy to create a winning design, he said.

“Only two major arenas have been built in New York City in the last half a century — Barclays and MSG. We know how to get this done,” he said.

“This will be the kind of arena that people walk into and say, ‘Wow,’ the kind of place where the people of Long Island want to come and the best acts in the world play.” If the Ratner plan wins, he says Long Island can expect more than 300 indoor and outdoor events annually.

"This has to be huge,” he said. “I don’t think anyone understands how huge this can be. Ratner sees a distinct market in the 2.8 million people who live in Nassau and Suffolk Counties, and a shift in why live events have increased in price and popularity.

SHoP’s plan offers a white metal latticework frame to wrap the coliseum’s existing brick facade. The grounds will take on the feel of meadow. The interiors, by architectural firm Gensler, would be gutted to provide a theater like, curvy design.

Blumenfeld Development Group

In contrast, Blumenfeld Development Group wants to tear the building down. It plans a new coliseum with 9,000 to 12,000 seats, a state-of-the-art convention center and a mixed-use residential, retail and commercial complex.

“We’re going to use the full 77 acres,” said Brad Blumenfeld, vice president of the family-based group that has built office centers and big-box retail throughout Long Island.

“The arena has to go. We lost the sports team. We can serve the area with a smaller building offering a more intimate experience while providing what the county needs — tax revenue and housing.”

Blumenfeld hired Mark Rosentraub, a sports consultant and professor, to better understand Long Island’s entertainment complex needs. Their arena partner, SMG, operates the Live at Leeds concert venue in England.

“The trend all around the country is toward smaller arenas and stadiums,” said Rosentraub.

“This plan deserves attention because it creates a new neighborhood. Renovating an old, cruddy arena isn’t the answer here.”

A decision from Nassau County is due by mid-July. The current arena brings in over $200 million annually to the local economy.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

$300M Ferris Wheel, Mall Begin City Review Process

Staten Island’s proposed Empire Outlets development project – and an accompanying 630-foot, $300 million Ferris wheel – have entered the city’s six-month Universal Land Use Review Procedure. If the zoning changes and permits required for the construction of the development and giant wheel are granted, Brooklyn developer BFC Partners plans to break ground on the one-million-square-foot complex late next year.

The wheel is part of a larger project being underwritten by the city's Economic Development Corp. that also includes the first outlet mall in the five boroughs. The developers will need to wait until after the six-month review process before construction can commence.

The development and outlet mall will reportedly feature 125 designer retail outlets, a 200-room hotel, restaurants, a playground, expansive water views and a sustainable six-acre roof visible from the harbor.

The New York Wheel, by a developer of the same name, concurrently entered the city's review process. With an estimated cost of $300 million, it is slated to become the second largest Ferris wheel in the world, featuring a 100,000-square-foot visitor’s center and parking garage.

It will rank as the second largest Ferris wheel in the world once it is complete, with the recently-announced Dubai Eye slated to become the tallest, rising 688 feet with a price tag of $1.6 billion.

The wheel may create an issue with condo owners living uphill from the project because they've long enjoyed unobstructed views of Manhattan and the Statue of Liberty. The New York Wheel design team has worked to keep the structure slim and unobtrusive, but the wheel is designed to light up at night.

A big part of the reason the city is pursuing the wheel and the neighboring outlet mall project is to get the 20 million tourists who ride the Staten Island ferry each year to actually stick around rather than simply re-board the ferry and return to Manhattan.

Monday, May 27, 2013

Queens Tallest Residential Building to Begin Construction

Rockrose Development is in the process of demolishing seven dilapidated Long Island City warehouses to pave the way for the construction of what will become the tallest residential building in Queens. The 50-story, 907,000-square-foot, 500-foot-tall building at 43-25 Hunter Street will not only be the tallest, but also have more units than any other residential building in the Borough. Rockrose will open up bidding to find a subcontractor for the $400 million project in the coming weeks. Construction is expected to be completed in early 2016.

The Court Square area of Long Island City is zoned for high-rise development, while all the areas around it remain low-rise.

"That means a lot of apartments with a lot of very amazing views of the city,” says Justin Elghanayan, who runs Rockrose Development with his father, Henry.

Rockrose will open up bidding to find a subcontractor in the coming weeks, with construction of the property slated to begin in the fourth quarter and completion of the estimated $400 million project scheduled for early in 2016.

The property is situated in the Court Square area of Long Island City, where the 50-story Citigroup tower at One Court Square once stuck out like a sore thumb.  But Rockrose has led the way in the methodical transformation of the area’s residential and retail landscape and Mr. Elghanayan believes his new tower will sit well alongside Citigroup’s.

“I always looked at the Citigroup tower and it looked so lonely.  I said, ‘Citigroup needs a girlfriend.’  So in my mind, this building is its girlfriend,” he said.

The buildings being demolished to make way for the new tower, which will sit on a 47,800-square-foot lot, include 25-25 44th Drive; 43-25, 43-15, 43-11 and 43-09 on Hunter Street; and 27-02 and 27-06 on 43rd Avenue.

The 80/20 rental building (80 percent market rate, 20 percent affordable units) will feature 30,000 square feet of amenity space, including a full-court basketball court, yoga and library rooms, and multiple roof decks.  The architect for the project is  SLCE Architects.

Rockrose is also enrolling in New York City’s Voluntary Cleanup Program, created in 2011 by the Office of Environmental Remediation to facilitate redevelopment of underutilized sites with low to moderate levels of contamination.  The program achieves standards that protect human health and the environment, while keeping projects on schedule and offering developers up to $125,000 in grants towards remediation.

This summer, Rockrose is kicking off leasing at its newly constructed, 709-unit building, The Linc, located at 43-00 Crescent Street in Court Square.

The firm also has plans to construct Eagle Loft at 43-22 Queens Street, a 700-unit warehouse-to-residential conversion in the former Eagle Electric facility directly across Jackson Avenue from the Citicorp tower; and is retrofitting a number of retail spaces located within a stone’s throw of one another in the square.

The developer is bringing more critical mass to the area – more people and more bodies to match the growth of the neighborhood.

Rockrose spearheaded the development of Long Island City over a decade ago after it purchased a 40-acre site along the waterfront from Pepsi and began its construction of soaring glass and concrete towers that are now synonymous with the neighborhood’s waterfront.

In 2009, Rockrose, owned by members of the Elghanayan family, split into two entities - Rockrose and TF Cornerstone, with TF Cornerstone retaining the waterfront properties and Rockrose focusing on development in the Court Square area.

Sunday, May 26, 2013

Largest Solar Facility Opens at NJ Printing Plant

KDC Solar has commenced operations at North Jersey Media Group's printing facility in Rockaway, New Jersey.  The 4.96 megawatt project is the largest photovoltaic system ever installed at a printing facility in the State of New Jersey. The solar array is designed to generate the equivalent amount of solar electricity as is used to power 700 homes for one year.

The new system, which will generate approximately 6.2 million kilowatt hours of solar electricity per year, will allow North Jersey Media Group's facility to receive approximately 60% of its annual electric needs from clean renewable solar energy and substantially reduce its carbon footprint.

This is the equivalent of 700 homes being supplied with all their electricity for the year.  In addition, there are discussions underway to add additional solar capacity when a new roof is installed on a portion of the facility.

KDC Solar signed an engineering and construction contract for the installation of the facility with Samsung C&T. The general contractor for the project was J. Fletcher Creamer and Son, a fifth-generation contractor headquartered in Hackensack, New Jersey.  The solar facility uses over 20,400 photovoltaic panels, 10 SMA America 500 kilowatt inverters and is ground mounted, roof mounted and on car ports across 50 acres of land.

"North Jersey Media Group is pleased and proud to have served as the host and electric off-taker of this solar project," said Stephen Borg , President of NJMG. "This use of clean energy helps us continue our environmental stewardship as well as reduce costs.  KDC Solar is a wonderful partner and I strongly recommend them to those considering similar projects," he said. "We are very pleased to have worked with North Jersey Media Group and, in particular, the Borg family to bring this concept to reality.

This facility is the largest PV solar facility at any printing facility in the State of New Jersey  and will supply clean, lower cost, long-term solar energy to North Jersey Media Group for many years," said Hal Kamine , KDC Solar's Chief Executive Officer.

"This project is another example of a successful 'behind-the-meter' clean solar electric system for business/government and institutions, which in turn create or preserve both short and long-term jobs for the state."

A ribbon cutting ceremony marking the commencement of commercial operations was held at NJMG's facility on May 16th.  Among the local dignitaries in attendance were Don Reddin , Rockaway Township Council Member, Dave Washington , Rockaway Township Council Member, Gregory Poff , Rockaway Township Business Administrator, Vincent Brennan , Rockaway Township Police Captain and Planning Board Member, Jim Lutz , Rockaway Township Engineer and Craig Babcock , Rockaway Fire Marshall.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

$300M Condo Soon To Grace Downtown Miami Skyline


One Thousand Museum, a $300 million condo tower designed by world renowned architect Zaha Hadid, will soon be gracing the Downtown Miami skyline.1000 Biscayne Blvd in downtown Miami will ideally display the new 62-story tower. Offering super spacious full floor plans, the tower will be set between 900 Biscayne and Ten Museum Park, taking over a prime spot now occupied by a gas station.


With only 83 residences ranging from 5,400 to 11,200 square feet, each residence will have 3 parking spaces assigned plus its own helicopter landing pad which is the only residential tower in Miami with this feature.

Prices for the luxury apartments are expected to start between $4 and $12 million for a half-floor unit, rising to $30 million for a full floor. The two top floor 5-BR/ 7-Bath duplexes units are being offered at more than $50,000,000 each.

All units will be offered fully-finished, including flooring, custom closets and high-end lighting. Construction is expected to be completed in 2016.

The Developer

1000 Museum is an amazing project designed by internationally renowned architect Zaha Hadid. Pritzker Award winner, Stirling Prize winner, and appointed Dame Commander of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth, her architecture is very distinctive, futuristic and recognized around the world.
Her firm has built mostly in Europe, Asia and Middle East. One Thousand Museum is her first American project and highly anticipated by the super-wealthy from around globe.

 Click images to enlarge

• Sun deck with a billiards room, a cardio room, a screening room
 Rooftop event spaces, a cigar lounge, a relaxation lounge
 Oversized hot tubs, hot and cold plunge pools, spa
 Indoor pools, outdoor pools, sauna, steam room, cabanas
 Three restaurants and a nightclub
 The first residential building with a helipad

Contact ElectricWeb-Southeast for more details on this project. 

Monday, May 20, 2013

Contractors Selected on Howard University Projects

Power Design, Inc. has been named as the electrical contractor on Howard University’s newest student housing development located in Washington, D.C. 

The development will accommodate more than 1,000 students and will help establish a residential neighborhood for them.

Power Design recently started construction on another student housing project that will include approximately 1,360 beds in 700 units.

The new residence halls will feature two-person semi-suites, a communal social and study lounge, and game rooms.

Electrical Contractor:
Power Design, Inc.
11600 Ninth Street North
St. Petersburg, FL 33716          
Phone 727.210.0492
Fax 727.210.0503
General Contractor:
Clark Construction Group, LLC
7500 Old Georgetown Road
Bethesda, Maryland 20814
Phone (301) 272-8100
Fax (301) 272-19283


Howard University Interdisciplinary Research Campus

Howard University and Turner Construction Company, will break ground on a new Interdisciplinary Research Building at 2201 Georgia Ave., NW, Washington, D.C.

It is a cornerstone of the University’s academic renewal initiative, and its prominent gateway location on the Georgia Avenue Corridor is a public expression of Howard’s commitment to 21st century research.

The new 81,000 square-foot mixed-use academic building will support and promote interdisciplinary research and educational collaboration.

The IRB is designed as an energy-efficient (LEED) facility which will incorporate cutting-edge technology and the latest educational, environmental and research standards.

It will include wet and dry laboratories, instructional space, research support space, ground floor retail, and centralized offices for faculty, students and academic staff.

The Interdisciplinary Research Building is slated to open in the Fall of 2014.

General Contractor:
Turner Construction Company
1110 Vermont Avenue NW, Suite 200
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 789-0770

Thursday, May 16, 2013

67-Story Super Luxury Condo/Hotel to Begin in Tribeca

Silverstein Properties has secured financing for a 937-foot, 67-story Financial District tower at 30 Park Place that will house a Four Seasons hotel and condominiums. The developer reached an agreement for a $660 million construction loan toward the $950 million project. The hotel portion of the property will include 149 rooms, with 161 ultra-luxury private residences above. Robert A.M. Stern Architects will design every aspect of the building and the interiors. 30 Park Place, which is also known as 99 Church Street, will be the tallest residential building n lower Manhattan. Tishman Construction will begin work this fall, with a grand opening scheduled for early 2016.

Developer Larry Silverstein was forced to shelve a planned Lower Manhattan hotel/condo tower next to the Woolworth Building when the economy plunged in 2008. Now he's getting another chance.

With $660 million financing in completed, the developer of three World Trade Center towers just 1½ blocks away, is ready to break ground on the super luxury tower at 30 Park Place.

Designed by Robert A.M. Stern, who seeks to replicate the architecture of the 1920s, the building also is slated to include a 149-room Four Seasons hotel. The tower is be called the Four Seasons Hotel and Private Residences New York Downtown

The deal—where a penthouse in the 310-unit building is expected to run as high as $34 million—marks the latest manifestation of the booming upper-crust condominium market in New York. Super-luxury condos at under-construction buildings such as the green-glass tower One57 and the 1,396-foot 432 Park have been flying off the shelves as their cranes have risen, fetching new highs for prices just 4½ years after the financial crisis.

In part, this boom has come from pent-up demand from international buyers who see New York real estate as a safe, long-term investment, and have been paying up to live in tall, slim towers.

There's a huge, huge international clientele in the New York market, not just from Russia and Brazil, international buyers are coming from everywhere.

The $950 million project—previously named 99 Church—had its genesis back in 2006, when Mr. Silverstein, bought the former of Moody's Investors Service headquarters and demolish the aging office building. In early 2008, Mr. Silverstein unveiled designs for the tower, which at the time was to be the tallest residential building in the city.

The developer began digging, but the economic downturn—and plunging demand for condos—made the project unfeasible and the site was mothballed, as Silverstein waited for the market to come back.

Meanwhile, the success of other new developments has helped bolster the outlook for 30 Park Place.

For instance, the boxy glass tower 56 Leonard under construction in Tribeca has already signed more than $1 billion in contracts to sell more than 70% of the 145 units.

In the West Village, developer Steve Witkoff has signed contracts for all 90 units under construction at his high-end 150 Charles Street development. Averaging nearly $3,300 a square foot, the sales are well above what the developer initially expected. The units have been on the market for less than three months.

In Midtown, prices are even higher. Two units at the 1,004-foot tower One57, being built just south of Central Park, have found two buyers paying more than $90 million each, the highest prices ever for an apartment in the city, the developer has said. Down the block on 57th Street, another developer is planning a more than 900-foot tower in an attempt to replicate the success.

Of course, high prices today don't necessarily mean they will be there tomorrow, a particularly difficult reality for condo tower developers given that the buildings take far longer than houses or midrise apartments.

After the economy tumbled, developers of condo towers across the country had to surrender their buildings in foreclosure.

Still, Manhattan will draw far more demand than supply for some time to come. Silverstein expects the tower to be completed early in 2016.

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Two Massive Projects Ready to Revamp Astoria Waterfront

The Astoria Cove project, announced last week, along with the Hallets Point Redevelopment, which has a green light from the city, will transform a gritty waterfront stretch of Astoria off Roosevelt Island. Hallets Point would add 2,200 units of housing and a supermarket to the Astoria waterfront, as well as an esplanade along the East River. The project has received initial certification from the city Planning Commission. Astoria Cove calls for an additional 1,535-units of housing in a combination of 8-story townhouses, and waterfront towers rising between 12 and 30-stories. Plans also include 117,000-square-feet of retail space, a new school and a public park.

The twin projects have been generously planned in terms of public passive recreation and would be a boon for the city. The East River waterfront would get a major facelift to accommodate eateries and increase public access. 

Astoria Cove is a residential development proposed for western Astoria. It would bring 1,535-units of housing in a combination of townhouses and towers along 26th Avenue, between 9th and 4th Streets.

The inland buildings would top out at 8-stories, while the apartment buildings near the water would rise between 12-30-stories. Twenty percent of the apartments would be set aside for affordable housing. 

The development would include public access to the waterfront, a 25,000-square-foot supermarket, and 117-square-feet of retail space with a 456-seat elementary school.

The developer is also exploring options for a residents-only shuttle service to and from the 30th Street N/Q station, about a mile away.

It's one of two major housing developments proposed for the Hallets Point peninsula — a chunk of land that juts out into the East River, just south of Astoria Park - a stretch of the waterfront that is largely desolate except for the NYCHA Astoria Houses, which takes up the other half of the Hallets Point peninsula. 

The peninsula certainly needs development.  Presently, the site is a mix of vacant lots and underused industrial structures. Area residents welcome the new amenities development would bring — particularly schools and supermarkets — as long as they were accessible to NYCHA residents as well.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Board Gives Seal of Approval to $3B Willets Point Plan

Queens Community Board 7 voted to approve a $3 billion plan to turn the contaminated Willets Point site into a 5-million-square-foot mixed-use neighborhood developed by Sterling Equities and Related Cos. The project has gone through the city's land-use review process before, but has since added a 1.4 million-square-foot mall next to CitiField, home of the New York Mets. The end result is expected to turn the former ash dump into a new “unified district,” according to the city.

The board's land-use panel initially rejected the massive proposal over concerns over whether affordable housing would play a large enough role in the development. But after discussions with the city and developers and a long, often heated debate, the plan moved on to the borough president.

The Bloomberg administration had been planning to redevelop the contaminated area in Queens for years, but the project was continually stalled by the economic downturn, zoning issues and concerns about the cost of cleanup and sustainable building at the site.

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.

Cleanup is in progress at the property — a floodplain contaminated by petroleum, paint, cleaning solvents and automobile fluids — but nearby residents have expressed concerns for months about the environment at the site and the state of the potholed roads that lead to it.

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.

Related Articles

[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, May 5, 2012]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Jun 18, 2012]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, May 9, 2011]

Monday, May 13, 2013

New Life for Long-Abandoned Rockaway Courthouse

For more than 30 years, the stately Rockaway Courthouse built in 1932, has sat empty and crumbling on Beach Channel Drive. The building only functioned as a courthouse for 30 years, before being abandoned altogether. The closing of Peninsula Hospital Center last year left the area in desperate need of medical facilities. Now the city Economic Development Corporation has announced plans for the 24,000-square-foot building to undergo a gut renovation and become a medical center. 

There have long been ideas for the once-bustling courthouse on Beach Channel Drive. Closed for more than 40 years, city officials have envisioned—and then dropped—plans for a seaside college campus, an office building and a town hall at the stately Greco-Roman structure.

Now, there are new plans for the lifeless Rockaway Courthouse.

A developer has city approval to transform the crumbling 81-year-old building in the Rockaway Beach neighborhood of Queens into a medical clinic, potentially filling a health-care void on the 11.5-mile Rockaway Peninsula, which lost one of its two hospitals in 2012.

Uri Kaufman, and his company, Harmony Group, is buying the abandoned courthouse for $50,000 and plans to open the Rockaway Ambulatory Surgical Center there in 2015, offering ophthalmology, urology, obstetrics, gynecology and orthopedic care and employing 45 people.

Despite its majestic exterior, the structure is a decaying eyesore. Currently, the building's rotting, water-stained floors are littered with crumbling bits of its ceilings. It will take more than $10 million in renovations over two years to change the three-story limestone and marble courthouse into a modern medical facility.

City officials have long wanted the building to have a cultural use, but since Peninsula Hospital Center closed in 2012, Mr. Kaufman's proposal was heralded as helping to fill a gap in the health care needs of area residents.

St. John's Episcopal Hospital in Far Rockaway is the last remaining full-service medical center in the Rockaways, which has a population of 110,000. Its emergency room was built to handle up to 15,000 visitors a year but had 45,074 in 2012, and occupancy rates continue to climb.

The courthouse was built in 1932 and served as one of multiple halls of justice serving Queens. The courthouse was closed in 1962 when the city consolidated much of its court system. It was briefly used in the 1970s by an arts group but has been abandoned ever since.

Previous efforts at selling and developing the property have failed. The City University of New York once floated opening a campus—called "CUNY by the Sea" there but later cited money problems. Another attempt to make the building into office space didn't materialize

Local officials expect the surgical center to have a significant impact on the peninsula's medical-care needs and estimate the project will bring 64 construction and 45 permanent jobs to the Rockaways.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Italian Developers Plan Condo Conversion on Leonard Street

At the end of last year, Italian developers Bizzi & Parners paid $53 million for a 12-story office building at the corner of Broadway and Leonard Street in Tribeca. Now, it seems, the property at 101 Leonard Street is headed for a condo conversion. The developer, best known for building the Setai at 400 Fifth Avenue, plans to create 66 luxury residences with state-of-the-art design and construction. 

Residences at The Leonard will range from one to four-bedrooms, plus penthouses, with ceiling heights ranging from 11 to 18-feet. Pricing will be from $1 million to $4 million-plus.

Lifestyle amenities which resonate the style of the trendy neighborhood will include a full-time concierge and 24-hour doorman, a roof deck, fitness center. The ground floor will house upscale retail boutiques and salons.

The Milan-based firm bought the 12-story building, which originally had the address 350 Broadway, from Extell Development for $53 million late last year.
Prior to the deal, the building had changed hands three times since 2006.

Leeding Builders Group of Manhattan is the General Contractor for this project.

Friday, May 10, 2013

One World Trade Center Tallest in Western Hemisphere

Construction workers cheered and whistled as they completed the spire on New York's One World Trade Center on Friday, raising the building to its full height of 1,776 feet and helping fill a void in the skyline left by the September 11, 2001 attacks. The spire makes the building the tallest building in the Western Hemisphere, 47 feet taller than Chicago's Willis Tower, and the third tallest in the world. The skies were crystal clear, reminiscent of the weather on the day that hijacked airliners crashed into the former Twin Towers, in a coordinated attack on New York and Washington that killed about 3,000 people and left the United States on high alert for future incidents.

Loud applause and cries of joy erupted from construction workers assembled on a temporary work platform on the roof of the building as the huge, silver spire was gently lowered and secured into place.

The 408 foot spire weighs 758 tons and was installed over several months. It houses an antenna for a broadcast facility planned for the building.

"It's a pretty awesome feeling," Juan Estevez said from a temporary platform on the roof of the tower where he and other workers watched the milestone.

"It's a culmination of a tremendous amount of team work ... rebuilding the New York City skyline once again," said Estevez, a project manager for Tishman Construction. He said the workers around him were "utterly overjoyed."

Formerly called the Freedom Tower, One World Trade Center is one of four skyscrapers being built around the site of the fallen Twin Towers in a partnership between developer Larry Silverstein and the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site. The new World Trade Center is set to open for business next year.

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which owns the site, said the LED-powered light would be activated in the next few months."It's going to have a light that you can see from tens of miles away," said Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler. "And that light will change colors and in the next few months we are going to be activating that light, and it will be a beacon of hope just like the Statue of Liberty."

Friday's final installation, raising the building's height to 1,776 feet, makes One World Trade Center the tallest skyscraper in the Western Hemisphere, 47 feet taller than Chicago's Willis Tower, and the third tallest in the world - shorter than two towers located in the Middle East and Asia.

Building experts dispute whether one considers the spire part of the building's architectural design and counted as part of its height, or whether the spire's primary purpose is to house the antenna – a crucial distinction in measuring the building's height.

If it didn't have the spire, One World Trade Center would be shorter than the Willis Tower in Chicago, which stands at 1,451 feet and currently has the title of tallest building in the U.S., not including its own antennas.

The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat, a Chicago-based organization considered an authority on such records, says an antenna is something simply added to the top of a tower that can be removed. By contrast, a spire is something that is part of the building's architectural design.
The tower's height is a symbolic reference to the year 1776, which marked the beginning of the American Revolution against British rule and is considered the beginning of the United States of America.

One World Trade Center is slated to open for business in 2014.

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Construction Boom on the Far West Side Well Underway

A combination of the promise of the massive project at Hudson Yards, favorable zoning and the overall strong economy has spurred an abundance of development on Manhattan's Far West Side. Few would have believed that this area would be as viable as it has become. To see all the new residential developments, offices towers and hotels under construction is remarkable given that so many avoided this neighborhood 10 years ago. One reason is the development of the 26-acre Hudson Yards project. There, Related Cos. hope the massive project will invigorate the far West Side, benefiting businesses and raising property values.

500 West 30th Street
Related's 500 West 30th Street has been rising remarkably fast, and is close to topping-out. The Robert Stern-designed residential building is quite prominent from the High Line, though the 32-story building will be utterly dwarfed once the Hudson Yards skyscrapers are complete. Future residents will still be lucky, as southern views will remain mostly unobstructed.

Tutor-Perini has done an incredible job, as 500 West 30th has gone up very quickly and without any significant safety violations or accidents.

Those who dislike perpetual construction can take heart in this, as Perini is also under contract for Related's Hudson Yards mega-project. If 500 West 30th is any kind of indicator—and hopefully, it is—the Hudson Yards won't be an immense and ever-lasting fiasco like the new World Trade Center.


The Avalon West Chelsea
The Hudson Yards and Manhattan West mega-projects are bringing lots of new development to Manhattan's Far West Side, but we can't forget about the residential projects spurred by the success of the High Line.

The 30-story Avalon West Chelsea at 298 Eleventh Avenue has risen very quickly over the past month.

The building is somewhat imposing when viewed from the High Line.


529 West 29th Street
529 West 29th Street's pace has been even more impressive. The project, developed by The Related Cos, will eventually deliver 126 affordable housing units.

Completion by August is required for the project to take advantage of HUD funding, which explains the recent breakneck pace of construction.

These developments are the latest evidence of New York's construction boom—and so far, this round appears to be centered on the far West Side.

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Council Approves Glassy 18-Story Hotel in Downtown Flushing

The city’s Economic Development Corporation gave developer Richard Xia approval to build his 18-story Eastern Mirage tower at 42-31 Union Street in downtown Flushing. It is slated to house an upscale Element by Westin extended stay hotel with 161 rooms, as well as the nine-story North Queens Medical Center. The hotel and medical facility are slated to open in late 2014 and will create nearly 200 construction jobs, with the building’s foundation already 70 percent complete.

Xia, who purchased the property for $17 million, plans to build about 40 medical suites inside the 44,000-square-foot North Queens Medical Center, according to Vincent Petraro, the zoning and land use attorney representing Xia. Nearly 250 new jobs would be created.

“In the last few years, Queens has lost at least four hospitals,” Petraro said. “There is a need for medical space in this area and throughout Queens.”

Xia is also seeking permission to build to 243 feet, which is the maximum height the Federal Aviation Administration allows. The FAA and Port Authority have already approved the height.

Some of the conditions the community board voted on include having the developer provide 300 paid, public parking spaces and a guest shuttle from the hotel to Main Street. The hotel also cannot offer catering, a restaurant or liquor, the board said.

The hotel and medical facility are slated to open in late 2014, Xia said. His company is in talks to with local hospitals to partner for the medical center — a project that was stalled for years due to the recession.

Xia said the 161-unit hotel, equipped with kitchens, and would be a boon to Flushing — especially as tourists flood the area each year for the U.S. Open.

Neighbors of the site said construction has ruined their quality of life and caused the foundation of their century-old apartment building to crack. They have an ongoing petition against the next-door tower with 32 signatures so far. “Since the project started, everybody’s life is miserable,” said neighbor Erica Brassoi. “They’re destroying everybody’s life.”

Xia, who lives and works in Flushing, agreed to delay morning construction by 30 minutes. He also offered to pay for the demolition of a neighboring church, which is slated to undergo its own expansion project.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Developer Getting Serious at Williamsburg, Inwood Projects

Things are getting serious at the former Western Carpet site now under-construction at 204 Wythe Avenue in Williamsburg. The 7-story development will consist of 237 residential units and 275 linear feet of retail frontage with 13 foot ceilings with parking spaces. Urban Development Partners is getting ready to break ground on a $450 million project located in upper Manhattan. The Inwood project consists of two multi-family residential buildings and one condominium building, which will be built in three phases along Dyckman Street, across from Fort Tryon Park.

204 Wythe Avenue
Williamsburg, Brooklyn
The developer, Urban Development Partners, ditched the original 5-story brick design with 157 units for something much sleeker, and more typical of new 'hipster' Williamsburg developments.

The Western Carpet building was demolished last year and construction at the site began last month. The $115 million project is expected to be completed in late November 2013.

Dyckman Street / Broadway
Inwood, Upper Manhattan   

Urban Development Partners is getting ready to break ground on a  750,000 sqft mixed-use project located on Dyckman Street in Manhattan.

The $450 million project consists of two multi-family residential buildings and one condominium al building, which will be built in three phases.

The first two phases will bring 540 rental apartment units to the market. For the third phase, Urban Development Partners will construct a high rise condominium building with 260 units.

The buildings will be constructed across from Fort Tryon Park, west of Broadway along Dyckman Street.

Monday, May 6, 2013

Construction of $850M Flushing Commons to Begin in November

Construction on the much-anticipated $850 million Flushing Commons project will finally get underway this fall.  The mixed-use development, which includes commercial, residential and community space in the heart of downtown Flushing, is scheduled to rise in two phases beginning this November. The Flushing Commons development will include a 1.5-acre town square of open space with a fountain plaza, parking for 1,600 cars, a 62,000-square-foot YMCA, about 600 residential units and 420,000 square feet of commercial and retail space. The developers — The Rockefeller Group and TDC Construction — has agreed to construct an underground garage to mitigate parking concerns and avoid the need to move public parking off the site. 

And city officials promise more than 1,000 parking spots at the current municipal parking lot will remain during the construction.

The ambitious plan to transform the 5-acre municipal parking lot into Flushing Commons was stalled several times as community leaders and elected officials squabbled with the city and developers over parking and other concerns. It was revived in 2010 and successfully navigated the city’s land use approval process.

The project, first announced over 10 years ago, is heralded by supporters including City Councilman Peter Koo as the key to revitalizing downtown Flushing. But others, including some local merchants, worry construction will add to current traffic woes and push out small businesses.

The city spent a decade eyeing the potential development of Flushing’s 5-acre Municipal Lot 1, bounded by Union Street, 39th Avenue, 138th Street and 37th Avenue. For the past two years, Flushing has waited with bated breath — and a slight dose of skepticism — for the proposed transformation of Municipal Lot 1 to actually occur. But work on Flushing Commons will finally start in November, now that the $850 million mixed-use development has been broken up into phases.

The project’s new segmented approach will minimize the impact of displaced cars that would otherwise be roaming downtown Flushing had the project been built all at once, according to Michael Meyer, president of TDC Development and Construction Corp., one half of the development group taking on the project along with The Rockefeller Group

The first phase of Flushing Commons will include 160 units of housing, 350,000 square feet of commercial use, a new 62,000-square-foot YMCA with two pools, full size gymnasium, basketball courts and an indoor running track. This phase will also include the creation of a 1.5-acre public plaza, including a fountain and amphitheater, underground parking on the northern side - to replace current spots at the Muni Lot lost to the development.

Another 450 residential units, 150,000 square feet of commercial space and 15,000 square feet of community space are planned for phase two.  “It is very important that this will be built,” said Koo, who has long championed the project. “This will make Flushing more of a destination.”

Seth Pinsky, president of the city Economic Development Corp., called the project “transformative.”

“The new plan, which will maintain all existing parking spaces during construction, is the culmination of years of work to address community concerns,” Pinsky said in a statement.

Queens Borough President Helen Marshall said the project “will provide much-needed housing, commercial space, and a recreational and community use facility.”

Koo said the project will bring much needed jobs to the area. He also negotiated with the city for a $2.25 million “business interruption program” to provide services and loans to shops impacted by construction of Flushing Commons.