Thursday, October 31, 2013

City Approves Giant Staten Island Ferris Wheel

The New York City Council has approved a plan for a Ferris wheel on Staten Island that's billed as the world's largest. The project approved Wednesday would feature a 625-foot Ferris wheel with a view of the Statue of Liberty, New York Harbor and the Manhattan skyline. Some late wheeling and dealing resulted in an agreement that construction of the Empire Outlets project -- 1 million square feet of mixed-use space with an outlet shopping center -- will be built with 100% union labor. The deal will dramatically reshape the St. George waterfront. Construction of the New York Wheel is expected to begin in 2014, with a grand opening in 2016.

What will be the world's tallest observation Ferris wheel - adjacent to the shopping center - will be largely constructed off-site before being erected on the waterfront.

Combined, the two projects will represent roughly $580 million in private investment and attract what its supporters claim will be 4 million new visitors a year to the area. Empire Outlets is to consist of 80 stores, generally higher-end retailers.

Mayor Bloomberg called it a "momentous day for Staten Island," saying it will create 2,000 jobs and draw millions of visitors each year.  (see ElectricWeb | Blogger, May 2, 2013)

The project will result in the creation of a 625-foot-high observation wheel, the world's tallest, and will include restaurant space, a 200-room hotel, two 4D theaters, a catering facility, an exhibition hall and parking facilities. The 16-acre site currently features at-grade parking lots.

The Empire Outlets and New York Wheel developments flank the Richmond County Bank Ballpark, home of the minor league Staten Island Yankees, and rise from the site of two large surface parking lots at the ferry landing.

SHoP Architects designed the $230 million mixed-use outlet mall-entertainment-hotel complex at Empire Outlets to relate to the surrounding Staten Island community while still providing a monumental presence on the waterfront and ferry landing.

The Ferris wheel on the north side of the ballpark will take the world’s tallest title, topping the current title holder, the Singapore Flyer, by 84 feet and dwarfing other iconic wheels like the London Eye which stands just over 440 feet tall. The $250 million wheel will contain 36 football-shaped pods carrying 40 passengers each for the 38 minute ride.
(see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Sept 27, 2012)

Differences over labor agreements for construction of Empire Outlets appeared to pose the greatest risk to the larger redevelopment of St. George.

BFC executives had maintained in recent weeks that the economics of their proposal did not allow for fully-unionized construction, even if unions were to submit to a project-labor agreement offering cost savings from the typical unionized project with its complex work rules and robust wages.

The developer's stance makes the terms of this 11th-hour surprising, but indications are that government funding was added to the deal to help offset the cost of union labor. (see ElectricWeb | Blogger, July 1, 2012)

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Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Six Mega-Towers to Begin Construction in Jersey City

Boom times appear to have returned to the greater New York City area, as a surge in non-super luxury construction is finally beginning. Development in Jersey City has been relatively dormant since the recession, but two major projects are about to break ground, and promise to jump-start the next wave of construction – especially as the six new buildings will be among the tallest in all of New Jersey.

Closest to Manhattan, Urban Ready Living Harborside is ready to begin construction. The $291 million development is expected to create approximately 700 construction jobs and will consist of three residential towers, each soaring roughly 70 stories. To some degree, their design seems to mimic 56 Leonard Street, though the ‘Jenga-effect’ is not quite as dramatic.

The new skyscrapers will anchor a section of Downtown Jersey City that is seeking more new residents, and the contribution to the city’s skyline will be significant. At 700 feet, URL’s triplets will become the most prominent residential towers in the neighborhood.

Developers Mack-Cali and Ironstate are already set to begin construction on the first phase of the project: a 69-story tower with 763 apartment units built above a parking pedestal.

More surprising is the announcement that the 'Journal Squared' towers are also moving forward. The development, which will also consist of three buildings, will be a visual anchor for the neighborhood, which lacks anything remotely close to the project’s size.

Journal Squared is a 2.3 million square-foot high-rise development designed by Handel Architects that will be the linchpin in the redevelopment of Journal Square.

Above a base of retail and parking, three residential towers will include 1,840 residential apartments.

The first skyscraper to begin construction will rise 54 floors, and the second and third buildings will rise 60 and 70 stories. Kushner Real Estate has planned a ground-breaking ceremony for early December.

The developer envisions that the Journal Square neighborhood will, one day, rival Downtown Jersey City.

In terms of height, this is about to happen, as the tallest of the new buildings will surpass the 781-foot tall 30 Hudson Street.

Like Urban Ready Living, the skyscrapers look to Manhattan for inspiration, while offering a wider and vastly more affordable take on 432 Park Avenue.

View the slideshow below

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Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Manhattan Retail Development off the Charts

At a time when retail real estate is still suffering in many parts of the country, on the isle of Manhattan, the vacancy rate for retail space is practically non-existent. SoHo, Fifth Avenue and Madison Avenue, to name a few-- are places where demand far outweighs the supply. Everybody wants to be in the city, every chain in the world. Here are just a few of the high-end boutiques which ready to begin construction...

Fifth Avenue for Ralph Lauren

On the same block as Armani 5th Avenue and Dolce & Gabana, Ralph Lauren has leased 35,000 square feet for a boutique in the Coca Cola Building at 711 Fifth Avenue at 55th Street, in what was once the Disney Store. 

The new three-level store will be a Polo flagship— the first for the company in NYC -- and include an in-store restaurant. Construction is expected to begin shortly, with a grand opening slated for mid 2014.

Room & Board to Open Chelsea Flagship

The chain has leased 60,000 square feet for its new Manhattan flagship store at 249 West 17th Street in Chelsea — the first lease at the building since a major renovation. 

The furniture retailer is expanding in Manhattan and will occupy the entire ground floor, as well as the second and third floors, with its entrance on West 18th Street, between Seventh and Eighth Avenues. 

Chelsea has one of the lowest retail vacancy rates in the nation. The retailer will continue to operate its New York showroom on Wooster Street in SoHo and the new location will become its main flagship. Construction on the new store will commence shortly, and plans to open in mid 2014.

Under Armour Digs Soho

The athletic apparel company is set to squeeze into its first New York City retail location after signing a 20,500-square-foot lease in Soho.

The retailer will open its flagship retail store in a three-level space at 583 Broadway. Current prices in the area are around $750 a square foot.

The 15-year deal gives the clothing maker 7,000 square feet on the ground floor, 6,000 square feet on the lower level, and a 7,500-square-foot storage space in the sub-basement. The store, between Prince and Houston streets, was previously occupied by Espirit. 

The SoHo store is expected to open for business next year, and will join other athletic brands, including Adidas, in the neighborhood. Nike also has plans to open a Niketown store in the area sometime next year.

National Chains Heading to Brooklyn

A 41,000-square-foot Nordstrom Rack is slated to open at 505 Fulton Street in Brooklyn in mid-2014.

The new store will occupy second floor retail space at the Fulton Mall, directly above fellow retailers T.J. Maxx and H&M, located at street level. Century 21 plans to open a store nearby in 2015.

The 300,000-square-foot landmarked building is currently undergoing a massive renovation. In addition to retail space on the lower floors, the building will feature luxury rentals on the upper floors.

Asking rent for the Nordstrom space was near $300 a square foot, more than double the asking price of just two years ago.

The new store is chain's first foray into Brooklyn. Nordstrom opened its first NYC location in Union Square three years ago, and is planning to open a full-price store in 2018, in a tower to be built at 215 West 57th Street in Midtown

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Monday, October 28, 2013

Luxury Living in the Cathedral of Commerce

The Woolworth Building’s neo-Gothic tower, one of New York City’s most recognizable landmarks, is being turned into luxury condominiums, a transformation that would be second only to placing penthouses atop the Chrysler Building or the Empire State Building. Alchemy Properties, which is transforming the upper floors of the landmark tower, received a key city approval to move forward with its conversion plans. The $150 million renovation project will transform the top 30 floors into super luxury apartments.

The city Landmarks Preservation Commission gave Alchemy Properties the go-ahead to construct two pavilions on the 29th floor and alter portions of the exterior of the property, located at 233 Broadway between Barclay Street and Park Place, as part of its ongoing effort to renovate the top 30 floors of the building, transforming the space into ultra-luxury residential condominiums.

The world’s tallest building when it opened in 1913, the Woolworth Building was called the “Cathedral of Commerce,” its copper-domed tower soaring 792 feet into the skyline.

Now, in a $68 million deal made final last week, the tower will be turned into about 40 luxury apartments, including a five-level penthouse in the cupola.

In a condominium market still recovering from the Lehman Brothers crash in 2008, some developers have focused on conversions as a way to create new luxury apartments that cater to an eager, astronomically wealthy clientele who in the past few months have spent tens of millions of dollars on sumptuous apartments. With its historic status downtown, the Woolworth Building has the cachet to give it an edge over its competitors.

An investment group led by Alchemy Properties, a New York developer, bought the top 30 floors of the landmark in 2012 from the Witkoff Group and Cammeby’s International, which will continue to own the lower 28 floors and lease them as office space.

The agreement promises to reinvent the tower that telescopes up at 233 Broadway, between Park Place and Barclay Street, as one of Manhattan’s most sought-after addresses, adding yet another chapter to the history of this Cass Gilbert-designed monument to Frank W. Woolworth and his five-and-dime empire.

Apartments will begin at 350 feet above ground level, offering panoramic views of Lower and Midtown Manhattan, Brooklyn and New Jersey. The condominiums, with ceiling heights of 11 to 14 feet, are expected to be completed by 2015.

Penthouses will be among the highest-altitude residences in the city, soaring above 700 feet.

An abandoned 55-foot-long basement swimming pool, originally part of a health club, will be restored as an amenity for residents. A new entrance on Park Place will serve residents with an elevator bank separate from that used by the office tenants on the lower floors.

Not many people in the world would get to say they live in the Woolworth Building — one of the city’s most recognizable buildings.

The renovation project will cost approximately $150 million, atop its $68 million purchase price, a representative for Alchemy Properties said. Although apartment prices have not been set, they will probably sell for around $3,000 a square foot. That could mean $7.5 million for a 2,500-square-foot unit. The penthouse at the pinnacle would command much, much more.

By comparison, the average price per square foot of apartments sold in 2012 in the Woolworth Building’s ZIP code — 10007 — was $1,250, according to data from real estate appraisal firms.

Recently, $2,000 a square foot has become the new normal for iconic buildings in Manhattan, with apartments in the Woolworth tower will beginning on higher floors than most traditional prewar buildings.

In 1998, the Witkoff Group and Cammeby’s International formed a partnership to buy the Woolworth Building for $126.5 million. They at one point considered remaking the tower as office space with country-club exclusivity. As part of that plan, the top 25 floors, ranging from 3,500 to 8,000 square feet, were gutted. They have been vacant for several years.

Nothing Alchemy has done quite compares with the challenge of transforming a signature piece of Manhattan real estate into residences, but the physical size of the project, at roughly 100,000 square feet, is similar to other developments the group has handled.

Alchemy has developed 30 properties in the New York metropolitan area, and most of its residential projects have been boutique buildings with just a few dozen apartments.

Even owners of newer skyscrapers that tower over the Woolworth Building seem in awe of it. Bruce Ratner, chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies, which developed the 870-foot, Frank Gehry-designed residential rental at 8 Spruce Street — currently the city’s tallest residential building — marveled at the view of its shorter neighbor from a penthouse window at the Gehry building recently.

“The Woolworth Building is what is really extraordinary,” Mr. Ratner said. “What I always say to Frank is that this building dances with that building.”

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Sunday, October 27, 2013

Remembering our Fallen 9-11 Brothers:

For Local 3 Members—A New Meaning to 1776

1776 for Americans marks the birth of our nation. Indeed, Electrical Union World highlights the July 4th 1776 Declaration of Independence, calling upon all Americans to recall that “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”

For 17 members of Local 3 these rights were taken away from them on September 11, 2001. It has taken nearly 13 years for America to recover from the terrorist attacks of that day but today the Freedom Tower stands at 1776 feet in height as a monument to the American spirit!

Base of beacon that sits atop Freedom Tower at Ground 
Zero contains the names of the members of Local 3 
and 1212 IBEW who were killed in the terrorist attack on 
the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.
At the very peak of the tower are etched the names of the 17 members of Local 3 who were killed in the terrorist attack upon the World Trade Center.

These names:

Thomas Ashton
James M. Cartier
Robert J. Caufield
Joseph DiPilato
Salvatore A. Fiumefreddo
Harvey R. Hermer
Ralph M. Licciardi
Michael W. Lowe
Charles P. Lucania
Lester V. Marino
Jose A. Martinez, Jr.
Joseph M. Romagnolo
Anthony Seggara
Jeffrey J. Shaw
Steven R. Strauss
Glenn J. Travers, Sr.
Kenneth W. White

were etched by members of Local 3 into the plate supporting the aerial beacon that sits atop the tower.

This came about through the effort of Local 3 member Sal Cioffi. Brother Cioffi was among many Local 3 members who witnessed first-hand the attack and assisted in the search and rescue efforts immediately afterward. He returned to work at Ground Zero as an electrician/welder for Five Star Electric.

Local 3 member Sal Cioffi, etches the names of the
members of Local 3 and 1212 into the base of the
beacon that stands 1,776 feet above Manhattan
— the highest point in the Western Hemisphere.
In early 2013 he and his partner Rodney Otero were assigned to weld brackets and assist in the installation of conduits for the Freedom Tower’s Spire lighting.

Originally the thought was to place Local 3, IBEW stickers on the infrastructure of the Spire in memory of the 17 Local 3 members murdered on September 11, 2001.

Thinking this was a great idea, they decided to take it one step further and engrave the names of the 17 Local 3 members and the four IBEW Local 1212 members killed on the plate of the beacon light—a light which is to shine at the highest point of the spire.

On May 10, 2013 the Spire was lifted into place and the names of Local 3’s 17 members and Local 1212’s 4 members are now at the highest point in the Western Hemisphere in remembrance of their sacrifice.

In the days before the top sections of the spire were hoisted to the top of the Freedom Tower, the IBEW Hour Power Team videotaped the hoisting and the video is available for all to see at

As published in
Electrical Union World (October 2013)

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Friday, October 25, 2013

Bright Lights, Big City: All NYC Street Lights will be LED

New York City will be seen in a whole new light over the next few years, as an effort to switch to LED lighting continues. Mayor Bloomberg announced all of the city’s 250,000 street lights will be changed over to light-emitting diodes by 2017, noting that the upgraded lights will save taxpayers around $14 million a year once complete. The savings are two-fold: LEDs consume less power than the high-pressure sodium lamps currently in use, resulting in around $6 million in savings, and also have a much longer lifespan, lasting up to 20 years. Current street lights last an average of just six years.

Mr. Bloomberg and Transportation Commissioner Janette Sadik-Khan announced the plan on the newly refurbished Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, where the DOT has already replaced the old high-pressure sodium lights with energy-efficient LEDs.

The project has been a long time in the making. New York City has been testing LED lights for a number of years — In addition to Eastern Parkway in Brooklyn, LEDs have been installed along the FDR Drive, along Central Park’s pedestrian paths and on the “necklace” lights that adorn the cables of East River bridges, to name just a few.

The announcement comes as more and more cities have started adopting LED lights; last year Los Angeles completed its own massive LED project, retrofitting 141,089 street lights with LED bulbs.

The city will spend $79 million on the replacement project. The energy and maintenance savings would mean the project pays for itself in six years, Mr. Bloomberg said, calling the effort a no-brainer.

When completed, New York's LED project will be the largest LED retrofit the United States

"With roughly a quarter-million street lights in our city, upgrading to more energy efficient lights is a large and necessary feat," Mayor Bloomberg said. "It will save taxpayers millions of dollars, move us closer to achieving our ambitious sustainability goals, and help us to continue reducing city government's day-to-day costs and improving its operations."

The DOT Commissioner said the new lights are an improvement beyond saving the city money. “These 250,000 new lights will redefine our roadways and neighborhoods, bringing in clearer, whiter and more attractive lights to our 6,000 miles of streets and 12,000 miles of sidewalks.”

“This will be change that you can change on every street and every sidewalk,” she said.

The new LED fixtures give off better light compared to what she called the “yellowish, almost horror movie-kind of light” provided by high pressure sodium bulbs.

During the press conference, Mayor Bloomberg admonished a reporter for expressing surprise after the Department of Transportation said the LED lights were American-made.

“You’re way behind; you’re reading your own press,” the mayor said, warning not to assume such high-technology innovations are imported from China.

“Our manufacturing industries have started to revive here and we’re exporting a lot… You shouldn’t be surprised. There’s no reason to think everything is made overseas.”

Mr. Bloomberg was half-right. After he departed, the Commissioner hoisted a box holding the sample fixture for the cameras, which still bore a sticker from the manufacturer, American Electric Lighting.

Assembled in Mexico,” the sticker said.

A spokesman for the DOT said the commissioner had used a prototype, and that the LEDs to be installed would be manufactured in the U.S.
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Thursday, October 24, 2013

Huge Flushing Project is Finally Ready to Break Ground

Eight years after submitting plans for a huge residential/retail project, and just weeks before a deadline to start construction, the developers of the $850 million Flushing Commons and Macedonia Plaza projects in Queens are finally ready to break ground. TDC Development and the Rockefeller Group have announced that preparation work at Municipal Lot 1 in Downtown Flushing will begin next week.

The $850 million project will help to revitalize the Borough of Queens, creating about 2,600 construction jobs and 2,000 permanent jobs.

The mixed-use development will include condominiums, a town square with a fountain, a YMCA, community center, as well as retail and office space with parking.

The developers are seeking to achieve LEED certification.

The projects will transform what is now the 5.5-acre, city-owned Municipal Parking Lot #1, into a mixed-use development including:

  • 620 new residential condominiums
  • 1.5-acre town square of open space 
  • a fountain plaza
  • 1,600 parking spaces
  • 62,000 square foot, state-of-the-art YMCA
  • 36,000 square feet of community space
  • 275,000 square feetof retail space 
  • 234,000 square feet of office and/or hotel space. 

The initial job will begin to lay the groundwork for the project's first phase, Macedonia Plaza, a 163-unit affordable housing project being developed on a 35,000-sq-ft portion of the municipal parking lot site by Macedonian Community Development Corporation, an extension of the adjacent Macedonia AME Church.

This phase includes construction of 35,000 square feet of space, as well as a new YMCA and park. [see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Oct 19, 2012]

Another 450 residential units and 150,000 square feet of retail and commercial space are slated for the second phase of the project, for which no starting date has been set.

In 2005, TDC Development and the Rockefeller Group won a city Economic Development Corporation request for proposal to redevelop the 5.5-acre municipal parking lot.

The Flushing Commons project then took five years to navigate the city's labyrinthine land use review process.

That came to a conclusion in 2010, when the City Council voted its approval. But then all went quiet.

Under the contract signed between the developers and Economic Development Corp., which shepherded the project through the approval process, TDC and Rockefeller were required to break ground by Oct. 31.

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Two More Luxury Towers to Rise on Billionaires Row

The transformation of a once dowdy stretch of 57th Street into Billionaires’ Row reached new heights as two of New York City’s leading developers reached a truce that paves the way for two more ultra-luxury towers at 220 Central Park South and 225 West 57th Street in Midtown. Presently, seven skyscrapers with sky-high prices are planned or under construction north of 56th Street. 

Like five others under development in the neighborhood, the two new towers will feature apartments selling for tens of millions of dollars and promising spectacular Central Park views.

Taken together, the seven high-rise buildings promise to remake the skyline and to redefine what it means to be rich in a city that is a cradle of capitalism and not so long ago was an emblem of urban poverty.

[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Oct 8, 2013]

For seven years, two developers, Gary Barnett, and Steven Roth of Vornado Realty, blocked each other from moving forward with his respective super-luxury project. But the men decided the time had come to settle, and signed a deal ending the feud.

Mr. Barnett, president of Extell Development, is already building One57, a 1,004-foot tower on 57th Street just east of Seventh Avenue, where two penthouse apartments are under contract for more than $90 million each.

Just to the east, a penthouse at 432 Park Avenue, the 1,396-foot skyscraper under construction by Harry Macklowe, is selling for $95 million, or more than $11,000 a square foot.

Now, Extell plans to erect a tower of at least 1,400 feet at 225 West 57th Street, just east of Broadway. Directly to the north, Vornado will proceed with a 900-foot, 65-story residential tower at 220 Central Park South.

[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Dec 14, 2012]

Under their accord, Mr. Roth shifted the site of his building slightly to the west, while Mr. Barnett edged his eastward, so that both skyscrapers could capitalize on what may be their most lucrative features: Central Park views.

“That’s the money shot,” Mr. Barnett said.
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Apr 2, 2012]

But with the surge in construction of apartments at prices only a billionaire could afford, is there a fear of saturation?

“Price really has no relevance,” says a real estate executive. “High net worth individuals look at real estate today not as a place to live, but as an investment. “It’s more stable than currency, bonds or stocks. And there are only a handful of cities around the globe where they invest: London, Hong Kong and New York.”

There seems to be no shortage of billionaires. The Forbes 2013 list of the world’s billionaires had 1,426 names, up 200 from last year.

As is the custom, all of the new luxury towers in Manhattan have celebrity architects, including Rafael Viñoly, Christian de Portzamparc and Robert A. M. Stern. They incorporate chic amenities, like studios for staff and personal wine cellars.

[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Feb 15, 2013]

But it is the views that are crucial.

Height is where the profit is. There’s a premium for views and floor levels -- the higher you go, the higher the price you can get.

JDS Development is planning a very thin 1,350-foot-tall tower only a few doors east of Mr. Barnett’s One57.  Not far away, The Witkoff Group is buying the Park Lane Hotel on Central Park South for $650 million, with plans to demolish the building in favor of a sleek tower with apartments averaging $7,000 a square foot.

Over at 43 East 60th Street, the Zeckendorf brothers plan to build a 51-story building with Central Park views. The tower will consist of just 30 units selling for around $8,000 a square foot or $48 million for a 6,000-square-foot condominium.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

New $1 Billion Hospital Coming to Brooklyn?

A proposal to build a new hospital in East Flatbush that would replace the crumbling campuses of three existing hospitals has been quietly discussed by the Cuomo administration for the past few months. The hospital, which observers peg at $1 billion to build, would replace University, Brookdale and Kingsbrook Jewish hospitals. The proposed facility resulting from the consolidation would save money for more primary care. 

Stephen Berger, head of Brooklyn's Medicaid Redesign Team, said a new East Flatbush hospital would make sense as part of a 10-year plan for the borough—but only after a primary and urgent care infrastructure is in place in Brooklyn.

Mr. Berger spoke bluntly, saying that politicians, in particular leading Democratic mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio, need to accept the fact that some hospitals must close.

"What we are looking at are hospitals with infrastructures that are falling apart," he said.

But the political and fiscal hurdles are daunting.

Building a new hospital would take tremendous collaboration among the institutions, as well as incentives from the state Department of Health.

And the idea of closing hospitals fell flat with the nurses' union, the New York State Nurses Association, which has been protesting the proposed closure of Long Island College Hospital in Cobble Hill. The union has a "zero tolerance" policy when it comes to closures.

Also, a primary care network would have to be developed in advance of any changes in order to ensure access to health care.

So for now, the status quo will persist until enough money becomes available to plan for a borough-wide health care restructuring.

"We could use a new hospital in Brooklyn," said Dr. Richard Becker, chief executive of the Brooklyn Hospital Center. "But that's only a piece of it. The problem is so big one source of capital is not going to solve it."

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Monday, October 21, 2013

Huge Apartment Tower Being Built in a Factory

The corner of Dean Street and Flatbush Avenue in Brooklyn is actually being built two miles away. In a factory at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, Forest City Ratner is creating the building blocks for the tallest pre-fabricated residence in the world, a 322-foot tower whose frame is already rising next to the Barclays Center at the Atlantic Yards. The plant is cranking out modules that will be snapped together to create the first building.

Modular construction is a game-changer, thanks to 25% savings over traditional construction methods, greater speed and efficiency, and even better conditions for workers.

“We really think this will change everything about the way we build,” said Bob Sanna, executive vice-president for construction at Forest City Ratner.

"The safety is huge,” said a worker. “We’re not on top of each other, 20 stories in the air.”

And the building goes up faster because work at the construction site and the factory happen at the same time. There are no weather delays, and the finished modules simply get trucked over to the building as needed.  [see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Dec 24, 2012]

“It really speeds up the process,” Sanna said. “The carpenter’s never waiting around for the electrician to do his job. They’re always working.”

“A lot of projects that would otherwise be unfeasible or too expensive could now get built,” he said.

Forest City Ratner is earning kudos as a modular pioneer as it quickly finishes its first Atlantic Yards building.  [see ElectricWeb | Blogger, May 6, 2012]

And yet for all the innovation, the modular factory looks like any other construction site, with welders, carpenters and drywall workers building apartments as they might outdoors — except their 930 modules will end up being configured into 363 units, from studios to three-bedroom, depending on how many modules are fused.

[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, August 2, 2013]
[see ElectricWeb | Blogger, Sept 11, 2012]

“This is the future,” said a construction worker at the site. “I wanted to get in on the ground floor.”

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Thursday, October 17, 2013

South Street Seaport Redevelopment Breaks Ground

A disaster to some, a sign of revitalization to others — no matter what you think of the redevelopment plans, the controversial makeover of Pier 17 at the South Street Seaport has officially begun. Today’s groundbreaking ceremony marked the beginning of the pier’s $200 million transformation by the Howard Hughes Corporation, which will knock down the monolithic marketplace and replace it with a modern, 300,000-square-foot glass complex. The new design includes a 1-1/2 acre rooftop and amphitheater with room for 4,000 people. The company estimated construction will create 1,000 jobs and generate $260 million in economic output. 

An iconic East River tourist spot is getting a bold new look. The South Street Seaport has always provided a link to the city’s gritty maritime past, but it’s getting a glitzy face lift.

The one-time tourist magnet — which had fallen on hard times even before Hurricane Sandy laid waste to the area — on Thursday began a  makeover that will turn it into a mega-mall and event space.

[see ElectricWeb|Blogger, March 27, 2013]

“The new Pier 17 will inject the Seaport with new life and fresh energy,” said one supporter, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, at the groundbreaking ceremony in Lower Manhattan this afternoon.  “I’m happy to say that the best days are still to come for the Seaport and that the future really does start right here, today.”

Construction on a new, glassy retail mall at the Sandy-battered Pier 17 in lower Manhattan will officially begin this week.

Howard Hughes Corp. plans to tear down the three-story Pier 17 pavilion, which was only 28 years old, and replace it with a glittering glass 300,000-plus-square-foot multilevel shopping center complex featuring a 1-1/2-acre rooftop.

That open space will include an upscale restaurant, two bars and an amphitheater that will hold up to 4,000 people for concerts and other events.

The project is expected to be completed by 2016 and generate more than 1,000 jobs.

The 11-acre South Street Seaport is tied with the Great Wall of China as the world’s 26th most visited attraction, ahead of the Louvre in Paris, according to Travel & Leisure magazine.

But despite its views of the Brooklyn Bridge and lower Manhattan and cobblestone charm, it never became the commercial mecca the city had hoped. The pier survived Hurricane Sandy relatively unscathed but the storm racked businesses in the area and forced several stores and restaurants to close.

Howard Hughes is hoping to make the new pier the linchpin of a larger plan to reinvigorate the greater South Street Seaport area. The company has exercised an option to redevelop the Tin Building and another property at the site called the New Market building, according to the Economic Development Corp., which owns South Street Seaport and Pier 17 and leases it to Howard Hughes.

“You’re going to have an offering of entertainment, culture, food offerings and retail,” said David Weinreb, CEO of Howard Hughes Corporation. “The redeveloped South Street Seaport will become the premier boutique entertainment venue in the world.”

The company is also planning to lease up space it controls in historic buildings along Fulton Street that are part of the seaport complex.

But not everyone is as pleased with what’s to come.

Several area residents have protested the plans since their inception last year, saying they will only contribute to the commercialization of the historic area.

Opposition only intensified in the wake of Superstorm Sandy, as many Pier 17 businesses struggling to rebound faced eviction before the old mall was shuttered for construction. Just one lone tenant, Simply Seafood, remains, locked in a legal battle with the company.

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Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Tall New Development Planned Near Prospect Park

Hudson Companies, the development firm behind the Riverwalk neighborhood on Roosevelt Island, is planning to build two big residential towers at 626 Flatbush near Prospect Park. The 23-story project, designed by Marvel Architects, will include 254 rental units along with a shorter building for retail and rooftop green space. The developer is also seeking LEED Gold certification. New building permits and a demolition permit for the existing building on the site were approved a few days ago. Marvel’s other projects in Brooklyn include the Pierhouse and One Hotel at Brooklyn Bridge Park, St. Ann’s Warehouse Theater, the renovated McCarren Pool, and 9 Townhouses and 14 Townhouses on State Street in Boerum Hill.

The property between Parkside Avenue and Lincoln Road is located one block east of Prospect Park, on an L-shaped lot adjacent the Q train tracks.

Preparations are now underway for demolition of the 30,000-square-foot, five-unit commercial building presently on the Flatbush site.

The property features 100 feet of frontage on Flatbush Avenue and a roughly 53,000-square-foot rear parking lot.

It is located near the Prospect Park Zoo, Brooklyn Botanic Garden, and just two blocks from the B, Q and S subway lines. Hudson Companies has agreed to set aside 20 percent of the units for affordable housing.

“There are so many things going in this neighborhood that the time is right for development,” said the developer.

“Prices in the area for development sites are going up and larger developments are being picked up by developers.”

The deal had to overcome several major hurdles before closing, including resolving an easement issue and relocating several commercial tenants, one of which has already moved, and two others that will relocate in the coming weeks.

“Exciting things are happening in Brooklyn, as rental and condo values are quickly catching up with Manhattan,” said Shimon Shkury, president of the firm, in a statement.

“Prospect Lefferts Gardens is one of the lesser-developed areas that have the most potential because there is a subway is right there, the architecture is beautiful, and access to the park is easy.”

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Monday, October 14, 2013

Giant H&M Store to Open in Herald Center

H&M’s largest store in the world will open in Herald Square next fall. The Swedish mega-retailer is planning a four-level flagship at 1293 Broadway, on the southwest corner of 34th Street. The massive store will take up 63,000 square feet in Manhattan's Herald Center, which is in the midst of a multi-million dollar makeover. The first three floors will feature a glass facade, while the remaining seven floors of the building will have LED light panels, with an overall effect reminiscent of Times Square. The development is part of a major expansion in Manhattan, bigger than the 57,000-square-foot store about to open at 589 Fifth Avenue, and dwarfing the 42,500-square-foot store at 4 Times Square which is scheduled to open later this year.

Opening towards the end of 2014, H&M's 63,000-square-foot space will be something of a mecca for fans of the brand, and will be the first location to offer an unprecedented mix of all of the brand's collections.

The four-level flagship, set to be the largest of the brand's stores worldwide, will appear inside the existing frame of the Herald Center in Manhattan, with the building's black exterior glass set to be replaced by a new wraparound transparent facade featuring billboard style posters of ad campaigns and exterior LED light panels.

The renovation of Herald Center, a 10-story, 250,000-square-foot retail and office property located on the corner of 34th Street and Broadway, includes the installation of both a glass facade and LED lighting. Work is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2014, with an expected completion date late next summer.
The redevelopment was made possible after Daffy’s left the space between 34th and 35th streets, after the company filed for bankruptcy last summer. Building owner JEMB Realty negotiated buyouts with several other retailers including Toys R Us, and then announced plans for a $50 million renovation of the property. 

H&M wasn't looking for a new location but when the space presented itself, it was too good to pass up.

This will be the retailer's third 34th Street unit, joining locations at the intersections of Broadway and Seventh Avenue. 34th Street, where the asking rent is more than $1,000 per square foot, has proven to be one of the most successful retail corridors for the brand, after having operated two stores there for over 10 years.

Herald Square has seen something of a retail renaissance as of late. Urban Outfitters is planning an enormous store for Broadway between 35th and 36th Streets. Meanwhile, Macy's is funneling $400M into a makeover of its flagship -- which is still World's Largest Store at 1.2 million square feet. The district is pretty much reserved for giant national chains, as retail rents are climbing to numbers typically seen in Soho and Times Square.

The design of the new H&M unit will certainly advance the changing look of Herald Square. 

The first three floors will be covered in a glass facade with campaign images adoring the windows like billboards. 

Floors four through ten will have LED light panels. The overall effect will be reminiscent of Times Square.

Speaking of Times Square, H&M is still opening a massive 42,500 square foot unit at the base of 4 Times Square, replete with skyline-changing signage. That's in addition to the Fifth Avenue store that's in the works. In total, the three new stores will employ approximately 900 people.

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