Friday, April 25, 2014

Committee Approves $550M Hell’s Kitchen Development

The City Council's Land Use Committee approved a massive $550-million development in Hell's Kitchen on Thursday, after the developer agreed to add moderate-income housing and a public school to the complex. The committee members voted to approve TF Cornerstone's plan for the 900,000-square-foot project at 606 West 57th Street. The building will stand just over 40 stories tall and have a total of 1,189 units, which will make it the largest apartment building in New York City.

Standing just 42-stories, height is not the focus here... the structure is about sheer density.

606 West 57th Street will be composed of two 28-story structures with a 14-story cube cantilevered on top; it seems that even when overhangs aren’t necessary, they are becoming a common feature to new construction these days.

The stacking of multiple boxes will help to create a building that isn’t completely overbearing, allowing light and air through the structure itself.

The committee vote came after reaching a deal with the developer that adds an additional 10,000 square feet of “affordable housing” that would be affordable only to the top end of middle-income families, earning roughly $150,000 a year.

Those 15 new units would bring the total amount of affordable housing from 205 to 220.

The council members were focused on the neighborhood surrounding the West 57th Street development, where they feel there is a need for moderate-income housing that could go to people who presently live in the community.

Extell Development’s massive Riverside Center South on the Hudson River, between West 59th and 72nd streets, already includes hundreds of such, so-called, "affordable" units.

The developer agreed to a smaller garage with fewer parking spaces, to build a public pre-Kindergarten school, and to employ only union builders and staff the complex with 32BJ employees. The project will include 60,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and underground parking for up to 500 cars.

The site is currently occupied by several low-slung buildings, and plans are moving forward for demolition.

TF Cornerstone anticipates construction will begin next spring and will take two years to complete.

Across the street, another transformative residential project – The Pyramid – is moving forward. Most of the attention 57th Street receives is focused between Broadway and Park Avenue, but the street’s largest developments are, in fact, on the Hudson River.

Although 606 West 57th Street has cleared its final hurdle, it still needs approval from the City Council before it can become a reality.

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Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Super Luxury Tower to Soar 775 Feet in Flatiron

The final stages of demolition are underway to make way for a glassy 775-foot behemoth at 41 East 22nd Street, in Manhattan's Flatiron district. The 60-story tower between Broadway and Park Avenue South will house just 81 (very expensive) apartments, and trump its neighbor— One Madison —by 175 feet, making it the tallest building between the Empire State Building and Lower Manhattan. Ground breaking on the new tower is set to begin later this year.

Bruce. Eichner spent more than $100 million to buy the land as well as air rights that would enable him to build the nearly 800-foot tower.

The new building will be located off the southeast corner of Madison Square Park, in a space currently occupied by low-rises.

The 81-unit condominium designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates, would be just 50 feet wide at the base, but would expand like a slender champagne flute and be wider at the top, according to the architect.

Perhaps the tower’s most striking element — besides its sheer height — is the cantilever, arching over neighbors at the adjacent 33 West 22nd Street.

Despite a stone exterior, the building's base will have enormous windows looking out onto 22nd Street, and the lobby of 41 East 22nd Street will be an experience unto itself.

A triplex penthouse on the 58th through 60th floors will cap the 400,000-square-foot project.

Similar to many developers moving ahead with new condo projects recently, Mr. Eichner is targeting the upper end of the market.

Similar to others, he has been emboldened by the high prices that are being fetched these days—more than $3,000 a square foot in Greenwich Village and more than $5,000 a square foot for units by Central Park.

What’s certain is that pricing at this property will be astronomical, given the large floor plans and relatively unobstructed views.

With One Madison located down the block, the neighborhood offers ample competition in terms of condominium units, but it would appear that this development is poised to take the super-luxe crown for all of Lower Manhattan.

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

Copper: Crazy Price Swings Continue to Stump Analysts

Follow any strand of copper wire and it will take you to a world of high finance with folks trying to game volatile prices, copper thieves risking electrocution for a couple of pounds of red metal and a whole lot of confusion over why prices are so crazy right now. Many people won’t bend over to pick up a penny in the street. But when the price of copper moves up or down by a penny, it catches the attention of an awful lot of folks in the electrical industry.

That’s because a tiny price change of a few pennies per pound is enough to impact the value of a warehouse loaded with tons of copper wire. And when copper prices drop 10%, as they did earlier this year, it sets off alarm bells in the offices of wire manufacturers.

Any changes in copper pricing have a huge impact on the electrical construction market because building construction accounts for more than 46% of all copper use.

When copper prices bounce around, the ripple effect reaches many key areas of the market. That’s why the industry has such a fixation on the price of copper wire and cable.

For electrical distributors, who make a big chunk of their living from selling copper wire and cable, this may account for up to 15% of all products sold.

The daily price of copper is linked to a fascinating array of global economic and at times political factors that could probably provide the base for a pretty interesting movie or spy novel.

The cast of characters includes Wall Street traders waiting to pounce on inefficiencies in copper pricing that they can make a killing on copper futures; global financiers and government officials calling the shots at mining companies; and even the copper thieves wreaking havoc on construction sites who risk electrocution for the few bucks they might make on stolen copper.

A strike or a flood at a key mine at the very source of the market is enough to directly influence copper pricing on the New York Commodities Exchange (COMEX).

To be sure that spy novel on today’s copper market is completely up-to-date you would need to include the folks who run China’s bonded warehouses in Shanghai, which store thousands of tons of copper. This copper is used as collateral to back financial deals by financiers who have no intent to use the copper in construction projects or in the manufacture of copper-based products.

Just how much copper is in these warehouses is the subject of all sorts of speculation, but it’s enough to swing copper pricing around the globe. It’s estimated that China accounts for 40% of the entire world’s copper demand.

Is it possible to consistently forecast the price of copper if you factored in everything that could potentially impact the price, including mine production, strikes, political unrest in key copper-producing countries and estimated demand from construction.

The simple answer: “No.”

The price of a pound of copper has always been tough to forecast, but when you take the historical perspective, you see that things really started getting crazy around 2004-2005.

The chart shows that from 1989-2004 the price fluctuated in a pretty narrow range from approximately 60 cents/pound to $1.50. Pre-1995, folks would get a little freaked out when prices changed 25 cents to 50 cents in a year.

But starting in 2004-2005, copper smashed the $1.50 barrier and went up in almost a straight line to around $3.50; plummeted to $2.50; ran back up to well over $3/pound; crashed to around $1.50 in the Great Recession; and then headed up to over $3/pound where it stayed for several years before dipping below $3/pound earlier this year.

Many experts say the rapid growth of the Chinese economy as the single largest consumer of copper and the difficulty of getting data on exactly how much copper it uses is the key accelerant sparking the copper market’s volatility.

While economists don’t have a good feel for how the Chinese economy has softened over the past 12 months, they do agree China isn’t buying as much copper for building construction and other production uses. That decrease in demand has apparently led to a market surplus in copper, and lower prices overall.

At the moment there is an over production of copper. The price of copper will be getting less as China’s economy starts to fail, as it is doing now.

The Chinese government’s announcement in late March that it would attempt to stimulate the country’s economy seems to have boosted copper prices back over $3/pound.

It’s this uncertainty rather than any specific price drop that makes contractors hesitant to make a purchase when the price of copper is fluctuating more than usual.

They will say, ‘is this the bottom, or should I hold off and wait to buy? Is it going to go any lower?’

If a project calls for a large amount of copper and you see prices dropping 10% that may influence purchasing decisions, especially if the purchase is not an immediate need.

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Thursday, April 17, 2014

Hatzel & Buehler - Celebrating 130 Years of Service

Every economic sector reserves a special place for pioneering companies. Respect grows when, more than a century after the formation of an enterprise, it continues to provide innovative leadership in its industry. Hatzel & Buehler, Inc., the oldest electrical contracting company in America, founded by two electricians who worked with Thomas Edison, is celebrating its 130th anniversary this year. 

Hatzel & Buehler's storied past is an important facet in the electrification of the United States - one of the most significant industrial phases of the late 19th century.

In 1882, master electricians John Hatzel and Joseph Buehler worked beside Thomas Edison to launch The Electrical Illuminating Company, at 255 Pearl Street in Manhattan.

The company ultimately became Consolidated Edison and today provides electric service for most of New York City and Westchester County.

Shortly after completing the first commercial electrical generating plant, in 1884, Mr. Hatzel and Mr. Buehler left The Electrical Illuminating Company to begin their partnership of Hatzel & Buehler, Inc., opening their first office in New York City.

The quality of their work was immediately recognized by many of the nation’s most successful entrepreneurs, who signed contracts with them not just to build their businesses’ infrastructures, but to build their personal residences.

Electrical systems in the Biltmore Estate in Ashville, N.C., at J.P.  Morgan’s personal New York residence, the Vanderbilt Mansion in Newport, R.I., and the DuPont’s Winterthur and Longwood Gardens were all constructed by electricians employed by Hatzel & Buehler.

Affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Hatzel & Buehler has the distinction of being the longest continuous member in the National Electrical Contractors Association, of which it has been a member since 1901.

Hatzel & Buehler electricians completed work on many landmark commercial buildings and structures throughout New York City and beyond, including The Chrysler Building, the General Electric Building,  Johnson & Johnson’s world headquarters and Walt Disney’s Epcot Center in Florida.

Numerous transmitter rooms for tenants occupying the Empire State Building were installed by Hatzel & Buehler electricians. Customers include WCBS, WNBC, WABC, WPIX, UNIVISION, Home Shopping Network, Clear Channel and Motorola.

The company focuses on corporate infrastructure upgrades related to redundant power systems, security and fire safety installations, new office construction, trading facilities, television and radio broadcast studios and transmission systems.

Hatzel & Buehler continues to maintain long-standing customer relationships with some of the nation’s premier companies, including Bank of America, JP Morgan Chase, AT&T, CBS, Verizon, Sotheby’s, Comcast, Wells Fargo, Johnson & Johnson, General Electric, Marathon Oil and Credit Suisse.

A full-service company, Hatzel & Buehler offers expertise in electric design, construction, engineering, integration, and maintenance, with offices in New York, New Jersey, Philadelphia, Delaware, Michigan, Ohio and West Virginia

In 2005, in an effort to further service their customers, Hatzel & Buehler established Bluestone Communications, Inc. - a telecommunications subsidiary. Such expansion allowed Hatzel & Buehler to service their customers as a single resource for all high and low voltage electrical work.

As the company looks ahead to the future, Hatzel & Buehler continues to set the standard for excellence in electrical construction by leading the industry in safety initiatives, technological advances and well-established customer relationships.

The ElectricWeb proudly salutes Hatzel & Buehler for its 130 years of service.

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Monday, April 14, 2014

Massive $345M Development Planned for South Bronx

From East 149th Street and Brook Avenue all the way north to East 153rd Street remains the largest track of city-owned land in the South Bronx. Located in Melrose, adjacent to the Hub, will rise a massive 985 unit housing complex the likes of which the Bronx has never seen. La Central, as the massive development project will be called, will be constructed by BRP Development and The Hudson Companies. The five-building complex will also include a new YMCA, recording studio, an astronomy lab and observatory, plus retail space and supportive housing for veterans.

La Central will be comprised of 5 buildings with 985 units of mixed-income housing and will offer a plethora of amenities, including a 48,000 square foot YMCA, 43,000 square feet of retail space, 5,000 square foot community space and a recording studio.

The complex will be topped off with the Bronx Astronomy Tower and Lab, which will include a rooftop observatory and telescope, plus a rooftop farm. 

The project comes on the heels of the construction of the income-regulated Via Verde complex, which opened two winters ago. It brings to just under 50,000 the number of affordable units planned by the Bloomberg administration in the Bronx.

Construction consists of two-phases on approximately 185,000 square feet of city-owned land and has a projected price tag of $345 million.

The proposal is expected to pass public review and should break ground in 2015, officials said.

The development will also include a diabetes prevention program, operated by Bronx medical giant Montefiore Medical Center, and 96 units will be set aside for formerly homeless veterans and New Yorkers living with HIV/AIDS, to be operated by health and housing service provider Comunilife.

Project Details:

    Building A:
211 affordable apartments; approximately 48,000 square foot YMCA-community facility; a diabetes prevention program operated by Montefiore Medical Center; rooftop farm; approximately 19,000 square feet of new retail space.

    Building B:
279 affordable apartments; approximately 24,000 square feet of retail space, including restaurant space; cellar level garage with approximately 138 parking spaces.

    Building C:
137 affordable apartments; 5,000 square feet of community space consisting of a recording studio and curate workshops and open the recording studio to projects for and by the community.

    Building D:
160 affordable apartments plus a 10,000 square foot mental health clinic operated by Comunilife that will work with veterans living within the development and individuals within the community.

    Building E:
198 affordable apartments, plus the Bronx Astronomy Tower and Lab – a rooftop telescope to be used by the Bronx High School of Science, and a daycare facility
click to enlarge

The approximately 7,000 square-foot triangular vacant lot at the intersection of Brook and Bergen Avenues will be developed as open space, accessible to the general public.

La Central is geared toward families: nearly 50 percent of the affordable units will have at least two bedrooms.

But unlike Via Verde, all of the nearly 1,000 affordable apartments are slated to be rentals.

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Saturday, April 12, 2014

Hudson Yards: The Sky's No Limit (Part 2)

A huge building boom is gaining steam in Hudson Yards, the neighborhood west of Penn Station where millions of square feet of commercial and residential space are already rising. Everyone right now is buying up parcels in this area.

470 Eleventh Avenue

Black House Development has just acquired a development site at the corner of 11th Avenue and West 38th Street, where it plans to construct a 700-foot tall, 380,000-square-foot hotel and residential tower.

The site is comprised of five parcels and is part of the Hudson Yards Special District, which allows for the purchasing of air rights from the city.

The developer purchased the site at 470 Eleventh Avenue - presently a parking lot - for $115 million.

The building will sit directly across the street from the newly-renovated Javits Convention Center, making the new tower's hotel one of the closest to the convention facility.

More than half of the building will be occupied by the hotel, and the top portion, about 115,000 square feet, will hold condos that will be marketed to Chinese buyers.

In recent years, Black House has found considerable success catering to the influx of foreigners looking to acquire homes in the city.

At the Soori High Line for instance, an ultra-luxury condo building which the firm is currently building on West 29th Street, they hired an architect from Singapore and is marketing the apartments to buyers from that country.

For this new - and biggest - project, Black House is planning again to use an architect from the nation whose citizens they hope will buy their condos. In this case, a Shanghai-based architecture firm will design the new tower.

Another 700ft Tower

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Thursday, April 10, 2014

Hudson Yards: The Sky's No Limit

Just a decade ago, less than a dozen skyscrapers had surpassed the 700-foot mark on the Manhattan skyline. Over the next few years, though, more than fifty super-tall buildings will have broken ground or soared past that that height. Luxury towers streaking up over 700 feet represent the latest phenomenon in New York’s storied skyscraper history. Not to be outdone, this past week came the announcements for yet two more towers in the Hudson yards development area, which are slated to eclipse that mark.

451 Tenth Avenue &

450 Tenth Avenue

Maddd Equities has signed a 99-year lease for a Hudson Yards-area parcel at 450 Tenth Avenue, presently the site of a parking lot, where the developer plans to construct a 415,000-square-foot hotel and condominium tower.

The 700-foot-tall building at West 35th Street and 10th Avenue would hold residential units above hotel space on the lower levels.

The deal comes as the firm is about to break ground on a hotel project just across the street at 450 Tenth Avenue. That project will be a Four Points Sheraton Hotel.

The hotel the firm may develop at 451 Tenth will likely be a higher-end brand.

Last month, Maddd Equities proposed building a tower at 11-55 49th Avenue in Hunter’s Point that would include 140 rental apartments.

The plan is among several large developments that have been proposed in the Long Island City area recently.

Click to enlarge
Next 700ft Tower

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Monday, April 7, 2014

Energy Retrofits Now Easier and Faster Than Ever

Download The New Lutron® Energi Advisor™ app from iTunes® 
Lighting retrofits can significantly reduce lighting energy use and meet new energy code requirements. 

With minimal project information, the new Lutron Energi Advisor app, created by Lutron Electronics Co., simplifies energy audits and greatly reduces the time previously required for retrofit system design and proposal generation. 

The Energi Advisor app takes the guesswork out of project proposals and provides users with the following:
- a bill of materials
- anticipated energy savings
- anticipated return on investment

After configuring project information (local electric utility rates, rebates, and labor rates), the app guides users through an energy audit requiring only basic information, such as room size, number of fixtures, type of fixtures, and then produces a complete project design and budget. The app supports multiple options for each project to ensure that budget and control requirements can be addressed without compromising performance.

Get started with the Energi Advisor app today:

- Download the Energi Advisor app for iPhone/iPad from the Apple app Store
- The first time you launch the Energi Advisor app you will be prompted to enter your myLutron account credentials—easily create a free account if you don’t have one already
- Set your preferences and start auditing
Download the Energi Advisor App for Free 

Download Sell Sheet 

Questions about how to use the app?

iPad, iPhone and iPod touch are registered trademarks of Apple®, Inc., registered in the U.S. and other countries. Photo courtesy of Lutron Electronics Co.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

Another Hotel/Condo Tower to Rise at Bryant Park

HFZ Capital Group announced plans for a Bryant Park mixed-use project where another developer once planned to build the city’s largest green hotel. HFZ, one of the most active developers in Manhattan, plans to construct a 32-story, 361-foot-tall tower at 20 West 40th Street, between Fifth and Sixth avenues, with at total of 276 condominium and hotel units. Currently, the site is a parking lot.

At the top of the newly-proposed tower, there will be a total of 61 condominium units:

  •     Two units each on floors 29 through 32
  •     Three units each on floors 24 through 28
  •     Four units each on floors 17 through 23 
  •     Five units each on floors 15 and 16

The hotel will have 215 luxury appointed rooms rising from the second to the 14th floor.

HFZ, along with several partners, purchased the vacant lot out of foreclosure in 2010 for $46 million, and then last year some of those partners sold their stakes for $83 million. HFZ remained as owner and as the developer.

The financing for the project included a large amount of funds from foreign investors seeking permanent residency through a minimum investment of $500,000 in a development project through the U.S. Citizenship & Immigration Services’ EB-5 program.

Earlier plans for the site laid during the boom years never materialized.

Starwood Capital Group announced in 2007 that it intended to open a “1” Hotel in the 31-story LEED-certified hotel and condo tower planned for the site.

But that project collapsed and the property owner sold the site to HFZ after its lender started foreclosure proceedings.

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Friday, April 4, 2014

Ronald McDonald House to Rise on East 60th Street

The Ronald McDonald House is reviving its plan to develop a building site at 405 East 60th Street on the Upper East Side. The project has been on-hold for several years, but now the hospice — which serves pediatric cancer patients — plans to raze the present building and replace it with a new 16-story, state-of-the-art facility. The construction, originally planned for 2010, will create 95,000 square feet of new space, and house 74 extended-stay units. 

The Ronald McDonald House is currently located at 405 East 73rd Street; so the charity’s move will be minor, keeping it on the Upper East Side. The organization’s mission to maintain proximity to treatment facilities is crucial.

At both its former and current location, patients are close to thirteen treatment facilities, providing access to some of the best healthcare in the world.

The new Ronald McDonald House will be fairly simple16-story structure, with aesthetics characterized by large, floor-to-ceiling windows.

While the eastern edge of the Upper East Side has traditionally been a nexus for healthcare, locals would rather scuttle plans for state-of-the-art facilities.

The battle over Memorial Sloan Kettering’s new cancer treatment center was vigorously opposed by neighborhood activists, though construction plans for the new cancer center were ultimately approved.

Besides the new Memorial Sloan Kettering facility, another outpost for New York Presbyterian will soon rise at 445 East 68th Street.

The Ronald McDonald House proposal for the East 60th Street site has already been subject to public review and was approved by the city early last decade.

The project has all the permits and allowances needed for the new development, and the charity has indicated that facade and roof work will be performed as a precursor to demolition.

No completion date for the re-development has been announced.

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Another Super-Luxury Tower Planned for Billionaires Row

Park Avenue soon will have a another new limestone tower to join the ranks of the street's architecturally noteworthy buildings. Zeckendorf Development will soon build a 51-story building featuring vertical mansions and the city’s most expensive apartment.
520 Park Avenue is the latest of at least eight super-luxury condominium towers in the works near or along 57th Street, a neighborhood known as Billionaires Row.

The would-be district of the uber-wealthy extends from Broadway on West 57th Street to Park Avenue, and the surrounding area.

The smallest of the tower's 31 apartments will sprawl over full floors of about 4,600 square feet. They will each have their own elevator landings and are set to list at more than $27 million each.

There will also be seven super-luxury duplex apartments, each with six bedrooms, which are expected to price considerably more than $50 million per unit.

The largest apartment, a 12,400-square-foot triplex penthouse with a private terrace and pool, will be priced at $125 million.

The 85-foot wide building will have sweeping views of Central Park. It has floor-to-ceiling windows of varying sizes topped by another detail recalling buildings built in Manhattan before World War II: a temple-like structure on the roof to hide a water tower and mechanical equipment.

"It is a new market category, it is being called Billionaire's Row," said Jonathan Miller, a market analyst, of the new development area. He said the demand for hard assets in the U.S. is so strong—especially among international buyers—that the market is likely to remain warm far into the future.

But he added that too many luxury buildings will be coming to market at the same time, and the unlimited prices we have seen, may be unsustainable. At the same time, he noted that the sheer size of the new apartments will effectively limit their supply—and support their high prices.

The new building at 520 Park, designed by Robert A.M. Stern, the dean of the Yale architecture school, was assembled by brothers Arthur and William Lie Zeckendorf and the same team that constructed 15 Central Park West.

It grew to 178,000 square feet through the combination of several lots and the $30.4 million purchase of air rights from Christ Church at East 60th Street and Park Avenue.

It also purchased the right to cantilever over much of the Grolier Club, a club on East 60th Street.

The developer obtained additional building rights by providing funding to build affordable housing on the Upper East Side as well as meeting the requirements of the city Green Building program.

But the large number of expensive apartments on the market is causing pause for some real estate brokers.

 Although the number of listings in Manhattan shrank to the lowest levels in at least a decade, there is now about a 31-month supply of apartments and houses priced at more than $10 million.

Still, new project on East 60th Street would do well, since it is on the lower fringe of the Upper East Side, where demand for large apartments remains strong.

Since the success of 15 Central Park West, the Zeckendorfs have a track record and a following among super wealthy apartment buyers.

Although the new building will have a Park Avenue address, now used by the church, its entrance will be located a few doors down from Park, on East 60th Street, toward Madison Avenue.

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