Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Construction Spending in NYC to Exceed $100B Next 3 Years

According to a new report from the New York Building Congress, construction spending in New York City from 2014 through 2016 is projected to soar past the $100 billion mark. The advocacy group forecasts that construction in the five boroughs will reach $32.9 billion in 2014 – up 17 percent from last year – and climb to $35.3 billion in 2015 and $35.6 billion in 2016.
If the forecast is on target, it would be the first time construction spending has ever topped $32 billion, but the milestone is merely a number. When adjusted for inflation, this year’s forecast is still 17 percent below the peak level seen in 2007.

A boom in residential construction is leading the spending surge, but the number of units being built is not keeping pace. Residential spending to increase 60 percent in 2014 to $10.9 billion, but the number of units is only projected to grow 22 percent.

The bulk of the increase is being spent on construction of more expensive, ultra-luxury condominiums buildings in Manhattan.

Developers are routinely paying nearly $900/square-foot to build a luxury tower — more than double what they paid back in 2005.

By 2016, residential spending is forecast to hit $12.4 billion, an increase of almost 80% from 2013 levels.
“New York City is producing more than 20,000 housing units annually, which is the benchmark that the Building Congress believes is necessary to accommodate household growth, replace antiquated buildings, and maintain adequate housing options for New Yorkers of all income levels,” according to  Thomas Scarangello, Chairman of the New York Building Congress.
“What is concerning, however, is that the current level of production is falling far short of the more than 30,000 units that were constructed annually between 2005 and 2008. It is good news that we getting this volume of work, but we are not providing the housing we need for moderate-income New Yorkers," said Richard Anderson, president of the congress. "This is a real issue."

This year, spending on office buildings, hotels and sports stadiums is forecasted to drop from $8 billion to $7.4 billion, due to the completion of Barclays Center.  Next year, however, construction at Hudson Yards and at The World Trade Center complex is expected to push non-residential spending to $10.3 billion.
Click to enlarge.         Credit: New York Building Congress
Government construction spending is predicted to peak slightly between now and 2016, when the numbers will return to the $13.4 billion seen in 2013. The MTA spends the second-largest amount on construction in the city, but half of its $32 billion five-year capital budget is unfunded.

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Monday, October 27, 2014

Developer to Build 3 Hotels, Supermarket & Apt Building in Jamaica

A Flushing developer is planning to build three Marriott-brand hotels in downtown Jamaica, near the LIRR and AirTrain station to JFK Airport. Chris Xiu recently purchased the site of the former Gertz department store on Archer Ave for $22 million in cash. The property, on the corner of Guy Brewer Boulevard at 163-05 to 163-25 Archer Avenue, is the largest development site in Jamaica.

Jamaica Tower LLC plans to construct two hotels — a Courtyard by Marriott and a Fairfield Inn and Suites — on Archer Avenue, near 149th Street.  Both hotels would be located in one building and will be built by Construction & Development Group of Flushing.

The new 16-story building will contain more than 330 hotel rooms, with 224 rooms planned for Courtyard, while Fairfield Inn and Suites would have 114 rooms.

Plans for the Archer Avenue hotels were approved by the Department of Buildings in August.

Mr. Xiu, who has built several hotels in Flushing, near LaGuardia Airport, and in Chinatown, also plans to build an apartment building and a supermarket on Archer Avenue, near Guy Brewer Boulevard.

The development site, which consists of two adjacent lots with nearly 90,000 square feet, includes an unused seven-story parking garage and several shops, and can accommodate of 720,000 square feet of new construction.

The developer intends to demolish the garage at 163-25 Archer Avenue, and replace it with market-rate housing with several hundred apartments.

He is also planning to replace the existing stores located at 163-03 thru 163-17 Archer Avenue with a large supermarket.

Jamaica Tower is also planning to build six-story hotel — a Springhill Suites by Marriott — at different development site located on Queens Boulevard, between Jamaica and Hillside avenues. That hotel will feature 160 rooms.

A representative from Marriott has confirmed that all three hotels are in development, and expects the hotels to be open for business within three years.

Downtown Jamaica, which has been dynamically changing in recent years, has become a major transportation hub since JFK’s AirTrain station opened in 2003.

And since the neighborhood is only minutes from the airport, at least a dozen new hotel and real estate developments have been planned for the area.

Councilman Peter Koo believes the projects will bring hundreds of new jobs to the neighborhood.

“When you build hotels, you bring prosperity to the community,” Koo said, adding that hotels attract tourists, who spend money in the neighborhood when they “shop for souvenirs, eat at local restaurants and call a taxi.”

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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Groundwork and Demolition Underway at Domino Sugar Plant

Demolition at the old Domino Sugar plant along the Williamsburg waterfront is now underway, as the massive boiler house, the syrup shed and bin structures are currently being knocked down. Flattening of the old factory’s power house, turbine room and pump house will soon follow, as Two Trees Management prepares the site for infrastructure and groundwork needed for construction of the mega-project.
Click to enlarge
The developer has announced plans for the smallest of the three waterfront towers it plans to construct, which will be located at ‘Site A’ on the northernmost parcel of the campus.

The 30-story building at 262 Kent Avenue will be a mixed-use tower rising 320 feet and holding 281,869 square feet, split equally between commercial and residential space.

The building will host about 142,000 square feet of office space on the second through 17th floors in the structure’s north wing -- the most office space within the new towers. 

The remainder of the space will be spread out among 93 residential units beginning on the fourth floor of the building’s south wing.  Rental apartments will be relatively large, averaging about 1,500 square feet. The tower will also house commercial and retail space on the ground level.

Office space is a key component of Jed Walentas’ vision for the mega-development. Earlier this year, he asked the city for a rezoning of the property, allowing for an additional 382,000 square feet.

The majority of the project’s office space will be housed in the renovated refinery building. Two other buildings planned for the site, while larger, will be more residential-oriented.

The project’s southernmost building will be constructed on Site D, located at 320 Kent Avenue. That tower will climb 36 stories and house 470,106 square feet of space, more than 90% of which will be residential apartments. The building will have 41,801 square feet of commercial space.

The first structure to break ground will be at Site E, between South 3rd and 4th Streets, and will be the only tower not located on the waterfront.

The bulky 35-story building at 2 Grand Street will contain approximately 785,888 square feet, housing 658 residential units (half of which will be reserved for below-market rentals),  with a public school below.
Click to enlarge
Plans for the tower which will rise on Site B, located between the factory and 262 Kent Avenue, are expected to be announced early next year.

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Friday, October 24, 2014

Problems Stacking Up for Atlantic Yards Modular Tower

Affordable housing advocates cheered in 2011 when Forest City Ratner announced its plans to construct a 32-story tower next to Barclays Center using assembly line techniques. Construction costs for the world’s tallest modular building, called B2 BKLYN, were projected to be cut by as much as one quarter. That vision was crushed when Skanska USA, the contractor building B2, and developer Forest City Ratner sued each other last month, and work was halted with the tower only at 10 stories.

Skanska blamed the design. Forest City blamed the execution.

On August 26, Skanska USA halted production of the building's 930 modules at its factory in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

The contractor blamed Forest City for design errors that it said delayed the project and put it tens of millions of dollars over budget.

Skanska said it could no longer incur millions of dollars in extra costs while the developer worked out issues. The developer disagrees.

According to the Forest City, it is actually Skanska's construction process that is to blame for B2's slow and expensive climb. The developer said the contractor was trying to "weasel out of" its contractual obligations by issuing a stop-work notice at its factory.

Both sides have accused one another of breach of contract, which means depending on who you ask either Forest City or Skanska is responsible for cost overruns on the first 10-stories of the building, which are estimated at around $50 million.

It did not take long for this back-and-forth to find its way to New York State Supreme Court. On September 2, Skanska sued Forest City. About 15 minutes later, Forest City sued Skanska.

On September 22, Skanska USA Building canceled its contract, and is no longer the contractor for the project.  Forest City is free to hire another company to complete the tower.

But complicating matters is the fact that the Skanska and Forest City are still partners in FCS Modular, the facility making the units in the Brooklyn Navy Yard.

A state court judge denied a request by Forest City to re-open the shuttered factory and ordered FC+Skanska Modular, to try to hash out how the facility will now be run.

This high-profile legal battle is just the latest setback for the high-profile tower that was supposed to rise faster and cost less than its conventionally built projects.

Some envisioned the 32-story tower leading to an assembly line of modular developments, producing thousands of lower-price apartments for New York’s middle class. Now the industry is questioning if modular construction on such a large scale is economically feasible.

As anyone who has played with Legos knows, a building can support itself well to a certain height but—unless braced—eventually will grow wobbly.

The same applies to stacking modular units in real construction projects. Construction experts say that modular buildings can be self-supporting to about the 12- or 14-story level.

Bracing techniques similar to that which was being used to push the height of B2 BKLYN has worked before on towers not quite as high; a 30-story modular hotel in China was recently completed using the technique, proof that height isn’t a limit to modular construction.

Builders have constructed modular projects in New York City before, but on more modest scale. A seven-story apartment building at 4857 Broadway in Manhattan, called the Stack, was molded from 59 prefabricated modules.

But skeptics say the unfinished project at Flatbush Avenue and Dean Street is evidence that tall modular projects will remain experimental and won’t break into mainstream development until challenges are overcome. "We’ll get there—but we’re not there yet."

One of the elements of the B2 dispute has to do with tolerances. Skanska has warned, in a letter outlining its grievances over the project, that the building could leak “at the thousands of joints” between the different pieces. “It is impossible to predict that the building when completed will perform as designed,” the letter states.

Forest City has said in its legal papers that structural problems were the result of the construction, not the fault of the design. “We believe in modular and continue to do everything in our power to restart construction and put more than 150 workers back on the job.”

The court cases could take months, or even years to resolve.

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Friday, October 17, 2014

Top 5 - Largest Projects Coming to New York City

Amidst the hustle and bustle of city life, construction in New York City has been booming. From super tall skyscrapers in Midtown to massive apartment complexes on the Brooklyn waterfront, exposed steel and large cranes are everywhere. But some of the city’s largest projects are still on the drawing board waiting to get underway. Here’s our list of the Top-5 Largest Projects about to get underway:


#1:  500 West 33rd Street

The biggest upcoming development is a 3,423,666-square-foot tower at 10th Avenue and 33rd Street. 30 Hudson Yards will include 2.6 million square feet of office space, as well as one million square feet in retail.

Related Cos. hired architects Kohn Pedersen Fox to design the massive 80 story project. A loan for the tower is expected to close mid-2015, which is when the construction will begin.

Time Warner will be the anchor tenant, taking office space up to the 38th floor.


#2:  22-44 Jackson Avenue 


The second biggest project waiting to break ground is the former 5Pointz site in Long Island City. Demolition is presently underway on the derelict property, which was once a haven for graffiti artists.

Developers Jerry and David Wolkoff plan to build two towers costing $300 million - and totaling more than one million square feet - on the site early next year. 

The mixed-use project will include 1,000 new apartments, 12,000 square feet of artist studios and retail space. 210 apartments in the complex will be set aside and rent at below market rates.


#3:  606 West 57th Street  

TF Cornerstone is preparing to build a 42 story apartment on the corner of 57th Street and 11th Avenue.

The City Council's Land Use Committee approved a massive $550-million development in Hell's Kitchen in April.

The 992,938-square-foot development will be 440 feet and tall and include 40,000 square feet of retail space.

SLCE architects designed the complex which will house 1,028 new apartments, and replace a Lexus and Acura dealership at the location.


#4:  43-22 Queens Street  


Rockrose Development is preparing to build a 623,337 square foot residential complex on the site of a former Eagle Electric Warehouse in Long Island City.

The developer plans to leave the original structure largely intact as a base for the 54-story tower, which will rise to 580 feet and house 738 new apartments.  The project will also include 34,500 square feet of retail space.

Rockrose bought the warehouse in 2012 for $48 million, and has approximately 2,500 units of new housing under development in the Court Square area.


#5:  33 Bond Street

Developer TF Cornerstone is planning to construct a massive 600,000-square-foot complex of apartments and retail stores between Schermerhorn and Livingston streets in Downtown Brooklyn.

The future 33 Bond Street will rise 250-feet from the former site of a five-story parking garage located near the Brooklyn Academy of Music, which they bought for $70 million last year. The 25-story tower will house 714 rental apartments, of which 20 percent will be set aside as affordable housing.

The new building will contain 564,500 square feet of residential apartments with central air conditioning, and 30,000 square feet of retail space at street level.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Convention Center & Hotel to Break Ground Near CitiField

A spacious convention center and 25-story hotel and apartment complex will soon rise on the site of a Corona car dealership near CitiField. Fleet Financial Group plans to break ground on the $200 million project early next year. The Flushing-based group purchased the 1.67-acre DiBlasi Ford dealership, at 112-21 Northern Blvd., for $17 million in December. 

The site sits across the Grand Central Parkway from CitiField, where a $3 billion mega-mall and housing complex is planned for Willets Point.

The group plans to build 292 five-star hotel rooms and 236 apartments above the roughly 106,000-square-foot convention center.

The project will also include about 97,000 square feet of retail space, a restaurant and an underground parking garage with space for 300 cars.

“For the longest time, Queens has wanted to have some sort of facility like a Javits Center,” said developer Richard Xia, who chose the location for its close proximity to the airports. “It’s going to be great for the area.”

“This fills a great need for Queens. People fly in to Queens and leave for conventions at Javits or at the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, now they won’t have to leave the borough.”

Xia is also in talks with Audi to put a showroom on an adjacent site.

The development, and in particular the conference center, should be a boon for the borough, said Queens Economic Development Corp. Executive Director Seth Bornstein. “We really lack quality convention space,” said Bornstein, who added the project will bring jobs and an influx of business travelers to Queens.

“It’s a good location for a good development. It makes more sense than the one that was planned at Aqueduct because JFK is an international airport, LaGuardia is for domestic flights and conventions are mainly domestic affairs,” he noted.

And the up-and-coming area can support the project.

The East River site is just across the Grand Central Parkway from CitiField, the USTA’s National Tennis Center and the Queens Museum in Flushing Meadows-Corona Park.

“The US Open is huge and you have these corporate sponsors who have no place large enough to suit their clients,” he said. “The area is under-utilized now, so the project makes sense."

And Flushing is a hotbed of Asian economic activity. Hotels like the Sheraton cater to the Chinese nouveau riche.  Xia has his eyes on an annual event that brings nearly a million visitors to the area each year.

But not everyone is a fan of all of the mega-development.

The building site is an area that has perpetual traffic problems and is undeserved by mass transit, say local activists. With so much going on in downtown Flushing and Willets Point, they don’t know if the market can support it all.

Residents of the predominantly low- and middle-income, immigrant neighborhood say they would be better served by more schools and affordable housing.

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Sunday, October 12, 2014

659-Unit Apt Complex to Break Ground at Spring Creek

Gateway Elton III is the third phase of a multi-phase development, to create a new mixed-use neighborhood in Brooklyn’s Spring Creek area.  The 2.54 acre project by the Hudson Companies will construct 659 apartments and 70,000 square feet of commercial space in two mid-rise residential buildings at the corner of Flatlands Avenue and Elton Street 
The final phase the Gateway Elton Street development will include 357,400 square feet of residential space organized around a central courtyard with parking and outdoor recreation areas.

Approximately 70,000 square feet will be ground floor commercial space and include a supermarket, childcare center, a convenience store and two restaurants.

Both buildings were designed by Dattner Architects to reinforce the pedestrian-friendly block design of the previous project phases. The first and second phases of Gateway Elton Street included affordable housing for low-income families.

Phase III will include 287 units of affordable housing and is expected to be completed by late 2015. Hudson broke ground on Phase I of the development in 2011.

Gateway Elton III is being designed to achieve LEED Silver or higher certification in the LEED for Homes Mid-Rise program.

Photovoltaic panels mounted above 1149-1166 Elton Street will generate 214,000 watts of solar power and provide a portion of the building’s electricity.

The panel array will allow the mixed use development to offset 300,000 pounds of carbon dioxide every year, the equivalent of 8 acres of mature trees.

The solar system will be the largest of its kind on a residential building in New York State.

Once completed, the combined rooftops of Gateway Elton will carry over a million watts of solar photovoltaic panels, generating enough electricity to power all the common areas within the entire development.

As a participant in NYSERDA’s Multifamily Performance Program Green Affordable Component, these buildings are designed to meet or exceed NYSERDA’s energy-efficiency standards.

A tight envelope of well-insulated exterior walls, high-efficiency boilers, Energy Star window appliances, unitized ventilation, and water saving fixtures will reduce energy and water waste and control costs both for tenants and for the long-term operation of the buildings.

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Thursday, October 9, 2014

Harlem’s Tallest Building Coming to 1800 Park Ave

A large vacant lot between 124th and 125th streets, opposite the Metro-North station, will soon sprout Harlem’s tallest building. Rising up to 352 feet, 1800 Park Avenue will soon host a 32-story apartment tower housing 682 apartments across 633,700 square feet, with 63,200 square feet of retail space at street level. The project is being developed by Bruce Eichner‘s Continuum Company, which recently received financing to begin construction of an 800-foot condominium tower at 45 East 22nd Street, near Madison Square Park.

The new 352-foot residential structure will be the tallest building in Harlem, towering over the neighborhood with extraordinary views of the river and Central Park.

At 32-stiories, 1800 Park Avenue will top the 19-story State Office Building on West 125th Street by a large margin.

The Continuum Company picked up the 37,000 square-foot development site on the western side of Park Avenue for $65 million last year, and has hired ODA Architecture to design the project.

The site wraps the entire eastern end of the block between Madison and Park and East 125th and 124th streets.

Under New York City’s 80/20 program, 20 percent of the development’s 682 apartments will be set aside for affordable housing, while 545 of the apartments will rent at market-rates.

An East Harlem community board recently voted to approve a special zoning variance that will allow the project to include more retail space and less parking. Present zoning mandates that building developers provide parking spaces for 40% of all residential units.
“We think the trade-off between parking and retail is beneficial to the neighborhood,” said George Sarkissian, of Community Board 11, of the massive mixed-use project.

Construction on the retail portion of the project should be ready for occupancy within 24 months.

The 63,200 square-feet of ground floor and second-story retail will cut available parking to just 123 spots for the 682 unit complex.  Originally, the second floor was to have a garage with 304 parking spaces for building residents.

When completed, the 1800 Park Avenue will reach into the skyline as Harlem’s tallest structure.

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Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Lutron Announces National Contractor Sweepstakes

Contractors Win with Lutron Sensors

Contractors have a chance to win a trip of a lifetime, or one of more than a thousand other prizes.
Click image to enter

Try Lutron sensors for yourself and discover their superior sensing technology, combined with award-winning design, ease of installation and Lutron’s 24/7 customer support. 

Every qualifying Lutron sensor purchased from October 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015 gives contractors a chance to win. 

2 grand prize winners each receive* 
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1,000 nationwide winners each receive*
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To enter, simply purchase a Lutron in-wall or wireless sensor from your participating distributor and submit your proof of purchase either online or using the official entry form. One entry per qualifying sensor purchase.

Every sensor purchased equals another chance to win!   

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Monday, October 6, 2014

800-Foot Flatiron Condo Project Moving Ahead

Bruce Eichner has secured $420 million in construction financing to build a 795-foot behemoth at 41-45 East 22nd Street, near Manhattan's Flatiron Building. The 60-story tower between Broadway and Park Avenue South will trump its neighbor—the 600-foot-tall, One Madison—by a hefty margin, making it the tallest building between the Empire State Building and Lower Manhattan. No completion date has been officially announced, but with financing in hand, ground breaking should be expected early next year.

Mr. 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 83-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.

In addition to its height, it will have a 17-foot cantilever over the adjacent 33 West 22nd Street.

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.

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