Friday, November 21, 2014

Construction of Huge West Side Rental Tower to Begin in January

Silverstein Properties and Elad Group announced plans to begin above-ground construction work on their condominium development at 1 West End Avenue in January. The 42-story, 1 million square foot mixed-use tower will house 247 market-rate apartments with prices ranging from $1.25 million for a one-bedroom apartment to $20 million for a penthouse with terrace. The project has come under fire for including a so-called “poor door”, a separate entrance for the building’s 116 affordable rental units.

1 West End Avenue is located between West 59th and West 60th streets, at the southern tip of the long-stalled five-tower complex called Riverside South, a massive parcel of land overlooking the Hudson River.

The lot is one of five that make up the Riverside Center “master development,” and is one of the last large development parcels available in Manhattan. Silverstein and Elad bought Site 5 from the Carlyle Group for $160 million last year.

"We will be vertical in January and are just closing on $605 million in construction financing," Silverstein CEO Marty Burger announced at a recent luncheon.

Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, the 42-story One West End balances soaring glass and slightly off-center sections atop a limestone base.

The tower will have 247 market-rate apartments spread across 440,000 square feet, beginning on the eighth floor.

Units will range from one-bedrooms starting at 800 square feet to four-bedrooms that start at 3,000 square feet.

Most units will feature wide-plank wood floors and gas fireplaces, marble kitchen counters and walnut vanities in their master baths.

Also, bronze mailboxes will be set into the walls outside the front doors of each unit, so building staff can deliver newspapers and mail daily.

As required by the 2010 rezoning, the building's affordable segment will house 116 units on floors two through seven, and will have a separate door and lobby at 10 Freedom Place.

In that part of the building, one-bedrooms will average 900 square feet and two-bedrooms will average 1,100 square feet. Rents will be between $800 and $1,400 per month. 

Amenities will include a 75-foot glass-walled swimming pool that will cantilever out from the tower, giving swimmers the illusion of being suspended over West End Avenue, as well as a 12,000-square-foot roof terrace with recliners, cabanas and barbecue grills.

The tower will also have a media and billiards room, children’s room, virtual lounge, catering kitchen, dining hall, salon and a fitness center with locker rooms.

Though the building’s so-called “poor-door” arrangements have come under fire, the affordable residents will have equal access to the building amenities.

The offering plan for the building’s market-rate condos offers a glimpse at how the other half will live.

The plan includes a $20 million penthouse unit, Penthouse A that will measure 5,873 square feet with a 764-square-foot terrace. Penthouse B will measure 4,046 square feet and will ask $12 million, according to the offering plan.

In addition to the penthouse units, Unit 29A will measure 5,377 square feet with a 3,714-square-foot terrace. It will ask $16.5 million.

Ninety-three storage units, measuring 25 square feet each, will be offered for $25,000 a pop.

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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Louis Shiffman Electric Rolls Out Hybrid Delivery Fleet

In an effort to reduce its carbon footprint and embrace clean energy technologies, Brooklyn-based Louis Shiffman Electric placed its first hybrid trucks into service this month. The four new diesel-electric trucks are expected to cut fuel usage up to 35 percent and idling time by 60 percent, when compared to typical diesel vehicles, and also reduce maintenance costs.

With the addition of the four new hybrid box trucks, the Shiffman delivery fleet now totals twelve vehicles, including two flatbed trucks with knuckle boom lifts.

The company plans convert its entire fleet to hybrid diesel-electric technology over the next few years, as leases from Hub Truck Leasing mature.

“Hybrid technology helps us reduce emissions and fuel use as we work to increase the efficiency of our fleet.” says Nick Cetta, president of Louis Shiffman Electric. “Our plan is to plan is to eventually make all our vehicles green”

The Hino hybrid decreases particulate emissions by 96 percent and travels 57 percent farther on a gallon of fuel than a conventional diesel truck, reducing fuel costs by more than one third.

Hino’s hybrid power train combines a diesel engine and electric motor to drive the vehicle.  A computer determines the most efficient combination, depending on current operating conditions and driver demand.
A four-cylinder engine replaces the six-cylinder typical used in delivery vehicles.

The engine size is reduced because of the added power provided by the electric motor

Batteries capture and store energy during the "regenerative braking" phase of the vehicle's operation, providing a source of stored electric power for the motor during future acceleration. 

This balance between conventional and electric technology improves environmental performance and decreases fuel use.

The hybrid electric truck's operating characteristics remain virtually unchanged from that of a conventionally powered vehicle.
For more information about Louis Shiffman Electric, go to their website at .

Monday, November 17, 2014

700-unit Liberty Gardens Project Ready to Rise in Gowanus

On a two-block stretch of Bond Street between Carroll and Second Streets, preparation is underway for construction of a 700-unit development, Liberty Gardens, overlooking the Gowanus canal. The two buildings at 363-365 Bond Street will rise as high as 12 stories, dwarfing low-rise residences nearby. Remediation and excavation at the site began earlier this year and foundation work for has already begun. The project has landed $120 million in construction financing for Phase I, which is scheduled to be complete in early 2016.

The Lightstone Group’s controversial 700-unit ground-up luxury development along the Gowanus Canal is moving forward.

Phase I will include construction of a 12-story building at 363 Bond Street that will span 249,600 square feet and house 268 rental apartments.

The structure will include 3,625-square-feet of retail space and 111 underground parking spaces.

The building at 365 Bond Street will have 161 apartments, including 86 units reserved for affordable housing.

Liberty Gardens will feature luxury amenities including: 24 hour concierge and doormen, valet service, an outdoor pool and sundeck, indoor basketball court, theater room, fitness center with yoga studios and spin rooms, children’s playrooms, lounges, libraries, game rooms, landscaped terraces, outdoor barbecues and dining, indoor gourmet kitchen with private dining, bike and tenant storage.

Apartment features include custom Italian kitchens with Bosch appliances and Quartz countertops, wide plank white oak hardwood floors, beautifully appointed custom bathrooms and in-unit Bosch washer/dryers.

The property will also have a waterfront esplanade and park on the Gowanus Canal, which will be open to the public.

The development is the first phase of a planned 700-unit rental project that was initially launched by Toll Brothers but abandoned in 2010.

Demolition work is presently underway next door at 388 Carroll Street, where construction on Phase II of Liberty Gardens is expected to commence late next year.
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Saturday, November 15, 2014

Accountant Embezzled $1.6 Million from Electrical Supply House

Over a period of seven years, an accountant allegedly embezzled $1.6 million from a branch of Electrical Wholesalers in Connecticut. Gail Zolla turned herself in to police after learning of a warrant for her arrest. Investigators allege that the former employee wrote 470 checks to a fake company and deposited the funds into her personal bank accounts. Ms. Zolla was charged with one count of first-degree larceny and 327 counts of second-degree forgery and is being held on $250,000 bond.

A former accountant for a Connecticut-based electrical supply company was charged Wednesday with embezzling $1.6 million over seven years.

Gale Zolla was charged with first-degree larceny and second-degree forgery. Police said the forgery counts relate to checks she wrote to a fictitious company and deposited into her personal accounts.

Police said that on February 15, Zolla went to police precinct and told officers she had embezzled money from her employer, U.S. Electrical Services Inc., which is the parent company of Electrical Wholesalers.

The case was turned over to detectives and inspectors in the state's attorney's office, who began investigating.

Zolla initially told police she'd stolen $800,000 from the company, but as the company audited its accounts it determined the loss was actually $1.66 million.

The former accountant told police she believed her boss was beginning to suspect she was stealing and that prompted her February visit to Bristol police.

Police said their investigation showed that she wrote herself 470 checks during the time she worked at Electrical Wholesalers, and that she wrote the last check on February 15, the same day she went to police to turn herself in.

Police obtained search warrants for her home and bank accounts and said most of the money appears to be gone. Zolla told police she spent about $100,000 on landscaping at her home and the rest of the money on vacations, vehicles and other household expenses.

She also covered some of the expenses of her wedding with the stolen funds, according to the warrant. Bank records "indicate she spent money on vacations, restaurants, furniture and many shopping sprees."

Police also learned that Zolla used about $12,500 in stolen funds to pay down her credit cards just prior to going to police headquarters to confess. She cashed an allegedly forged check for $5,000 the day she went to police and another for $6,264 just after, according to the warrant.

What prompted Zolla to go to police to confess appears to be the efforts of a co-worker at U.S. Electrical Services, Linda Culop, to reconcile several accounts. One account was short about $750,000 for 2012 and 2013. Culop, a senior accountant, asked Zolla about the discrepancy and Zolla said she'd look into it.

Over the next several weeks, Culop continued to ask Zolla about the discrepancies, but did not get an answer. She then went to the company's chief financial officer, Robert Canyock, and another employee to show them the problem.

Culop told police that on February 14 she sat down with Zolla and another employee to investigate the shortfall, according to the warrant. Zolla said she was stepping away to get more detail, and then left work. Zolla went to police the next day.

As U.S. Electrical Services accountants further examined the records, they determined that the company's loss totaled $1.66 million and all of the checks had been cut by Zolla to the fictitious company.

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Friday, November 14, 2014

Harlem's Victoria Theater to Undergo $164M Hotel-Apt Conversion

The Empire State Development Corp. has announced that Harlem's legendary Victoria Theater will be transformed into a Renaissance Hotel by Marriott, with construction slated to begin in mid-2015. The historic structure on 125th Street near Frederick Douglass Boulevard will be topped with a 26-story tower that will house a 210-room Renaissance Hotel by Marriott and 192 apartments —half of which will rent at below market rates.

The $164 million project, which will include retail, cultural space and parking, is anticipated to create 700 construction jobs as well as 373 permanent positions, and is expected to be completed in 2017.

After 10 years of bureaucratic red tape, a new development is set to rise on the site of Harlem’s Victoria Theater at 233 West 125th Street.  The Empire State Development Corporation approved a multi- million loan for the project’s construction.

Keeping the former vaudeville houses’ World War I-era facade, the Lam Group has tapped Aufgang Architects to design the 26-story mixed use hotel and residential development.

The sprawling complex will include a gleaming 210-room Renaissance Hotel by Marriott that will feature a 5,000 square foot ballroom; 192 rental apartment -- half of which will be set aside as affordable housing; and 25,000 square feet dedicated to local cultural institutions.

The Victoria Theater’s south building will be restored and integrated into the site’s frontage along 125th Street, including the historic lobby, the grand staircase, beautiful circa 1917 facade, marquee and signage.

The development will also include 24,000 square feet of retail space at street level, a 99-seat and 199-seat Block Box theater, and underground parking for 90 cars.

The approximately 375,000-square-foot building will stand 300 feet tall, with 203,100 square feet reserved for the hotel, and 172,000 square feet for the residential units, which will rise at the rear facing 126th Street.

The $164 million project, which includes $47 million in public funding, is expected to be completed in 2017.

Renderings courtesy of Aufgang Architects

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Thursday, November 13, 2014

City’s Land Use Committee Approves 1,700-unit Astoria Cove Project

After months of negotiations, the City’s powerful Land Use Committee signed off on the controversial 1,700-unit Astoria Cove project. The agreement calls for the luxury development to set aside 468 units for low- and middle-income tenants, hire unionized construction workers, and include a supermarket and a senior center. The project will also include a ferry dock that will provide service to Manhattan and Brooklyn. The City Council is expected to grant final approval on November 25.

The massive Astoria Cove complex will have more than 1,700 apartments, 117,000-square-feet of retail space, a 25,000-square-foot supermarket, a 456-seat public elementary school and a waterfront esplanade.

Plans call for 2.2-million-square-feet of residential development in five waterfront towers, rising between 12 and 30-stories, to be built on an industrial site along 26th Avenue, between 4th and 9th Streets on the Astoria waterfront .

Alma Realty, the lead developer on the 2.2-million-square-foot project, agreed to increase the number of apartments with below-market rents from 20% to 27%, hire union workers for construction, security and maintenance, and fund the renovation of a playground in exchange for support from the City Council’s land use committee.

The committee voted to approve the plan 17-0 on November 12. As part of the deal, Mayor Bill de Blasio agreed to subsidize the final 2% of affordable housing and pledged to throw in $5 million for a ferry terminal at the development.

The city will also spend $1.5 million to fix up a nearby senior center and library branch.

The lower-cost units will be targeted to be affordable to families of four making in the range of about $51,000 to about $110,000 a year.

One-bedrooms for those units will cost around $1,900, while two-to- three-bedrooms will go for $2,400 to $2,700 a month.

The project received approval from the Department of City Planning in April.

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

The Astoria Cove project, along with the Hallets Point Redevelopment will transform a gritty waterfront stretch of Astoria off Roosevelt Island.

Hallets Point will add an additional 2,200 units of housing and a supermarket to the Astoria waterfront, as well as an esplanade along the East River.

The twin projects have been generously planned in terms of public passive recreation and would be a boon for the city.
The City Council is expected to grant final approval when it votes on the project on November 25.

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Monday, November 10, 2014

Southwire Advanced Training (S.W.A.T.) Demonstration and Exhibition

The Association of Electrical Contractors (AEC) invites all Local 3 contractors and supply houses to attend a Southwire Advanced Training Team (S.W.A.T.) demonstration and exhibition. This is an excellent opportunity for you and your key workforce to learn more about these products.

The exhibition will be held at the AEC General Membership meeting at Terrace on the Park on Wednesday, November 19th 2014 at 5:00 PM. RSVP is required. A buffet dinner will be served.

Please reply as soon as possible, as space is limited. Call 718 752-0800, Fax 718 752-0805 or email

Sunday, November 9, 2014

New! Lighting Control for the Digital Age

Touch the Future of Lighting Control with GRAFIK T™ from Lutron 
Introducing an exciting new lighting control solution for the digital age that marries advanced Lutron touch dimming technology with intuitive, minimalist design. GRAFIK T reinvents the way we interact with lighting controls: one simple touch or slide-of-a-finger on the LED light bar sets the lighting level. GRAFIK T is ideal for residential and commercial dimming applications. From simple standalone control to whole-home or building lighting control systems, GRAFIK T offers a solution for any light source.

Lighting control is effortless – and smart – with GRAFIK T innovative software and electronics. Lutron’s reliable Clear Connect® wireless technology provides the convenience of remote controls, and lets you connect GRAFIK T to Lutron’s wireless occupancy and daylight sensors.

Technological advances in GRAFIK T circuitry now make it possible to use elegant metal faceplates while maintaining wireless capability. In addition, patented C•L® dimming technology ensures GRAFIK T lighting controls are compatible with next-generation, energy-efficient bulbs, easing the transition to new lighting sources for residential and commercial users alike.

GRAFIK T lighting controls will also be available as a member of Lutron’s advanced lighting control system families, HomeWorks® QS and RadioRA® 2. In these systems, customers can control all light sources, including linear, recessed, and pendant LED fixtures.

GRAFIK T is the first architecturally designed dimmer to bring fashionable lighting control to the connected home market. Its aesthetic is elegant and timeless, featuring a faceplate that appears to float off the wall and a slightly raised LED bar that is responsive to the lightest touch and slightest motion. 

It is easy and intuitive to control lighting levels: all that’s required to raise or lower the lights is a soft touch on the LED light bar – no knobs to turn, buttons to press, or sliders to adjust.

Backed by Lutron quality, GRAFIK T is a modern design classic that brings together great looks and smart technology for a seamless user experience.

Contact your local Lutron representative for more information or visit

> Click here to Download Brochure

Saturday, November 8, 2014

New York City CAN-struction Competiton and Exhibition

The 22nd Annual New York City CAN-struction® Competition and Exhibition returns and will be on view at locations throughout Brookfield Place from November 6 - 20, 2014. The competition highlights the creativity and compassion of the area's top architectural and construction firms to design and build giant structures made entirely from cans of food.

These astounding structures are helping to change the world – by lifting the spirits of those in need, by raising public awareness, and most importantly, by collecting millions of pounds of food for local food banks.

At the close of the competition all of the food from the New York City competition will be donated to City Harvest.

The New York City CANstruction® Competition has begun its 22nd year thanks to the hundreds of volunteers, contributors and participants who dedicate their time and talent. 

This year the structures will provide enough food to feed nearly 60,000 hungry New Yorkers and we hope to double that amount through contributions from the public.

The exhibition will be housed in several locations within the Brookfield Place Complex at 250 Vesey Street.

The exhibit will be open to the public from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily.

Come and visit and bring a can to donate to City Harvest while your at it.

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Friday, November 7, 2014

Staten Island's Decaying Farm Colony Approved for Redevelopment

A 46-acre campus of abandoned buildings on Staten Island is slated to be reborn as a 350-unit senior housing complex with retail stores.  The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a plan by NFC Associates to redevelop the New York City Farm Colony, which has been sitting empty for more than 40 years. The developer would preserve six of the historic properties on the Sea View campus. Three of the buildings, dating from 1904-1931, would be used for residences, while the others would serve as storage and mixed-use facilities.
Shielded by overgrowth and plagued with decades of decay, a cluster of graffiti-coated historic buildings on the Farm Colony property in Sea View will soon be a haven for Staten Island's growing senior population.

Last week, the Landmarks Preservation Commission unanimously backed a proposal to transform the 46-acre campus that was once a poor farm into 350 units of senior housing plus some retail.

Called Landmark Colony, the project is being developed by NFC Associates (with an investment of $91.7 million) in cooperation with the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

The developers plan to restore the historic 46-acre Mid-Island property from its neglected, eroded state. The Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the area as a historic district in 1985.

Six of the 11 buildings dating from 1904-1931 on the Farm Colony land are slated to be rehabilitated for occupancy, with one for mixed use -- residential and a community center -- and another for storage and utilities.

A sixth building will be stabilized and turned into a greenhouse and garden. The remaining five buildings will be demolished with the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which will also oversee work on buildings slated to be utilized again.

click to enlarge
Approximately 30 period-inspired carriage houses are set to be built on the grounds.

The plan includes 17,000 square feet of commercial and community facility space, as well as a recreation center, gardens, an outdoor theater, a central green space and accessory parking.

Interconnected trails and paths for walking, bicycles and electric carts, multiple water features, and a community greenhouse and outdoors gardens are also in the works.

The design team from Vengoechea + Boyland Architecture delivered a presentation which contained detailed renderings and drawings and proposed changes.

The most notable changes were to the clubhouse building, which will be significantly redesigned, and the water table, which will be raised to allow more places to use salvaged stone in the construction.

Another change includes the fact that the pillars that mark the entrance to the Potter's Field will remain. A photographer will be hired to better document all of the existing structures as they are today before any construction commences.
click to enlarge

The commissioners were eager to endorse this project. "I'm a fan."

Commissioner Frederick Bland, who first visited the site 29 years ago, referred to the developer as a "rescuer." He called the plan "rich and meaningful" and "breathtaking and positive."

With the 65-and-older population in the borough projected to increase to 103,000 by 2030 -- for what will be a 100 percent increase from 2000 -- the development is critically important.

A 188-bed assisted living facility called The Brielle at Seaview is in the works across from Farm Colony, and another 104-unit complex for senior citizens, Park Lane at Sea View, is located on the campus of nearby Sea View Hospital Rehabilitation Center and Home.

A groundbreaking expected to begin by the end of 2015.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

New 14-Story Apartment Building Coming to Murray Hill

A mixed-use, residential and commercial building being developed by NY Lions Group will soon begin to rise on the east side of Lexington Avenue, between 33rd and 34th streets in Manhattan. The modern 14-story building will have a retail store on the ground floor and forty luxury residential units above.

Two low-rise buildings at 227 and 229 Lexington Avenue will be demolished to make way for the residential project. Demolition permits for the existing low-rises were approved in September.

The glassy 40,000-square-foot building, to be called 229 Lexington Avenue, was designed by C3D Architecture and will feature full height structural glass windows and accentuated metal antique bronze finish frames, complementing the surrounding brick facade.

The new building will house just 40 units, smaller than many new developments in the neighborhood, such as 172 Madison Avenue and 160 Madison Avenue. Both projects are scheduled to rise just two blocks to the west.


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Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Massive $550M Hells Kitchen Project to Begin in Early 2015

TF Cornerstone has landed a $384 million construction loan for its massive 1.2 million square feet-square-foot development at 606 West 57th Street in Hell's Kitchen. The  $550-million rental building will contain 1,028 rental units, with 206 of those set aside for residents earning 60 percent of the area’s median income. The property will also house 38,000 square feet of ground-floor retail space, parking for 400 vehicles, and a public pre-kindergarten school.

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 to 206 units.

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 38,000 square feet of ground-floor retail and underground parking for up to 400 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.

Demolition on an existing garage structure and shuttered car dealership is set to commence before the year’s end. TF Cornerstone will begin construction on the project in the first quarter of 2015 and expects the rental building to be completed in the spring of 2017.

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