Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Ground Broken for Hunter's Point South: Phase 2

City officials broke ground this week on the latest phase of a massive affordable housing complex on a 30-acre former industrial site in Long Island City. Hunter’s Point South II will feature 3,000 new apartments on some of the priciest real estate in New York City.

The mega-project — which includes several buildings under phase one — is expected to create 5,000 units of housing when completed.

“This will make it the largest affordable housing development to be built in New York City since the 1970s,” said de Blasio, who attended the ceremonial groundbreaking.

“People want to see big solutions, it doesn’t get bigger than Hunter’s Point South.”

The development was started during the Bloomberg Administration and will include new commercial space and parkland along a stretch of East River waterfront once dominated by factories and warehouses.

But over the last decade, the old factories were demolished and luxury towers were built, luring new tenants with sweeping views of the skyline and a quick commute into Manhattan.

Phase I of the development includes 2,000 units of housing, 925 of which have already been built in the form of two entirely affordable buildings: Hunters Point South Commons and The Crossing.

The entire expanse of this 30-acre mega-project has already seen the construction of three schools seating 1,000 students and a 2,300-square-foot urban farm and apiary.

More commercial and community spaces will follow in the second phase. The 11-acre public park, when finished, will include a playground, a waterside promenade, and an elevated cafe plaza.

The city has committed close to $100 million for the second phase of this project as part of the Housing New York plan. That portion of the project is expected to be completed by 2018 followed by housing construction.

The city is working with several architects and developers on the different phases of the project. The residential buildings are being developed by the Related Cos., Monadnock Construction, and Phipps Houses.

De Blasio and others said new units will keep the neighborhood accessible to middle-income families.

For example, a family of four with an income between $24,000 and $33,560 can rent a two-bedroom apartment for $648 while a family of four with an income between $82,903 and $138,435 will be able to rent a two-bedroom apartment for $2,366.

Last year, more than 92,000 people applied for 924 affordable units in the first two buildings in the development.

But Mayor de Blasio said at least 60% of the units will be set aside for low, moderate and middle-income families.

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Sunday, November 22, 2015

$200M Lighthouse Point Construction May Begin This Year

After years of starts and stops, Triangle Equities is preparing to kick off construction on the $200 million Lighthouse Point mixed-use development, at a long-vacant three-acre site on the Stapleton waterfront in Staten Island. The long-stalled waterfront project is the largest new project in the area since Superstorm Sandy hit in 2012.

Directly adjacent to the St. George Ferry Terminal and the Stapleton waterfront, Lighthouse Point will span 485,000 square feet and include more than 100 residential units, 20% of which will be permanently affordable; a hotel; a diverse mix of retail shops and dining options; considerable public open space; and parking.

New York Wheel, Empire Outlets, and the New Stapleton Waterfront, Lighthouse Point is a key element of city’s effort to transform the St. George waterfront into a dynamic civic hub that will drive economic growth, create thousands of jobs, support existing waterfront amenities, and provide new waterfront uses to the benefit of visitors and residents alike.

The project is the product of a public-private partnership with the City of New York.

At full build-out, Lighthouse Point will create 85,000 square feet of retail; a restaurant and entertainment space; a 12-story, 94,000 square foot residential building housing 120 rental units - with 20% of the units set aside as permanently affordable; a 180 room hotel; a communal-style workspace for local start-up businesses; an urban beach; and a series of outdoor recreational areas throughout the site—all with unmatched views of New York Harbor, lower Manhattan and the forthcoming New York Wheel.

Project construction will be phased, with each portion of the project opening to the public as it is completed.
Lighthouse Point consists of a 62,000 SF retail building on the corner of Bay Street and Borough Place with retail stores, fresh food supermarket, restaurants and entertainment space.

Above this retail building, a residential tower will be constructed for approximately 109 rental apartments.

Along the waterfront esplanade, the four historic buildings of the U.S. Lighthouse Depot Complex will be repurposed into over 23,000 SF of restaurant, office and hospitality space and provide a linkage to the 140,000 SF, 180-room new hotel tower.

Parking for 400 cars will utilize the site topography and be built into the hillside in a new garage.

Twenty percent of the residential units have been newly designated as permanently affordable for New Yorkers earning 60% or less of the area median income, reflecting the de Blasio administration’s commitment to creating 200,000 affordable housing units across the five boroughs.

From 1863-1966, the site housed the U.S. Lighthouse Service Depot, which was the center of lighthouse operations for the United States during that time. The site was largely vacated in 1966 when the Coast Guard relocated to Governor’s Island and fully vacated upon the departure of the New York Harbor Pilots’ Association in 1984, at which point the property was transferred to the City of New York.

Click to enlarge
The Lighthouse Point Redevelopment is expected to create approximately 374 permanent jobs and over 688 construction jobs.

Construction is anticipated to commence later this year, with project completion slated for late 2019.

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Thursday, November 19, 2015

Quantum Electric's Tribute to Paris Victims on Flatiron Building

A massive illuminated tribute to Paris and the victims of last week’s terrorist attack appeared on New York City’s iconic Flatiron building last night, to the surprise of many commuters and passersby.

On the eastern flank of the oddly shaped structure cycled images in light of Paris’s best known monument, the Eiffel Tower, along with the City of Light’s motto in both Latin and English.

“She is tossed by the waves but does not sink.”

The organizers of the tribute, Richard Sobel, owner of Long Island City-based Quantum Electric Corp. and Veronica Mainetti, majority owner of the Flatiron building, said they decided to arrange the unprecedented display as the aftermath of the brutal attacks became evident.

“I think they can immediately feel the solidarity,” Mainetti said of the dozens who gathered in Madison Square Park to stare up at the tribute.

“We felt a sense of connection with our oldest ally, France,” Sobel said. “We wanted to get people thinking, remembering.”

Mainetti said she and Sobel scrambled to commandeer an empty apartment on the 27th floor of a building across the street from which the massive images were projected on to the Flatiron Building’s side.

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Monday, November 16, 2015

Huge Lot on Queens Waterfront to be Developed

A developer which owns one of the largest vacant waterfront properties in New York City, plans to build 52 single-family homes in Whitestone, Queens. Originally zoned for manufacturing, the 13-acre industrial property, known as Whitepointe, has been rezoned for residential use. The property also includes 8 acres of water rights and will feature a publicly accessible waterfront park. Groundbreaking may begin by the middle of next year.

The site's developer, Edgestone Group, which is involved with Barone Management - a firm that has both construction and development arms and is based in Whitestone, purchased the large waterfront site in 2011 for $11.3 million from Bayrock Group, which went bankrupt.

The property also includes 8 acres of water rights and will feature a publicly accessible waterfront park, as is required by city regulations.

The Whitepointe site was originally zoned for manufacturing until about 2005, when Bayrock Group bought the site and sought to rezone it for residential use. The city modified the zoning to specifically allow for the development of 52 single-family homes, according to area lawmakers, but Bayrock went bust and the property descended into foreclosure.

Barone said the development would be a boon for the area, setting a precedent on converting old manufacturing sites into residential tracts in character with the rest of the sleepy neighborhood.

Nevertheless, changing industrial sites to residential properties often involves environmental remediation, and the Whitestone lot was no exception. The soil at the site was contaminated and needed to be entirely replaced before a shovel could hit the ground. It was entered into the state’s Brownfield Cleanup program, which works with developers to clean toxic sites and prep them for development.

The court-appointed receiver for the property hired the construction arm of Barone to perform complete remediation at the site, which concluded in the fall of 2011.

Edgestone Group had originally wanted to build 107 single family homes on the site, but recently backed away from that proposal in response to pressure from the community.

The concession, unusual for a developer, underscores the strong anti-density sentiment in this middle- and upper-class enclave, distinguished by single-family homes and views of the Bronx-Whitestone Bridge.

Residents typically view increased density with caution, said Joe Sweeney, chairman of Community Board 7’s consumer-affairs committee.

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Friday, November 13, 2015

Hallets Point Mega-Project Getting Ready for Construction

The massive $1.5-billion Hallets Point mega-project on the Astoria waterfront is ready to begin construction, now that the Durst Organization has acquired the final piece of the real estate puzzle. The developer paid $15 million for the land at 1-02 26th Avenue, and will go forward with the 2.5 million-square-foot residential and retail development. The project will bring more than 2,400 residential units to the heavily industrial area. Another mega-development, called Astoria Cove, is planned for the opposite side of the Hallets Point peninsula. That project, spearheaded by the Alma Realty Corp, will add seven buildings and 1,723 new apartments at a cost of nearly $900 million.

What is Hallets Point? It’s a new development planned for the waterfront along the Queens waterfront called Hallets Point, a peninsula that juts out into the East River just south of Astoria Park.

The mixed-use towers would share the peninsula with Astoria Houses and bring along much-needed amenities like a grocery store, retail and plans for a school in the process, according to the developer and representatives from the community, who have long complained about a sense of isolation.

Here are some project details:

  •     The Durst Organization is the developer
  •     Costs are estimated at $1.5 billion
  •     The development will create jobs though construction and later, retail
  •     The mixed-use development is slated to have twelve buildings on ten acres
  •     Three of the buildings would be on existing NYCHA property (Astoria Houses)
  •     Seven of the buildings would be residential, containing 2404 apartments
  •     483 units would be affordable housing, geared toward seniors
  •     1,921 units would be market rate housing
  •     A few waterfront townhouses are also planned
  •     Heights of the buildings would range from 20 to 40 stories

click to enlarge
The project is situated on 26th Avenue between the waterfront and as far east as 9th Street, and the Astoria Houses development is on the project’s south side.

Other elements of the development include construction of a K-8 public school on the Astoria Houses campus; retail, including a supermarket, drug store and restaurants; and a landscaped public esplanade along the East River. Underground parking is also planned for the development.

City and federal officials are looking for funding from Washington to expand the East River Ferry, pushing a plan that would bring the waterway service to Astoria’s developing Hallets Point peninsula and several other city neighborhoods.

click to enlarge
The project’s architect, Jay Valgora, who also designed the nearby 1,723-unit Astoria Cove development, is working on seven different projects that will help transform the city’s 528 miles of waterfront over the next 30 years.

City lawmakers have already given their approval for both projects.

Construction is expected to break ground later this year, and both projects should be fully completed by 2022.

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Tuesday, November 10, 2015

Developer Plans 1,665-Unit Bronx Housing Complex

The owner of the Lambert Houses in The Bronx plans to tear down the complex and replace it with 1,665 units of affordable housing and retail space, along with an elementary school.

Under the redevelopment project, the Lambert Houses — a group of buildings spread out across roughly 12 acres of land in West Farms near the Bronx Zoo — would be demolished and replaced with approximately 1,665 new units of affordable housing, 61,100 square feet of retail space and a new public elementary school for 500 students.

If the School Construction Authority elects not to build the school, a residential building with 55 units will go on the site instead.

The complex, which is owned by nonprofit developer Phipps Houses, currently contains five groups of six-story buildings with 731 residences and about 40,000 square feet of retail space.

The city department of Housing Preservation and Development has been very critical of development's current layout, describing it as antiquated and dangerous, according to a document filed with the city.

"The existing buildings were constructed between 1970 and 1973 and have outdated building systems," the agency wrote.

"Furthermore, the configuration and circulation plan of the buildings, with multiple entrances and egresses, compromise building security by making control of access difficult."

Officials hope to start work on the project in next summer and complete work on it by 2029. 

Although Lambert Houses would be torn down as part of the redevelopment plan, residents would not have to move out of the complex if they do not want to.

Rather, they would be transferred to different buildings within Lambert Houses while their old ones are torn down, according to the scoping document.

"Once relocated, the unoccupied buildings would be demolished and construction of new buildings would proceed," the plan reads.

"Tenants of the next buildings to be demolished would be relocated within the Lambert Houses Project Area to the newly constructed buildings, and the demolition and construction process would begin again."

Phipps Houses declined to comment on the plan, while residents offered mixed reactions to it.

However, she said that the community was calm about the changes overall, apart from the occasional fear that they might be forced to leave.

"They claim that nobody is going to have to move," she said. "That's the only thing I hear around the neighborhood that people are worried about."

Phipps Houses, the largest non-profit affordable housing operator in the city, bought the 300,000-square-foot Blue Ridge Farms in Brooklyn earlier this year. 

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Saturday, November 7, 2015

Welcoming our Newest Sponsor!
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Thursday, November 5, 2015

Builder Plans to Construct Brooklyn's Tallest Building

Plans for a large commercial office building in downtown Brooklyn, the neighborhood's first in over a decade, have been unveiled by the city. It will be Brooklyn’s biggest building — and the first ground-up commercial office tower to be delivered to downtown through a 2004 neighborhood rezoning.

Manhattan-based JEMB Realty will construct a 40-story, 600-foot-high tower with 400,000 square feet of office space at 420-428 Albee Square, between Fulton and Willoughby streets, in the heart of downtown Brooklyn —a development the DiBlasio administration said is part of its goal of meeting the demand citywide for 60 million square feet of office space expected during the next decade.

The project, which is expected to break ground next year and be completed by 2018, would surpass a 590-foot-high residential tower at 388 Bridge Street in height — although other Brooklyn projects in the pipeline could potentially be taller, including a 1,000-foot-high mixed-use building proposed for 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension.

"This is a fantastic project that will stoke Brooklyn's economic engine and deliver the kind of high-quality jobs and careers we want to secure our place in the 21st-century economy," said Alicia Glen, Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development.

Original plans for 420 Albee Square called for a 65-story tower with 650 apartments and over 270,000 square feet of commercial space on the lower floors. After the city persuaded JEMB to scale the building down to 35 stories in March, the developer decided to switch the project to office space.

The city’s Economic Development Corp. agreed to sell JEMB 120,000 square feet of air rights to adjacent city-owned property to facilitate the deal and help ensure the development would be an office tower instead of a mix of apartments and commercial space, as was previously planned.

The transaction was part of the Willoughby Square project, which involves the construction of an underground parking garage nearby on Willoughby Street between Gold and Duffield Streets that will be topped with a public park.

The development will be the first ground-up commercial project in downtown Brooklyn since the area was rezoned in 2004. Instead of fostering more commercial square footage as intended, the rezoning has brought only residential towers so far.

Prior to the rezoning 11 years ago, the area’s 16-block core — including Fulton Mall, MetroTech complex and the Jay and Willoughby street corridors — was a struggling business district filled with 99-cent stores.

Developer Morris Bailey boasted his planned building – designed by Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates – would be “iconic.”

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Monday, November 2, 2015

Construction Expected to Grow to $712 Billion in 2016

Economists at Dodge Analytics forecast that total U.S. construction starts for 2016 will rise 6% to $712 billion, following gains of 9% in 2014 and an estimated 13% in 2015. “The expansion for the construction industry has been underway for several years now, with varying contributions from each of the major sectors,” said Robert Murray, chief economist for Dodge Data & Analytics, in a press release.

“Total construction activity, as measured by the construction starts data, is on track this year to record the strongest annual gain so far in the current expansion, advancing 13%.

Much of this year’s lift has come from non-building construction, reflecting the start of several massive liquefied natural gas terminals in the Gulf Coast region, as well as renewed growth for new power plant starts."

“Residential building, up 18% this year, has witnessed continued strength for multifamily housing while single family housing seems to have re-established an upward trend after its 2014 plateau.

At the same time, nonresidential building has decelerated this year after surging 24% back in 2014, and is now predicted to be flat to slightly down given a sharp pullback for new manufacturing plant starts and some loss of momentum by its commercial and institutional building segments.”

For 2016, the economic environment should support further growth for the overall level of construction starts.

While short-term interest rates will be going up in 2016, given the expected rate hikes by the Federal Reserve, the increases in long-term interest rates should stay gradual. On the plus side, the U.S. economy continues to register moderate job growth, lending standards are still easing, market fundamentals for commercial real estate continue to improve, and more funding support is coming from state and local construction bond measures.

Total construction starts in 2016 are forecast to advance 6% to $712 billion, with gains for residential building, up 16%; and nonresidential building, up 9%; while the non-building construction sector retreats 14%. If the volatile electric power and gas plant category within non-building construction is excluded, total construction starts for 2016 would be up 10%, after a corresponding 8% gain in 2015.

The 2016 pattern by more specific sectors is the following:

• Single family housing will rise 20% in dollars, corresponding to a 17% increase in units to 805,000. Access to home mortgage loans is improving, and some of the caution exercised by potential home buyers will ease with continued employment growth.

• Multifamily housing will increase 7% in dollars and 5% in units to 480,000, slower than the gains in 2015 but still growth. Low vacancies, rising rents, and the demand for apartments from Millennials will encourage more development.

• Commercial building will increase 11%, up from the 4% gain estimated for 2015. Office construction will resume its leading role in the commercial building upturn, aided by more private development as well as construction activity related to technology and finance firms.

• Institutional building will advance 9%, picking up the pace after the 6% rise in 2015. The educational facilities category is seeing an increasing amount of K-12 school construction, supported by the passage of recent school construction bond measures.

• Manufacturing plant construction will recede an additional 1% in dollar terms, following the steep 28% plunge for 2015 that reflected the pullback by large petrochemical plant starts.

• Public works will be flat with its 2015 amount, as a modest reduction for highways and bridges is balanced by some improvement for the environmental public works categories. A new multiyear federal transportation bill is being considered by Congress, and is expected to achieve passage in late 2015 or during the first half of 2016. The benefits of that bill will show up at the construction site later in 2016 and into 2017.

• Electric utilities and gas plants will fall 43% after a sharp 159% jump in 2015. The lift coming from new starts for liquefied natural gas export terminals will be substantially less, and new power plant starts will recede moderately.