Thursday, April 28, 2016

Two Construction Engineers Banned by NYC Buildings Department

The City of New York has banned and revoked the filing privileges of two construction engineers who submitted falsified plans to the Department of Buildings and signed off on unsafe blueprints— without even reviewing them.

In numerous instances, the Department of Buildings found that that the engineers were negligent in ensuring that plans accounted for necessary safety requirements, including providing details to maintain structural stability during construction.

Since last year, as part of the Building One City plan, the Buildings Department has been cracking down on shady construction professionals. Its efforts have led to actions against 59 individuals.

Stricter rules for construction sites were also implemented, including quadrupling fines for serious safety violations.

In this case, the two engineers, Yaakov Stern and Ashraf Ali, were caught in departmental audits and have had their filing privileges revoked.

Over the last two years, Ashraf Ali filed four jobs that were found during an audit to contain false statements. The filings demonstrate not only Mr. Ali’s incompetence as a licensed professional, but also a refusal to follow regulations meant to ensure the safety of buildings and prevent the displacement of tenants through construction-based harassment.

At 224 West 137th Street in Manhattan, Mr. Ali submitted falsified plans, failed to secure proper permits for the scope of work being performed, and failed to file a certificate of no harassment, which affirms that the tenants vacated their units willingly, and were not coerced to do so by the owner.

During an investigation into applications filed by engineer Yaakov Stern, the department found numerous occasions in which Mr. Stern’s Professionally Certified jobs contained false statements and severe safety oversights.

In one egregious case at 133 Patchen Avenue in Brooklyn, a certified application by Mr. Stern indicated minor work would occur on the building. However, during the audit, a review of the plans showed major construction that would result in a change to exit passageways to the building.

What’s more, the documents failed to note details that would ensure the stability of the structure during the work.

During the investigation, Yaakov Stern admitted to approving plans with his professional license numbers that were presented to him without properly reviewing the documents. He has voluntarily surrendered all of his filing privileges.

“Safety begins by ensuring that job applications filed with DOB are in compliance with the construction codes and prioritize public safety,” said Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler. “These individuals abused their privileges as licensed engineers, and put expediency and profit ahead of worksite safety. Construction professionals should take note that the Department will continue to crack down with those that cut corners and endanger the public.”

Under the NYC Administrative Code, the Department is granted a wide array of disciplinary enforcement actions for construction professionals who fail to comply with the NYC Construction Code and the various other laws the agency is tasked with enforcing.

In addition to the issuance of violations, the Department can place stop work orders on jobs, assess civil penalties, suspend and revoke licenses, and, where necessary, refer cases for criminal prosecution.

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Thursday, April 21, 2016

Brooklyn Will Soon Join the 1,000-Foot Skyscraper Club

Brooklyn will soon be getting a residential skyscraper 1,066 feet - almost twice as tall as anything else in the neighborhood. This week, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a plan for the 73-story apartment building to rise this year on Flatbush Avenue next door to Junior’s Restaurant.

JDS Development and real estate developer Chetrit Group struck a deal to acquire the former Dime Savings Bank of New York, located adjacent to the famed Junior's restaurant in downtown Brooklyn, last year for $90 million.

The developers also acquired air rights in the deal enabling them to build a building on an adjoining lot taller than the Empire State Building.

The bank at 9 DeKalb Avenue is a 150-year-old landmarked building with a domed roof and an ornate interior.

But more important than the building, which might be re-purposed as an event space or high-end retail outlet, are the development rights that come with it: roughly 300,000 square feet.

That’s all the partners need to build a super skyscraper on the site they own next door at 340 Flatbush Avenue Extension. Combined with existing air rights, the nearly 600,000-square-foot tower will rise nearly 1,100 feet there.

Towers that tall are hard to come by even in Manhattan, and there aren’t any plans to build anything that large in any other borough yet. No building has ever eclipsed 1,000 feet in any of the boroughs outside Manhattan and only a handful of towers have crossed that mark in Manhattan, though that list is growing.

But there’s plenty of demand for a super-tall residential tower in Brooklyn—and now, one of the developers who has nurtured Manhattan’s Billionaire’s Row has the air rights to build something as tall as the Empire State Building in downtown Brooklyn.

A source familiar with the project said that JDS had originally planned to build a tower higher than the Empire State Building, whose spire stands at 1,454 feet. Only one residential building in the city is expected to rise above that height, the 1,775-foot-tall Central Park Tower, which is currently under construction at 227 West 57th Street, known as Billionaires' Row.

The skyscraper that will soon begin rising in downtown Brooklyn will be, far and away, the tallest building in the borough – and one of the tallest buildings in New York City. Presently, the tallest tower in Brooklyn is 388 Bridge Street at 590 feet, followed by The Brooklyner, at 514 feet tall – half the size of what Stern has planned for his site.

JDS Development is currently building a super-skinny 1,400 foot tower at 111 West 57th Street in Midtown Manhattan.

That project, which is currently underway, incorporates an existing landmark at its base - the former Steinway & Sons piano showroom and hall. The downtown Brooklyn tower will absorb the classical bank structure at 9 DeKalb Avenue in the same way.

Chetrit and JDS purchased the triangular site at 340 Flatbush Avenue in June of 2014 for $43 million. The developers had originally planned to construct a 775-foot tower on the parcel, but cancelled the project after they were turned down by the family that owns Junior's Most Fabulous Cheesecake and Deserts, who briefly put their Flatbush Avenue storefront on the market before deciding on tradition.

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Tuesday, April 19, 2016

You May Be In Violation of the Code Without Even Knowing It

Effective October 1, 2014, section 3303.16 of the NYC Building Code has been revised to require non-combustible shanty construction whenever a contractor’s shanty/office is within 30 feet of another shanty/office or within 30 feet of new construction or existing buildings.

The NYC Department of Buildings is trying to move the industry toward non-combustible construction in the majority of installations. New York City Shanty is the only compliant company.
Click above for more information

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Downtown's Tallest Apartment Tower to Rise on Greenwich

A 1,200-foot-tall tower of condos will soon begin to rise in the Financial District. The structure at 125 Greenwich Street will be downtown's tallest residential building, surpassing both 56 Leonard and 30 Park Place. The site, formerly known as 22 Thames Street, has no height restrictions—an attractive feature for developers who want to build huge luxury condominium towers.

Developers SHVO New York and Bizzi & Partners  are preparing to construct a 71-story ultra luxury tower, which is set to become Manhattan’s tallest residential building south of 57th Street..

The height of the new building was originally planned at 1,356 feet, but has since been scaled back.

Nonetheless, 125 Greenwich Street will still claim the title of second tallest building in Lower Manhattan.

The designer of the original tower planned for 22 Thames Street, Rafael Vinoly, has been retained as the project’s architect.

The developers have secured $240 million in construction financing for the 453,630 square foot building.

The ceilings heights will be 13 feet up to the 38th floor, 16 feet high on floors 40 through 65, and an enormous 24 feet high on floors 61 through 71.

The 128 ultra-luxury residences will be separated by mechanical rooms on the 39th and 55th floors.

On the lower levels of the tower, 24 maid’s rooms will be located on floors 8 through 10, just above the building’s lavish amenities and 25,000 square feet of retail space.

Floors 61 through 71 will house 10 enormous penthouses measuring 5,300 square feet each, with sweeping views of New York harbor, Brooklyn and New Jersey.

The building will be topped by a 10,600 square foot duplex penthouse apartment which is rumored to list at nearly $100 million, making it one of Lower Manhattan’s most expensive residences.

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Friday, April 15, 2016

Join the National Safety Stand-Down: May 2-6

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration and other federal safety agencies have designated May 2-6, 2016, for the third annual National Safety Stand-Down. The event is a nationwide effort to remind and educate employers and workers in the construction industry of the serious dangers of falls – the cause of the highest number of industry deaths in the construction industry.

OSHA, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Center for Construction Research and Training are leading the effort to encourage employers to pause during their workday for topic discussions, demonstrations, and training on how to recognize hazards and prevent falls.

“Falls still kill far too many construction workers,” said David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for Occupational Safety and Health.

“While we regularly work with employers, industry groups and worker organizations on preventing falls and saving lives, the National Safety Stand-Down encourages all employers – from small businesses to large companies operating at many job sites – to be part of our effort to ensure every worker makes it to the end of their shift safely.”

More than four million workers participated in the National Safety Stand-Downs in 2014 and 2015, and OSHA expects thousands of employers across the nation to join the 2016 event.

To guide their efforts, OSHA has developed the official National Safety Stand-Down website with information on conducting a successful stand-down. After their events, employers are encouraged to provide feedback and will receive a personalized certificate of participation.

 “In many workplaces, falls are a real and persistent hazard. Given the nature of the work, the construction industry sees the highest frequency of fall-related deaths and serious, sometimes debilitating injuries,” said Dr. John Howard, Director of NIOSH. “Since the effort began in 2014, the National Safety Stand-Down serves as an important opportunity for both employers and workers to stop and take time in the workday to identify existing fall hazards, and then offer demonstrations and training to emphasize how to stay safe on the job.”

The National Safety Stand-Down in 2016 is part of OSHA’s ongoing Fall Prevention Campaign. Begun in 2012, the campaign was developed in partnership with the NIOSH National Occupational Research Agenda program. It provides employers with lifesaving information and educational materials on how to take steps to prevent falls, provide the right equipment for their workers, and train all employees in the proper use of that equipment. OSHA has also produced a brief video with more information about the 2016 Stand-Down in English and Spanish.

For more information on the success of last year’s Stand-Down, see the final data report. To learn how to partner with OSHA in this Stand-Down, visit

The page provides details on how to conduct a stand-down; receive a certificate of participation; and access free education and training resources, fact sheets and other outreach materials in English and Spanish.

To learn more about preventing falls in construction visit  

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Wednesday, April 13, 2016

Condo Tower to Rise 667-Feet Near World Trade Center

Developer Soho Properties is preparing to build a 667-foot condominium tower at lower Manhattan's 45 Park Place. The 70-story glass skyscraper, anticipated to break ground before the end of the year, will include at least 15 full-floor super-luxury units of 3,700 square feet, with private elevators and average prices higher than $3,000 a square foot. The tower is scheduled for completion in 2017.
It's been four years since Manhattan developer Sharif El-Gamal shelved plans to build a 15-story Islamic cultural center —two blocks north of where the former World Trade Center towers stood—that drew international debate.

Protesters called it the "Ground Zero mosque" and said its placement near the site of the deadliest terrorist attacks in U.S. history would be an insult to those who were killed there.

The developer is now looking to attract a different kind of attention for his current project on the site.

The ultra-luxury focus of the building highlights the newfound allure of lower Manhattan as an upscale destination, yet it comes amid growing concern about an oversupply of apartments for multimillionaire buyers.

The planned 70-story skyscraper, with varying tiers of balconies slightly offset from its core, was designed by Michel Abboud, founder of New York architectural firm SOMA. Ismael Leyva Architects is translating the exterior design concepts into floor layouts and detailed construction plans.

Unobstructed views to the north begin at close to 300 feet, above which all the apartments will be full-floor units with private elevators. Those residences will have 12-foot floor-to-ceiling windows, offering panoramic views of Midtown, the Hudson River, and the Statue of Liberty. Two duplex penthouses will sit on the uppermost floors of the skyscraper.

Luxury amenities aim to evoke a five-star hotel, with a 50-foot Olympic-size swimming pool in the basement, concierge service, and a high- ceilinged private lounge. Adjacent to the tower, Soho Properties will build a public plaza connected to a three-story Islamic museum and prayer space to be designed by architect Jean Nouvel.

"The tower is going to be a market-maker," Mr. El-Gamal told us. "We're planning a building that's really going to share in a unique moment."

Mr. El-Gamal is now seeking to take advantage of Manhattan's luxury-condo boom and a downtown renaissance that has sent home prices up 28 percent since 2012.

The median price of apartments that sold in the area south of Chambers Street this year was $1.15 million, a 6.4 percent increase from all of 2014. In 2012, the lower Manhattan median was $895,530. The area has gained 3,000 residents since that year.

It’s been a long road toward building the tower, which is scheduled for completion in 2017. Soho Properties bought the lot in 2009 for $4.85 million. The project has $33 million in preconstruction financing from Madison Realty Capital, and construction loans will be in place shortly.

About 5,500 units are being planned or are under construction in the area south of Chambers Street, according to the Downtown Alliance.

Elsewhere in Manhattan, developers are shifting toward less-pricey condos because the surge in new units has been priced at levels that only the ultra-wealthy can afford.

Mr. El-Gamal sees a rosier picture of a neighborhood in which a penthouse in the Woolworth tower is listed for $110 million, luxury retailers are opening stores, and such media and technology companies as Conde Nast and Time are relocating.

45 Park Place will still have a lower price per square foot, on average, than the towers being constructed on midtown's 57th Street, a corridor that's been dubbed Billionaire's Row.

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Saturday, April 9, 2016

Amazing $3 Billion Spiral Tower Planned Near High Line

At the northern end of the High Line, Tishman Speyer is aiming to extend the park's wild, natural beauty 65 stories into the air. The developer plans to build a $3 billion office tower in the Hudson Yards district that will feature cascading terraces decked with foliage, atriums with ceilings as high as 23 feet and a glass facade. 

The Spiral will rise 1,005 feet at 66 Hudson Blvd., filling the block between West 34th and West 35th streets and Tenth Avenue and Hudson Park and the boulevard.

It will have 2.85 million square feet, with about 27,000 square feet devoted to retail shops.
The tower will sit one block north of Related's Hudson Yards, at the northern terminus of Manhattan’s High Line Park, once an abandoned train trestle.

Designed by renowned Danish architect Bjarke Ingels, the skyscraper has an outdoor terrace on every tenant floor with an adjacent atrium. A glass wall will separate the spaces.

In all, The Spiral will have 2.85 million square feet, of which 27,000 will be devoted the retail. Tishman Speyer has already secured $1 billion in equity from international investors, and is looking to pre-lease about 30-percent of the tower.

At 1,005 feet, The Spiral will stand exactly as tall as One57, and will become the fourth largest tower in the Hudson Yards neighborhood.

The tower is Tishman Speyer’s entrant in the race to extend the Midtown business district west toward the Hudson River.

Related Cos. is leading development in the area with its 28-acre Hudson Yards project, built mostly over a railroad yard that serves nearby Pennsylvania Station.

Three skyscrapers are rising at that site. Moinian Group is planning a tower close to Tishman Speyer’s site, to be called 3 Hudson Boulevard.

Tishman Speyer—which operates Manhattan’s Rockefeller Center, Chrysler Building and MetLife Building—said it’s obtained more than $1 billion of equity for the project from a group of international investors. The company intends to use the funds partly to acquire additional development rights.

Ingels, 41, is one of the world’s most sought-after architects, with New York projects including a pyramid-shaped apartment tower on 57th Street near the West Side Highway and 2 World Trade Center.

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Tuesday, April 5, 2016

47-Story Luxury Tower Planned for 126 Madison Avenue

Asian investors are going condo for Manhattan. Chinese conglomerate Fosun Group has partnered with JD Carlisle to co-develop a 47-story, 180-unit luxury condominium building at 126 Madison Avenue, in Midtown South, as it ramps up its overseas expansion. The 800-foot tall residential tower, currently in the pre-construction stage, will attract local and international buyers. Completion is expected by 2018.

126 Madison Avenue

The Shanghai-based real estate development and investment firm will own an 80% stake in the 800-foot condo tower that will rise near the Empire State Building. The tower is Fosun’s first ground-up development project in the U.S, and is a milestone in the company’s global investment initiative.

Handel Architects is designing the 350,000 square-foot residential tower, with Gachot Studios in charge of interior designs.

Amenities at 126 Madison will include a 75-foot swimming indoor pool, spa services, a fitness center as well as entertainment spaces.

The building will also boast 360-degree views, and its design offers corner living rooms in every unit.

The partnership owns multiple low-rise structures at 126 and 128 Madison Avenue, and 15 East 30th Street, which are slated to begin demolition at the end of September.

The bulk of the tower will sit just west of Madison between 30th and 31st streets, but there will be a small footprint on Madison Avenue, so that the address can be used.

JD Carlisle assembled the development sites between 30th and 31st streets in March for $102 million.

The firm is also building a new residential tower at nearby 160 Madison Avenue.

“Fosun is confident that this property will be viewed internationally as another iconic New York City tower,” said Alex Gong, executive president of Fosun Property, adding that Fosun is also open to partnering with other developers in the city.

"We have the ability to source building materials from China and also bring Chinese buyers to a development like this."

In 2013, Fosun Group bought One Chase Manhattan Plaza in downtown Manhattan for $725 million from J.P. Morgan Chase, and renamed the 60-story tower 28 Liberty. Earlier this year, Fosun signed on its first major tenant to the 60-story tower--Ironshore, a U.S. insurer in which it owns a 20% stake.

118 East 59th Street

Another Asian developer, Euro Properties, paid $49M for a building site on East 59th Street, between Park and Lexington Avenues, where it recently broke ground on a $210M tower luxury tower.

The Hong Kong-based investment firm is building a 38-story tower at 118 East 59th Street, with 29 full-floor residences starting on the eighth floor, topped off with a $30 million penthouse. The penthouse measures 4,869 square feet and has three bedrooms.

One-bedroom condos in the building will start at $2.9 million and two-bedrooms at $3.7 million. Two duplex condos, measuring 2,989 square feet, are asking $15.5 million and $16.5 million. Storage units in the building will go for $45,000.

The company razed the existing four- and six-story buildings on the site last year and is now constructing a new 76,586 square foot structure. 70,260 square feet would be residential space and 6,326 square feet would be commercial space.

SCDA Architects designed the new tower at 118 East 59th Street, not far from the high-end towers rising along Billionaire’s Row.

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Friday, April 1, 2016

Two Fulton Square Mega-Project to Rise in Flushing

While the Willets Point Redevelopment project is nearing construction, progress is also imminent at another major development site across Flushing Creek, dubbed Two Fulton Square. Developer F&T Group, which constructed One Fulton Square, and is working on the huge Flushing Commons project, is preparing to construct Two Fulton Square on the site at of the old Flushing Mall at 133-15 39th Avenue in downtown Flushing.

Two Fulton Square is a Flushing mega-project that includes residential, office and commercial space.

The project is the latest exciting development to come to downtown Flushing, and will play an important part in the growth and development of the surrounding area.

Two Fulton Square will be constructed in two phases;  The first phase of construction will bring a 13-story condominium building with 192 units. The new building will include more than 190,000 square feet of residential and retail space.

The second phase will include construction of 200 additional condominiums, a 200,000 square foot commercial component for entertainment and international retail, plus a 240-room themed hotel.

The project will be built atop of a three-level glass retail podium, and feature expansive roof-top outdoor gardens and an indoor swimming pool located on the top floor of the tower with spectacular views of the Manhattan skyline, accessible only to hotel guests and residents.

Building amenities will include a fitness center, a game room, daycare center and a laundry facility. The developers are also building a 377-car garage on the property.

The plaza at Two Fulton Square provides a public space for local events and gatherings, bringing the community together through concerts, family activities, and cultural festivals, in addition to the expansive shopping experience that the retail spaces will provide.

The new plans follow completion of F&T’s One Fulton Square, designed by architect Daniel Margulies, which is one block away.

It includes 43 condominiums, a 10-story and 168-key Hyatt Place, and a three-story retail podium, totaling over 346,000 square feet.

F&T Group is presently updating its plans to make full-use of the site’s potential.

Two Fulton Square will be significantly larger, and will nearly occupy two entire blocks. The retail podium will dominate the streetscape, though cut-throughs will open up the entirety of the site to pedestrian access.

F&T’s plan will be a major improvement compared to the parking lots and low-rises that are currently on-site, and multiple levels of outdoor space will activate the development’s significant retail component, energizing the surrounding neighborhood.
The buildings will appear drastically different depending on the viewing perspective; vantage points will reveal undulating structures uncharacteristic of new construction in Flushing.

Elevated parks will be interspersed throughout the complex, and solar panels will sit prominently atop the high-rise component.

Phases I and II are designed to link with waterfront luxury residential towers with pedestrian bridge access to Willets Point, CitiField and the USTA National Tennis Center.

The Willets Point’s redevelopment presents a significant opportunity for Queens, and current plans for Two Fulton Square are no less than impressive. Both projects promise to revitalize a stagnant area of Flushing.

No completion date has been announced for Two Fulton Square.

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