Wednesday, May 31, 2017

NYS Considers Giant Development Over Bronx Rail Yards

New York State is considering building a deck over a 13-acre rail yard in the South Bronx to allow for a massive waterfront development. The depressed urban area has been attracting more and more private investment as land costs rise elsewhere in the city.

The Empire State Development is inviting developers to present offers for leasing or purchasing the land, decking over the yards, then building a sizable residential or mixed-use project on top.

The parcel sits along the Harlem River, just north of the Willis Avenue Bridge. It is currently used as a transfer station to move goods between cross-country trains and trucks that traverse the tristate area—a use the state plans to maintain going forward.

The site is part of a 96-acre area called the Harlem River Yards, which is owned by state Department of Transportation and leased to a private company, which in turn leases out many of the buildings to industrial tenants.

Because the zone is governed by something called a general project plan, the state does not need to get any local approvals to change the zoning—say from manufacturing to residential or retail—which can instead be implemented through a state approval process.

In addition to maintaining the transfer station beneath the deck, the state wants proposals that cover opening access to the waterfront, boosting the local economy and creating affordable housing.

At 12.8 acres, the site is slightly less than half the size of the Hudson Yards development going up over rail yards on Manhattan's west side, and is on par with the scale of a proposal released last year by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.

That plan called for decking over a 13-acre rail yard near Lehman College, between the neighborhoods of Bedford Park and Kingsbridge Heights, farther north in the borough. Diaz predicted such a project could create more than 1,000 apartments.

"New deck construction has the potential to bring transformative development projects to many Bronx neighborhoods," Diaz said in a statement. "I look forward to examining the level of interest this [request] brings to the Harlem River Yards and how that interest could inform future opportunities for platform projects."

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Friday, May 26, 2017

Developer Selected to Build Large Affordable Housing Project

The City of New York has selected a developer to turn a former NYPD parking garage in Jamaica, Queens, into a large, mixed-use complex with more than 350 affordable apartments.

The project, which will be developed by Omni New York, is a key component of the de Blasio administration's 2015 economic development initiative called the Jamaica NOW Action Plan, which aims to spur job growth and retail development in the neighborhood.

"This proposal builds on southeast Queens' strengths as a commercial and transit hub," said Maria Torres-Springer, president of the city's Economic Development Corp.

A request for proposals for the site was issued in February 2015, with Manhattan-based Omni submitting the winning bid. All of the units in the new building, located on 168th Street between Jamaica and 93rd avenues, will be enrolled in the city's affordable-housing program, and a portion of the parking in the building will be dedicated for NYPD use.

The project, which will also include ground-floor retail, is the first milestone of a larger effort to foster job growth in Jamaica, which is served by four subway lines, a major Long Island Rail Road junction and the AirTrain to John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Yet, despite those existing transit advantages and a 2007 rezoning that allowed for the construction of ample commercial office space and hotels, job growth and economic activity have declined during the past decade, according to the city.

De Blasio's plan calls for improving streetscapes and storefronts to entice more retail shoppers, launching job programs for residents and unlocking vacant lots for housing and commercial development. The neighborhood will also be the first in the city to get free WiFi.

The NYPD parking garage development is the only residential project specifically outlined in the plan, and was hashed out with input from local stakeholders, ensuring community support.

The mayor's initiative is the latest in a series of attempts to foster economic growth in the area.

A neighborhood nonprofit called the Greater Jamaica Development Corp. has been working for years to encourage development on a handful of large sites, and some of those projects are now starting to rise. An affordable-housing project called the Crossing at Jamaica Station is under construction, for example, along with a Hilton Garden Inn.

In August, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced a $10 million grant that includes funding for a staff of planners to assess tweaks to the neighborhood's transportation junctions and potential new apartment projects.

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Tuesday, May 23, 2017

NY University Plans Massive $1Billion Glass Building

New York University has announced its plans for a new $1 billion, all-glass academic building, the largest such structure ever built by the university. The 735,000-square-foot building will be located at 181 Mercer Street and is scheduled to be complete in 2021.

For the past 35 years, the Southern tip of NYU’s main campus has been delineated by a 20-foot brick wall separating the school’s campus from the neighborhood of Greenwich Village.

Now, as part of NYU: 2031, the approved 6 million square foot city wide expansion, that wall and its attached school gymnasium, the Coles Sports Center, are coming down.

The replacement will be a $1 billion translucent university compound, made of various glass shapes and sizes, opening the campus to be more inclusive and unsheltered from the outer community.

The new building will rise 23 stories and will feature an underground gym and swimming pool, 60 new classrooms, a 350-seat proscenium theater, two smaller theaters, orchestra space and practice rooms, faculty and student housing towers and a green roof, with hallways and staircases along the perimeter of the transparent facade.

University officials and designers said the see-through aspect of the building is meant to help it blend into the community, which lost a court challenge to stop the school’s plans to extend its presence in the neighborhood.

The facility, designed by Davis Brody Bond and Kieran Timberlake, will become NYU’s largest classroom building and will include 420 freshman housing units and 60 faculty apartments.
Local residents, students and preservationists had opposed the project for years, but a court decision last year gave it the green light.

Many activists, who include faculty and students as well as those from the surrounding neighborhood, said the land should be turned into a public park.

The parcel, which is part of a "super block" site established in the 1940s and 1950s when famous city planner Robert Moses proposed New York build an expressway through lower Manhattan, was purchased by NYU in the 1960s.

According to the New York Building Congress, NYU and Columbia University are leading a higher education building boom in the city.

NYBC President Richard Anderson said in April that both schools had multiyear growth plans and that the city’s university and college community overall was on track to contribute to the New York construction industry well into the future.

According to the NYBC, New York City’s investment in school construction tripled from 2014 and 2015, and it has quadrupled from the period 2010 to 2014.

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Thursday, May 18, 2017

Sloan-Kettering Preparing to Construct $1.5B Tower

The city has approved a plan by Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the City University of New York for the construction of new, 1.15 million-square-foot medical complex on the Upper East Side. The partnership will build adjacent towers along the FDR Drive on the entire block between East 73rd and 74th street,s where Hunter College will erect a 403,000-square-foot structure for its nursing school and science research labs. Memorial Sloan-Kettering will take the eastern side of the site to build a new 750,000 square-foot, 23-story outpatient treatment center. The project is expected to cost upwards of $1.5 billion.

The city sold the 66,000 square-foot site at 525 East 73rd Street -- formerly home to a Department of Sanitation garage that was demolished in 2008 -- for $226 million, to construct the new state-of-the-art science and medical facilities.

At the time, then Mayor Bloomberg called the deal “easily one of the largest real estate transactions the city has ever been involved in.”

Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center will construct an up to 750,000 square-foot cancer care facility and CUNY Hunter College will build a 403,000-square-foot Science and Health Professions building to upgrade its science and nursing facilities. [See ElectricWeb | Blogger, Mar 6, 2013]

Preliminary work has already begun at the site, with construction planned to begin in 2014. The project, which is slated for completion in 2018, will create more than 3,200 construction jobs and nearly 830 permanent jobs according to the New York City Economic Development Corporation.

“Thanks to our innovative approach to economic development, today’s announcement is yet another step towards making New York City home to the world’s most talented workforce,” Bloomberg said.

“Not only will these two great institutions play a critical role in creating great jobs in one of the city’s growing industries, but they usher in the innovators and medical advancements of tomorrow.”

The Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center will be well-positioned near the hospital’s main campus at 1275 York Avenue and will provide outpatient treatment programs for patients with lung, head, neck and hematological cancers and will include state-of-the-art outpatient bone marrow transplantation services.

The site will also enable CUNY Hunter to create consolidated science and nursing facilities, eliminating the need for duplicate eating halls, libraries and other facilities at the current 25th Street campus, which will ultimately be vacated.

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Builder Gets $300M Construction Loan for 800-foot Tower

Lower Manhattan is getting more luxury condos targeted at the next generation.

Lightstone Group has secured a $305M construction loan to build an 800-foot-tall spiral condo tower at 130 William Street.

The building, scheduled to begin construction in September, will cost about $700 million. The project is expected to be completed by the fall of 2019.

The developer ditched initial plans to build a hotel at 130 William Street and decided to turn the entire building into condominiums instead.

Current plans call for 244 condo units at the 61-story building which will be designed by noted architect David Adjaye.

Adjaye is best known for designing the National Museum of African American History and Culture on the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

Lightstone Group plans to put $113 million of its own cash and land equity into the project, and is seeking an additional $100 million, or 18 percent of the project’s total cost, in EB-5 funds from investors in China and Vietnam. 

130 William Street will have panoramic views over the entire city including the Statue of Liberty.

Additionally, the tower will boast a rooftop observatory for residents and two floors of amenities including a wine cellar, indoor pool and spa, fitness center, lounge, a movie theater and children’s playroom.

Lightstone worked through a complex process, buying several properties to purchase the development parcel for below-market prices. Units will be sold at lower prices than the ultra-luxury condos that have struggled to sell. Condos at lower price points have experienced rapid sell-outs.

The firm will sell units on average at $2K/SF, below the $3K/SF number at some of the most expensive new projects. Half the building will be studios and one-bedrooms — smaller apartments targeting the young, single community of workers in downtown Manhattan.

Unit pricing will start at roughly $630,000 for a studio and $4.7 million for a four-bedroom.

The company bought the existing 12-story building on the site from Triangle Assets for $60 million in 2014 and plans to demolish it this summer.

Lightstone Group is currently also developing three Manhattan hotels for Marriott’s Moxy brand.

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Thursday, May 4, 2017

Team Selected for $1.5B Expansion of Javits Convention Center

The Empire State Development Corp. has selected LendLease Turner as the design-build team for the massive 1.5 Billion expansion of the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center on Manhattan’s West Side. The winning team is a joint venture between Lend Lease and Turner Construction.

Last year, Governor Cuomo revealed plans to expand the convention center, located between Eleventh and Twelfth Avenues between West 34th and 39th Streets on the far West Side, by 1.2 million square feet. 

The announcement came four years after Cuomo proposed razing the Javits Center and replacing it with a new convention center in Queens.

Because of its size and lack of facilities the Javits Center loses about 15 major conventions a year and unlike the boat show and the car show where people come for the day and then go home, these are conventions where people stay for days and spend a lot of money.

Cuomo in 2012 called the Javits Center “obsolete and not large enough to be a top-tier competitor in today’s marketplace.”

“Javits is the busiest convention center in the nation—but we need to keep building and growing if we want to remain competitive, and that is exactly what we are doing," said the governor.

The already enormous convention center covered more than 2 million square feet when it opened in 1986. With the expansion, the facility would measure 3.3 million square feet in total, 665,000 square feet of which would include brand-new meeting rooms and an exhibition hall.

The 1.2 million square-foot addition would be built on a swath of vacant land to the existing building’s north.

The project will create a 58,000 square-foot ballroom (the largest ballroom on the east coast), 22,000 square feet of outdoor event space, and a 633,000 square-foot truck garage.

The addition will also have a green roof terrace with views of the Hudson River and a 34,000-square-foot solar panel that will make the center LEED Platinum certified.

The winning development team will use a process called design-build for the 1.2-million square-foot project, which the state says has reduced construction costs on a number of state projects, including the Tappan Zee Bridge

Click images to enlarge

Design-build is a construction technique where an architect and a contractor bid together as a team to design and build a project through a single contract, rather than having the state first award design work and then separately bid out construction work.

The method aims to cut costs on major infrastructure projects, though to date it has only been used sparingly in New York compared with other parts of the country. 

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