Friday, June 28, 2019

$700 Million+ Harlem River Yards Mega-Project

A ginormous development project may soon be coming to the South Bronx waterfront. Dubbed Harlem River Yards, the mega-project plans to bring the City’s first dedicated soccer stadium, with 26,000 seats, designed by celebrated architect Rafael Viñoly. The total cost is projected at more than $700 million.

The partnership is comprised of The Related Cos., Somerset Partners, and the New York City Football Club, which would be the occupying team for the new stadium.

A tower dedicated to affordable housing will hold a 25,000 square foot medical facility at it's base, as well as 150,000 square feet of retail space. 

The residential tower will hold approximately 550 affordable apartments.

New York State must first build 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 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.

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.

Tuesday, June 25, 2019

NYU Plans Massive $1B Expansion Building with Glass Facade

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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Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Six Major Projects to Watch in New Brunswick

In his State of the City Address on New Year's Day, New Brunswick, N.J. Mayor James Cahill said there were 1,200 new housing units coming to the city.

Some of those units are in projects proposed for different parts of the city, but hundreds of units are under construction in three housing complexes that will be completed this year.

There is also one major downtown project, the $215 million New Brunswick Performing Arts Center and 23-story office and residential tower that will be completed.

Here are some major projects to watch:

1. The Standard 

In the city's downtown, at 90 New St. just off Livingston Avenue, work is underway on a 21-story building that will have 186 apartments anticipated largely serve Rutgers University students. 

The developer, Landmark Properties doing business as New Brunswick Urban Renewal LLC., received approval for the project more than a year ago.

The 21-story residential development will include 186 units that range from studio to five-bedroom layouts. 

According to Landmark Properties, the developers responsible for the new building, the lower floors are expected to mostly house local college students, while the upper levels will primarily accommodate working professionals.

Additional components include common study rooms for student residents, a fitness center, storage space, 2,000 square feet of retail space on the ground floor, and 111 parking spaces. Select units will also offer private outdoor space.

Construction only began after the city council last May approved a 30-year tax abatement. Under the agreement, the developer would make an annual payment to the city in lieu of taxes. City leaders who voted on the agreement said the property had become an eyesore, with two abandoned buildings on the site that had been vacant for five years.

The Standard at New Brunswick is expected to finish construction by 2020.

2. The Collegiate

On the opposite side of the city, another nine-story apartment building is under construction at 78 Easton Ave. that will have 181 apartments, also largely expected to serve university students. This building will have 9,000 square feet of first-floor retail space. Just as with the New Street project, the developers of the Easton Avenue project - Missouri-based Collegiate Development Group of St. Louis - were given a 30-year tax abatement, and instead will pay $1.1 million in lieu of taxes.

3. Raritan Heights

Another project expected for completion this year is not intended for college students. Raritan Heights, a 254-unit complex is going up just off Route 1 south, near the AMC New Brunswick 18 movie theaters. City officials say these will be "market rate" units, distinguishing them from low-income apartment or luxury apartments.

4. Georges Road

In the planning stages is a mixed-use project with 12,000 square feet of retail and commercial space and 112 residential units located at the corner of Georges Road and Lawrence Street.

5. Jersey Handy Redevelopment

Also, there are plans for a five story, 112,000 square foot medical office building and a four-story residential building consisting of 192 residential units in the Jersey Handy Redevelopment Area as it extends to Delevan Street.

6. New Brunswick Performing Arts Center

Probably the crown jewel of all the projects this year will be the $215 million New Brunswick Performing Arts Center and 25-story tower for office and residential use. 

The Performing Arts Center is being erected on Livingston Avenue and George Street, next to the State Theatre. It will become home to George Street Playhouse, American Repertory Ballet, Crossroads Theatre Company, and Rutgers Mason Gross School of the Arts Opera and Musical Theater.

Atop the new theater complex will be 250 residential apartments and 15,000 square feet of office space. In addition there will be a new 400 car parking garage. 

Wednesday, June 12, 2019

Mega $3.5B Waterfront Development Planned for Bronx

A massive $3.5 billion project to redevelop an industrial wasteland on the Eastern edge of The Bronx could soon begin construction. 

The project, known as Fordham Landing, will be located between the Harlem River and the Major Deegan Expressway, immediately adjacent to the University Heights Bridge. 

For decades, the vacant lot at 320 West Fordham Road in the Fordham section of Bronx has sat desolate on the Harlem River.

The enormous project will cover 5 million square feet, including office space, a mix of affordable and market rate apartments, a new hotel and conference center, community spaces, and 12 acres of open spaces.

Developer Dynamic Star is planning to construct several large towers on the site. One of these will hold a 700,000-square-foot Life Sciences Center for the gene therapy industry and offices. 

A total of 2,800 residential apartments are planned to be built under the 70/30 scheme, with 30 percent of units set aside as affordable and the rest as market rate. 

Additional offerings will include retail space, a hotel, a conference center, community spaces, and an e-sports stadium.

The project’s 12.5 acres of outdoor space will be transformed into a welcoming waterfront oasis with esplanades, playing fields, and water activities like kayaking. 

Additionally, a dilapidated cove between sections of the site would be turned into tidal gardens and wetlands with an urban beach and boathouse.

Fordham Landing would certainly have an impact on the surrounding community, which has not been forgotten in the plans. 

The site is very close to the University Heights Metro North stop, and improvements to the station are being planned. 

Additionally, a new K-5 elementary school is being planned for the local community.

A development this size 3 miles north from the current Port Morris/Mott Haven Harlem River Waterfront hot spot where thousands of units are planned or under construction simply demonstrates how eager developers are to develop anywhere there is sufficient land size in The Bronx.

Wednesday, June 5, 2019

Giant Two-Tower Project to Rise in Midtown West

Silverstein Properties is planning to construct a one million square foot mixed-use project consisting of two glass towers atop a massive retail podium in Midtown West.

CetraRuddy Architecture is designing the 520 West 41st Street, located in Midtown between Eleventh Avenue and Galvin Avenue. Leeding Builders Group will be the general contractor.

The project will consist of two towers enclosed in curtain walls of glass. 

The shorter tower will feature landscaped spaces that break up the building’s huge profile into multi-level volumes. A large retail podium section will occupy the lower levels. 

The new towers will make a significant impact on the western Midtown skyline. Recent submissions to the FAA indicate the taller building will rise to 758 feet, with a swimming pool on the rooftop. 

520 West 41st Street is the last full-block parcel adjacent to the westbound side of the Lincoln Tunnel. Silver Towers, the twin glass towers also owned by Silverstein Properties, are located at 620 West 42nd street, and was one of the first tall projects to rise in the area ten years ago. 

Another relatively tall skyscraper the vicinity is Extell Development's 555 Tenth Avenue, which sits across the street to the east.

The building site was previously home to a large Mercedes Benz showroom and dealership, which was demolished in 2015 after Silverstein Properties purchased the site for $115 million.

An earlier design called for a 106-story mixed-use tower that would have brought 1,400 units to the area, with thirty percent of the homes being affordable. 

The skyscraper was proposed to rise 1,110 feet high, but the project stalled out during the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure.

Back in 2014, Oppenheim Architecture + Design’s came up with their vision for the property. Known as 514 Eleventh Avenue, the design called for a pair of offset residential skyscrapers with a diagonally connecting member at the top. 

This would have formed an angled frame-shaped profile with a row of sleek vertical lines, highlighting the abstract geometric construct of the building.

Saturday, June 1, 2019

China Is Building a Solar Power Station in Space

China is planning to build the world's first solar power station in space to provide "inexhaustible clean energy" according to China's Ministry of Science and Technology. This would take solar power to a whole new level.

The space-based solar power station would be placed in geostationary orbit, more than 22,360 miles above Earth and tap the energy of the sun's rays without disruption from atmospheric conditions or loss of sunlight at night. 

The station will be large, approximately 0.8 square miles to produce 1 gigawatt of power.

China is already testing the technology and intend to build the station by 2025.

A testing facility in Chongqing's Bishan district is being built that will be used to test the viability of a space-based solar power station.

The 33-acre test facility will develop space transmission technologies while studying the effect of microwaves beamed back to Earth on living organisms. The initial investment of 100 million yuan ($15 million) will be made by the Chinese government and construction will take up to two years. Once it begins operations, scientists and engineers will use tethered balloons equipped with solar panels to verify microwave transmission technologies.

Scientists plan to launch four to six tethered balloons from the testing base and connect them with each other to set up a network at an altitude of around 650 miles. The balloons will collect sunlight and convert solar energy to microwave before beaming it back to Earth. Receiving stations on the ground will convert such microwaves to electricity and distribute it to a grid.

Key Points

  • Science-fiction writer Isaac Asimov is credited with bringing the idea of space-based solar power projects to prominence in 1941.
  • Space stations and satellites already use solar panel arrays for their power needs, but NASA abandoned the concept of stand-alone space solar after some study decades ago..
  • Building renewable-energy projects in space to beam the sun’s energy back to Earth will reshape the way every person and business on the planet receive electricity.

The Space Race Heats Up

China’s ambitions in space rival that of the United States. Its two main objectives were originally human spaceflight (accomplished in 2003) and a permanent Chinese space station, which is coming closer to reality — it announced in early March that a manned space station similar to ISS is now on schedule for 2022, earlier than expected.
As the two geopolitical foes increasingly turn their attention to a technological and military race beyond the earth’s atmosphere, space-based solar power projects are an overlooked, often criticized idea. 

But with China announcing that within the next decade it expects to finish the high voltage power transmission and wireless energy tests that would be needed for a space-based solar power system, the concept is likely to get renewed attention.

All the plans in the space race have potential implications for a new military build-out in space of increasing relevance to the world’s powers. The Trump administration formalized plans in February for a branch of U.S. military known as the Space Force. 

The solar power station plans being contemplated by China include the launch of small- to medium-sized solar power projects in the stratosphere to generate electricity between 2021 and 2025, followed by a space-based solar power station that can generate at least a megawatt of electricity in 2030, and a commercial-scale solar power plant in space by 2050.