Wednesday, May 20, 2020

Colossal Project Planned for Washington Heights

The Chetrit family is buying a Washington Heights development site with plans to construct one of the tallest residential buildings in the neighborhood.

Brothers Eli and Isaac Chetrit, along with development partner Jacob Aini, are in contract to buy 622-628 West 153rd Street, a large parcel located between Broadway and Riverside Drive, for $30 million. 

The partners intend to build a 28-story, 135,000-square-foot luxury residential project on the site, and hope to start construction in a few months.

The Chetrit family has been very active in the real estate market lately, although selling more than buying. 

Washington Heights has not seen a particularly large influx of new development in recent years, although the neighborhood is home to a handful of major projects. 

The project will join a handful of other major developments on the horizon in the uptown neighborhood, including a 22-story hotel, office, and retail project at 2420 Amsterdam Avenue being developed by Youngwoo & Associates.

A seven-story, mixed-use development at 4452 Broadway is also planned by HAP Investments. The project will have 129 apartments with 30 percent of the units set aside as affordable housing and ground floor retail space. 

Friday, May 15, 2020

MTA Project Completed During Covid-19 -- $100M Under Budget

The MTA’s dreaded repairs to the L train’s East River tunnel were completed ahead of schedule, despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Work on the Hurricane Sandy-damaged Canarsie Tunnel was initially scheduled to wrap up in July 2020 at the earliest to the tune of $500 million, but MTA officials said last year that the rehab was going so well that they expected to wrap up work by April. Transit officials say the project is being finished for nearly $100 million less than the original price tag.

“We’re finishing three months ahead of schedule, using innovative technologies and construction methods, and saving the public millions,” said Janno Lieber, Chief Development Officer and President of MTA Construction and Development.

Trains are now fully up and running, but some service reductions remain in place due to COVID-19 causing a shortage of healthy MTA workers. Subway service through the tube had been reduced to 20-minute intervals on nights and weekends while work was underway.

Over the last year MTA crews have rehabilitated swaths of saltwater-damaged concrete bench walls in the tunnel. Cables that were once within the bench wall are now hanging on metal racks installed along the tube. Workers also installed a new pumping system intended to mitigate damage of future strong storms.

Since its 2016 inception, repairs to the L train tunnel have been at the center of a raucous political drama. MTA officials initially planned a much reviled full shutdown of the L line for 15 months in what would have been one of the largest transportation disruptions in New York City’s history—derailing the commutes of 250,000 riders who rely on the line to travel between Manhattan and Brooklyn each day.

But in January 2019, Cuomo abruptly announced a series of changes to the project using new technology from Europe to make the critical repairs without closing the tunnel entirely. The governor tapped the deans of the engineering schools at Columbia and Cornell universities for their expertise in crafting the new plan.

New Yorkers, however, aren’t completely out of the woods yet when it comes to L train work. In June, the MTA plans to complete a new electrical substation to improve the frequency of service on the line and is already in the midsts of a handful of projects to improve the accessibility of stations along the L line.

But straphangers aren’t expected to fully enjoy the fruits of the MTA’s labor for many months due to the pandemic, with subway ridership falling by more than 90 percent compared to this time last year, according to MTA data. Still, MTA Chairman and CEO Patrick Foye says the early completion of the L train project is a sign that operations at the beleaguered transportation agency are heading in the right direction.

Friday, May 8, 2020

Seaport Redevelopment Plans 990-Foot Tower

As part of an integrated plan to redevelop several sites in the South Street Seaport, the Howard Hughes Corporation aims to build an up to 990-foot tower on a lot that could bring hundreds of new apartments to the neighborhood’s historic district.

The mixed-use building would rise on the edge of the historically low-rise patch of Lower Manhattan. Plans call for the transfer of more than 700,000 in unused air rights to 250 Water Street.

The development site is currently a parking lot that sits above the toxic remnants of a 19th-century thermometer factory. 

The current zoning for the Water Street lot caps development the historic district at 12 stories. 

By modifying the zoning, Howard Hughes seeks to build a red brick podium that’s contextually appropriate with the neighboring Georgian and Federal-style brick buildings, and a tower above that would soar to 990 feet, although a dual tower scenario is still an option that’s being considered.

The building’s base would feature some office and retail space, while the residential tower will bring between 550 and 700 units. It would be the district’s first project to utilize mandatory inclusionary housing—approximately 200 apartments could be set aside as affordable housing under the current proposal. 
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The building would also bring with it a package of upgrades throughout the Seaport area tied to changing the Water Street site’s zoning.

Howard Hughes purchased the Water Street lot—bounded by Peck Slip and Beekman Street to the north and south, and Water and Pearl streets to the east and west—from Milstein Properties in 2018 for $180 million. 

But the developer also controls a sizable chunk of the historic Seaport under a lease with the city, including Pier 17 and the Tin Building. Among them are several hundred thousand more unused development rights. 

As part of its master plan, Howard Hughes says it would commit to making several Seaport improvements along with the zoning change that it calls “priority designated improvements.” 

Among those upgrades would include a new six-story, 30,000 square-foot building at John and South streets for the South Street Seaport Museum, which is still recovering from Hurricane Sandy, and a 75,000 square-foot, low-rise New Market building near Pier 17. 

Monday, May 4, 2020

NYC Construction Sites Returning to Life Following Covid-19

New York City construction sites are returning to life, after about 85 percent of the city’s projects were shut down because of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The changes were enacted only after construction workers spoke out in mid-March over workplace conditions, including a lack of protective gear and a reluctance to enforce health measures like social distancing.

The New York Times reports that about 5,200 construction projects were operating again as of April 28. These included the Spiral office tower at Hudson Yards, One Vanderbilt near Grand Central Terminal and home renovations in Far Rockaway,

Earlier, about 85 percent of the city’s construction sites operating before the pandemic had come to a halt after the state revised its order and deemed them nonessential. “But every day hundreds of job sites have opened back up as developers, contractors and labor groups have lobbied officials to get them running again,” The Times reported.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo says that the construction industry will be among the first groups of “low-risk” businesses that will be allowed to return to normal, as soon as mid-May.

Safety measures including extensive hand-washing and tool disinfectant processes, as well as social distancing measures and revised work schedules — backed by plenty of inspections — explain how an increasing number of job sites are reactivating.

“I would have to say that the industry has evolved very rapidly to adapt to our current environment regarding the coronavirus,” Gary LaBarbera, the president of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, told the Times. His group represents more than 100,000 union members.

The Times says representatives of contractors and labor unions are pushing the city to allow 24-hour construction at some locations, reducing the number of workers on sites at any one time.