Big Plans Would Transform Delaware School District and Create Years of Construction  

Appoquinimink School District in Middletown, DE, has a big vision for its future. With an expected rise in student population, the district just opened a new elementary school in the district for this school year and has plans for five new schools and an early childhood center over the next five years.

Included in that plan are a new middle school and high school that are already in progress and scheduled to open in 2020. The other three schools and the early learning center need the December 17 referendum to pass. A new elementary school–for which they identified a new 25-acre site this week–and a new early childhood center both are planned to open in 2022.

There is another new high school and new middle school with opening dates in 2025 on the master plan.

Leading into the referendum vote, the district has an RFQ for Construction Management Services, which would entail review of design, value engineering, developing a construction schedule for a project that includes HVAC improvements, a new elementary school, a new kindergarten center, roof replacement and turf field renovations at one high school, a middle school stadium and multiple fields.

It is also seeking RFQs for Architecture and Engineering Services and plans to make multiple awards.

Both bid requests have Nov. 14 deadlines.

Steinway Tower Taking Its Final Shape as World’s Most Slender Skyscraper

With a long and troubled road since it broke ground in 2014, Steinway Tower, at last, approaches its finish line in the looming year of 2020. This unique skyscraper takes its name and inspiration from the historic landmark Steinway Hall, a building that the developers both moved for the construction of this high-rise and then fully restored. At the site of 111 West 57th Street, where once the manufacturers of pianos once walked, Billionaire’s Row now gazes up at the thinnest skyscraper ever constructed, and in the next year, it will be fully complete.

Steinway Tower and Its Residences at a Glance

“He has the entire floor,” a New Yorker might say to a friend casually, as a way to tell someone just how well-to-do a person is. To occupy an entire floor of a high rise, with no neighbors through the wall— it’s something to dream of, certainly. For tenants taking up residence in this unique West 57th Street fixture of Billionaire’s Row, it’s not just the fantasy: it’s the standard. Reported to be twenty-four times taller than it is wide, there is only one residence per level.

Developers allowed the press to preview one of the finished condos last month, revealing a number of the features and fixtures that future tenants can look forward to. The 43rd-floor condominium, while not listed yet for sale, is of a similar size to the next unit up, which is listed at $29.5 million.

  • Press entered by way of private elevator entrance, and while it lives in a building famed for its slender shape, it sports a massive 4,500 square feet of living space. 
  • The three-bedroom residence featured an open concept kitchen and living area, with a full, symmetrical view of Central Park. 
  • In fact, if the room has a window, then it’s floor-to-ceiling and has a unique, expanded view of the city around it. 
  • Each bedroom, including the master has its own ensuite, and there is also an additional powder room for guests. 

The developers also promise amenities for future residents, including 24-hour concierge and doorman, a shared terrace, and an 82-foot swimming pool.

What Remains To Be Done?

At the end of October, the main structure of the building finally reached its final height of 1,428 feet. However, the upper floors, including residences and unfinished amenities, remain to be completed. 

Finishing the project will call for any of the following: 

  • For one, expect the same level of boutique luxury present in every other aspect of the building so far.
  • The building’s unique terracotta and bronze facade, a stark contrast from an area congested with steel and glass, will continue to its pinnacle now that the supports are set. 
  • Much of the above point will help to house the structural wonder that helps to keep the building stable in spite of its slender shape, namely the mass damper in the mechanical penthouse, weighing 800 tons, that keeps vibration and movement to a minimum. 

Any residences that remain to be finished in the upper floors will reflect similar, opulent features, and with plans even to add onto the lower levels of the structure for shopping, recital space, and more amenities, a 2020 deadline for the first tenants to move in will likely not be the end to construction.

Mixed-Use Plans for Edgewater Site Remain Under Review

The Edgewater Golf Complex on River Road has been closed for two years, and the future of the 12.8-acre site remains up in the air—under review by the town’s planning board, to be more accurate.

Fort Lee-based developer Rich Mark Development Group wants to build a mixed-use, seven-story building at 575 River Rd. The construction would include 384 residential units and more than 53,000 square feet of commercial, office, and retail space. It would also have a rooftop pool, a public park, and a community plaza.

Among the 384 residential units, 19 would be three-bedroom townhomes, 264 would be two-bedroom units, and 101 would be one-bedroom units, Ted Osborne, the project’s architect, told the planning board during a hearing, according to an article on northjersey.com. There would also be 58 units designated for affordable housing.

The first two floors of the building would be a two-level “podium,” which would include a parking garage and two stories of commercial and retail space as well as access for the public to get to the commercial space and Hudson River Waterfront Walkway, according to Osborne.

Not unexpectedly for a property on River Rd, parking is the biggest issue. The purposed parking options would require the “one of the most significant variances” sought by the developer. The original plan offered 420 spaces when more than 1,000 off-street spots would be required, northjersey.com said.

After an October meeting with the planning board, the plans remain under review by the Edgewater Zoning Board of Adjustment.

Long Island: Private and Public Sectors Come Together to Save Stony Brook Creek from Environmental Disaster

The beautiful natural landscape around Stony Brook Creek is finally looking forward to some long-needed rehabilitation. The hope, as private property owners, the communities of Brookhaven and Smithtown, and the governing bodies in Suffolk County join forces to improve this location, is to help local species of flora and fauna to flourish again and to make the waterways safe for recreational activities like boating and fishing. County legislature at present is looking to forward half the cost of the revitalization, which is estimated to total just over $500,000. 

What Created the Current State of Stony Brook Creek? 

The main troubles that the project aims to tackle are twofold: The first involves the current drainage system. According to local sources, this has led to stormwater from nearby Stony Brook Harbor emptying into the area, leading to siltation. 

Siltation is an often humanmade form of water pollution that harms the local ecosystem, an over-accumulation of silt (or mineral) deposits that can harm local fish and wildlife, change coastlines, raise water temperatures, shrink wetlands, and even increase flooding frequency. Legislator Kara Hahn (D-Setauket) remarked on concerns regarding changes to water quality that have been noted, including the presence of blue algae in local ponds, one example of “all sorts of discharge” that the runoff has caused. 

The second issue is that of an overgrowth of phragmites, a form of watergrass classified as invasive in this part of the world. Brought over from Europe, it outperforms local flora and chokes it out, thus shifting the balance of the local ecosystem and native biodiversity. Biodiversity ensures that every living organism in an area plays a role in maintaining and sustaining the environment. Without plant biodiversity, the needs of local organisms are thus left in the hands of a more limited supply of resources. Human hands doing their part to maintain local ecosystems keeps local parks and forest areas healthy. This underscores how important it is that so many local bodies have come together to help Stony Brook Creek thrive.

The Plan for Cleanup: Trimming Back Phragmite Growth

It was reported that the Ward Melville Heritage Organization (WMHO) will be helming this part of the project. Suffolk County has awarded them a grant to tackle a pilot program for clearing away around 12,000 square feet of harmful concentrations of phragmite. Their innovative new method promises completion without the use of harmful chemicals or mechanical equipment. 

In fact, the entire process is done by hand, and WMHO has reported that in tests in smaller areas, there is very limited regrowth, giving local flora a fighting chance against an otherwise robust competitor for soil and nutrients.

The Plan for Cleanup: The New Drainage System

Probably the more costly arm of Stony Brook’s revitalization, installing a new drainage system will likely begin with disconnecting the four drain pipes that feed into the creek. The intent is to create a new system that will divert drainage away, and handled through crews of laborers and contractors hired by the Brookhaven Town Highway Department. Their jobs will be to: 

  • Construct 32 catch basins.
  • Install 2,300 linear feet of new drain pipe around town rights of way.
  • Use these drain pipes to divert runoff away from the creek and into more environmentally safe places, such as the wetlands that can naturally filter and distribute new sediment without impacting ecosystem. 

Both arms of the project are expected to commence in the winter of this year and continue through to completion by the summer of 2021.

Industrial Sector Will Continue to be Driving Force in NJ Construction Next Year

Industrial development is going to continue to be a driving force in New Jersey’s construction industry in the near future but land supply will likely fall short of the demand, according to CBRE, a commercial real estate and investment firm, which released its third quarter industrial market report for the state and looked at 2020 and 2021 as well.

“The demand is there,” said Mindy Lissner, CBRE industrial broker and executive vice president told RealEstateNJ. “It’s justifying the pipeline and what’s getting built, so I don’t think we’re overbuilding—I think we need more buildings right now to satisfy requirements.”

Projected deliveries through 2020 will add roughly 22 million square feet to New Jersey’s stock of industrial space, Lissner said. About a third of that space is “already leased or spoken for,” she said, adding that the firm is tracking between 40 million and 50 million square feet of current demand overall. That would be nearly two-thirds of the state’s overall construction pipeline that CBRE is tracking over a five-year horizon, which comprises about 150 projects spanning 65 million to 70 million square feet, according to the article.

E-commerce companies looking for warehouses to store their products are a primary factor for the quest for more space. But it’s not just about space. These corporations are also looking for more modern, better functioning facilities that have higher ceilings, technology, and better, more efficient layouts than the buildings of the past, Lissner said.

Some of the biggest industrial projects in the state include: the 4.1 million square foot Linden Logistics Center; the Opus Warehouses 975,000 square-foot distribution center in Phillipsburg; and Kingsland Meadowlands three million square-feet of warehouse space on more than 700 acres spanning parts of North Arlington, Lyndhurst and Rutherford.

Industrial construction won’t be the only area to see growth in the near future. The CBRE third quarter office market report released last week predicts that office construction in South Jersey’s Philadelphia suburbs will improve as well with space more than doubling in Philadelphia and the surrounding area, the report said.

ABC to Hold NJ Apprenticeship Seminar November 22 in Atlantic City

As of May 1, 2019, contractors who apply for or seek to renew their New Jersey public works contractor registration face a new and potentially game-changing requirement: mandatory participation in an apprenticeship program approved by the United States Department of Labor. Without it, a contractor will not be registered and will not be eligible to work on the vast majority of work subject to the New Jersey Prevailing Wage Act. This means, without a valid registration – you CAN NOT bid public work.

This plain English, high-impact seminar will help your business prepare to continue doing public construction projects. Littler Shareholder Russ McEwan, who counsels extensively on state and federal prevailing wage compliance, will moderate our event and lead the discussions concerning this new law and its anticipated regulations. Kevin Triplett, of the NJ Department of Labor, will attend and take part in a 30-minute Q&A after the seminar.
The event will be held at Harrah’s Resort and Casino in Atlantic City NJ on Friday, November 22, 10:00 – 11:00 am, with registration beginning at 9:30. Attendees can expect to walk away from our program with a definitive understanding of what they must do to protect this aspect of their business.

Contact Lynn Bradley 609-439-2211 or email lbradley@abcnjc.org for more information

Lionsgate to Open Base of Operations to the East Coast with New Studio Complex

The Sixth Borough will soon be home to a production complex for Lionsgate, the movie mega-giant behind popular series like the SAW franchise, the Hunger Games, and many more. The space chosen sits along the Hudson River, close to the Yonkers train station. Working with Great Point Capital Management, a known media investment firm, Lionsgate is slated to become another major anchor tenant for the foreseeable future in Yonkers. While the firm has ties to other known studios like Hallmark Entertainment, Lionsgate will maintain naming rights as a minority investor. Projected to break ground in November, its planned completion time is late 2020. 

Why New York? 

According to the New York Times, over 300 movies were filmed in New York in the last year, triple the number filmed in 1980. Coming on the heels of other major studio moves (such as Steiner Studios, Robert DeNiro’s Wildflower Studios, and Netflix soon to follow), Lionsgate and other companies have a chance to save money with cheaper shooting locations and tax credits that they can’t find out in LA. In part, this has been spurred by the growing popularity of streaming services and high demand for content. 

Lionsgate is only one of several companies to move into the area, creating new and unique construction projects as they set up their bases of operations, and more are coming. 

Lionsgate Studios (Yonkers): The Plan So Far

Less than half an hour from Midtown, this will be one of the nearest studio locations to the heart of Manhattan. In the next year, the $100 million project calls for a number of unique spaces within the full complex. This will include

  • Three 20,000 square foot stages and two 10,000 square foot stages. 
  • A full studio backlot for expansive outdoor shots and locations.

As yet there are plans to leave space for further developments, and with an industry that has made millions and created tens of thousands of jobs in the last couple years, the sky is really the limit for what Lionsgate can do with the space. 

What Will It Take to Complete This Project?

For an undertaking of this size, a single-year deadline might seem tight, and much needs to be completed for the developers and tradespersons involved in this Great Point project. 

  • The five stages, for all their square footage, may represent the smallest part of the labor involved. If they’re designated as sound stages, then these open warehouse-like

Philly Area Airport Improvement Projects Get Boost with Federal Funding

Three Philadelphia area airports received federal grant money as part of the sixth allotment of the Airport Improvement Program (AIP), announced at the end of September. They were part of $157 million in airport infrastructure grants awarded to 34 airports in 19 states, plus the U.S. Virgin Islands. In total, the AIP will award $3.18 billion for infrastructure projects at airports.

For Philadelphia, the announcement means $102,717 to Northeast Philadelphia in Philadelphia for Phase III of the reconstruction of Runway 6-24; $13.41 million to Philadelphia International in Philadelphia for Phase I of the reconstruction of Taxiway K; and  $99,000 to Delaware Valley Regional to conduct a Metropolitan System Plan Study.

At Northeast Philadelphia Airport, runway reconstruction includes  full depth asphalt removal and replacement with an aggregate base course and asphalt surface course, installation of new and maintenance of existing underdrain structures, installation of new airfield lighting fixtures, pavement grooving, and pavement markings. There will also be improvements and a new geometry for the taxiway (L) that connects to the runway.

At Philly International, the taxiway reconstruction includes full depth asphalt removal and replacement with an aggregate base course and Portland cement concrete (PCC) surface course, new geometry to meet current FAA criteria, installation of new and maintenance of existing underdrain structures, electrical work and more. A new taxiway connector will also be added.

Three other grants were awarded to airports in Pennsylvania: $7.89 million to Arnold Palmer Regional in Latrobe to widen Runway 6-24; $2.6 million to Pittsburgh International for the purchase of snow removal equipment; and $3.88 million to Allegheny County in West Mifflin for the reconstruction of an aircraft-parking apron.

The full list of AIP grants awarded can be found here. The projects being funded include runway reconstruction and rehabilitation, construction of firefighting facilities, and the maintenance of taxiways, aprons, and terminals.

Central Park’s North End to See $150 Million Restoration

The north end of Central Park, just past the 11-acre Harlem Meer is due for a little updating. Totaling a $150 million budget that will replace the vastly outdated Lasker Rink and Pool, this will be the largest restoration project the park has had to date, according to the Central Park Conservancy. Situated between Harlem Meer and the Loch, the Lasker Rink and Pool opened in 1966 and has remained a fixture of the area for over 50 years. In the long winters, the rink offers two ovals for skating, one for hockey and the other for all-ages skating, but during the summer, the outdoor venue becomes an admission-free swimming pool.

What Are Some of the Major Changes Coming?

Lasker Rink and Pool will be seeing several much-needed updates that developers hope to marry it with the surrounding areas and create more spaces for year-round use. As it currently stands, it serves as a concrete wall between the Meer and the ravine. Other changes are to include: 

  • A free-flowing, natural landscape and a re-established watercourse. Waterflow into the culvert under the Lasker rink, as it currently stands, presents problems with overflow and congestion during inclement weather. The parking lot behind the rink subsequently floods often and this change will bring a welcome end to this. 
  • Pedestrian paths will be restored around the area of Huddlestone Arch.
  • Boardwalks will be built around the watercourse to small islands and over a freshwater marsh, allowing visitors to enjoy every inch of it. 
  • Lasker Rink will be demolished and rebuilt, with the new pool and ice rink, including a recreational building with a green roof that blends into the surrounding area. The green roof will have the added benefit of helping to create more oxygen, absorbing excess rainwater, and insulating the establishment below. 
  • Materials from the old Lasker establishment will be recycled wherever possible, and the stairs and walkways will finally be brought up to ADA-compliant standards. 
  • The intent is to complete all of this with locally sourced and environmentally friendly materials. 

What Will It Take to Complete the Project?

The restoration project is set to begin in the Spring of 2021, after the Trump Organization’s 32-year contract for the run of the skating rink comes to an end. At present, the full completion of the north end will take a total of three years, expected to finish fully in 2024. With a project slated for a LEED Gold standard certification, there are a number of points to consider going forward for any developers and contractors that jump on board: 

  • For one, a LEED Gold certification means lower use of energy, water, and other resources, as well as higher resale value, greater health for tenants and environment, and more. 
  • The use of locally sourced materials helps local businesses and makes the community part of the project. 
  • Recycled materials from the older structures reduces waste and maintains part of the local history of the area. 
  • In this three-year undertaking, the landscape around the current rink and pool will have to change drastically, including reworking natural streams, introducing new vegetation, and more.
  • For the new structures and walkways, the aim will also be to use all of this to create walkways and places for people to frequent that make the area and the park as a whole more widely accessible.

 

With a little less than a year until ground breaks, bids are still coming in, and there may be more to come in terms of what the final plans will be.

Nassau County Analysis: When Infrastructure Costs Less and Gets Done Faster

Under the shadow of potential reductions in local infrastructure spending in the near future, two trade groups the Long Island Contractors’ Association (LICA) and the American Road & Transportation Builders Association (ARTBA) came together in August of 2019. Together, they compiled a meta-analysis that can hopefully provide Long Island with a clearer roadmap to spending cuts that do not reduce the value of local roads or the labor that builds and maintains them.

The document in question explores the types of government contracts often used for maintaining roads, sewers, parks, bridges and more and explores their value in comparison to each other. It also looks at how the cost of materials, like asphalt, can positively or negatively impact the value of a given contract. Among several conclusions drawn in their findings, the study suggests that local governments that pay for a single project at a time, rather than bundling repairs or using open-ended contracts, tend to spend less time and money on both, with better results. 

What Are the Specifics of the Study?

The finished analysis looks at a total of 62 contracts awarded in five Long Island areas, specifically in Nassau County as well as the communities of Hempstead, Islip, Oyster Bay, and Smithtown. It uses the numbers on these contracts to explore how the type of contract had an impact on how much value returned. 

The three types of contracts that infrastructure work tends to fall into are:

  • Single, specific projects – These are “based on the delivery of a set of improvements for a road or bridge.” 
  • Bundled projects – Usually a group of repairs to bridges or roads or other parts of the infrastructure. 
  • Open-ended contracts – These have no set end and will take as long as it needs to in order to get done. While there are set bids and budgets, the open-ended nature means it cannot account for the changing cost of materials at this time. 

A Breakdown of the Study’s Conclusions

In exploring the contracts included in the analysis, the researchers found the following: 

  • Single projects spanned 35 of the 62 tested. With an average of 5.6 bidders, these lasted around 189 days, and valued in total at $78.6 million. That’s an average of around $2.2 million per project.
  • Bundled projects were 15 of the 62 tested and had 5 companies bidding. There was an average completion time of 220+ days, and these were awarded a total of $55 million. That’s an average of $3.6 million per contract.
  • Open-ended contracts represented by the remaining twelve projects examined. These lasted an average of 500+ days and averaged three bids per contract. The winning bids were around $29 million altogether, but the actual spending was over $63 million total. The study notes this is nearly as much as was spent on the 35 specific projects. That’s an average of $5.25 million per contract. 

These numbers support their conclusion about what appears to benefit local communities in a faster and more cost-effective way. A major factor in the expanded costs of bundled and open-ended contracts showed that the type of contract could affect the per-unit bid price on materials like asphalt as much as 10 percent. Especially in open-ended contracts, with no set deadline, the cost of materials at the time of bidding could fluctuate a great deal before completion. 

What Could This Ultimately Mean for Road and Repair Contracts?

While the data is now out there and free for anyone to examine, there is no definite word on action to be taken. However, according to Newsday, state spending is expected to go down in the coming years, dropping as far as $108 million in 2020 versus $274 million in 2018. These numbers show there may be a surefire way to cut costs without losing quality or jobs. Will a transition from open-ended and bundled projects to single contracts mean more bids for every company? If so, will smaller, more focused projects save money or leave tradespeople with less takeaway? It remains to be seen.