M Station Breaks Ground in Morristown

Last week, developers and town officials gathered to break ground on the $225 million M Station Redevelopment project at the former Midtown Shopping Center site in Morristown, NJ. Now, construction begins on what is being called a “transformative” project for the town, the most significant commercial development in the decades.

The first part of the multi-phased project will be two mixed-used office and retail buildings on the five-acre site on Morris Street, between Lafayette Avenue and Spring Street. One building will be seven stories with 233,770 square feet of office space and 19,400 square feet of retail. The second building will have six stories and 118,900 square feet of office space and 10,130 square feet of retail. Plans call for large outdoor terraces on the top floor of each building.

M Station is expected to act as a connector between the town’s New Jersey Transit station and the Green and tenants are already signing on. Deloitte has agreed to move its Parsippany operations to 110,000 square-feet at M Station.

According to the project plans, there will be a promenade and public plaza, as well as a parking garage with 889 parking spaces and 33 surface spots. Other site improvements include landscaping, pedestrian improvements, road reconfiguration of Spring Place, and a new roundabout on Morris Street.’

Last month, the Morristown council approved a 30-year PILOT agreement between the developer and the town. The council also endorsed issuing up to $8.8 million bonds for the roundabout and other off-site improvements.

Murdock Solon Architects Eyes Historic East Village Building for Renovation, Submits Proposals

While infrastructure, housing, and commercial ventures remain a steady demand in Manhattan’s bustling construction market, the area of historical preservation remains a common area of negotiation in a community that values both progress and reverence for its rich history and landmarks. 

Over the past several years, many progressive New York City efforts have gone toward reworking older structures into habitable, modern spaces, a trend seen in projects such as the Empire State Dairy. Like it, there often comes a caveat to do with preserving the appearances of the original buildings, many of which, however, faded and obscure, often hold great historical significance to the area. 

In similar fashion, Murdock Solon Architects has turned its gaze on the site of Bath House Studios, one of Manhattan’s premier event rental properties. Formerly the site of one of New York City’s fifteen public baths, the design firm has begun submitting proposals to the Landmark Preservation Commission to restore the original façade as well as make major updates to the interior. 

538-540 East 11th Street, Bath House Studios, and History

Bath House Studios stands to benefit from a full restoration of the historic façade, as its identity is clearly tied with the facility’s history that once stood behind it. 

The 538-540 East 11th Street former Free Public Bath is one of the better-preserved examples of its kind, built in the early 1900s at a time when the largely immigrant population did not have access to baths within their own homes. It remained open until the 1950s. In the mid-90s, the location was converted into the private studio of Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer Eddie Adams. 

Vacated in 2004 after Adams’ unfortunate passing, the site would be designated a landmark in 2008.

What Will the Bath House Studio Project Involve?

The smallest changes to be made at 538-540 East 11th Street will happen indoors. The building’s ultra-modern interiors (including two studio venues and one residence) contrast heavily with the preserved exterior and call for the installation of a new A/C unit, new hardwood floors throughout, and a remodel of one of the kitchen areas. Windows on multiple floors will also be replaced.

The most significant efforts will go into that historic facade and the entryway. Originally designed by Arnold William Brunner, the facade features a familiar Neo-Italian Renaissance design that distinguishes it from other buildings on the street. These features will need to be preserved in exacting detail. Part of the work will be to better marry the more modern features that have been added in the time since the original bath house’s closure with that original, classic design. 

Current plans—as they are written—involve a deep cleaning and repair work on the front elevation, to start, where weather stains and some damage are visible from the street. It will also involve adding a new metal gate at the entrance and trading out the current electrical lamp fixtures for flame-lit ones. New hand railings and treads on the entryway stairs will be installed, and finally, a number of windows are expected to be replaced. 

The timeline for completion has not yet been announced. 

Plan for Trail at Princeton Pike Residential Project Approved

The Trail at Princeton Pike residential housing plan was approved earlier this month to begin construction at the site at the end of Lenox Drive in the Princeton Pike Corporate Center. 

The project will build 189 residential units comprised of 145 market-rate townhomes or condominiums and 42 affordable housing rental apartments. It also includes a one-bedroom apartment to be used as a sales office and a one-bedroom apartment for maintenance staff.

The townhouses would be three-bedroom units with two bathrooms and range in size from 1,500- to 2,500-square feet. One- and two-car garages are planned. There will be one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartment units with outside parking spaces for renters.

Original plans were altered to address concerns that the housing site was too close to the 18th-century historic farmhouse, the Brearley House, which Lawrence Township owns.

$439 Million Bay Park Conveyance Project Announces Design-Build Contractor

In a recent announcement, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo unveiled the selection of a contractor for Long Island’s ongoing Bay Park Conveyance. This infrastructure project has been in development for more than a year. Its aim will be to improve water quality and resilience to storm damage in the Western Bay area of Nassau County. 

The finished project is expected to significantly reduce the amount of treated wastewater and nitrogen effluent dumped into the Western Bay area by diverting it to Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant’s ocean outfall. This will, in turn, eliminate foul odors from the area (caused by rotting algae and oxygen-deficient water), make the water safer for marine life, and improve the Western Bay coastlines’ resilience to harsher weather patterns. 

“From damaged ecosystems to problems with shoreline resiliency, Long Island’s coastal environment has suffered immensely from decades of nitrogen pollution, and it must be stopped,” said Governor Cuomo, of the Western Bay area as it is now. “Along with our local partners, New York has worked tirelessly to address this ecological threat (…) and the selection of a design-build contractor is an important step in advancing this critical project and getting it done faster and cheaper.”

What Is Design-Build and Why Is This Significant? 

CISLeads covered a report in 2019 about the cost-effectiveness of the most common kinds of contracts for infrastructure projects. Design-build — when a single contractor handles both the design and construction of a project, rather than leaving it to two separate entities — falls in line with the savings one can see in specific, single projects. 

Without go-betweens or the need for multiple teams to sync, what one gets is a smoother workflow and far less time and money wasted. Cuomo also noted that it incentivizes the private sector to finish infrastructure projects faster. 

He appears to be correct in both regards: The Bay Park Conveyance Project, as design-build, comes in at a budget of $439 million and is expected to be finished in a few short years, whereas other methods would have cost as much as $600 million and taken nearly a decade. 

What Are the Specifics of the Bay Park Conveyance Project and Its Eventual Completion?

Laborers on this project will be in charge of constructing a pump station in Bay Park and two pipelines that will run some 20-60 feet below street level and relining the century-old aqueduct running under Sunrise Highway. One pipe, spanning two miles, will run from the Bay Park Sewage Treatment Plant to the aqueduct. Just 1.6 miles in length, the other will run from the aqueduct to Cedar Creek Water Pollution Control Plant’s ocean outfall pipe, which will discharge waste some three miles or so out in the Atlantic Ocean. 

While a contractor has been chosen to helm it, the Bay Park Conveyance Project still has a few more steps of approval to pass through before construction can begin. 

These include reviews by the County Comptroller, Executive Curran, and Finance Control Board. It was most recently submitted to the County Legislature, where a vote will be held on November 23. 

Contact CIS Leads for more information about this and other similar projects in and around Long Island, New York, and the Tri-State area.

Transformation of Bogota Riverfront Continues

It took years to overcome many obstacles—including extensive remediation and drainage work to avoid the frequent flooding—but the The River Club Apartments and Retail project in Bogota, NJ, is pushing toward successfully transforming the former industrial area into a residential and retail neighborhood.

Construction is ongoing on the $100 million project at the former Hess Tank Farm Site on West Fort Lee Rd. When it is finished, there will be five, four-story buildings with a total of 424 luxury apartments. Ten percent of those units will be designated as affordable housing for veterans. Two of the buildings should be done shortly with the other three to be completed soon after. There will be retail space on the ground floor of one building.

The four-phase project on the more than 13-acre site includes many amenities, including an 8,000-square-foot clubhouse, 5,000-square-foot public recreation area, a dog park, heated pool, 2,200-foot walkway along the Hudson River, and a new, on-site NJ Transit bus stop.

Construction Begins on Affordable and Supportive Housing Project in the Bronx

At the end of October, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced that construction had, at last, commenced on a new affordable housing project in the Bronx that has been in its planning stages for at least two years. Replacing a former parking lot, the new mixed-use high-rise is part of a continuing trend toward the governor’s $20 billion five-year housing plan, which has already produced many new affordable housing projects, such as the recent groundbreaking in Peekskill

“We continue to make unprecedented investments in affordable housing that will help tackle the dual inequality and homelessness crises,” Governor Cuomo said in his announcement. “New developments like this project demonstrate our ongoing efforts to provide Bronx residents with high-quality, energy-efficient homes with supportive services for the most vulnerable among us.” 

The 1159 River Avenue Project, Part of a Larger Initiative

The 1159 River Avenue project, helmed by Maddd Equities in partnership with nonprofit Community Access, is one of two in the area. Just across the street stands another affordable housing initiative in the works, at 1164-1184 River Avenue. This second project will come in two phases, constructing two 17-story mixed-use affordable housing buildings. Combined with 1159 River Avenue, this promises nearly 750 units that are 100 percent affordable housing. 

This, in itself, is part of an even larger initiative, as these two projects are part and a result of the recent Jerome Avenue Rezoning, which opens up 92 blocks of city space for development and aims to bring an additional 4,600 new residences to the Bronx, which means years of construction work for local contractors on the horizon. 

What Are the Specifics of the 1159 River Avenue Project, and What’s Left to Be Done?

The 1159 structure will top out above its neighbors across the street, coming to 19 stories. The site is a former parking lot, and it is located just four blocks from Yankee Stadium and very near to the 6, B, and D metro lines. 

Features include the following:

  • Early reports in 2018 suggested the structure would span about 200,000 square feet.
  • It will contain 245 units, with one superintendent apartment and 148 reserved for families and individuals previously homeless, including any in need of support services. 
  • The ground floor will feature over 20,000 square feet of retail space.
  • Support services for 128 households will include access to on-site services like rental assistance, vocational training, self-advocacy training, and more. 
  • The site includes art, laundry, and computer rooms for residents to access. 

All of these characteristics pose their usual challenges for laborers, but included with the standard builds, this project must also adhere to Enterprise Green Communities Standards and Energy Star’s Multi-Family High Rise Standards (which will involve the use of water-saving low-flow installations and Energy Star appliances throughout). 

The project at 1159 River Ave is presently expected to complete in the latter part of 2022, assuming there will be no untimely delays. 

Dunellen Station Ready to Rise at Former Art Color Facility

Vertical construction is set to begin for Dunellen Station at the former Art Color industrial facility in Dunellen, NJ. Demolition is complete, building permits have been issued and construction of the $105 million project is expected to start before the end of 2020.

The two existing lots at 100 South Washington Avenue will be subdivided into two new lots that will give rise to a mixed-use development across South Washington Avenue from the Dunellen train station. The plan calls for six four-story buildings with 194 one and two-bedroom market rate apartments and 58 low- to moderate-income units for a total of 252 rental residences. There will also be 130 townhouses spread among four 12-unit stacked townhouse buildings, one 10-unit stacked townhouse building and nine eight-unit townhouse buildings.

Developers are promising many amenities including a fitness center, meeting rooms, clubhouse and outdoor pool and entertainment area.

In addition, there will be 9,240 square-feet of retail space fronting South Washington Avenue and with a planned transit theme and design that complements the neighborhood.

MacArthur Airport Breaks Ground on New Transportation Center

Another major step in the modernization of MacArthur Airport broke ground earlier this month. When CISLeads last examined this corner of Suffolk County, MacArthur commenced a remodel of the West Terminal apron—just one of several stages of an ongoing facelift for the location, bringing decades-awaited upgrades in some cases. In early October, the next major step forward was the commencement of MacArthur’s new Ground Transportation Center, which will consolidate every facet of ground transportation to and from the airport. (See CIS’s projects for GC, Plumbing and Electric and also the HVAC bid.)

Shelly LaRose-Arken, the airport aviation commissioner, recognized this update as sorely needed. “It’s been more than 20 years since the airport’s passenger facilities have been upgraded,” she said, recognizing the unique need to prioritize ground travel for visitors and residents alike. 

What Are the Specifics of the New Ground Transportation Center?

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Governor Andrew Cuomo affirmed the $8.4 million project, saying, “This new one-stop facility at Long Island MacArthur Airport will give businesses and visitors to the New York City and Long Island regions an improved and streamlined travel experience.” 

Presently, many parts of the ground travel experience at MacArthur sit in different areas. Taxis are currently located near the baggage claim. The Suffolk County Bus Stop sits in a somewhat unsafe space in the main terminal roadway’s outer lane. These services and countless others, including car rental kiosks and areas for every form of mass transit (buses, taxis, shuttles, and more) are essential. Personal vehicle pickup will also be possible from here. 

The 12,000 square foot facility, built from a renovated existing building, will also include lounge areas and a covered pedestrian walkway. LaRose-Arken also reported that the new transportation center’s aesthetic would “reflect the feel of Long Island,” with modern fixtures and a copper, blue, and sand color scheme throughout. 

Funding, Construction Jobs, and the Next Ten Months

The project is expected to complete by the end of Summer in 2021. With regard to funding, Islip’s Supervisor Carpenter has stated that “This major renovation project comes at no expense to local taxpayers and provides many benefits to our airport and community.” It was also reported that there have been over $50 million in renovation projects completed and ongoing over the last four years, and this guarantee has held true. 

While MacArthur Airport is continually seeking additional grants, part of their funding so far is coming from generated revenue from regular operations, as well as a $650k grant from Empire State Development and another $800k in grant money from New York State aviation.

Through the coming 10 months, the new transportation center will call for laborers’ skilled hands to create a functional hub, with vehicles and pedestrians in constant transit within and out of the airport altogether. The relatively short timeline largely comes from the decision to work with an existing structure rather than build something wholly new. 

One of the major logistical challenges will be to move multiple services — car rentals, taxis and Ubers, bus stop, shuttle stops — into a centralized location without creating congestion and upsetting traffic flow through that area. The renovation will also need to meet the roomy, modern aesthetic of other updates at McArthur, aiming to be pleasing to the eye while also facilitating the need for greater social distance. 

Construction of Mixed-Use Development Ongoing at AstraZeneca Campus in Delaware

Vertical construction is underway at the Avenue North hotel, retail, and residential portion of the AstraZeneca Fairfax Campus expansion in Newark, DE.

The $350 million project on the 80-acre site will create new office space to support the growing life sciences community. It also has a mixed-use development, which will include at least 300 apartments totaling more than 450,000 square feet. To meet the needs of those new residents as well as office workers, there will be 200,000 square feet of retail stores, as well as restaurants, a fitness center and day care constructed.

A five-story, 200-room, 180,000 square foot luxury hotel and meeting facilities will be built near the entrance of the complex to meet the needs of those visiting the campus off of Route 202.

Developer Dell Dunne and Associates says the development will be the first of its kind in Delaware. No completion date has been set. 

Funding Secured for Rental Development in West Chelsea

A path to the new development has been somewhat stalled for a vacant lot in West Chelsea. Sitting at the very center of the tech community, where giants like Amazon and Facebook headquarter themselves (or will very soon), and mere blocks from the 25th Street-Penn Station Subway line, the High Line, and the Hudson Yards, the site at 241 West 28th Street has been an underutilized piece of property for some time now, and even with plans to start a mixed-use project emerging last year, there has seen some significant delay thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak and other setbacks. 

However, a recent approval for funding through lenders Madison Realty Capital (MAC) has set the ball rolling, at long last, and West Chelsea will be home to a huge rental development in a few short years with spaces even for affordable housing. 

What Has Changed Between the Start of the 241 West 28th St Project and Now?

There has been news over the last couple of years that the now-split L&L Mag had filed permits for the land, including a 99-year ground lease. MAG Partners retains ownership, and in the time since, the plans for the property at 241 West 28th Street have changed significantly:

  • No longer mixed-use. Originally, there were discussions of placing retail spaces on the ground floor, common of many developments in the Manhattan area of late, but in lower demand since the turn of the year.
  • A taller building, more space. Once slated for 11 stories and 266 units, the plans are now slated for a 22-story, 479-unit multi-family residence. Square footage shifted from about 248,000 to 372,000 before L&L MAG broke apart, and there is no current information on what the new estimation will be. 

Previous accounts suggested the original plan was for a concrete-based building with a cellar and a rear yard measuring about 64 feet. There have been no announcements whether these features have changed. 

What is known as of now is that 30 percent of the available units will be priced as affordable housing. As a trade for the retail spaces, this answers a growing need for affordable rental spaces in the New York City metro area, made more significant by the COVID-19 epidemic, and the choice to incorporate affordable housing also means the project will likely be deemed essential should another shutdown occur. 

241 West 28th Street — The Road to Completion

The development will begin in earnest next month, with completion slated for 2022. COOKFOX Architects DPC were attached to the original project, no word on whether they remain, and this information is likely to be revealed in the coming months. Once ground breaks (with demolition unlikely as the lot is vacant), the space may be two years away from its first residents, but that time will be filled with steady jobs for the tradespeople involved in the project. 

The coming months will be all about learning what the new plans have for the finished product — is a cellar space still in the cards? Will there be landscaping and outdoor space for the residents? With 70 percent of the units going at market value in a neighborhood that ranges between rents of around $1500 for a studio and the multiple tens of thousands for condos, the expectation for a quality build and luxury amenities may strongly affect the build. 

Expect further developments as everyone moves into 2021.