Long Beach Superblock in New Negotiations

The Engel Burman Group very recently entered into negotiations with iStar Financial to buy the 6-acres of oceanfront land dubbed the Superblock, a property that has been in a state of arrested development for over forty years. This comes after the Nassau County Zoning Board revoked iStar’s building permits in late 2018 due to its failure to break ground after four years of variances and extensions. iStar originally obtained them in 2014 to construct two 15-story residential structures, plus retail space, along the beach and boardwalk. Engel Burman has not fully disclosed all its plans for the property once they take ownership, but CISLeads reports their intention to build over 400 residences, answering a long-standing cry for more housing options in the Long Island area. 

Why Has the Superblock Been Such a Contentious Piece of Property?

The Superblock’s troubles have long been documented. Originally the home to apartment buildings and a bowling alley in the 1960s, the properties became derelict and were razed to make room for new developments. The city reclaimed the property in the 1980s due to unpaid taxes and sold it to the Haberman family’s developers, who planned to build high-rise apartments. The 90s saw plans to build hotels, a convention center, and more, but nothing came of it. 

When iStar Financial stepped in, their plans were well-timed for what has been in high demand for the area: shopping and residential spaces on the waterfront and boardwalk. They applied a one-year variance in 2014 that would allow them to build beyond the zoning board’s regulations for the location and then never moved forward. A Nassau County State Supreme Court judge upheld a decision to revoke their permits when no progress had been made, and all paperwork failed to be completed and submitted. iStar has filed a $100 million dollar suit against the city; officials have filed to dismiss the lawsuit, and a judgment is pending. 

What Is In Store for the New Long Beach Project? 

Four hundred  residences in the form of apartments and condos (with possible retail space) can spell a number of possibilities for this site. At this point, however, the sale must be completed, and all surrounding litigation needs to be settled. What is known right now is at least encouraging:

  • Engel Burman owns and manages many properties around Long Island and Nassau County, including multiple assisted-living facilities, as well as other commercial and residential properties. 
  • The sale of the property calls for a viable building plan for the property, which hopefully promises a projected date for groundbreaking and completion. 
  • The plan Engel Burman is developing is to include construction that will require no variances, which should help to reduce the time it takes to get the ball rolling. 
  • Engel Burman is also making plans to meet with the community to ascertain what locals and developers want for the area. 

 

Impact Study: Residential Construction Will Transform Teaneck

There is good news and bad news when it comes to the impact of six new residential buildings in downtown Teaneck, NJ. A recently released impact study commissioned by the town shows there would be positive financial impact but a change in the general character of the town. Whether the latter is good or bad is, of course, is subjective.

“The new development will generate new residents, and thus more customers for nearby stores, potentially spurring the revitalization of neighborhood retail areas,” the report said. “It will generate substantial tax revenue for the Township.”

And the study showed, “no significant impacts are anticipated on the environment, utilities, or community facilities” at this time.

While it may not change the natural environment, the buildings will change the overall feel of the town the report shows.

“At the same time, the scale and character of the State Street study area will be irreversibly transformed by the development of significantly more dense and taller multifamily residential development that was not contemplated by the Township’s current master plan or reexamination reports, which are meant to guide development in the Township,” the study said.

The six multi-family residential projects are: 1475 Palisade Ave, which was completed in August; 189 The Plaza, which will be reviewed by the Teaneck Board of Adjustment later this month; 140 State Street100 State Street, which had its final site plan approved last week;  1500 Teaneck Road, which is currently under construction; and 1425 Teaneck Road.

 The buildings, which will total just under 600 units when complete, will diversify housing in the area and offer moderate and low-income options, but the they are much taller and more dense than the current buildings in the neighborhood bringing a more “urban, downtown character not seen anywhere in Teaneck.”

The report says it is the kind of development expected in North Jersey cities like Fort Lee and Hackensack.  If and when Teaneck looks to develop again, town officials should look long and hard at the impact and nature of the construction, according to the study.

“The cumulative impacts of the proposed development within the study area must be considered going forward. As such, if development of this type is going to be permitted in the future, it merits a reexamination of the master plan policies and the zoning for the State Street area to determine whether such development is appropriate, and is designed in such a manner as to ensure that it is sensitive to and compatible with existing development to which it is adjacent, as well as the neighborhood of which it is part.”

Friction in University of Delaware Dormitory Redevelopment

In spite of a negative vote by the Newark planning commission, the University of Delaware is moving forward with its redevelopment plans for the West Campus, which has been primarily closed to students since 2015. The current view of the commission, recommending against the proposed plan in a 4-2 vote. This comes as a surprise to many, especially given that the project does not have any need for variances or rezoning. However, approval for the redevelopment sits in the hands of the Newark City Council, which will have the final word. 

Why Is This Project Being Met With Resistance? 

The Newark planning commission cited several concerns in their vote to recommend against the project in its current form. These include: 

  • Negative impact on traffic, which is already considered dense for the area. 
  • A lack of recreational spaces; however, the current, variance-free proposal was chosen over others in order to preserve nearby properties like the Oaklands Swim Club, in itself a recreational space with open memberships.
  • A shortage of paved areas. 

What Does the Current Construction Plan Entail, and Can UD Go Without New Housing? 

To answer the second question, probably not. On the heels of the sudden, ahead-of-schedule closure of the 17-story Christiana Towers residence hall back in November, the university saw itself suddenly needing to find space for hundreds of displaced students. They had originally intended to close the dormitory much later, but the site was outdated and in need of costly repairs and updates that proved too massive to maintain for the rest of the academic year. While space was immediately found for many residents, the institution remains in dire need of places to live while attending school, with many citing a preference for apartment living. 

Thankfully, the new Dickinson townhome and apartment complexes are hoping to fill this gap. Available details on the proposal suggest the following: 

  • 46 three-bed townhouses.
  • 45 apartments to include a mix of two, three, and four-bedroom offerings (320 beds in all).
  • 240 total parking spaces.

At present, the developers acknowledge these new residences will only offer perhaps half what the original Dickinson dormitories did, but they are still much-needed. They also dismissed concerns to do with traffic, providing projections suggesting that the development should not affect its current state. 

What Will Completion Involve Once the Project is Approved?

Apartment and townhome living on a college campus calls for very similar trade, development, and construction as you might expect in a common residential area, with some variations that you don’t tend to get outside of the college experience. 

  • Townhomes aim to have space for multiple student residents, with private, fully-functional kitchens, bathrooms, and bedrooms. 
  • Apartments may feature communal spaces between individual spaces, with rooms enough for 2-4 residents per apartment as well as private kitchens and baths. 
  • All residents, townhome, apartment or otherwise, will be expected to have modern, stylish features reflecting new-construction residences off-campus. 
  • Residents will also expect access to facilities and offices belonging to residence hall staff for the purposes of maintenance requests and interpersonal issues with roommates. 
  • In all locations, students will need sometimes private but often public, easily accessible laundry facilities.

More specifics should become available to the public once the City Council has voted and approved the current plans. 

JPMorgan & Chase Park Avenue Headquarters Demolition and What Comes After

Earlier this year, it was announced that JPMorgan & Chase would be taking on the single largest voluntary demolition in New York City’s history at its Park Avenue headquarters. At 52 stories and making up 1.5 million square feet, the lot on which the skyscraper’s remains stand will not stay empty for long. The plan, as proposed in recent months, is to build a new headquarters that stands even taller. Of course, there is still much to be done in dismantling a structure that owns its own piece of the sky. 

How Far Along is the Demolition? 

“Dismantle” is a key word in discussing this initial project. “Deconstruction” is another one, because while it’s easy to think of demolition in terms of explosives and other similar means—not tools that are easy to apply in what is the most crowded office district in the city. 

The project will take place in phases. By mid-summer demolition had reached the second stage, enclosure, and is steadily progressing. 

What Are the Plans for the New Headquarters?

JPMorgan & Chase’s new Park Avenue headquarters is still a distant vision that will not be realized until demolition is complete. As a result, details on the future structure are few, but they include that:

  • The new building will come from designers Foster + Partners.
  • It is projected to stretch from the previous 52 stories to 70, adding a whopping one million square feet to what existed on its original blueprint. 
  • The expansive office spaces will also include a 10,000 square foot, privately-owned “public space” as well as improvements to local transit and pedestrian spaces. 
  • The new building will house offices as well as upgrades to local transit terminals and the street around it.

This project is one of the first to take full advantage of local rezoning laws that came into place in 2017, which will allow the new headquarters to use higher square footage than was allowed previously. 

 

 

Kent County, DE, Could See Development Boom 

In Delaware, officials are looking at Kent County for development that can spark short-term construction jobs and long-term employment opportunities. The possibility for growth in the Frederica/Little Heaven area is a large part of the county’s comprehensive development plan. A few projects are already being planned.

Asbury Square is set to be 100,000 square feet of commercial space among eight buildings on more than 21 acres. As part of that development plan, there will be two standalone restaurants of 6,400 square feet, as well as a 98-room hotel. PLUS Review of the plans was completed in late August.

In addition to Asbury Square, this week there is a public hearing regarding the application for the preliminary E. Front Street site of the Little Heaven Commercial Development, a strip mall of more than 6,700 square feet of retail space plus a 2,800-square-foot convenience store and a gas station on nearly three acres.

The development of the area won’t come without pushback, however. There were two workshops planned to inform the public about the plans and future projects and allow for residents to offer feedback on the development plans. The first one was this week and attendees voiced objection to the plans and fear of overdevelopment, according to Delaware State News. The second workshop is next week.

New Jersey Fast-Tracks Newark Pipe Replacement

On Monday, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced that a $120 million bond was going to expedite the replacement of lead service pipes.

The replacement of all of the pipes was previously expected to take about a decade. Now, with the bond approved by the Essex County Improvement Authority, the work could be completed in two to three years. It is expected to get started within a few weeks and, as a bonus, will bring jobs to the area as it rids residents of dangerous, lead-tainted water.

In July, the city bid three projects (Lead Service Line Replacement Program AB, and C) for the second phase of the Lead Service Line Replacement Program, which detailed the trenchless replacement of up to 500 lead service lines for single-family residences—from the water main in the street to the meter in the house. The work included excavation, removal of the existing service line, installation of one-inch copper service line and curb stop and box, testing and flushing, backfill, soil erosion and sediment control, traffic control, legal disposal of contaminated or hazardous materials, full restoration of pavement, landscaping, sidewalk curbs, and more.

“This new funding will enable us to award contracts simultaneously and more quickly,” Baraka said in a press release. “It will also allow us to finish the work in less time than we originally anticipated.”

At the press conference announcing the bond and new, fast-tracked plans, Baraka said, “We’re going to bring more crews in, obviously, have a project manager over this and being putting more people on the ground simultaneously to do this kind of work throughout the city.”

There will be no charge to impacted homeowners, he said, but the city will need permission from the owners to do the work.

On Wednesday, Newark put out an RFQ for contractors qualified to perform lead hazard control in homes throughout Newark

More than 770 service lines have been replaced since March, and there are 18,000 lines that need to be replaced, according to Baraka. The city gave out more than 30,000 water filters to residents and when those were found to be ineffective, they tried to distribute bottled water—which created long lines at distribution centers and forced people to carry cases of the bottles back to their homes.

With no issues found at the source in Pequannock, the only solution is to replace the old, lead-laden pipes. With this bond, Murphy and Baraka said,  the city can get it done in a much more time-sensitive way and bring relief to worried residents sooner than later.

 

Golf and Entertainment Complex To Be Built in King of Prussia, PA

Golfers in the Philadelphia area are going to be able to hit the driving range year-round. If they want quiet, though, they’ll have to go somewhere else.

Last week, developers received approval to build a TopGolf facility in King of Prussia, PA. The three-story, 68,000 square-foot building at 588 North Gulph Rd. is expected to house indoor and outdoor driving range bays of various sizes and golf simulators and games, but the complex will not only be about golf.

TopGolf bills its locations across the country as entertainment destinations and party venues. There will be a bar, food, big-screen TVs and, if the King of Prussia location follows suit with the others, it’ll be open seven days a week closing at midnight at the earliest. It will also offer lessons and a summer academy for kids.

It will sit less than a quarter mile from the Valley Forge Casino Resort.

To make room for the sports and entertainment complex and redevelop the 23-acre site, the two existing buildings that were part of the American Baptist Churches USA’s former headquarters will be demolished. The project is expected to bring $35 million and 450 construction jobs to the community while in progress and employ several hundred people while bringing in $30 million over a 10-year period after completion, according to the Montgomery County news site montco.today.

This would be the first TopGolf facility in Eastern Pennsylvania, and only second in the state with one in Pittsburgh. TopGolf has two locations in New Jersey— in Mt. Laurel and Edison.

Proposed Boardwalk-Hugging Belhaven Hotel to Seek Variances

Curently in the design-development stage, the Belhaven Hotel to sit on the boardwalk on Rehoboth Beach will rise into place on the same spot at the famous Belhaven hotel stood until a storm destroyed it in the 1960’s. 

 

The current landowners, the Papajohn family, hope for it to be a modernization of the original. This is the third hotel proposed in the last year that is looking for a home in the lucrative area that locals hope will mean more competitive prices and a bigger boom in summer tourism at the beach. Citing concerns about environmental and weather hazards, the developers are working with the Rehoboth Board of Adjustment to establish multiple variances to the structure. 

What Do We Know About the Structure So Far? 

The famous saying may be “out with the old and in with the new,” but the Papajohn family wants to be sure that the classic vestiges of the property keep their sparkle in the space, so the highlights to be expected are a mixed bag of local favorites and modern improvements:

  • Previous retailers and food establishments. Businesses once housed in the space currently occupying the property are invited to return to the ground floor of the new Belhaven, which will include a bar, a shop and at least two restaurants. These establishments include the Spice and Tea Exchange and the Candy Kitchen. 
  • Four Floors of Rooms. The finished structure will be a full four stories, doubling the original’s size. The original proposal included 120 guest rooms but was reduced to 100 in the final blueprint to allow for additional square footage.
  • Underground Parking Structure. The parking garage will serve two potential purposes: leaving more walking space on the street and boardwalk free of cars and providing a more solid foundation for the hotel to sit upon in this beachy environment.

 

Concerns have been cited regarding the height of the building, the potential for flooding in the parking area, and other parts of the design that might be too sensitive to survive the weather in the local environment. The variances that the developers are seeking hope to rectify those problems, including extra measures for flood prevention, embellishment heights, and more. 

Are There Any Unique Construction Considerations to be Taken?

For contractors who are accustomed to coastal locations, there is likely not going to be a lot that’s new about building a structure like this on the boardwalk. It will need the proper supports and foundation, and some further issues cited in the variances may come in that help to make the hotel more sound. As mentioned before, it will not be the only hotel coming up in the area, so any new considerations may quickly become familiar to workers in the region. 

What Will It Take to Complete This Project?

For contractors and developers on the project, this will not be a short process, from the very beginning.

  • The original structure must be demolished, and the ground underneath needs to be reworked in preparation for the parking garage, with the required supports.
  • The parking structure, whether single or multi-level, may wind up consuming much of the time allotted for finishing the project on deadline (still to be determined). It is projected to hold space enough for 100 cars, one for each room above.
  • The hotel itself, with eating and retail establishments on the ground floor and guest rooms above, will also have an outdoor pool accessible from the second floor. 

 

The finished product hopes to manifest the grandeur of the original historical structure alongside its modern amenities, all of this just steps from the bustling boardwalk that a portion of the hotel will front. 

New Law Aims to Expedite TTF Projects, Aid Infrastructure Repair

As Newark residents deal with the crisis of lead in the water, once again the dangerously aging infrastructure in New Jersey is in the spotlight.

Last month, Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill into law that aims to better the process for Transportation Trust Fund projects, which is intended to reduce delays in planning and bidding and save money. That should also impact the ability to get moving on infrastructure projects around the state, according to the bill sponsors.

“If we are going to improve our failing infrastructure, the state must do a better job with the TTF money.” said assemblyman Anthony Bucco (R-Morris), one of the sponsors of the bill.

Projects similar in size and scope that are funded in part or completely through TTF can now be bundled and included under a single contract, according to njspotlight.com. Supporters of the law say that should expedite approvals, control costs and get projects moving more quickly.

State senate president Steve Sweeney said the law will “facilitate the timely contracting and completion of capital projects by allowing third-party engineering consultants to ensure that contractors are completing projects on time and within budget. This will make the construction and repair of vital transportation projects more efficient and more effective. We want to put people to work and get the projects done in a timely manner so that improvements to our roads, bridges and other transportation facilities are made as quickly as possible.”

We’d like to know what you think—will this law have a positive impact?

Belmont Arena Project Bringing Hockey Back to Long Island

Early August, the state of New York signed on the dotted line to approve the proposed Belmont Arena project, which could construct a stadium and more, to be the new home for the New York Islanders hockey team. The franchise, without a home for nearly a decade, should have a permanent residence when the $1.3 billion project finishes up in 2021, much to the delight of locals and fans.

What Is Still to Come Before Ground Is Broken?

With state approval out of the way, it’s not quite time to break out the shovels and bulldozers. This is just the first, very important step, so as yet there is no definite start date. Future steps include:

  • An environmental impact survey will hopefully put local worries to rest about how the project will affect the surrounding area as it’s being built and once it’s completed.
  • The project needs approval by the Franchise Oversight Board.
  • Any further objections and potential lawsuits will need to be addressed.

 

All of these will need to come to pass before a groundbreaking ceremony.

How Is the Belmont Arena Likely to Change the Area?

This new development will unfold over the 43 acres of vacant, government-owned Belmont Park. Behind the project are several groups: team owners New York Arena Partners,Oak View Group, and Sterling Project Development. The finished product is to include:

  • The Arena. With the capacity for 19,000 people, this will be the new home of the New York Islanders. Where once they shared games between Barclays Center and the Coliseum, they will have an established place with room enough for all their fans during home games, at true home games. 
  • The Hotel Space. Alongside a bustling arena, there will also be a projected 250-room hotel to house teams and visitors to the area. 
  • The Commercial Space. The finished project will include 350,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, and parking space, helping to transform the area into a full entertainment complex further.

 

In all, the project is predicted to create around 3,500 jobs, according to developers, who also promise at least 30 percent of those will go to locals within a 4-mile radius.