Monthly Archives: June 2019

New Jersey’s Biggest, Boldest Mixed-Use Project: Riverton Redevelopment in Sayreville

Riverton, mixed-use redevelopment along two miles of the Raritan River in Sayreville, is one of New Jersey boldest projects. It’s also one of the biggest. The $2.5 billion project on 418 acres is the largest mixed-use development in NJ history and believed to be the largest mixed-use project in development in the U.S. right now, according to

Don’t blame locals if they adopt a “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude to the dreams of creating “America’s Next Great Hometown.” Attempts to redevelop the area have been ongoing for more than a decade. The previous developer never began construction after attempts to clean-up the contaminated site.

The current plan calls for a marina, two hotels, 1 million square feet of retail space and 1 million square feet of office space, 10 restaurants, and 2,000 residential units of single-family homes and apartments. It is expected to be built in phases and take 10 years to complete once they start construction.

But it won’t be easy—to build or win over the public. The developer, North American Properties (NAP), and Sayreville Economic & Redevelopment Agency (SERA) have faced some pushback, including a poll sent to area residents at the end of 2018 that town officials say was from an outside organization trying to mislead the public about the project with questions that “appear created to incite fear and spread rumor.” And while NAP boasts access to highways and the number of people within 20 miles, some are concerned about the amount of traffic and congestion in the area. Part of the plan, however, is to create its own Riverton exit on the Garden State Parkway, according to a story from News12 New Jersey, which toured the site.

If all goes as the developers plan, Riverton residents won’t have to leave the area very often. They can work, live, dine out, and meet all of their entertainment and recreation needs right there.

Rikers Island’s Closure and What Comes After

Established in 1932, the sprawling facilities at Rikers Island span over 400 acres of land between Queens and the Bronx, averaging a daily population of 10,000 inmates. The average annual cost to New York City taxpayers to house one person there for a year is over $200,000. Its reputation includes a litany of abuse allegations and sits at the center of many heated debates across the state of New York regarding the faults of the prison industrial complex.

In June of 2017, Mayor Bill De Blasio announced the intention to close the sprawling prison complex within the next ten years, once its inmate population is reduced to a manageable 5,000, but what comes after? For the island itself, there are no apparent discussions regarding what the empty space will become, but the countdown still has another eight years if other circumstances do not force the prison’s closure at an earlier date. Developers and lawmakers alike may speculate until then. As for what replaces Rikers Island’s operations, De Blasio’s plan keeps the matter small but local.

What Is Replacing Rikers Island, and What Does This Mean for Many NYC Boroughs?

The current intention, once Rikers Island closes its doors, is to turn its hundreds of acres of penal sprawl into smaller, separate facilities in Manhattan, Brooklyn, Queens, and the Bronx. As of June 2019, we know that these new facilities will serve as “civic assets.” The City of New York wants each borough to benefit from the building and running of these new jails, and it hopes to accomplish this through multiple intended features and plans:

  • Borough-based jails would keep detainees close to home. This gives them easier access to support systems by reducing commute time and cost for lawyers, family, advocates, and more.  
  • The jails are intended to integrate with the local architecture and community. For example, the plans for the Brooklyn location would house inmates and staff, as well as space for programming and recreation on the upper floors, with the ground floor open for local businesses and commerce. Therefore, space remains for local communities to continue to benefit from the location.
  • These facilities are smaller and easier to manage. Rikers will close when the population is reduced to a max of 5,000 inmates, and these will be divided among four locations. Smaller populations require fewer staff and facilities to run, especially measured against Rikers’ current, gargantuan staff that currently rivals the number of inmates in number. 

Another key trait to each of these jails will be that the city wishes for each design to benefit their location specifically. A jail for Brooklyn will provide what the community there most calls for: a layout that serves the needs of inmates and civilians alike, but the Manhattan location may take a completely different form. Today, New York City looks to determine more definitively what each borough needs through local construction firms and other community experts. 

Want to Be Part of the Solution? NYC Issues an RFI.

The City of New York has released a request for information, or RFI. They want to engage with local industry experts, especially construction companies, in determining the needs of each community, and they need input from the people who know them and have had a hand in building them. Their goal is to be the “owner of choice for design-build firms,” they say, and they are looking for those that have experience in developing and handling these larger, more complex projects. 

From firms like yours, they want to hear what will bring these plans to fruition efficiently, on time, and on budget, without sacrificing safety or quality. 

Firms and individual parties that would like to answer the RFI, or would like more information on the individual projects, please call CIS 800-247-1727 or email us at


North Haledon Hopes to Jump-Start Development with Residential Units

The mayor of North Haledon is praising newly approved housing projects that will go up in his town as a deal that will jump-start development to turn a “blighted” industrial area into a residential neighborhood that will spur more construction in the area, according to an article on

The multiple Belmont Avenue projects will bring more than 200 apartments–with some affordable housing units among them–and at least 30 townhouses into the area near the completed Belmont Estates townhouses, the story said.

As part of a way to bring in developers, the town is working on a payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement that would allow the developers to make payments to the town based on a percentage of revenue instead of paying taxes.

The North Haledon mayor called it a good deal saying the town would make a “tremendous amount of money.”

If the developers and building owners paid taxes instead, that tax revenue would have gone to the school district, according to the story.

Gov. Cuomo’s Downtown Revitalization Initiative Helps Long Island Residents

For the fourth year in a row, communities all over the state of New York have been submitting applications for grants through a program helmed by Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo, aimed at updating and improving downtown areas to boost local economies. While sources report that applications are down from the previous year (dropping to 94 from 105), among those applicants are 17 downtown areas on Long Island, down from a record 23 applications the year before. That’s 30 communities so far that have benefitted from a much-needed economic boost, with another 10 soon to join them, with promising projects for those in the construction business to follow.

What Is the Downtown Revitalization Initiative?

Cuomo unveiled the DRI in 2016, proposing a program that would stimulate downtown areas across the state. Its aim would ultimately be to invest in grants (this year, $100 million) that are split between each of New York’s ten regions. This year, the total in grants to be offered is $100 million, adding up to $10 million per recommended application. Recommendations will come down from each of the state’s Regional Economic Development Councils (REDCs). This year, the due date for final recommendation is July 12.


All 10 of New York’s REDCs have nominated their applicants based on several factors that determine the downtown area’s “potential for transformation” including:


  • How compact the downtown area is;
  • Potential for future job growth;
  • Location with regard to housing areas; and
  • Their proposed strategy for development.

What Does Downtown Revitalization Mean for Jobs?

Part of Gov. Cuomo’s aim in the initiative is to reawaken urban centers that need it. It means taking disused, historic buildings and repurposing them for both residential and commercial use—even a mix of the two, in some cases. It’s about turning these places into bustling city centers where people want to live, work, and entertain themselves. Depending upon the community, this could call for:


  • Updating pavement, walking areas, and green spaces;
  • Updating roads to improve the flow of traffic; and
  • Renovating existing structures for active use by businesses and residents.


The possibility of building wholly new structures might not be in the cards. However, in a community chosen for one of these grants, every job that a tradesperson could fill may be called for—in the next year. These projects are ongoing; for instance, Downtown Central Islip, the LI recipient of a 2018 DRI grant, only held their final community workshop on their plan of action back in March.

What Are Communities Doing with Their Grants?

Each community that seeks a nomination must include in their application what they plan to do with the grant. In this way, we can see where that money goes and what potential projects this could create in their proposals and what recipients have done since the DRI’s inception in 2016. For example:


  • The village of Westbury was the first Long Island community to receive the grant. Among their proposed projects included transit-oriented, rezoning near the LIRR Station, improving and updating their recreation center, updates to their roadways and pedestrian areas, and installing a permanent space for arts and events.
  • New Rochelle, Westchester County recipient in round three, included plans to create accessible improvements on existing park spaces, bolster mixed-income residential areas to provide housing at multiple levels of affordability, and develop more mixed-use spaces to seamlessly blend residential, commercial, and community spaces for easy access.
  • Rockville Centre, one of this year’s applicants, is proposing the installation of a new bike path (including lockers for storing bikes and gear), new green spaces, a teen recreation center, and needed updates and improvements on local infrastructure.


Statewide grants help improve the quality of life for its residents. From infrastructure improvements to more streetlights, the small changes to each part of the state help. Receiving a grant helps offset the costs for the community as well, and enables construction companies to help more communities improve.

South Jersey Sees Big Things For the Future

At last week’s Southern New Jersey Development Council Construction (SNJDC) Forecast, council president Marlene Asselta said she is hopeful about economic development for the area in the near future, according to NJTV News. She called South Jersey an “awakening giant.”

At the event, the redevelopment of the former Echelon Mall in Voorhees Township was discussed, and a call was put out to engineers, planners, and developers for what the township hopes will become an entertainment destination. The first floor of the former mall could even become a culinary arts center.

But Voorhees wasn’t the only place with big plans.

In Burlington, there is talk of a mixed-use development project around the Delaware River. It would have retail, restaurants, a hotel, and maybe a water park on the property of the old McNeal Mansion and U.S. Pipe in Burlington City.

When it comes to stimulation spending, libraries in the area could get in on the coming building boon too. Thanks to the Libraries Construction Bond Act, money could go for new construction or renovations, according to the state librarian.

While all of New Jersey is hoping for construction that brings new choices for retail and entertainment across the state, the SNJDC believes South Jersey will be the Garden State’s place to develop and build in the next few years.


The Final Leg of Floating Manhattan Oasis, The High Line, Opens to the Public

In June of 2019, Manhattan’s West Side saw the completion of the work of 10 long years, incorporating architecture with more than 150 years of history. It was a sunny day for Manhattan on the 5th, and to elevated applause and fanfare, the High Line opened the Spur, the third and final leg of its original construction plans, and this unique parks project has at last taken full form.

The High Line—A Vestige of Old Industrial New York, Transformed

The High Line’s history begins well before ground broke 10 years ago. The park itself sits atop the New York Central Railroad spur in the west side of Manhattan, once slated for demolition after the use of trains saw a steady decline in the 1980’s. In the late 1990’s, founders Robert Hammond and Joshua David spearheaded campaigns to save the structures and refit them for public use. Their vision was a bold one: An “unbroken,” elevated line spreading through 22 blocks of the city, “connecting three neighborhoods—the convention center area, West Chelsea[,] and the Meatpacking District,” transformed into a floating park with trees, grass, and flowers, reminiscent of the Promenade Plantée in Paris.

Once approved, its redesign came from the combined efforts of:

  • Landscape Architect James Corner as the project lead;
  • Diller Scofidio + Renfro, a design firm known for incorporating visual and performing arts with architecture; and
  • Dutch garden designer Piet Oudolf.

This collaboration pulled in the artistry of multiple disciplines to create a unique and environmentally friendly addition to Manhattan’s diverse map. With its completion, we see the New York City landscape take another confident step into the future with entertainment and architecture that is current, green, and authentically Manhattan in flavor.

What Makes the High Line Different from Other Parks?

The High Line is an unusual way to experience the Manhattan skyline for visitors, from a vantage point that citizens and visitors alike lost access to when the trains stopped running in the 1980’s. It features:

  • An elevated park and rail trail, stretching the length of the old New York Central Railroad spur;
  • A man-made greenway, which is urban land deliberately left undeveloped to preserve recreation space and the environment;
  • Pedestrian access via stairs, elevators, and escalators; and
  • With the completion of the Spur, space for art installations.

The Unique Features of the Spur

The Spur was built in two parts, with part one seeing completion in 2014, but its final section has been awaited with anticipation. This part of the park features the High Line’s characteristic urban garden aesthetic with several additions that make it a stand-out addition to the park and the cherry on top of the sundae:

  • It boasts the largest gardens of all three sections currently open.
  • Its Coach Passage features 60-ft cathedral ceilings, where the Spur connects to Hudson Yards, the most extensive private real estate development in the country.
  • The Piazza features “panoramic views” of the lengths of 10th Avenue and 30th street.
  • Finally, the Plinth will be a space for showcasing new art, scheduled to rotate every 18 months and will first feature Simone Leigh’s Brick House, according to the High Line’s blog.


New Report Ranks Flood-Prone Hoboken As 2nd U.S. City To Be Underwater by 2100

In a special report analyzing data from a 2018 study, 24/7 Wall Street named the top 35 U.S. cities that could be underwater by the turn of the century. Of those 35, nine were in New Jersey with Hoboken coming in No. 2 on the list.

According to the 24/7 Wall Street, nearly 30 percent of Hoboken’s population with homes is at risk of flooding by 2060 and nearly 50 percent of habitable land will be underwater by then. By 2100, 44 percent of Hoboken’s homes will be at risk of flooding and 71 percent of habitable land will be underwater.

But the mayor of Hoboken pushed back on the report, according to News12 NJ, saying that it didn’t take into account the Rebuild by Design project and initiatives the city has planned and has already put in place to fight the city’s history of flooding, including pumps, resiliency parks and underground retention tanks.

Miami Beach, FL, was No. 1 on the list. The other NJ cities are: Atlantic City (3), Ocean City (12), Ventnor City (16), Pennsville (24), Little Ferry (26), Brigantine (29), Margate City (32) and Secaucus (35).

24/7 Wall St. reviewed data from “Underwater,” published June 2018 by Cambridge, Massachusetts-based environmental watchdog group the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS). That study identified U.S. coastal communities where the largest number of residents live in properties that are projected to face by 2060 the highest level of chronic and disruptive flooding, or effective inundation—defined as being at risk of flooding 26 times or more per year. 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the number of properties and total value of properties that are exposed to flood risk based on a “high” scenario calculated by the Union for Concerned Scientists.

“Cities and institutions can mitigate flood damage by implementing wetlands, levees, and other mechanisms, and many of the cities on this list have taken steps to implement these measures,” 24/7 Wall Street said. “It is important to note that the estimates published by the UCS do not take into account the mitigating effects of such mechanisms.”

NY Seeks to Reduce Bird-Collision Deaths Through Evolving Construction Standards

Every year, the movement patterns of migratory birds bring scores of our avian friends through the New York City metropolitan area, one of their many northern stops as they traverse what U.S. Fish and Wildlife refers to as The Atlantic Flyway. This does not lead to a mere uptick in sightings for birdwatchers, however. NYC sees anywhere from 90-200k bird fatalities each year that come directly from a single source: colliding with windows on high-rise buildings.

This phenomenon adds up to nearly one billion bird deaths nationwide every year. Here at home, politicians are creating legislative bodies to curb bird deaths happening in their neck of the woods. One major method under discussion is the use of bird-safe glass in new construction. While there is an additional cost to building with this glass, analysts suggest that reduced energy costs and maintenance related to collisions can help to make up the difference.

What Is the Bird-Friendly Building Council Act?

In May 2019, New York’s Senate passed Bill S25A, which establishes a 15-person Bird-Friendly Building Council. The council is to consist of:

  • A diverse membership of “wildlife conservation organizations, state and federal wildlife agencies, architects, landscape architects, window manufacturers and distributors, commercial building managers, and academia.”
  • Representation for wildlife conservation organizations like “the American Bird Conservancy, New York City Audubon, New York State Audubon, and the Long Island Audubon Council.”
  • Representation for federal wildlife agencies like “the Division of Migratory Bird Management of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife.”

Its job will be to determine state-wide rules for new construction and renovation of older structures that suit its goals to curb bird collisions. They will also aim to identify and prioritize existing and upcoming projects that pose a greater danger, new and developing technologies to reduce crashes, funding for additional research toward sustainable, bird-friendly materials.

How Does Bird-Safe Glass Help?

Glass is not merely transparent to birds; instead, they see whatever is reflected in them, which means they are more likely to see the sky, treetops, and other things reflecting on the surface that are not there. They will fly into buildings expecting to keep going into the open sky, or to land somewhere that is not there. Building or renovating with Bird-safe glass helps to prevent this in several ways:

  • The use of an ultraviolet coating, silk screening or fritting breaks the window up into patterns visible to birds.
  • Spacing the use of these treatments or types of glass using the “2×4” rule warns birds away because what they see are spaces that are too small for them to fly through.

The cost of bird-safe glass usually only comes up to about a 5-percent cost difference between it and standard glass.

Is It Effective?

The Jacob Javits Convention Center is an essential and local example of these principles in action. Home to New York Build Expo, its 1.8 million square feet of space sees human visitors of all walks of life in droves every year. If you have been there in person, especially before its renovation project started in 2009, you may also remember a facade made almost entirely of windows and reflective surfaces.

In part of its years-long project that added up to billions in updates and expansions, the Javits Center became a bird-friendly zone with:

  • Vegetation on the roof to create green space and break up reflective surfaces; and
  • Replacing thousands of windows with fritted windows. These have a pixelated pattern that is less reflective and easier for birds to detect.  

Along with reducing collision-related bird deaths by 90 percent, the renovations also contributed to a marked reduction in energy costs. Implemented and completed before recent legislative changes, it stands as a prime example of what a more eco and bird-friendly New York City could be.