Monthly Archives: August 2019

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

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 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.

Apprenticeship Law Impacts Companies

This year’s new apprenticeship requirements appear to be impacting the number of contractors who seek public works registration certification.

The law requires New Jersey public works contractors to participate in a U.S. Department of Labor-approved apprenticeship program to get or renew a public works contractor’s registration certificate. It requires any apprenticeship program include training for “every classification of worker that is employed on public works projects.”

According to the NJ Department of Labor and Workforce Development, the year to date numbers show a marked decline in contractors seeking the certification in the state.

As of June 30, 2018, NJ Labor Department registered 4,429 contractors.

As of June 30, 2019, there were 2,518 contractors registered.

While we can’t say how much of the drop is caused by the new law, which was signed by the governor in January, anecdotally, we do know some contractors have not sought a new license this year specifically because of the apprenticeship requirement.

“The Labor Department is committed to working with contractors to help them into compliance with the new apprenticeship requirement,” a department spokesperson said in an email.

We’d like to hear from you. How has the apprenticeship law impacted your company?

Macys to Build Commercial Giant Atop Iconic Herald Square Store

There are few better ways to draw attention to your office than the knowledge that it’s above not just Macy’s but the Macy’s. The Herald Square location, while hardly the only Macy’s store in the New York metro area, is one of the largest department stores in the nation and also the flagship of the entire franchise, practically a landmark in its own right. Given its long history and the particular facade it cuts into the New York cityscape, people were surprised to hear CEO Jeff Gennette announce the intention to expand upward into a full skyscraper. It is another, familiar step in the multi-use direction that many a facet of the evolving metropolitan has begun to adopt. 

What is the Current Status of the Project?

At present, the project is still in its infancy, so the details on what’s to come are sparse but still encouraging to developers and commercial properties chomping at the bit for a prime headquarters location. A few of the highlights include:

  • 1.2 million square feet of space that will become available for rent. 
  • The current plan is to zone the floors of the skyscraper for commercial and office use. The potential for drawing revenue from the real estate aspect alone has been a key focus in recent discussions of the project. 
  • The proposed office tower will bring in an estimated additional 6,000 people to the area, and some think it will be a hopeful boost to the Macy’s brand at a time when department stores are not doing so well financially
  • The present hope is to have an outline thoroughly planned and approved by the end of 2019, and then bidding from designers and developers can begin. 

Can a Skyscraper Safely Be Built Atop the 118-Year-Old Department Store? 

There comes the question of whether or not it is safe or feasible to easily construct a skyscraper atop the historic Macy’s site, built in 1901. Will the scaffolding around the building be possible to construct? Will this force the store to close its doors during construction, and for how long? According to Jeffrey Roseman, vice chairman and co-founder of the commercial real estate firms Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, these are minimal worries, and he has nodded to similar undertakings with positive results. 

He particularly noted the One Vanderbilt project helmed by SL Green, which will soon complete a new, 1.7 million square-foot tower. It is being built in very close proximity to the midtown Grand Central Terminal, and is doing so very “uneventfully,” he says, with little or no issue in terms of construction and planning. It did, however, meet some backlash from the owners of the GST over development rights. 

People can see other places where projects around and atop historic landmarks are underway, and some have their own unique challenges to overcome. It was earlier reported that the historic Palace Theatre would be lifted 30 feet above its current, ground-level spot, as part of the Broadway TSX complex development. It is a wildly different endeavor than the one planned for Herald Square, but one cannot overlook the comparison, given the two buildings’ similar ages and historical significance. 

New Yorkers have yet to see what specific hurdles the Macy’s project will hold in its future for architects and tradespersons. Herald Square differs from the above two projects in at least two major aspects: The size of the Macy’s department store sits far above and beyond that of the Palace Theatre, and the skyscraper will not sit near Macy’s as One Vanderbilt does to Grand Central; it will be directly on top of Macy’s. Once ground breaks, it may be like nothing New York construction has seen.

Hackensack Looks To The Record Site To Lead City’s Riverside Redevelopment

The Record newsroom in Hackensack was never known for its fancy amenities. The printing press would rumble to life in the old building adjacent to the Hackensack River, and the work of reporters and editors would transfer to the page before being moved to delivery trucks to spread the area’s news to the people of Bergen County. When the owners of the newspaper moved its headquarters to Woodland Park, the site sat vacant for years.

Soon, though, developers will break ground on a $145 million redevelopment of the site, creating luxury apartments and retail units in a project that is Hackensack’s first luxury, mixed-used riverfront community and the largest project of its kind in the city, according to City officials hope it leads the transformation of the waterfront area from largely industrial to residential and retail, and becomes a destination for people looking to move or shop in Bergen County.

The Record building was demolished in 2018, clearing the way for a redevelopment plan that will build approximately 700 luxury residences spread among five buildings. There will be 18,000 square-feet of retail space and a hotel on the 19.7 acre property.

The neighboring Heritage Diner will remain in place. Plans for the USS Ling, a submarine that was part of the NJ Naval Museum that once operated from the property, have not been announced.

The redevelopment is expected to create 250 construction jobs, and the project is expected to be fully completed in 2025.