Monthly Archives: October 2019

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.

 

Decision on Toms River Superfund Solar Farm Coming Soon

The fate of the proposed Toms River solar farm should be known in a couple of weeks when the planning board meets on October 16. Toms River Merchant Solar LLC, which hopes to build New Jersey’s largest farm on the former Ciba-Geigy Superfund Site, must answer the public’s concerns about environmental issues and security, which derailed a decision during September’s Planning Board meeting.

The plan—which calls for 35 megawatt DC ground-mounted solar photovoltaic power generation facility with 90,000-92,000 solar panels—doesn’t just need approval from the town. If passed by the town over the objections of nearby residents who worry that contaminants will be disturbed by the construction, it will then require Ocean County and NJ Department of Environmental Protection approvals. Should it go through, the project will be supervised by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

The facility would cover almost 118 of the 166 acres leased from the 1,200 overall acres of the Superfund Site on Route 37. If approved, construction could begin as early as February. The project is expected to take six months to complete.

While that would create the biggest solar farm in the state, it pales in comparison to the largest solar farm in the United States. In California, Solar Star covers 3,200 acres with 1.7 million solar panels and produces nearly 580 megawatts of energy. It is actually two co-located solar installations and took three years to complete construction.

Governor Phil Murphy has been a proponent of solar and other renewable energy sources. His energy master plan, released in June, calls for New Jersey to be completely reliant on renewable sources by 2050.

Central Park Tower Becomes New York’s Tallest Residential Building

Celebrating a momentous milestone, Extell President, Gary Barnett, recognized the reaching of Central Park Tower’s apex, a staggering 1,550 feet in height early September. Roughly a quarter-mile in height, it is now the tallest residential structure in New York and the highest roof in the western hemisphere. On the heels of Extell’s first foray into the business of supertall residences, the nearby One57 condominium, formerly called “the billionaire building.” It will feature state-of-the-art amenities for residents, fine fixtures in the condominiums themselves, and of course, what promises to be the loveliest views of Central Park anywhere in New York City. 

How Long Has It Taken to Get This Far with the Project?

The initial plans for Central Park Tower were filed in 2012, but construction didn’t really begin until 2015. In the four years since, the structure has risen over 1,500 feet into the sky, adding yet another blade of light and innovation to the skyline against Central Park. Glass wasn’t even installed until 2017, at a point when construction was already a third its eventual height. 

 

It did not exceed the heights of its numerous competitors until this year, passing 432 Park Avenue in March of 2019 when it reached 1,400 feet. Later it would surpass Willis Tower in Chicago at 1,450 feet in July. It would be the tallest structure period were it not for the One World Trade Center, which tops out at over 1,700 feet. It was the work of many a tradesperson, architect, and investor to bring it even close to that record. 

What Can Residents Expect to Find?

With 131 floors, this skyscraper offers more than just residential space. With some parts finished already and the rest set to open in the coming months, visitors to the tower will find the following:

  • A seven-story Nordstrom retail experience from the ground floor and up, set to open in the next month. It will serve as the brand’s flagship location in New York. 
  • Resident-only amenities (see next list).
  • Luxury, open-concept condominiums with oversized windows and views of Central Park, all ranging from two to eight bedrooms.

The resident’s amenities will be housed on floors 8-12. These will include 50,000 square feet of space to offer:

  • The Central Park Club, a lounge, theater, tween lounge, and a conference area. 
  • A landscaped terrace featuring a 60 ft outdoor pool.
  • Private dining room and a ballroom.
  • A fitness center and spa area to include a 63 foot indoor pool, exercise area, childrens playroom, and more. 

What Is Left to Complete on the Project? 

With a projected completion year of 2020, only the last smaller projects are left to be finished before the whole of Central Park Tower is ready to be completely open to residents and the public. Much of this will involve work on the upper floors, including the three-story penthouse famed already for its rumored luxury, spanning 17,000 square feet. The eventual owner of this space will be a record holder for the highest residence in the city. 

The upper floors are still missing glass and a number of finishes, but there are parts all throughout the full expanse of the building awaiting finishing touches. Its first public listings went live back in May, giving curious onlookers a glance at what they can expect to see throughout the finished building. As of the end of September, available spaces range from $6.9 million to $63 million in price.