Monthly Archives: November 2019

MTA and Midtown Manhattan Tuck in for 20-Year Infrastructure Project

Midtown, one of Manhattan’s most active and tumultuous neighborhoods in the area of Grand Central Station, will at last see much-needed infrastructure repairs beginning May of 2020. 

What has everyone talking is the size and breadth of the project, which is not projected to come to a close until 2040. While there is some concern regarding closures due to the construction both above and below ground, developers have assured that this will be done “a few blocks at a time” to keep obstructions to a minimum. Locals, especially those working and living along Park Avenue, will likely want to keep abreast of developments as they come and adjust their routines accordingly. 

The Basics of the Project

In total, the project has a budget of around $2 billion, before any considerations for inflation

This, over a period of two decades, is expected to cover a number of necessary repairs and updates. This will include:

  • Repairs to the MTA train shed. This is a matter that’s been under serious discussion for at least the last year. The two-story underground terminal for Grand Central’s Metro North cars has been victim to water damage from leaking water and salt. A major challenge in updating this beyond simple patches that delay a larger repair is that it sits directly under Park Avenue. Tishman Construction Corp is slated to handle phase one of this portion of the project.
  • The tunnels will be overhauled for connections to Grand Central. These are specifically those that run under Midtown East, including a 1.8 mile viaduct through Park Avenue. 
  • Bridge repairs. Bridges that support the thoroughfare’s side streets, running from East 45th and East 57th, will, at last, see some needed TLC. 

More details have yet to be released regarding what else this will entail, but readers can expect to see them unfold as groundbreaking approaches in the coming months. 

Besides 20 Years, What Will It Take to Finish? 

It’s difficult to predict where two decades of construction will go, in full, but while some are wringing their hands over the protracted timeline, it’s good news for developers and contractors. While it is doubtful that any one company or group of companies will helm every phase, it means 20 years of competitive bids and the potential for structured, steady work ahead for everyone involved. 

The train shed repairs, which is likely to be the most forthcoming of the different project phases, looks to be challenging in its own right in the number of different disciplines that may be called for. There’s talk of taking up parts of the road above, so demolition is likely. 

Repaving is likely only one small part of the kind of work that will need to be done with concrete, brick, and masonry both above and below ground. It is likely that addressing the tunnel and bridge repairs will come with similar issues, but it’s not just the stone that makes up these places. Electrical, plumbing, drainage, and track will also come into the equation. 

Whatever the case, keep a weather eye out for new developments for the foreseeable future.

Happy Days Farm in Exton, PA, Under Contract; Development Plans May Finally Move Forward

The 246-acre Happy Days Farm in Exton, PA, is now under contract by Audubon Land Development. But the plans for the development of the site at the Downingtown Interchange of the Pennsylvania Turnpike are unknown.

The Happy Days site has sat untouched by construction for years while projects were proposed then abandoned. The Vanguard Group bought the property 20 years ago with the initial intention of using it to expand its corporate campus. It instead chose to do that somewhere else, leased the property and never developed the land.

The company put the property up for sale in the spring and its location made it incredibly attractive to developers. In fact, before Vanguard, multiple developers considered the property for retail and mixed-use sites.

The site is zoned for industrial and commercial use, according to the Philadelphia Inquirer. That includes farming and the Vanguard tenant has been continuing to operate it as a working farm. The barn and fields of crops would obviously disappear, though, should the sale go through and Audubon move forward with development.

A commercial real estate management and development company based in southeastern Pennsylvania, Audobon’s projects include everything from offices and warehouses to retail centers, retirement communities, and hotels.

New Valley Hospital Starts Construction

After years of battling with residents over the proposed expansion of the current Valley Hospital in Ridgewood, the New Valley Hospital broke ground this month at its Paramus site.

A parade of politicians, shovels in hand, spoke at the ceremony, touting the future of the area’s healthcare system with the coming state-of-the-art, 372-bed facility. Construction on the 910,000-square-foot facility is expected to take more than three years. It will be a green building, that ranges from three to seven stories and rooftop gardens.

Along with the hospital building, there will be a five-story parking garage with more than 430 spaces. Twenty percent of the 28-acre site will be dedicated to open, green space.

The project is expected to create 600 construction jobs and cost $800 million.

Across the street from Valley’s cancer and same-day surgery center, the New Valley Hospital is scheduled to open in 2023. Once it does, the current hospital will provide outpatient services, including operating an urgent care center. The North Van Dien Avenue location could become the site of affordable housing in the future.

Smithtown Park Areas and More to See $10 Million in Major Refurbishes

In Suffolk County, the community of Smithtown is hoping to see incoming improvements in the next couple of years. Their hope, says Town Supervisor Edward Wehrheim, is that phase one “incrementally” addresses some standing projects that have been waiting a long time to get underway. 

Among many projects awaiting completion (or even just updating) include the local water manes, Flynn Memorial Park, the town’s senior center and animal shelter, and more. This comes on the back of efforts in recent years to fund and refurbish other park areas in the Suffolk area, including Nesconset’s Joseph Andreoli Park and Gaynor Park and Veterans Memorial Park in St. James, both of which just celebrated grand reopenings after over $1 million in funding. 

What Are the Main Details of the Budget?

The major buzz about this latest budget proposal centers mostly around its increase in comparison to previous years. Compared to last year, the city would be seeing a $4 million increase, and this is said to feed a number of municipal needs, including:

  • At least $1.5 million in the operating fund tax levy is going toward absorbing spikes in health insurance costs for city employees.
  • $4 million is split into two packages goes toward Flynn Memorial Park. 
  • Another $2.4 million will fund water main replacement at St. James’ Lake Avenue. 
  • The senior center in town, as well as the animal shelter and nearby properties at Jericho turnpike will receive about $850,000 in landscape and structure updates that should give the area have a more communal, “campus”-like feel. 

A vote on the funds is expected to come late November 2019, according to the most recent sources available.

Flynn Memorial Park’s Facelift

The updates to the Daniel J. Flynn Memorial Park come with a goal in mind, something reflecting its richer history in community development. Once a stop for the region’s top ball teams, it has fallen into more significant disrepair over the years, with no major changes made since its dedication in 1979. The plan is the restore this hub for sports fans to its former glory. 

Some immediate improvements developers have planned are:

  • Regrading and resurfacing all four of the park’s fields;
  • LED field lighting;
  • New fencing and a new drainage system so that games can resume more quickly after rain;
  • A hub building containing bathrooms and concessions stands on the ground floor; and
  • A new playground in a central location will be erected to replace the one recently demolished.

What Will It Take to Complete These Projects?

Along with all the changes to take place in Flynn Memorial Park over the next two years, laborers will also have to contend with the water main installation and the exterior updates to the locations near Jericho Turnpike. Those that take on the upcoming projects will have several jobs to complete. 

  • Landscaping appears to be one of the most notable projects coming up in most areas: whether it’s resurfacing ball fields, updating the scenery, or simply covering over any installations made underground, it will be present at virtually all sites in early and late stages of the projects.
  • Building exteriors around the senior center and nearby sites, in keeping with a “campus” feel, will likely be resurfaced to reflect a similar aesthetic. Working with concrete and bricklaying is definitely likely to come up.
  • The drainage and water main changes call for similar expertise—pipes and drainage will be installed, and this will call for excavating old systems in need of replacing and temporarily displacing anything that sits on top of it. 

Teams that can tackle all of these and more should be looking forward to another 1 to 2 years of steady work in the future.


Big Plans Would Transform Delaware School District and Create Years of Construction  

Appoquinimink School District in Middletown, DE, has a big vision for its future. With an expected rise in student population, the district just opened a new elementary school in the district for this school year and has plans for five new schools and an early childhood center over the next five years.

Included in that plan are a new middle school and high school that are already in progress and scheduled to open in 2020. The other three schools and the early learning center need the December 17 referendum to pass. A new elementary school–for which they identified a new 25-acre site this week–and a new early childhood center both are planned to open in 2022.

There is another new high school and new middle school with opening dates in 2025 on the master plan.

Leading into the referendum vote, the district has an RFQ for Construction Management Services, which would entail review of design, value engineering, developing a construction schedule for a project that includes HVAC improvements, a new elementary school, a new kindergarten center, roof replacement and turf field renovations at one high school, a middle school stadium and multiple fields.

It is also seeking RFQs for Architecture and Engineering Services and plans to make multiple awards.

Both bid requests have Nov. 14 deadlines.

Steinway Tower Taking Its Final Shape as World’s Most Slender Skyscraper

With a long and troubled road since it broke ground in 2014, Steinway Tower, at last, approaches its finish line in the looming year of 2020. This unique skyscraper takes its name and inspiration from the historic landmark Steinway Hall, a building that the developers both moved for the construction of this high-rise and then fully restored. At the site of 111 West 57th Street, where once the manufacturers of pianos once walked, Billionaire’s Row now gazes up at the thinnest skyscraper ever constructed, and in the next year, it will be fully complete.

Steinway Tower and Its Residences at a Glance

“He has the entire floor,” a New Yorker might say to a friend casually, as a way to tell someone just how well-to-do a person is. To occupy an entire floor of a high rise, with no neighbors through the wall— it’s something to dream of, certainly. For tenants taking up residence in this unique West 57th Street fixture of Billionaire’s Row, it’s not just the fantasy: it’s the standard. Reported to be twenty-four times taller than it is wide, there is only one residence per level.

Developers allowed the press to preview one of the finished condos last month, revealing a number of the features and fixtures that future tenants can look forward to. The 43rd-floor condominium, while not listed yet for sale, is of a similar size to the next unit up, which is listed at $29.5 million.

  • Press entered by way of private elevator entrance, and while it lives in a building famed for its slender shape, it sports a massive 4,500 square feet of living space. 
  • The three-bedroom residence featured an open concept kitchen and living area, with a full, symmetrical view of Central Park. 
  • In fact, if the room has a window, then it’s floor-to-ceiling and has a unique, expanded view of the city around it. 
  • Each bedroom, including the master has its own ensuite, and there is also an additional powder room for guests. 

The developers also promise amenities for future residents, including 24-hour concierge and doorman, a shared terrace, and an 82-foot swimming pool.

What Remains To Be Done?

At the end of October, the main structure of the building finally reached its final height of 1,428 feet. However, the upper floors, including residences and unfinished amenities, remain to be completed. 

Finishing the project will call for any of the following: 

  • For one, expect the same level of boutique luxury present in every other aspect of the building so far.
  • The building’s unique terracotta and bronze facade, a stark contrast from an area congested with steel and glass, will continue to its pinnacle now that the supports are set. 
  • Much of the above point will help to house the structural wonder that helps to keep the building stable in spite of its slender shape, namely the mass damper in the mechanical penthouse, weighing 800 tons, that keeps vibration and movement to a minimum. 

Any residences that remain to be finished in the upper floors will reflect similar, opulent features, and with plans even to add onto the lower levels of the structure for shopping, recital space, and more amenities, a 2020 deadline for the first tenants to move in will likely not be the end to construction.