Monthly Archives: July 2020

Funding Secured for Mixed-Use Building in Downtown Maplewood

Downtown Maplewood is going to get new apartments and commercial space. Funding has been secured for the 104 Baker Street site, the former home of Toomey’s Automotive. The location will be developed into a 25,000-square-foot mixed use space that sits a quarter-mile from the train station.

The three-story building will have 11 residential units―nine two-bedroom and two one-bedroom apartments―and 3,500 square feet of commercial and restaurant space on the ground level ground. There will be an indoor/outdoor rooftop terrace for renters, and each apartment will have a parking space behind or below the building.

The plans were approved in November for the location that the town had declared a “site in need of redevelopment” in the busy downtown area, but financing wasn’t arranged until earlier this month.


Planned Renovations to Westchester County Bridges Announced

On July 24th, Governor Cuomo announced a new, $115 million infrastructure project is already underway in Westchester County to renovate multiple bridges, Route 907W and Ravensdale bridge, in addition to other parts of the surrounding area. 

The project is met with some optimism following earlier reports on slower progress toward needed bridge repairs nationwide. The targeted locations see a great deal of flooding during inclement weather and these updates’ ultimate aim is to mitigate these issues, making these areas safer and more resilient to storms, erosion, and other wear and tear. 

“This project will ease travel and enhance safety in one of the Hudson’s Valley’s busiest corridors,” the Governor said, adding that it would address “chronic flooding that has tormented drivers in the area for decades.” 

He reiterated the state’s commitment to “building a transportation network that meets the demands of the 21st Century, facilitating economic growth and improving quality of life, and these projects will significantly advance our efforts.”

Which Bridges Are Going to Be Renovated, and What Will be Done With Them?

Overall, the project will repurpose one culvert, renovate one bridge, and finally replace four others in total. The project also involves addressing drainage issues and reworking nearby/adjacent roads that easily flood. 

Two of the bridges to be replaced are situated near the culvert. Altogether, this leg of the project focuses on the areas of East Lincoln Ave over the Hutchinson River Parkway, Hutchinson River between Pelham and Mount Vernon, and the culvert itself. A temporary bridge will be built in the summer to redirect traffic while construction takes place. 

The Parkway’s stormwater system will be replaced, with floodwalls also installed. The culvert will be repurposed to direct heavy precipitation to Pelham Lake. 

The other two bridges that will be replaced go over Saw Mill River Parkway over Saw Mill River in Pleasantville. The current plan is to elevate the bridges based on the next 100 years of flood projections. About 1.3 miles of new roadway will then direct the flow of water to prevent erosion and other forms of degradation. Lane closures will take place to accommodate both ongoing traffic and construction. 

The sole bridge that will only be seeing upgrades instead of full replacements is US Route 1 over Mamaroneck River in Mamaroneck.

Other updates include updating bridge approaches and nearby intersections, with many quality-of-life updates to pedestrian areas, including updated curb ramps, barriers, bridge railings, crosswalks and signals, and sidewalks. All are expected to be ADA compliant. 

What Is the Timetable for These Renovations?

Governor Cuomo has stated that these projects are now underway, but this is largely the prep stage. The current situation, which will continue through the summer, involves utility work, field preparation, and surveying. 

Part of this will include assembling the temporary bridge in the East Lincoln and Hutchinson River area. Full construction is expected to begin in the Fall and is slated to wrap up in Autumn of 2022. 

A two-year scope for the various labors involved would not be unusual, especially with the current expectation that ongoing traffic is expected to continue in the area even as construction takes place.

Mixed-Use Development Approved for Former Newark Pabst Site

For decades, the beer-bottle shaped water tower was a landmark for travelers on the Garden State Parkway, but the Pabst Blue Ribbon Newark brewery was demolished in 2008 and the iconic giant bottle dismantled as well. Since then, the South Orange Avenue site has remained vacant. The city has a plan to change that.

Earlier this month, a mixed-use development proposal was approved by the Newark Zoning Board of Adjustment. The Crown Village at Pabst Blue Ribbon Site would be four buildings with commercial space on the first floor and a total of 660 residential units. The plan for the four-acre site also calls for a day care center with outdoor secure play area, two gyms, a common work area with conference rooms, individual study offices, an outdoor basketball court, community rooms, and other more amenities. And there will be 665 parking spaces.

This is not the first proposal to develop the site over the years, but Newark mayor Ras Baraka is hopeful this one will come to fruition. He recently held a virtual town hall for residents to learn more about the project and have any questions answered.

MacArthur Airport Terminal to Undergo Remodel

After our most recent article on the latest LaGuardia Airport project, MacArthur Airport in Ronkonkoma on Long Island has begun one of its first major renovations of the year. It is one of two scheduled thus far, and it is expected to wrap up quicker than it began. 

Serving roughly two million passengers per year and in operation since the 1940’s (previously named Islip Airport), MacArthur has seen several rehabilitation projects over the years. Still, its Western Terminal has not been touched or updated in just over three decades. 

That began to change mid-July, kicking off a project that entered its planning stages in January of this year and only opened construction bids later that March. Four months later and work has begun in earnest.

What Are the Details of the Full MacArthur Airport Terminal Project?

The $8.6 million project at MacArthur Airport seeks to completely refurbish the West Terminal apron, known otherwise as a flight line, tarmac, or ramp. It serves as the parking, loading, and boarding area for all aircraft on the field. 

The rehabilitation and renovation were due. With concrete, the general life expectancy for a typical driveway is roughly 25 to 35 years with regular wear and tear. In those cases, consider the weight of regular cars and trucks coming and going. For concrete roads, the life extends a little longer, to about 40 years, and an airport apron might see more comparable traffic to this. After a 34 year wait, the federal funding for this project came through probably sooner than expected. 

About $3.3 million of the budget is from the Airport Capital Improvement Grant from the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration), with the rest coming out of the Supplemental Discretionary Grant from the 2018 Fiscal Year Omnibus Bill HR 1645.

MacArthur Terminal: What It Will Take to Finish

The first part of the project has already begun. This initial goal has been to first remove all 28,000 square yards (the equivalent of 252,000 square feet) of concrete from the existing tarmac, which is not yet complete. The ease with which this can be done is determined by the depth of the concrete itself. Depending on the size and weight of the aircraft serviced at that terminal, it can range from 5- to 6-inches and up. 

Once the old concrete is fully dismantled and removed, new concrete will be laid, treated, and painted for designating aircraft parking and movement. 

Another major factor may involve removing and replacing lighting fixtures during the process. 

While awaiting the completion of this project might mean a tighter set of arrivals and departures from the MacArthur airport, the delay will not be too long. Reports suggest that the Western Terminal will be open again, and the airport apron refreshed, in roughly four months, by the end of Autumn 2020 at the latest. 

Companies Making HVAC Adjustments To Try To Reduce Spread of Novel Coronavirus

The COVID-19 data is on track for New York City to enter Phase 4 on Monday, but it will do so without reopening indoor spaces like malls and museums as was previously planned. Governor Andrew Cuomo made that announcement on Thursday and didn’t offer a new timeline. While it is likely a disappointment to many hoping to get back to business, it will give shopping centers some more time to meet the state’s new HVAC requirements.

Earlier this month, Cuomo said that malls would be required to have an air filtration system with MERV-13 rating or the highest rating the system will allow–no less than MERV-11. It is believed that the higher level of filtration will reduce the rate of transmission of the novel coronavirus.

Companies in New Jersey have been converting their air filters to MERV-13, according to Air Systems Maintenance, Inc. sales manager Mark Attias.

Attias said the number of requests created a back order and delay in getting the filters. It also doesn’t work for every system.

“You can’t always do that with smaller systems,” he said. “Residential can’t always do it, because it disrupts the air flow too much. It has to be specially designed.”

The other “large-selling” item, Attias said, is UV lights. The lights go into the duct work and kill viruses in the air flow. Delivery of the lights was backed up as well, because of the number of orders.

There are other HVAC modifications that may be helpful as well, including changing the air flow.

As public health officials learn more and state governments move to open more businesses, as well as schools, there will be more demand for HVAC companies and supplies for system modifications.

Morningside Heights Mixed-Use Development to Begin Construction

With multiple construction firms resuming and launching new projects in the New York City area according to new health guidelines, L+M Developments Partners and Lendlease‘s joint venture in the Morningside Heights neighborhood of New York City will at last break ground, with demolition wrapping up in early June 2020. 

The mixed-use development is on the site of the Union Theological Seminary, with news of plans breaking as far back as 2018. It will, like many structures in the Morningside Heights area, be part of Ivy League school Columbia University’s sprawling campus. As such, while mixed-use often implies residential and retail combined into one building, this one will focus on residential and academic facilities — a change from earlier reports in 2018 that specified the building would mix residential and “community” space

Recent News on the 100 Claremont Avenue Project

Reported back in June of 2020, L+M and Lendlease sought and obtained $250 million in financing through global investment management firm Barings. In early July, the firms went on to confirm that they were closing further construction financing and were eager to move on to the next phase of construction. 

What Will the Finished Morningside Heights Development Offer?

The finished structure will be part of the already-existing nondenominational seminary onsite, which has been serving the community since as early as 1928. Robert A.M. Stern Architects replaced SLCE Architects. The new building’s design will cover 354,000 square feet of new space, spanning upwards of 42 stories of residences and academic spaces. The academic portions of the mixed-use building will include:

  • 54,000 square feet of academic space.
  • New, modern classrooms and office spaces.  
  • Faculty-only apartments.

On the residential side, the finished project will feature:

  • 300,000 square feet of residential space.
  • 165 condominiums, which will range from one to four-bedroom units. As yet, no data suggests these would be open to all or strictly for students. 
  • Construction firms are pledging to meet the U.S. Green Building Council standards for LEED Gold Certification as well as V2 of the WELL Building Standard.

Construction is expected to wrap up in spring of 2023. This promises several years of ongoing work for any laborers that are attached to the project. The one risk, for those citing COVID-19 and second-wave concerns, would be a potential second shutdown of non-essential construction, unless residential construction across the board is waived as many in the metro area have been demanding, because none of the units in this project are designated for low-income housing. 

CIS Breaks Down the Pandemic Impact with a Look at the Numbers of Projects Out to Bid in 2019 vs. 2020

As the industry works to come back from the affect of the pandemic and related shutdowns, CIS looked at the numbers of private and public projects out to bid across its coverage areas for the first six months of 2019 and 2020 to gauge the impact.

Interestingly, both public and private project numbers were down in January and February before governors of many Northeast states put stay-at-home orders in place and paused non-essential construction. Private projects were down nearly 25 percent in January and 14 percent in February. There were fewer public projects as well, down 12.7 percent and 7.8 percent, respectively, in the first two months of the year.

April took the biggest hit by comparison with both private and public projects out to bid down more than 56 percent. In May and June, the numbers are creeping slowly back up but still fall far short of 2019 totals. In June, private projects were down about 30 percent and public projects were down 20.

The total year-over-year change in number of new public projects for January through June is 31.4 percent.


The total change in number of new private projects for January through June is 34.1 percent.


$2 Billion Mixed-Use Project Unveiled in Astoria

In the last week, a major plan was unveiled that revealed how a five-block expanse of the Astoria/Long Island City area would be transformed into a sprawling mixed-use development. 

A joint venture from development firms Kaufman Astoria Studios, Silverstein Properties and Bedrock Real Estate Partners, the project is slated for a space (identified as a part of 35th Avenue that runs between 37th Street and Northern Boulevard) made up entirely of small factory spaces and parking lots. 

Dubbed mixed-use, which usually inspires a vision of high-rise buildings with residents above and retail below, the image this group of developers has presented to the public is essentially its own community, with 2.7 million square feet of space to build it. 

Its name: Innovation QNS. 

What Are the Details of the Full Innovation QNS Project?

The new district is presently zoned for manufacturing, so before any leg of the project starts, rezoning will have to be approved. One can speculate that the metro area’s continuing demand for housing and the ongoing trending toward mixed-use structures should mean there is little delay on this front. The developers cite a number of plans for the area:

  • 2.2 million square feet of the full 2.7 million will be devoted to residential space. 
  • Most new buildings will range between 10 and 26 stories. 
  • 2,700 apartments are to be built, with 700 reserved for low-income housing. This means that should COVID-19 or any similar issues lead to another shutdown, the project will likely remain essential and mean continuing work. 
  • Retail and office spaces are to be constructed, making up 192,000 square feet and 235,000 square feet respectively.
  • An 80,000 square foot grammar school will also be among many new features. 
  • A 90,000 square foot community center will take up a portion of the remaining square footage, and developers report that part of the leftover space will be available at below-market rent to non-profit organizations based in the community, startups, and artisans. 

The project as a whole has involved the local community in much of its planning stages and proposes that it will not force local residents out, and most small businesses will be relocating into the district. 

What Kinds of Jobs Will Innovation QNS Create? 

Innovation QNS is projected to create 5,400 new jobs, with 3,700 of them expected to be in construction alone. The other 1,700 are expected to be permanent jobs that will remain once the final bricks are laid and the new location is fully inhabited. 

The full scope of the plan covers 8.5 acres, to be converted into residential, retail and office spaces, and educational and community centers, plus all the surrounding infrastructure, and that’s all to be built after demolition. The initial groundbreaking is projected for 2023 and is expected to take at least ten years to finish. In the meantime, further planning and bidding are to be expected. 

Murphy Signs Bill To Ensure Clean Water and Environmental Infrastructure Project Funding

This week, New Jersey governor Phil Murphy signed a bill to ensure the state’s environmental infrastructure projects will be approved and continue through the new fiscal year. The bipartisan bill (S-2499) appropriates $1.167 billion in state and federal funds for clean water and environmental projects.

The measure appropriates money to the Department of Environmental Protection’s (DEP) New Jersey Infrastructure Bank Financing Program. It will be used to help “local government units, municipal, county and regional authorities, and small water companies with loans at or below the prevailing rates for qualifying clean water projects.”

State senator Kip Bateman, who co-sponsored the bill, said this will make sure that essential projects such as renovations an updates to water treatment facilities and wastewater controls damaged in 2012 by Superstorm Sandy will continue without putting more of the financial burden on property taxpayers.

The bill also authorizes the DEP to make clean water project loans to four municipalities in the Pinelands area that are receiving funding under the “Pinelands Infrastructure Trust Fund.” Disaster Relief Emergency Financing Program loans will still be available for short-term financing for projects to repair or improve the resiliency of environmental infrastructure systems adversely impacted by Storm Sandy, according to the bill.

Lighthouse Point in Staten Island to Resume Construction

Another major housing project in New York City has already shown signs of resuming construction after much delay. The site for Lighthouse Point has been shuttered and still for some months now, even before the COVID-19 outbreak, but signs of life have begun to emerge as Triangle Equities oversees a safe return to work for the laborers involved. 

The real estate development firm is known for its approach to urban development that includes public-private partnerships, targeting underdeveloped and high-potential opportunities, and creative financing. 

Their philosophy can be seen in its plans for the $250 million dollar Lighthouse Point, set in the empty United States Lighthouse Complex on Staten Island, a historic landmark that is to be revitalized into a functional, mixed-use property with retail and residential space, including affordable housing options. 

What Led to Construction Delays for Lighthouse Point?

Given the project’s status as essential construction because of its affordable housing offerings, Lighthouse Point saw little in the way of delay due to the coronavirus, as many construction endeavors did. Its troubles came much earlier than that, on two fronts:

  1. One came from a partial stop-work order due to what sources called “inadequate guardrails” and “housekeeping” at the location.
  2. Another came from the project’s contractor, Hollister Construction Services, filing for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September of 2019. 

Triangle Equities would report by December that they were on the verge of hiring a new contractor, and have since done so in the months since.

Lighthouse Point: What Will the Finished Project Look Like?

Triangle Equities outlines the development of Lighthouse Point in two phases. The first, which was estimated to complete last year but may still be in the works, would address:

  • Over 60,000 square feet of retail space 
  • A residential tower containing 115 apartments, twenty percent of which would be designated affordable housing 
  • A parking structure with 300 spaces 

Phase II, set to commence this year, will:

  • Construct more parking for an additional 100 cars
  • Add another  23,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, and office space 
  • Build a 175-room hotel and event space 

It is possible that the aforementioned delays halted the full completion of Phase I. Since Lighthouse Point remained designated as essential for its housing options, it stands to reason that the residential portion of the project is still underway. 

What Remains to Be Finished?

Phase II will be ready to kick off soon. With a projected completion in the summer of 2021, and more delays than anyone is likely to care for, this remains to be seen. In early June, the DOB reported that people were on site to make repairs to fencing, sidewalks, and to adjust other violations found during a previous inspection. Spokespeople for Triangle Equities reported that their new contractor would be taking care of the final preparations for safety and readiness but declined to reveal a new schedule for completion or details about their newly hired contractor. Announcements may follow in the near future.