Author Archives: Chris Colabella

NYU’s Massive Mercer St Nearing Completion

New York University’s $1B project at 181 Mercer Street is nearing completion. The 23 story, 900+ sf new building, stretching a full block, was announced in 2016 with construction commencing in 2017.

Davis Brody and Kieran Timberlake designed the facility according to NYU’s Climate Action plan to ensure sustainability. The project includes dormitories for students and faculty, 58 classrooms, gymnasiums, indoor track, Olympic size pool, squash courts, multiple fitness rooms, a 556-seat theatre with orchestra pit, balconies and mezzanine seating, rehearsal rooms, study lounges, two cafés and locker rooms. The top of the podium will make room for an outdoor landscaped terrace for both students and faculty members. The building will split into a North Tower and South Tower at the 7th floor which is where the dorms will start.

Occupancy is expected in November of this year. A formal opening is slotted for the Spring of 2023.

Construction for First State Crossing in Claymont, DE Still Ongoing

In 2015, the First State Crossing project was first announced, and the Commercial Development Company first began redevelopment plans for the 425-acre former EVRAZ steel mill in Claymont, DE, which is located right outside of Philadelphia. Plans moved forward in February 2019 when CDC announced a $71 million transportation center to break ground on the site in April 2019. Since that time, construction has been ongoing. Overall, the project will include the transit center and space for residential, office, retail, industrial, and hotel. 

What Are the Details of the Project?

The most recent concept of the project was released in 2020 and includes plans for 1.8 million square feet for residential units (which equals to 1,207 units in total), 989,000 square feet in office buildings, 380,000 square feet allocated to three industrial facilities, and 105,000 square feet for retail space. 

The most central piece of the project will be the new Claymont rail station, which both SEPTA and Amtrak will service. Developers estimate that the rail station will service approximately 1,200 passengers each weekday. The entire project is broken down into phases, with completion expected to take upward of 10 years. 

Phase 1 includes a 17-acre office park with a 460-space parking garage to accommodate it. This park will be adjoining the train station. Phase 2 will feature another office building at Naamans Road and I-95, retail space, a pharmacy, and a restaurant. Phase 3 will be a 35-acre site off Philadelphia Pike that will include three industrial buildings and an office building. Phase 4 will be concentrated on mixed-use and will feature a gas station, strip retail with restaurants, a grocery store, an apartment complex, and three office buildings. Phase 5 will be a residential complex across from the train tracks comprising townhomes. 

While part of the overall First State Crossing project, the rail station project is not included in the phases. The design firms on this project are Tevebaugh Associates of Wilmington, DE, and VanDemark & Lynch Inc., also of Wilmington. 

Why Is This Project Important?

This project is being built on a distressed and defunct site, and the transit center will accommodate rail, bike, bus, pedestrian, and auto travelers. The developers plan a full economic and environmental redevelopment plan for the area, which it needs. Local residents have never been in opposition to this project. 

The transit portion of the project is expected to be completed in 2022. 

For more information on this project and others, visit the CIS Leads website today.

Heartland Town Square in Brentwood, Long Island, to Resume Construction after Developer’s Death.

The Heartland Town Square Project has been hotly contested from the beginning, both by the 4 Towns Civic Association and the Brentwood School District. If it weren’t for developer Jerry Wolkoff’s determination, the initial plans would never have gotten approved and phase I construction started. 

After Wolkoff passed away in July 2020, people wondered what would happen with the project. Now, it appears as if his sons will take over, with construction resuming this summer. 

What Are the Details of the Project?

The overall vision of the project is to transform the 452 acre Pilgrim Psychiatric Center into a new town center, creating jobs and providing services for the community, like housing, shopping, and civic-oriented amenities.

The breakdown includes including 9,000 apartments, 34 million sf of Class A office space, 1million sf dedicated to restaurants, hotels, bars, shops and cinemas, and a $15M, approx 237,000 sf, retail building.

The work is to be completed in phases. Phase 1 has been approved, and work has begun on the first 350 of 3,000 apartments. 

It is yet to be decided whether the Islip Town Board will approve the other phases of the project, as there is still opposition. If approved in its entirety, the town square will take 20 to 30 years to complete. The owners and developers of the project are G&M Realty LP. 

Why Is This Project Important?

The developer estimates that Heartland Town Square will bring 2,000 construction jobs and about 25,000 permanent jobs to the area. Also, because of the diversity of the spaces being offered (restaurants, retail, office space, residential), it will attract people of all ages to live and work. 

The developer also estimates that it will generate more than $50 million in property taxes to help bring relief to the area.

Why Is the Project Being Opposed?

Local area residents are contesting the project for several reasons, mainly concerns about overcrowding and the impact to their local water supply, which is deemed part of the Special Groundwater Protection Area. They fear that the sheer number of new residents, compounded with the retail and office space, could dry up their water supply – aquifers, which may no longer have ample opportunity to recharge. 

Construction is expected to resume in Summer 2021, and it remains to be seen if the Town of Islip will approve further phases of the project.

For more information on this project and others, visit the CIS Leads website today.

Luxury Condo Complex in Ardmore, PA Nears Completion

After several years, construction on the 39 Montgomery condominium complex, located within walking distance of the Suburban Square Shopping Center, is expected to wrap up by the end of Summer. 

What Are the Details of the Project?

Three residences were demolished to make way for this four-story, 21-unit luxury condominium complex. Prospective residents can choose from five separate floor plans, all of which have three bedrooms and three bathrooms and range in size from 2,200 square feet to 2,600 square feet. 

Each residence will have 9- to 10-feet high ceilings, a gas fireplace, a private terrace, an oversized closet, and a spa-style master bath. The outside of the structure features a limestone and brick facade. The design firm on this project is Momenee & Associates, Inc., out of Bryn Mawr, PA.

There are many onsite amenities for residents as well. The entire complex will feature:

  • A security system
  • Assigned underground two-car parking
  • Storage space
  • Club lounge
  • Keyless electronic entry
  • Private fitness room

Why Is This Project Important?

Ardmore is part of the overall Philadelphia metro area. The location of this condominium complex is extremely close to both the Septa and Amtrak rail lines, which offers residents a quick and easy commute into the city. 

The complex is also within walking distance from Suburban Square Shopping Center, which is a historic and bustling center. 

For more information on this project and others, visit the CIS Leads website today.

NYC’s Waldorf Astoria Follows a Trend to Convert Hotel Space to Condos


The Waldorf Astoria is a historic building where every president has stayed, dating back to Herbert Hoover. The hotel first opened in 1931, so officials and locals will be glad to see it carefully preserved.

It’s been quite a few years since the Beijing-based Anbang Insurance Group purchased the famous Waldorf Astoria hotel in 2015 to renovate it into condominiums. However, in light of the pandemic and the complexity needed for luxury renovations, construction remains ongoing and hopeful expectations have the end of construction slated for the fourth quarter of 2022. 

What Are the Details of the Project?

There are 375 condos in total planned for the project, with studios starting at $1.7 million and four-bedroom condos starting at $18.5 million. The hotel closed its doors in 2017 to begin renovations, and developers began to launch condo sales for the property in March of 2020. 

Interiors of the condos are expected to include vanities with marble countertops, herringbone floors, and antique bronze hardware. Some units will also have private balconies. 

There will be many amenities within the building as well. Residents will have access to a winter garden, four private bars, a 25-meter swimming pool, a children’s playroom, a theater, a gym, and private spas. 

There are plans to continue to have hotel spaces below the condos, known as the Towers of the Waldorf Astoria, that the Hilton hotel chain will continue to manage. 

The local developer on the project is AB Stable LLC, the design firm is Skidmore Owings & Merrill, and the contractor is AECOM Tishman

Why Is This Project Important?

The NYC hotel industry has had to deal with many challenges over the past decade. Services such as Airbnb have allowed competition with a very low barrier to entry, and a brand new market which is not subject to the same laws and restrictions as traditional hotels. Then the coronavirus global pandemic, which was particularly severe in New York, shut down the entire city and travel across the world.

The renovation of the hotel to condo units ensures it can still thrive during an unsure hotel market. New York City’s luxury apartment and condo market are still reeling from the mass-departure of residents caused by the pandemic, but analysts say that the building has a good chance of being successful because it is reasonably priced for its category.

 For more information on this project and others, visit the CIS Leads website today.

Caven Point Studios in Jersey City Nears Completion

Originally slated for a 2020 opening, construction is finally near completion on the Caven Point Studios at Canal Crossing in Jersey City, New Jersey. The movie studio project was initially announced in Fall 2019 and will be the largest in the state.

What Are the Details of the Project?

An existing building has beed demolished and two warehouses are being redeveloped into a film and television production studio complex. The entire project is 135,000 square feet, with 70,000 of that dedicated to studio space and three sound stages.

The project’s developer and contractor is the Criterion Development Group, which purchased the 5.6-acre site for $16.75 million in March 2019. They chose to build a movie studio outside of New York City to take advantage of the New Jersey Film Tax Credit Program. They used local design firms Dresdner Robin Engineering of Jersey City and Ware Malcomb of New York City.

Why Is This Project Important?

Mayor Steven Fullop of Jersey City has said that he hopes the construction of Caven Point Studios will aid in redeveloping the city and preserving the area’s robust industrial history.

The new studio is expected to boost the local economy. The construction itself has already brought an influx of local jobs. The passing of the Garden State Film and Digital Media Jobs Act in 2018 helps developers consider projects like this throughout New Jersey to help revitalize areas that may need it. The state’s proximity to New York City makes it an ideal location for a movie studio. 

Construction is expected to complete in Spring 2021.

For more information on this project and others, visit the CIS Leads website today.

MacArthur Airport Breaks Ground on New Transportation Center

Another major step in the modernization of MacArthur Airport broke ground earlier this month. When CISLeads last examined this corner of Suffolk County, MacArthur commenced a remodel of the West Terminal apron—just one of several stages of an ongoing facelift for the location, bringing decades-awaited upgrades in some cases. In early October, the next major step forward was the commencement of MacArthur’s new Ground Transportation Center, which will consolidate every facet of ground transportation to and from the airport. (See CIS’s projects for GC, Plumbing and Electric and also the HVAC bid.)

Shelly LaRose-Arken, the airport aviation commissioner, recognized this update as sorely needed. “It’s been more than 20 years since the airport’s passenger facilities have been upgraded,” she said, recognizing the unique need to prioritize ground travel for visitors and residents alike. 

What Are the Specifics of the New Ground Transportation Center?

At the groundbreaking ceremony, Governor Andrew Cuomo affirmed the $8.4 million project, saying, “This new one-stop facility at Long Island MacArthur Airport will give businesses and visitors to the New York City and Long Island regions an improved and streamlined travel experience.” 

Presently, many parts of the ground travel experience at MacArthur sit in different areas. Taxis are currently located near the baggage claim. The Suffolk County Bus Stop sits in a somewhat unsafe space in the main terminal roadway’s outer lane. These services and countless others, including car rental kiosks and areas for every form of mass transit (buses, taxis, shuttles, and more) are essential. Personal vehicle pickup will also be possible from here. 

The 12,000 square foot facility, built from a renovated existing building, will also include lounge areas and a covered pedestrian walkway. LaRose-Arken also reported that the new transportation center’s aesthetic would “reflect the feel of Long Island,” with modern fixtures and a copper, blue, and sand color scheme throughout. 

Funding, Construction Jobs, and the Next Ten Months

The project is expected to complete by the end of Summer in 2021. With regard to funding, Islip’s Supervisor Carpenter has stated that “This major renovation project comes at no expense to local taxpayers and provides many benefits to our airport and community.” It was also reported that there have been over $50 million in renovation projects completed and ongoing over the last four years, and this guarantee has held true. 

While MacArthur Airport is continually seeking additional grants, part of their funding so far is coming from generated revenue from regular operations, as well as a $650k grant from Empire State Development and another $800k in grant money from New York State aviation.

Through the coming 10 months, the new transportation center will call for laborers’ skilled hands to create a functional hub, with vehicles and pedestrians in constant transit within and out of the airport altogether. The relatively short timeline largely comes from the decision to work with an existing structure rather than build something wholly new. 

One of the major logistical challenges will be to move multiple services — car rentals, taxis and Ubers, bus stop, shuttle stops — into a centralized location without creating congestion and upsetting traffic flow through that area. The renovation will also need to meet the roomy, modern aesthetic of other updates at McArthur, aiming to be pleasing to the eye while also facilitating the need for greater social distance. 

Funding Secured for Rental Development in West Chelsea

A path to the new development has been somewhat stalled for a vacant lot in West Chelsea. Sitting at the very center of the tech community, where giants like Amazon and Facebook headquarter themselves (or will very soon), and mere blocks from the 25th Street-Penn Station Subway line, the High Line, and the Hudson Yards, the site at 241 West 28th Street has been an underutilized piece of property for some time now, and even with plans to start a mixed-use project emerging last year, there has seen some significant delay thanks to the COVID-19 outbreak and other setbacks. 

However, a recent approval for funding through lenders Madison Realty Capital (MAC) has set the ball rolling, at long last, and West Chelsea will be home to a huge rental development in a few short years with spaces even for affordable housing. 

What Has Changed Between the Start of the 241 West 28th St Project and Now?

There has been news over the last couple of years that the now-split L&L Mag had filed permits for the land, including a 99-year ground lease. MAG Partners retains ownership, and in the time since, the plans for the property at 241 West 28th Street have changed significantly:

  • No longer mixed-use. Originally, there were discussions of placing retail spaces on the ground floor, common of many developments in the Manhattan area of late, but in lower demand since the turn of the year.
  • A taller building, more space. Once slated for 11 stories and 266 units, the plans are now slated for a 22-story, 479-unit multi-family residence. Square footage shifted from about 248,000 to 372,000 before L&L MAG broke apart, and there is no current information on what the new estimation will be. 

Previous accounts suggested the original plan was for a concrete-based building with a cellar and a rear yard measuring about 64 feet. There have been no announcements whether these features have changed. 

What is known as of now is that 30 percent of the available units will be priced as affordable housing. As a trade for the retail spaces, this answers a growing need for affordable rental spaces in the New York City metro area, made more significant by the COVID-19 epidemic, and the choice to incorporate affordable housing also means the project will likely be deemed essential should another shutdown occur. 

241 West 28th Street — The Road to Completion

The development will begin in earnest next month, with completion slated for 2022. COOKFOX Architects DPC were attached to the original project, no word on whether they remain, and this information is likely to be revealed in the coming months. Once ground breaks (with demolition unlikely as the lot is vacant), the space may be two years away from its first residents, but that time will be filled with steady jobs for the tradespeople involved in the project. 

The coming months will be all about learning what the new plans have for the finished product — is a cellar space still in the cards? Will there be landscaping and outdoor space for the residents? With 70 percent of the units going at market value in a neighborhood that ranges between rents of around $1500 for a studio and the multiple tens of thousands for condos, the expectation for a quality build and luxury amenities may strongly affect the build. 

Expect further developments as everyone moves into 2021. 

Islanders New Home Arena at Belmont Park Tops Out

An ongoing development reported by CIS Leads, the Belmont Arena — now renamed the UBS Arena in Belmont Park — is to be the new home for the New York Islanders, and this Saturday reached a major milestone nearly a year since its last major update. The 19,000-seat arena, said to be the centerpiece of the Belmont Park Redevelopment Project, topped out — or, “topped off,” as Gov. Cuomo and others present chose to call it. 

With a ceremonial placing of the highest beam by Empire State Development Board chair Steven M. Cohen and Acting Commissioner Eric Gertler joined NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and Islanders co-owner Jon Ledecky, the UBS Arena has reached its full height, and with more to go. 

The Main Details on UBS Arena and the Belmont Park Redevelopment Project, as They Stand Today

In the year since CIS Leads reported on the start of the then-named Belmont Arena Project, far more details have come to light regarding the development and its amenities. In fact, the most detail that could be reported in September of 2019 was its capacity, as well as the promise for retail and office spaces in the surrounding park. Updated information includes:

  • A large, luxurious entertainment hub. Slated at 17,000 capacity for NHL games and 19,000 for concerts, UBS Arena is built for hockey and music. The site boasts that the finished structure will be a seamless merging of “boutique hospitality” and “live entertainment” that includes VIP suites and clubs, eight bars with a view of the ice and stage, and two outdoor terraces, among other features. 
  • About 350,000 square feet of retail and food. Over the entire complex, visitors will find a swathe of options, from experiential retail and food options to a larger retail village. 
  • A 210,000 square foot hotel, details to be disclosed later. Likely part of a later phase of the full redevelopment project, little is known about the hotels’ amenities or the overall size, but many praise this as the piece that will complete the complex as the sports and entertainment hub of the area. 
  • The first new, full-time LIRR train station in nearly half a century. One of the latest revelations is that the Long Island Rail Road would be constructing a new connection, the Elmont stop, the first in almost fifty years, which will drive more shoppers and sports and music fans to the area without the need to arrange accommodations. 

As Phase I continues, locals and job seekers can look to continuing, steady progress and more details as they emerge. 

What Remains to Be Done Before the UBS Arena Is Completed?

Developers are expecting to have the roof complete by December. UBS Arena is looking to open its doors in the Fall of 2021, just in time for the 2021-2022 NHL Season, and sources suggest that at least 60 concerts have already been booked for the venue. Despite two months of delay at the height of the COVID-19 outbreak in New York, developers are confident that they will finish on time. 

The project itself has already created over 10,000 construction jobs, and since the completion of the arena is only the first phase of several, that promises further work to come for perhaps several years, and that’s to say nothing of the thousands of local jobs that Belmont Park is predicted to bring once the final bricks are laid.