Author Archives: kyorio1528

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 njspotlight.com. 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?

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?

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 northjersey.com. 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.

Delaware to Receive Substantial Increase in Construction Spending

Delaware legislature adjourned its session on July 1 after allocating nearly $900 million for the state’s construction projects in the coming fiscal year.

The lawmakers approved $863 million budget for major road, school and other construction projects as they wrapped up the session and headed into their summer recess.  The bill is a substantial increase, not only over funding from the previous fiscal year but from Governor John Carney’s January proposed amount of about $678 million.

The bill earmarks $425 million for transportation projects (up from $368) and $437 million in non-transportation construction spending, including maintenance, technology, equipment, economic development, and environmental projects, according to the Associated Press (down $10 million). The additional funds on top of the governor’s proposed budgets were available because revenue projections are significantly higher than they were last June, the AP story said

Another bill with implications on the industry will have to wait for the next session. Senate Bill 95 sought to change the definition of “independent contractor,” which would then require workers to pay taxes through a social security number. Currently, they can use an Independent Taxpayer Identification Number (ITIN) to file and changing that would mean workers who are undocumented immigrants who can’t get social security cards could not work—and contractors who need workers might not be able to find enough.

The senator who sponsored the bill told WBOC, the intention was to regulate the way contractors treat their employees. Upon hearing from those concerned about the ramifications of such a law on undocumented immigrants, he and his fellow lawmakers proposed a change in the language in the bill that would allow workers to use an ITIN to register with the department of labor and not reveal their immigration status.

One Million SF in E-Commerce Warehouse Space Coming to Bayonne

For consumers, part of the appeal of buying things online is avoiding a brick-and-mortar store. The item goes from the website to their doorstep, like magic. But all of those e-commerce purchases do need a place to go during the shipping process. For the tristate area, that place is going to be a collection of warehouses on a man-made peninsula in Bayonne.

Lincoln Logistics Bayonne is being built on 90 acres of land that once belonged to the U.S. government and was home to the Military Ocean Terminal tract. It has been dormant since 1999. The site plan consists of four warehouse buildings, individually ranging from 150,000 square feet to 477,000 square feet and totaling 1.6 million square feet for e-commerce shipments. Each building will have 40-foot ceilings.

Vertical construction is expected to begin in early 2020. To be ready for redevelopment, the 70-year-old structures on the site were demolished, and to comply with post-Hurricane Sandy standards, the elevation of the site is being raised six feet.

The location provides access for shipping. Lincoln Logistics Bayonne will contain nearly 63 acres of riparian water rights and maritime access to the Hudson River and Newark Bay. It will also have immediate access to nearby major highways, including the New Jersey Turnpike and routes 78, 440 and 1 and 9. It is also adjacent to the Global Container Terminal and is less than 10 miles from Newark Liberty International Airport. And, according to developer Lincoln Equities Group (LEG), there are 27 million consumers within a two-hour drive and 59 million consumers within a 5-hour drive from the location.

“We’re just 7 miles from Newark and 8 miles from the Holland Tunnel,” LEG President Joel Bergstein said during a tour of the site in June. “This will be a prime distribution point for the city.”

The redevelopment is expected to create 2,700 jobs.

A Wealth of Development Opportunities Arise if Philadelphia’s Hahnemann Hospital Closes

Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia has filed for bankruptcy and faces possible closure. If the medical campus closes, there are obvious concerns about serving the community’s health needs, as well as the loss of jobs of those who work there. But according to the Philadelphia Inquirer, the seven medical buildings and parking garage that take up over nearly six acres on Broad Street along the Vine Street Expressway could become one of the “most enticing-if challenging” development sites the city has seen in years.

The age and condition of the buildings make it difficult to modernize to continue its use as a hospital. But the site sits between Center City and Broad Street making it a “gateway” location for redevelopment should that inevitably happen. At this point, there is no consensus of what kind of development it would be or if it would encompass the entire site or pieces of it.

Should redevelopment happen, it won’t be the first hospital site in the city to be redeveloped and re-imagined. The former Mt. Sinai Hospital at 400 Reed Street was turned into nearly 100 luxury townhomes with “pocket parks” and pedestrian walkways configured into the buildings’ layout. Southwark on Reed became the fastest selling townhome project in Philadelphia to date. And St. Joseph’s Hospital’s transformation into a mixed-use site with 88 apartments, The Civic Apartments, is nearing completion.

But Hahnemann’s future at this point is unknown. The president of the Center City District Business Association, Paul Levy, told the Inquirer that while his group hopes to keep the services and employment from the hospital if it closes, but there would be a huge, new opportunity for the city.

“The top priority is to preserve the medical services and jobs the hospital represents,” Levy said. “If, unfortunately, it was impossible to save them…it could create a whole new zone in the city.”

RELATED STORIES:

Bernie Sanders Holds a Rally Against Hospital Closure, abc Action News Philadelphia.

 

Mixed-Use, Transit-Oriented Project Key in Paterson’s Plan for Renewal

Paterson officials are once again talking about a renaissance. The key piece to this attempt at making Silk City more attractive to young adults and businesses is a proposed $34 million mixed-use building across from the Paterson train station.

When announcing the plans, mayor Andre Sayegh said the city is looking to attract millennials and become a hub for young professionals the way other area cities have done. There is Hoboken, of course, and Jersey City. Harrison has exploded with residential and retail construction built in the areas surrounding the PATH station—and part of the development was a new PATH station that was recently opened as well.

“Paterson, we believe, is the next frontier,” Sayegh said as he unveiled the plans for the “transit-oriented” project that will include 160 multi-family apartments— running from approximately 400 to 850 square feet each, as well as a food hall, co-working space, retail businesses, 15,000 square feet for a business incubator program for the fashion and garment industry. It has a targeted date for completion at the end of 2022.

Developer Anthony LoConte will handle the project at the Ward St. and Memorial Drive site where an old parking garage now sits.

The project will create more than 60 construction jobs and the retail space will create 15 full-time jobs when the project is completed, according to the Paterson Times. LoConte hopes to break ground in the next eight months and plans to be involved in more projects around the city, the story said.

Making Every Floor Count: City of New York Closes Mechanical Void Loophole

After approval by the city council on May 29, 2019, an amendment that stands to noticeably affect the New York City skyline, has been ratified. It comes in the form of an attempt to close a unique loophole in zoning laws that creates taller residential buildings with far less available living space. The Residential Tower Mechanical Voids Text Amendment imposes new regulations on the use of excessive mechanical voids in building construction.

What, Exactly, Are Mechanical Voids, and What Is the Problem? 

Before this amendment, mechanical voids of any kind did not count in the square footage of usable space in a zoning permit. The reason for this is that these voids usually make up floors for storing mechanical equipment for the building and mechanical bulkheads in the tops of some high-rise structures. In a residential space, these entire floors are not habitable and therefore do not count toward the square footage, hence the name “void.” The projected height of a building generally should not be largely different from the finished product. 

This is where the issue of excessive mechanical voids comes into play and what the amendment hopes to do away with in future projects, involving not only the size of singular voids but also how multiple close voids can be in relation to each other. The amendment seeks to address issues such as:

  • Too-tall buildings. With uninhabitable spaces in a high-rise building reaching and exceeding the equivalent of multiple habitable floors, the final structure is far higher than zoning would have otherwise allowed. This poses environmental changes to other parts of the city, such as longer shadows cast on parts of Central Park, as suggested by activists supporting stronger regulations. 
  • Inflated cost of living. These taller buildings in highly demanded corners of the city use these voids to reduce the amount of livable space on lower floors, meaning the available residences are higher up and ultimately cost more. As the discussion around affordable housing in the city of New York continues to rage, the closing of this loophole has become a necessary part of the discussion

Is The New Legislation Enough? What Are Critics Saying? 

While some hail this decision as an essential first step, others say the amendment is not enough. In some cases, this has already led to some slight alterations. For instance, the City of New York website notes that criticism did lead to some changes before the amendment’s final passage. Initially, the minimum allowable height of a mechanical void that would not be counted among usable space in zoning was 25 feet in height, raised to 30 feet to allow a more reasonable amount of space for mechanical equipment. By and large, criticisms come from both sides of the debate: 

  • Not strict enough, say some critics. Gale Brewer, President of the Manhattan Borough, believes the required distance between voids (before they are counted as zoned space) should be increased from 75 feet to 90 feet. City Councilman Ben Kallos suggested that the allowable size of unzoned space for individual voids should cap at 14 feet rather than 30 feet. 
  • Space is needed for growing energy trends. At a time when New York has committed itself to increasing energy efficiency and reducing its carbon footprint, lobbying groups like the Real Estate Board of New York insist that these limitations further limit developers’ ability to incorporate evolving technologies for lowering energy costs. Mechanical equipment, including ventilation systems and batteries, require space. The latter, especially, are growing larger all the time. 

As the debate continues and further restrictions are proposed at the state and local level, the discussion will only continue to evolve just as the city skyline does. For now, whether it reaches unforeseen heights or becomes more down-to-earth discourse remains to be seen. 

New Jersey’s Biggest, Boldest Mixed-Use Project: Riverton Redevelopment in Sayreville

Riverton, mixed-use redevelopment along two miles of the Raritan River in Sayreville, is one of New Jersey boldest projects. It’s also one of the biggest. The $2.5 billion project on 418 acres is the largest mixed-use development in NJ history and believed to be the largest mixed-use project in development in the U.S. right now, according to NJ.com.

Don’t blame locals if they adopt a “I’ll believe it when I see it” attitude to the dreams of creating “America’s Next Great Hometown.” Attempts to redevelop the area have been ongoing for more than a decade. The previous developer never began construction after attempts to clean-up the contaminated site.

The current plan calls for a marina, two hotels, 1 million square feet of retail space and 1 million square feet of office space, 10 restaurants, and 2,000 residential units of single-family homes and apartments. It is expected to be built in phases and take 10 years to complete once they start construction.

But it won’t be easy—to build or win over the public. The developer, North American Properties (NAP), and Sayreville Economic & Redevelopment Agency (SERA) have faced some pushback, including a poll sent to area residents at the end of 2018 that town officials say was from an outside organization trying to mislead the public about the project with questions that “appear created to incite fear and spread rumor.” And while NAP boasts access to highways and the number of people within 20 miles, some are concerned about the amount of traffic and congestion in the area. Part of the plan, however, is to create its own Riverton exit on the Garden State Parkway, according to a story from News12 New Jersey, which toured the site.

If all goes as the developers plan, Riverton residents won’t have to leave the area very often. They can work, live, dine out, and meet all of their entertainment and recreation needs right there.

North Haledon Hopes to Jump-Start Development with Residential Units

The mayor of North Haledon is praising newly approved housing projects that will go up in his town as a deal that will jump-start development to turn a “blighted” industrial area into a residential neighborhood that will spur more construction in the area, according to an article on northjersey.com.

The multiple Belmont Avenue projects will bring more than 200 apartments–with some affordable housing units among them–and at least 30 townhouses into the area near the completed Belmont Estates townhouses, the story said.

As part of a way to bring in developers, the town is working on a payments in lieu of taxes (PILOT) agreement that would allow the developers to make payments to the town based on a percentage of revenue instead of paying taxes.

The North Haledon mayor called it a good deal saying the town would make a “tremendous amount of money.”

If the developers and building owners paid taxes instead, that tax revenue would have gone to the school district, according to the story.