Category Archives: construction

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.

NJ Voters Approve More Than $160 Million in for School Construction

In towns around New Jersey on Tuesday, voters decided on nine school bond referendums. Eight out of the nine passed to fund projects that will total more than $160 million in spending for renovations, upgrades, and new construction.

Five days during the year, school boards can ask voters to approve school construction proposals. The state will fund at least 40 percent of eligible school construction costs through annual debt service aid thanks to the Educational Facilities Construction and Financing Act. All of the referendums that passed are at least partially eligible for state funds, according to the NJ School Board Association.

According to the NJSBA, the projects that received voter approval are:

In Rutherford, the $45 million plan includes renovating high school science labs and adding them at Union Middle School. It also includes HVAC, electrical and plumbing upgrades.

At Rancocas Valley Regional High School in Burlington County, the nearly $22 million proposal includes fire and security upgrades and renovations of bathrooms, windows, HVAC and more.

In Oaklyn, Camden County, the bond referendum was for a new HVAC system and main entrance, as well as a roof, drains and windows for just under $4 million.

The Carteret School District in Middlesex County asked for $37 million to build a new junior high school for seventh and eighth grade and renovate multiple elementary schools.

Fair Haven schools in Monmouth County passed a referendum for more than $15 million to expand full-day kindergarten, renovate with a focus on STEAM courses and improve security and HVAC systems.

Rockaway Borough in Morris County got approval for expansion and renovation at an elementary school and middle school that will include classrooms, electrical, plumbing and HVAC work totaling about $12.5 million.

Watchung Hills Regional High School, which takes students from Somerset and Morris counties, will undergo renovations including upgrades to the media center and electrical system. The board says no new tax dollars will be needed for the nearly $4 million project thanks to other funds.

In Hawthorne, Passaic County, more than $24 million will go to upgrades and renovations to the media center, science lab, fire and electrical systems. There will also be asbestos removal, roof repairs and a boiler replacement.

The lone referendum to fail:

In Colts Neck, the $25 million proposal addressed indoor air quality by replacing the HVAC and electrical systems and removing asbestos flooring.

 

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.

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.

 

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.

South Jersey Sees Big Things For the Future

At last week’s Southern New Jersey Development Council Construction (SNJDC) Forecast, council president Marlene Asselta said she is hopeful about economic development for the area in the near future, according to NJTV News. She called South Jersey an “awakening giant.”

At the event, the redevelopment of the former Echelon Mall in Voorhees Township was discussed, and a call was put out to engineers, planners, and developers for what the township hopes will become an entertainment destination. The first floor of the former mall could even become a culinary arts center.

But Voorhees wasn’t the only place with big plans.

In Burlington, there is talk of a mixed-use development project around the Delaware River. It would have retail, restaurants, a hotel, and maybe a water park on the property of the old McNeal Mansion and U.S. Pipe in Burlington City.

When it comes to stimulation spending, libraries in the area could get in on the coming building boon too. Thanks to the Libraries Construction Bond Act, money could go for new construction or renovations, according to the state librarian.

While all of New Jersey is hoping for construction that brings new choices for retail and entertainment across the state, the SNJDC believes South Jersey will be the Garden State’s place to develop and build in the next few years.