Category Archives: NJ

Adventure Crossing Hopes To Be NJ’s Destination for Indoor Sports And More

Never mind the American Dream. New Jersey’s game-changing construction project may just be happening in Ocean County, far down the NJ Turnpike from Exit 16W’s infamous Meadowlands development.

Cardinale Enterprises wants to turn Jackson, NJ, into more than Six Flags and a stop for some outlet shopping on the way home. Instead the destination will be Adventure Crossing—an indoor sports and entertainment facility with easy access to the NJ Turnpike and Garden State Parkway, adjacent to Six Flags and a quick trip to the Shore’s beaches. It will be the go-to place for youth sports tournaments and training camps, as well as business conferences and an overnight stay and extra activities for the rollercoaster crowd after a day at Great Adventure.

The amended preliminary and final site plan was approved by Jackson Township Zoning Board on January 30. Construction began  in July when they broke ground and started working on approximately $9 million of sewer and water mains, road work and land grading. The centerpiece of the facility is a 117,000-square-foot inflatable dome that is 89 feet tall and will include multiple, multi-use turf fields, five basketball and volleyball courts, an area for laser tag and an arcade, rock climbing walls, and a 12,000 square foot mezzanine for training classes as well as overlooking the courts and fields. Work on the dome has begun as part of Phase I of the construction, which will include a 10,000 square foot banquet hall and two hotels—a 140-room Hilton Garden and a 134-room Spring Hill Suites.

While the dome and the two hotels expect to be opened in late 2020, the entire vision of Cardinale founder and president Vito Cardinale for the $500 million project is expected to take about 10 years to be fully completed.  The plans  include a 100,000 square foot gymnastics facility, four to six hockey rinks, a retail complex, a golf driving range, an outdoor cricket stadium, a brain research center, and possibly a living facility for people with special needs. The original site was 150 acres but since the summer, Cardinale has acquired enough property to double the size to 300 acres.

 The New Jersey Sierra Club expressed environmental concerns about loss of habitat by building on the Pinelands property. Having struck a deal with Six Flags to protect part of that Ocean County location from clearing more land, they worry now that this development will negate what they gained in that negotiation, but Cardinale Enterprises said recently it will leave half of the land on its site “green.”

Murphy Focuses on Infrastructure; NJDOT, NJTA Advance More Than $1B in Contracts for 2019

Construction will play a big part in New Jersey governor Phil Murphy’s plans for the future. The governor is focused on fixing the state’s crumbling infrastructure, among other core issues. In this week’s state of the state address, he spoke repeatedly about investing in _infrastructure as a way to bring jobs to the state now and in the future.

The state had already put money behind those priorities. In December, the New Jersey Department of Transportation and New Jersey Turnpike Authority announced it was advancing more than $1.1 billion in construction contracts for 2019.

NJDOT will issue over $500 million in construction contracts between now and March 2019 and the NJTA will issue more than $600 million, adding over $400 million in new projects currently under design, according to the press release.

Murphy isn’t only focused on roads and rails. At one point during his speech, he specifically called out the water infrastructure issues:

“Let us use this year to also turn our attention to our aging water infrastructure. More than 1.5 million residents – north, central, and south, rural and urban – are currently serviced by water with elevated lead levels. We must leverage every opportunity to build a modern water infrastructure network that ensures the delivery of clean water to every child, and every family. We have inherited water infrastructure that is, in some places, a century old, if not older. … Outdated infrastructure is a national problem, and it requires a federal solution. I will continue working with our Congressional delegation to press the federal government for greater support and assistance — whether it pertains to clean water, or getting the Gateway Tunnel built,” he said.

P3’s Bring Opportunity and Uncertainty

When Governor Phil Murphy signed a bill expanding the opportunities for Private-Public Partnerships (PPP or P3) projects, many expressed great hope that this opportunity—with the private companies assuming the financial risk and long-term maintenance of the project—can be the answer to the state’s infrastructure crisis, as well as a boon for construction jobs.

“We’ve seen many municipalities in New Jersey struggle to repair roads and bridges, build new borough facilities and redevelop their communities,” said Jack Kocsis, CEO of Associated Construction Contractors of New Jersey. “This new law now gives them the means to cost-effectively finance much-needed construction projects.”

With the new legislation, a state or local government agency, as well as school districts, can contract with a private company for a project.

“It could be a local library, highway construction, transit-related, the whole raft of infrastructure,” Murphy said when he signed the bill at The College of New Jersey’s Campus Town development, a project built collaboratively with private-sector partners.

Previously New Jersey only allowed P3s with public colleges and universities.

“Democrats and Republicans alike recognize the tremendous benefits that can arise when public officials and private sector partners work together,” Murphy said. “By doing so, we give state, county, and local officials the much-needed flexibility they need to improve their communities while creating good-paying new jobs – in most cases good, union jobs – while leveraging private capital to invest in public infrastructure.”

At its best, a P3 is a win for all, saving municipalities money, getting vitally needed infrastructure upgrades or important community projects done sooner and creating jobs in the construction industry. But it doesn’t always go so smoothly. Not all projects are eligible for P3s and the contracts are complicated. The results have not always been as hoped either.

At least 30 other states had legislation for use of P3s in widespread projects, but many have run into trouble. In Texas, the private company that operated a toll road went bankrupt forcing the state to step in and assist in financing. In Chicago, a deal required taxpayers to reimburse the private company when parking meters didn’t produce expected revenues.

There have also been concerns about a lack of oversight with everything from potential environmental issues to transparency to ensure fair competition in bidding–would large companies, perhaps from out-of-state come in and do all the work, or could the high risk taken on by the private companies keep some from bidding at all?  Another big concern was labor protections. Most of these issues, however, were addressed during the legislative process and are reflected in the law.

“During the legislative hearings, UTCA (Utility and Transportation Contractors Association of New Jersey) was successful in obtaining important amendments to protect the interests of our industry. The Association has been working with our partners for several years on P3 legislation and thanks to that successful effort, New Jersey has an important new tool for financing infrastructure,” UTCA said in a statement following the bill signing in August.

Kocsis agreed that the key protections are in place.

“In addition, the new law contains strong, time-tested contractor and labor protections ACCNJ has promoted for decades,” he said. “Equally important, this P3 legislation will not replace traditional project delivery, but rather supplement existing procurement and project financing methods.”

It will take time, various projects-and likely some failures-to know how to use P3s most effectively and to the benefit of the public and all parties involved and to decide if the optimism was warranted and this type of partnership is, in fact, the best long-term answer.

By Chris Colabella & Kara Yorio

Coming Soon: Make the Most of Bartering on CISLeads.com

By Bari Faye Siegel

You know what they say about “one man’s trash being another man’s treasure?” Nowhere in business is this more valuable than the practice of bartering – exchanging goods or services, in lieu of cash.

Bartering is the ultimate cost-saving win-win in the construction business because jobs – whether small or multi-billion-dollar projects – often require extremely costly equipment to complete. It’s understandably cost-prohibitive for a company to buy a piece of heavy equipment they will use sparingly. On the other hand, if the company obtains the equipment without having to dip into cash reserves, it can also look for ways to use it more to increase value to GCs.

Besides, there is usually some contractor or supplier somewhere who has what you need and may be willing to trade it for something they want. Cold hard cash doesn’t exchange hands in most cases, but everyone gets what they need to get their work completed.

There are many great things about bartering, the main one being that businesses that engage in trading wares are able to maintain the status quo when it comes to revenue. In other words, if your company is doing well, you can get the job done without risking going over budget when you barter for equipment, supplies or services. Conversely, trading what you have for something you need also maintains your bottom line; you don’t have to cough up cash to get your job moving forward.

CIS’ online information directory currently includes a robust classified section where GCs, subs and material suppliers can buy and sell goods. In the near future, look for a dedicated bartering section on the newly designed CISLeads.com. Many online bartering services charge hefty fees to handle the administrative aspects of bartering. CIS clients will be able to save money by making great use of CIS’ do-it-yourself bartering section – coming soon!

Consider these other ways bartering can boost your business:

Generate New Customers: Cash is king, of course. However, if a company trades you something you need for something they need and the values are equal, you both get what you need and you’ve extended considerable goodwill to your new customer.

Conserve Cash: Look at the opposite side of that same example. You need something and don’t have the funds to buy it. If you can work a trade deal in which you barter something you’ve already paid for you will get the equipment or supplies needed to complete your project without putting out cash.

Empty Your Warehouse: Sometimes, what’s old will never be new again. That doesn’t mean it isn’t valuable and useful to someone else. But for now, it’s taking up space on your shelves. You can trade your reserves or overstock to another company that needs it now. You deplete excess inventory in favor of getting something else of value that you need.

Make the Most of Downtime: In the construction business, which is often weather dependent, there are periods of downtime throughout the year. Every day your crew or equipment sits idle is a day without profits. Through bartering, savvy general contractors, subcontractors, material suppliers, equipment dealers and professional service companies can trade goods and services to make better use of those extra resources.

One Additional Thought

In order to be successful in the bartering game, you need to connect with others who need what you have. Remember trading baseball cards? You had to make deals and negotiate trades. You talked with others who wanted something from you and, in return, were willing to give you something you wanted back.

In the business world, that’s called networking. Networking always expands a company’s potential customer base. So, at the end of the day, bartering is a win-win-win because today’s efforts get both companies what they need and potentially solidifies the possibility of doing future business together.

CIS is here to help. If we can help you reach more customers, please let us know. Visit cisleads.com or email customer service at Sue@cisleads.com.

Four Corners Millennium Project Will ‘Transform’ Newark; 200+ New Construction Jobs to Be Created

By Chris Colabella

The Four Corners Millennium Project (FCMP) is set to transform Newark’s downtown commercial district into a residential and retail center, breathing new life into a part of the city once considered to be the epicenter of commerce in North Jersey.

Construction for the five-block, multi-use redevelopment project will create more than 200 new construction jobs, according to Tim Lizura, president and chief operating officer of the New Jersey Economic Development Authority (NJEDA). “The Four Corner Millennium Project will add to the significant construction activity already underway in the City of Newark, “ he said.

The redevelopment of the area is being divided into project phases. Work on the first phase, which is expected to begin this summer, will include construction of a hotel and parking spaces. Residential and retail space will be built on the site of the once popular Paramount Theater. The FCMP is near Newark Penn Station, Gateway Center, City Hall and the Prudential Center, as well as the internationally renowned NJPAC.

More than 675 apartments will be built out of vacant and dilapidated office and warehouse space. An additional 220 residential units will be constructed over street-level storefronts. Planners hope the project will create a go-to area at Market and Broad streets where people will be able to live, work and play. In all, the project aims to transform five street blocks and includes 12 retail storefronts ranging in height from two to 16 stories.

The entire FMCP consists of approximately 1.2 million gross square feet, including:

  • 135,000 square feet of retail
  • 70,000 square feet of hotel (130 rooms)
  • 900,000 square feet of residential space (studios, one, two and three bedroom units)
  • 603 structured and below grade parking spaces.

Construction might have gotten started sooner, but RBH Group, owner of the project, was initially turned down when it first applied to the NJEDA for tax credits under the Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Program (UTHTCP). The state agency denied RBH Group’s application last year, confirmed Lizura, because the company wasn’t able to provide commitments for the bulk of the $410 million in capital needed for build-out. However, with those commitments in hand, RBH Group reapplied and was informed in January that the project received one of the very last grants awarded under the UTHTCP. That program is now part of the larger umbrella economic initiative known as the Economic Opportunity Act.

The NJEDA oversees the state’s economic initiatives aimed at incentivizing companies to stay in New Jersey or move here to create jobs and boost the economy. The FCMP will receive $33 million in tax credits and $19.5 million in funding from the Economic Redevelopment and Growth Program (ERG).

“The project represents a significant investment in the city’s historic center and will serve to further transform the commercial hub of Downtown Newark,” Lizura added. “From Four Corners to Springfield Avenue, state incentives have been critical to transforming the city’s vacant and blighted sites into areas of economic opportunity and growth.”

Chris Colabella is the president of Construction Information Systems, the only local project lead service serving construction companies in New Jersey. For more information about CISLeads.com or to request a free demonstration of our service, call 800-247-1727.

 

$1.2 Billion Port Authority Initiative to Upgrade Roads, Reduce Traffic by Port Newark is Music to the Ears of New Jersey Heavy Highway Construction Workers

By Chris Colabella

The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey (PANYNJ) announced last December the approval of a $1.2 billion program to pay for upgrades to the roads around Port Newark-Elizabeth. The announcement was welcome news for New Jersey heavy highway construction contractors, many of whom will be tapped to reconstruct several major roads in the region.

In a statement announcing the move, Bill Baroni, deputy director of the PANYNJ, said the capital will fund efforts to modernize infrastructure. The appropriation “will ensure that we bring the era of 1950s roads into modern times so they can handle the volumes of cargo and resulting trucks that we deal with today,” he said.

This program is part of a continuing PANYNJ initiative to make Port Newark-Elizabeth more efficient and environmentally friendly by reducing truck congestion on the port’s aging roads, according to the PANYNJ media relations department. Planners expect that the road improvement project will mean less truck congestion in the region near the port. Further, as an added benefit, the decrease in truck traffic will add up to a whopping reduction in harmful truck emissions — about 281 pounds per year!

A Port Authority representative said improvements, design and reconstruction of five major access roads around New Jersey’s shipping terminals at Port, Corbin, Marlin and Kellogg streets and Doremus Avenue are expected to save $60 million in operating costs in the next 30 years.

The PANJNY was expected to award the contract for engineering services for the Port Newark-Port Street Corridor Improvement Project in late January (after the submission deadline for this article.) The Authority will coordinate and monitor overall design, including environmental design, landscaping design, geotechnical engineering services and civil engineering design. Additional projects are expected to go out to bid in the coming months.

In addition to repaving the five roads near the port, the project also calls for upgrading barriers, improving drainage, replacing traffic signals and signs, as well as realigning portions of the roads. This also includes demolishing and replacing the Corbin Street ramp. The PANJNY media representative said the construction should provide $1.2 million in safety benefits in the same time period. In the past several years, these roads have been the site of numerous traffic accidents.

When the widening of the Panama Canal is completed in 2015, the PANJNY expects that the size of container ships needing to access Port Elizabeth will increase significantly. The current height of the Bayonne Bridge is a problem because officials believe it won’t be able to accommodate the larger vessels. Therefore, one other major infrastructure improvement is included in the $105 million strategy; the PANJNY intends to raise the Bayonne Bridge by sixty-four feet by the time the Panama Canal project is completed.

Baroni has said that making sure cargo is able to flow safely and efficiently through the port is critical to New Jersey’s ability to attract international shippers to do business in the region.

Port Authority Vice Chairman Scott Rechler added that the program, along with other initiatives that focus on improving Port Newark-Elizabeth, enables the PANYNJ to provide a safe and efficient network of roads, thereby ensuring that New Jersey’s port remains a “vital cog in the region’s economy for many years to come.”

Chris Colabella is the president of CIS, Inc., New Jersey’s only local construction lead service. For more information, visit http://www.cisleads.comor call 800-247-1727to arrange for a free demo of CIS Leads.

It’s Finally Game Time for NJ’s American Dream

By Chris Colabella

The Meadowlands region is gearing up to show off its Big Game Sunday Best in February 2014, when Super bowl XLVIII comes to the MetLife Stadium. Plenty of businesses are counting on seeing green in the form of untold revenue dollars, thanks to football fans. However, many people look at the nearby sports and entertainment complex, once called Xanadu, and all they can see are the now-infamous walls of blue and white, red and orange.

In late October, Triple Five, developer of the project since 2011, received the go-ahead to restart construction on the long-stalled American Dream Meadowlands project. The Borough of East Rutherford authorized a half a billion dollars in bonds to get the project going and the State of New Jersey offered Triple Five a huge tax break, as well.

american dream

About 35,000 permanent jobs will be created once the complex is open to the public. Skanska USA of Parsippany will lead construction of the indoor amusement park while the Whiting-Turner Contracting Co. of Bridgewater will complete the rest of the project.

New Jersey’s American Dream has been a long time coming.

Here are the highlights of the project’s long and often-frustrating 11-year history:

February 2003: Mills Corp. is selected by the Sports and Exposition Authority as the developer of Xanadu – a sports and entertainment complex.

November 2006: Much of the original first phase of the project is framed out, including what will be the first indoor snow hill for skiing in North America.

April 2007: Mills Corp. goes bankrupt; Colony Capital takes over the project as developer.

March 2009: With much of the first phase still to be constructed, lenders bail out and work is shut down. To date, about $2 billion had been spent on the project.

February 2010: Giants Stadium was torn down.

May 2010: A month after learning that the 2014 Super Bowl was coming to the Meadowlands, the MetLife Stadium, constructed adjacent to the old Giants Stadium property, opened its doors. The stadium, part of Phase 1, was built by two NFL teams, the Giants and Jets, with private funds – which is why its construction, at a cost of about $1.6 billion, was not affected by the financial issues that plagued the first two developers.

August 2010: Colony Capital is removed from the project by lenders.

May 2011: Triple Five takes over as the new developer and announces it will rename the project American Dream Meadowlands. An indoor water and amusement park complex are added to existing first phase plans.

On Oct. 15, 2013, the Borough of East Rutherford authorized $524 million in bonds so that Triple Five could finally get the job done. Two weeks later, final approvals – and a huge tax break for Triple Five to the tune of $390 million — came down from the state.

An Idyllic, Beautiful Place… in the Heart of the Meadowlands

It is rather fitting that the project is called the “American Dream.” When the job was originally named, few regarded the swampy land around the Meadowlands’ Continental Arena as a “Xanadu.” However, the visions of grandeur outlined by architects and developers caught everyone’s eye.

The original plans for the project included two phases of development. By the time the construction stalled at the end of 2006, most of the original first phase of the project — 2.9 million square feet of the complex — had been framed out, but the interiors were never close to completion. Original Phase 1 attractions included:

  • A new sports stadium (MetLife Stadium)
  • Retail space for more than 300 shops and 50 restaurants
  • An aquarium
  • An indoor ice skating rink
  • A movie theater with 26 screens
  • A performance arena with up to 3,000 seats, the ski hill – which will tower at 16 stories tall and 800 feet long
  • A 200-foot diameter outdoor observation wheel with glass-enclosed passenger capsules overlooking New York City
  • A Bourbon Street-inspired nightlife scene.

When Triple Five took over as developer in 2011, it added a glass-and-steel-domed, climate-controlled amusement park with a water park and the world’s largest wave-generating pool to Phase 1.

Phase 2, calls for the development of an additional 4.5 million additional square feet which will include hotels, a convention center and a sports center.

With Super Bowl Sunday only months away on Feb. 2, 2104, Triple Five, the developer that also owns the Mall of America in Minnesota, says it’s game time for the long-awaited project. While the sports complex won’t get the new pre-Super Bowl paint job Gov. Chris Christie asked for early on in the Triple Five takeover, after close to 11 years, it looks like East Rutherford – and all of New Jersey – may finally be back on track to realize the American Dream.

Chris Colabella is the president of CIS, Inc., New Jersey’s only local construction lead service. For more information, visit http://www.cisleads.com or call 800-247-1727 to arrange for a free demo of CIS Leads.

What’s in a Name?

No Matter What They’re Called, N.J. Business Incentive Programs Fuel Construction
By Chris Colabella

When Gov. Chris Christie signs the New Jersey Economic Opportunity Act of 2013, the state’s five current economic business incentive programs will be condensed into two – phasing out the popular BRRAG (Business Retention and Relocation Assistance Grant), BEIP (Business Employment Incentive Program), and Urban Transit Hub Tax Credit Program.

At press time, the initiative (Assembly No. 3680) is awaiting the governor’s signature (he has long said he will sign it), after being introduced in May by Assemblyman Albert Coutinho (D-Essex), chairman of the state’s Economic and Commerce Development Committee, and passed by both the Assembly and Legislature by the end of June. The Act designates Grow New Jersey Assistance Program as the state’s business retention and attraction program, while ERG (Economic Redevelopment and Growth Grant) would be New Jersey’s redevelopment incentive program.

Efforts to streamline business development in the state are led by the New Jersey Economic Development Authority and aim, first and foremost, to retain and create jobs here. Under the Act, the newly defined programs encourage redevelopment of urban centers, suburban office parks and areas impacted by Hurricane Sandy.

Regardless of what they are called, business incentive programs (read: grants and tax credits), which compel companies to expand or relocate here, translate to more work for New Jersey’s construction industry. These projects call for new buildings and site expansions, as well as new roads and other infrastructure projects.

In Assemblyman Coutinho’s own backyard of Essex County, the $444 million Prudential Office Towers project, located at Broad and Halsey streets in Newark, is being financed with the help of a $211 million tax credit from the Urban Transit Hub program. Prudential Financial said SJP Properties of Hoboken will begin construction on its new 20-story office tower and 55-foot-tall parking garage by the end of this summer.

Business incentive programs have been a lynchpin in the state’s economic development plan – a go-to tool in the toolbox, if you will, when a business announces its plan to leave the state.

When it works, it’s a win-win for the company and the state. In fact, Gov. Christie was on hand to help cut the ribbon at the official opening of Realogy Holdings Corp.’s new Madison Township headquarters on June 20.

Back in early 2012, the company had announced its decision to pack up and move from Parsippany to North Carolina. However, Gov. Christie and his economic development team stepped in to offer Realogy a $10.7 million BRRAG award, plus a $1.4 million sales tax exemption. The move convinced Realogy to stay in New Jersey and build its new global headquarters in Madison. A year later, the residential real estate franchise giant broke ground on its new 270,000-square-foot complex. Newark-based Tishman Construction Corporation of NJ headed up construction of the three-story office complex with parking garage.

Incidentally, BRRAG – which allows the state to give an annual corporate income tax credit of $3,000 per employee to businesses considering expansion or threatening to leave the state — has helped to create more than 100,000 jobs since it was first enacted 17 years ago. Realogy’s decision to stay in New Jersey kept 935 jobs from moving out of state. (And, those figures don’t even count the number of construction employees put to work thanks to the many projects which have resulted from incentives over the years.)

For now, existing tax and other business incentives associated with BRRAG, BEIP, etc. remain available to qualified companies. (Visit http://www.njeda.com for more information.) However, even when these programs are merged under different titles – namely Grow New Jersey and ERGG — construction companies should reap the benefits of state programs that provide businesses with capital – either in the form of grants or tax credits.

Regardless of what New Jersey calls the programs, once companies build, they will stay
— at least that’s what the State of New Jersey is counting on.

Chris Colabella is the president of CIS, Inc., New Jersey’s only local construction lead service. For more information, visit http://www.cisleads.com or call 800- to arrange for a free demo of CIS Leads.

Robert Briant Sr.’s Legacy

Responsible, Sustainable & Affordable Economic Development in New Jersey

By Chris Colabella

The New Jersey Environmental Infrastructure Trust, a fund that provides low-cost financing for the construction of environmental infrastructure projects, may very well be the shining star on the late Robert Briant Sr.’s list of lifelong accomplishments. Indeed, the fact that New Jersey enjoys a national reputation as a leader in innovative and effective environmental protection strategies is owed – at least in considerable part – to Briant’s efforts to encourage responsible and sustainable economic development in the Garden State.
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Certifications Give Contractors an Upper-hand in a Competitive Market

By Bari Faye Siegel

A contractor looking to win bids over others who may do the same type of work in the same communities for the same prices must do whatever it takes to gain edge over their competition.

For some, the answer may be found in becoming certified as a Minority Business Enterprise (MBE), Women Business Enterprise (WBE), Disadvantaged Business or Small Business Enterprise (DBE/SBE), Edge Certified and Veteran Owned Business (VBE). Obtaining one or more of these certifications may put a contractor in line for more government work and may very well catch the eye of a GC with mandates to fill.

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