Category Archives: Uncategorized

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. 

ODA’s Bevel in LIC Wraps Construction

ODA Architecture’s luxury building designs dot major cities all over the world. With an emphasis on the people that will live in their structures and integration between nature and manmade, the firm’s residential designs represent the standard to which many Long Island and NYC locals want when it comes to sustainability and environmental friendliness. 

In Long Island City, one of their latest ventures, the Rabsky Bevel LIC at 42-20 27th Street, is in the process of laying its last bricks, representing a little over four years of labor to bring ODA’s vision to life. 

What Was the Timeline for this Project?

Developed for the residential development firm, the Rabsky Group, the story of Bevel LIC began some years ago when initial plans were revealed in 2016 for a smaller structure than what it ultimately became, first approved as a 99-unit, mixed-use building that would eventually grow to 202 units. It was originally slated for completion in 2018. 

News of this project did not often break, save for when things went wrong, including an incident in 2017 where a floor collapse injured six laborers. By the end of 2019, construction had advanced far enough that the owners began to lease apartments, and full completion has likely been awaiting the full reopening of construction after the first outbreak of COVID-19 shut down all but non-essential projects. In early June, work finally began to wrap up, with the final touches forthcoming in the coming weeks. 

Bevel LIC at a Glance

As before, the finished Bevel LIC represents a much larger building than its initial plans had hoped for. With 99 units and 15 stories, it was intended as a mixed-use building that would include retail space on the ground floor and residential space in the upper floors. 

The finished project would be far grander, but it appears that retail space has been replaced with tenants-only luxury amenities. 

Features include: 

  • 18 stories, with 202 residential units, ranging from studios to two-bedrooms, priced from $2,400 to $4,200 per month
  • Wooden floors and floor-to-ceiling windows in units, with interiors by Durukan Design.
  • A courtyard with full landscaping
  • Amenities like bicycle storage, a children’s room, cinema, fitness center, and a private library

Jersey City Moves Forward, Opens Bidding for Loew’s Jersey Theatre Renovations

While the pandemic has hit the arts and entertainment business and venues hard, last week there was a little hope for the future—and movement in the redevelopment of Journal Square in Jersey City―as the bidding process opened for the redevelopment of the historic Loew’s Jersey Theatre.

The building, which dates back to the 1920s, will require extensive renovations, restoration and possible expansion while also restoring the historic character and aesthetic appeal, while creating all of the modern needs such as added restroom capacity, as well as up-to-date concession and ticketing areas.

Construction of the $40 million project will need to create a facility that allows for maximum operating capacity and maximum safety of patrons. Upgrades are needed for the plumbing, production equipment, and electrical systems, as well as install new air conditioning, fire and security systems. Roof and exterior façade work will also be needed.

An effort will be made to clean and restore historic fixtures and add architectural lighting that complements the original. Historic production and mechanical equipment will be preserved in place or relocated within the building.

Proposals are are due in early August, and the city hopes to re-open the theater in 2022.

 

New York’s LaGuardia Airport Update Nearing Completion

Among essential construction projects that have continued to chug along throughout the pandemic, the redesign of LaGuardia’s Terminal B has managed to remain on schedule with few delays, thanks in part to lower traffic, and is now complete. Part of a larger revitalization plan for the airport launched in 2015 by Gov. Cuomo, the arrivals and departures hall was unveiled last week, giving travelers a picture of what the future holds in store for LaGuardia as a whole when the final bricks are in place sometime in 2021. 

The finish line, though still a year away, reflects years of effort to update and improve the airport, once openly criticized for its lack of cleanliness and desperate need of a facelift.  

What Has Been the Timeline for LaGuardia’s Transformation?

Plans for a full rebuild were around as early as 2010, when Christopher Ward, director of the Port Authority, brought in consultants to look into fully demolishing and rebuilding the entire site to something modern and up to date. The proposed project would cost about $2.5 billion, and proposals would continue in the coming years. 

The initial plan included bringing in a private company to fund the operation. Still, in 2015, Governor Cuomo announced the state would be overseeing this project, which had an original budget of $4 billion but has now grown to almost $8 billion. Phase One began in 2016. Private airlines started to invest in 2017, in time for Phase Two to begin. 

Each stage of construction has been gradual, with multiple changes, including moving the entire facility approximately 600 feet closer to the Grand Central Parkway, an eco-friendly build, and new parking garages. The only major parts of the airport that do not appear to have needed changing were the runways. 

LaGuarida Airport and Terminal B: A Picture of Progress

LaGuardia’s Terminal B and its plans and progress have been an ongoing part of the project since at least 2011, starting with a complete demolition during Phase One. With its recent reopening, we have a clearer idea of what the new and final LaGuardia will resemble as a whole:

  • Once viewed as small and cramped, the new terminal provides a spacious airport—incidentally safer for social distancing. The new terminal gives us a preview of this with four stories and about 850,000 square feet of space.
  • With 16 security lanes, 75 check-in kiosks and at least 5 additional gates, there is more room for travelers to get where they need to go quickly and safely. 
  • Multiple new dining and retail spaces are available with far more space than they were allotted before, with famous New York City brands like Tony + Benny’s Authentic Brooklyn Pizza, Think Coffee, Eli’s Essentials by Eli Zabar, and more awaiting new customers. 

The finished space is light and stylish, with floor-to-ceiling windows letting the sun in from every angle and mid-century modern touches to the decor, reflecting years of design, development, and labor. 

What Remains to Be Finished? 

Two significant points reconstruction still remain, as well as multiple other finishing touches. Partnering with Delta Airlines, Terminal C’s renovation is still underway and due to finish in 2021. The Western Concourse, which will house American Airlines, remains a part of Terminal B that is also not yet finished, and slated for a 2021 opening. Seventeen additional gates are also reported to be on their way. The vision of a finished LaGuardia airport appears to be a wide-open space, elbow room, and ease of access while traveling. Laborers continue to work diligently to bring the entire project in on time and under budget.

HVAC Companies Likely To Be in Higher Demand with COVID-19 Requirements, Reopenings

As the tri-state area begins reopening businesses and camp facilities, HVAC companies are likely to be in high demand.
Youth camps in New Jersey, which can open on July 6, must meet specific HVAC requirements to get approval from the state to reopen their indoor facilities.
According to the NJ Department of Health summer camp standards document, “Camps must ensure that their indoor facilities have adequate ventilation, including operational heating, ventilation and air conditioning (“HVAC”) systems where appropriate. i. Recirculated air must have a fresh air component ii. Open windows if A/C is not provided iii. Filter(s) for A/C units must be maintained and changed according to manufacturer recommendations.”
And it won’t just be camp facilities keeping HVAC companies busy as states transition to the reopening phases for businesses and, eventually, schools.
American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers’ (ASHRAE) Epidemic Task Force member M. Dennis Knight recommends buildings where HVAC systems haven’t been running–or have been running minimally–since pandemic closures should replicate the process of new construction with regards to inspection, start up, and testing a system. He also suggested building owners recommission or retrocommission their systems. COVID-19 is not the only concern for restarting systems that have been down. There are always concerns for the integrity of a system after it hasn’t been running consistently or had proper maintenance, Knight said.
ASHRAE has put out building safe readiness and reopening guidance, as well as offering information on filtration and disinfection.

Developers Seek Funding for Archer Towers Project, Continuing Trend in Multi-Family and Affordable Housing Expansions

In Mid-May, the first discussions of a new residential structure to come in the Jamaica neighborhood of Queens were heard. BRP Companies expressed an interest in financing Archer Towers, a high-rise multi-family complex, and in the weeks since has listed it as one of their ongoing projects. They shall be partnering with investment firm JLL Capital Markets in order to secure funding to the tune of about $286 million. A previously completed building in the area includes the Crossing, a mixed-use structure directly across from the Jamaica Terminal. 

What Is the Basic Plan Behind the Archer Towers Project? 

Just a few blocks away from its neighbor, the Crossing, Archer Towers will also be a mixed-use project, combining residential and retail spaces within a single structure. Locals can conveniently do all their shopping within steps of their home, or skip to mass transit at the nearby terminal. Many residential projects with a similar intent have been cropping up over the last few years, with many neighborhoods favoring the mixed-use model. 

Other features and amenities (which by themselves will take up about 20,000 square feet)  include: 

  • Archer Towers will include 24 stories of space, comprising 540,000 square feet.
  • The residential spaces will be rentals with 424 market-rate units and then an additional 181 for mixed-income households. Phase II, to begin in 2021, promises another 400+ apartments, including 120 affordable housing units.
  • For fitness and wellness, residents will have an outdoor rooftop, a landscaped backyard space, a basketball court, and a yoga studio. 
  • For recreation, residents will have access to a lounge, a playroom for children, a pet spa, and a movie screening room. 

What Does the Road to Completion Look Like?

Demolition on the previous properties on the lot was completed in 2019. Even with delays related to COVID-19, the project was deemed essential, possibly thanks to its leanings toward affordable housing. Delays may continue because of the current effects of the epidemic, even as construction across the state begins to reopen.

Studio V Architecture is behind the design of the building, and early renderings have revealed sleek, modern aesthetics. Without any released data on the pricing for finished apartments, it is clear that more details are forthcoming, including the level of luxury the finished project will feature. 

With 24 stories to raise and then fill, and in the span of two phases, however, the Archer Towers project is promising multiple years of upcoming work for contractors and construction firms associated with it.

New Commercial Development Revealed in Meatpacking District, Manhattan, Proposals Under Review

With nearly 7,000 active building permits in the New York City area, and more to come as construction begins to resume fully, many are looking to projects delayed to provide needed+

36jobs for a population of laborers eager to get back to work. 

The latest among the newer projects is a set of proposals helmed by Tavros Capital Management and BKSK Architects, with a plan to renovate a row of buildings in the Gansevoort Historic District in Manhattan, better known as the Meatpacking District. 

Given the historical status of the area, much care will be given to preserving much of the area’s original architectural appeal, but the aim is to fully restore the exterior facades and construct new commercial office spaces. The current proposals are under review by New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, with these proceedings expected to finish up in early June.

What Is Known About the Structures to be Renovated?

People passing through the area might recognize the old row houses along the corner of 14th Street and 9th Avenue, the precise locations being 44 to 54 Ninth Avenue and 351 to 355 West 14th Street, all of which were constructed in the early-to-mid-1800s. Painted white, their original exteriors stuccoed over, they stand in somewhat stark contrast to the taller, traditionally-still-brick buildings around them. Retail and restaurant spaces occupy the street and basement levels, with residences taking the upper floors, a prototypical example of the mixed-use features that have grown not just popular but also essential in New York construction of late. 

The plans that Tavros and BKSK have in mind for the area include the following: 

  1. Restoration of the exterior to reflect the block’s storied past. This will include a slate roof and facade with red brick.
  2. New windows with aluminum casing for improved insulation and better energy savings throughout the buildings.
  3. New street-level awnings for wider curb appeal and a unified look.
  4. Redesigned retail spaces. This will include exposed brick support beams and skylights.

Restoration, however, is only part of the project. Will New Construction Also Take Place? 

Along with the restoration of the main buildings, Tavros Capital Management and BKSK Architects also propose the construction of a new office space behind these buildings to fill in the remaining gap. Contrasting the classical brick facades of the row houses and even the surrounding buildings, this nine-story structure will emphasize metal rather than brick. However, its interiors will carry the exposed brick supports and skylights of the rest of the complex. Reports suggest it will top out at around 210 feet above street level. It will also feature new balconies and a private terrace on the top floor and a courtyard area. 

With the proposals still under review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, there are no details regarding when construction would commence or how long it would take — something that is likely to be better predicted by whatever construction companies are tapped to complete the project. The mixture of both interior and exterior restorations, plus an entirely new structure to raise promises a variety of smaller projects to complete as part of the whole, and steady work for the lucky firms that land them. Pending approval, the opening for bids should be soon to follow, because while many permits are active, still more are ready to appear. 

For more information on this project, and other projects, contact CIS Leads.

RWJBarnabas Health & Rutgers Cancer Pavilion Faces Legal, Local Obstacles

It would be the first free-standing cancer facility in New Jersey. The $750 million RWJBarnabas Health & Rutgers Cancer Pavilion in New Brunswick is set to be 510,000 square feet with 12 stories. It will house an inpatient hospital with surgical suites, an outpatient center, an urgent care, and research labs. The joint project of Rutgers Cancer Institute and New Brunswick Development Corporation (DEVCO) is projected to create 1,500 jobs. It is a joint project from RWJBarnabas Health. If all goes as planned.

While the healthcare world and cancer patients might eagerly await the dedicated facility many people the community oppose the project. The 1.6-acre site is currently the home of the Lincoln Annex Middle School, which has about 750 students. Part of the construction plan allocated $55 million to build a new three-story, 135,000 square-foot middle school. It would be a mile away and take three years to complete. In the meantime, students would be sent to a converted warehouse. Parents object not only to the interim setting but that the warehouse is outside of the neighborhood.

Governor Phil Murphy was asked about the project at his daily coronavirus press conference on Friday. Asked his opinion on the situation and if he would guarantee a new school would be built before the project started, Murphy touted New Jersey’s public education system before saying the proposed cancer center “is going to be a game-changer for a lot of things, including jobs and education. Beyond that, I’ve got not comment on that.”

State health commissioner Judith Persichilli, who received her nursing degree at Rutgers, was also asked about the situation and did not comment beyond saying that she had a lot of fond memories of her alma mater but “the bricks and mortar are not them.”

Demolition of the current school is targeted to begin in October with a projected completion of the cancer center in Fall of 2023.

But this week, in an effort to derail the plans, a lawsuit was filed by LatinoJustice on behalf of the school’s parents and students. It says the deed for the property requires that any construction on the land be a public school or administration building. Rutgers is part of the project, and a public university, but LatinoJustice lawyers do not believe that qualifies the cancer center as a “public school.”

The New Brunswick Board of Education approved plans for the proposed new school building and location in April, but opponents say it was done during the novel coronavirus pandemic and the public was left out of the process, unable to voice their opinion. A second legal action has actually been taken by the editor of New Brunswick Today against the Board of Education for violations of the Open Public Meetings Act. In January, the 4000-member local teachers union passed a unanimous resolution opposing the plan.

Some opponents might support the project if the new school is built first, however, that would obviously delay construction of the cancer center by years. For now, developers continue to target this fall to begin but for the project to continue at this site, the legal issues must be resolved.

Gowanus Station Water Treatment Facility, Some Changes and Further Delay

Part of a much larger initiative by New York to clean up local waterways, the old Gowanus Station in Brooklyn, and its adjacent canal have been the subject of some controversy and proposed change in recent and even distant years. The latest, though this is a project still several years old, has to do with the construction of a water treatment facility where the Gowanus Station building was once prominent. 

Many issues were added to the list of possible checklist items to finish this long-lived project from multiple EPA studies to new undertakings like tunnels and the preservation of Gowanus Station’s original brick facade. Despite well-documented knowledge of the canal’s polluted state and a need for ongoing cleanup efforts, the historical landmark status of certain buildings in the surrounding area, but not this one, has drawn ire from residents. 

This leaves the project in a constant state of further development, and the different jobs involved that would ultimately complete the new facility continue to evolve. 

Gowanus Canal and Gowanus Station: Still Cleaning Up

The new water treatment facility is part of an effort to clean New York City’s waterways and move away from an outdated combined sewer overflow (CSO) system that flushes most wastewater into NYC’s nearby rivers and coastlines. Gowanus Canal is one such site where the effects of this antiquated system are apparent to the point of being notorious

While other buildings in the Gowanus area are slated for historical landmark status as symbols of the area’s industrial history, Gowanus Station narrowly missed being saved itself and was instead taken by the city of New York through eminent domain. 

Some concessions were made between locals, the EPA, and the New York City once the 234 Butler St. building was slated for demolition, with the promise that the original bricks from the facade would be used. In March, just before construction and much of the city shut down due to the COVID-19 epidemic, the city attempted to go back on this promise and replace the facade with faux-aged bricks in order to save on costs and time. 

Nearly everyone at every level disliked this. In late April, federal authorities, including the EPA, stepped in to state that the original plan would be kept: the original bricks from Gowanus Station must be used to construct the new corner facade. The new building in question is going to hold one of the two tanks that aim to stop sewage from entering the Gowanus Canal. 

What Remains to Be Done on the Water Treatment Facility?

As essential construction work continues and some non-essential projects continue as an exception, the water treatment facility near the canal means ongoing work for local construction firms and tradespeople for another nine years. 

For now, a major concern remains the preservation of the historic Gowanus Station in what ways it can be. The city wished to nix the use of the original bricks due to time and money concerns, and this in itself promises a sizable workload for those that can work with and maintain the integrity of vintage brick. 

They call this a facade for a reason, though: it will sit outside just a part of all the new equipment and housing for a water treatment facility that may be Gowanus Canal’s only hope of getting cleaner and staying clean.