Category Archives: Uncategorized

Proposed Boardwalk-Hugging Belhaven Hotel to Seek Variances

Curently in the design-development stage, the Belhaven Hotel to sit on the boardwalk on Rehoboth Beach will rise into place on the same spot at the famous Belhaven hotel stood until a storm destroyed it in the 1960’s. 

 

The current landowners, the Papajohn family, hope for it to be a modernization of the original. This is the third hotel proposed in the last year that is looking for a home in the lucrative area that locals hope will mean more competitive prices and a bigger boom in summer tourism at the beach. Citing concerns about environmental and weather hazards, the developers are working with the Rehoboth Board of Adjustment to establish multiple variances to the structure. 

What Do We Know About the Structure So Far? 

The famous saying may be “out with the old and in with the new,” but the Papajohn family wants to be sure that the classic vestiges of the property keep their sparkle in the space, so the highlights to be expected are a mixed bag of local favorites and modern improvements:

  • Previous retailers and food establishments. Businesses once housed in the space currently occupying the property are invited to return to the ground floor of the new Belhaven, which will include a bar, a shop and at least two restaurants. These establishments include the Spice and Tea Exchange and the Candy Kitchen. 
  • Four Floors of Rooms. The finished structure will be a full four stories, doubling the original’s size. The original proposal included 120 guest rooms but was reduced to 100 in the final blueprint to allow for additional square footage.
  • Underground Parking Structure. The parking garage will serve two potential purposes: leaving more walking space on the street and boardwalk free of cars and providing a more solid foundation for the hotel to sit upon in this beachy environment.

 

Concerns have been cited regarding the height of the building, the potential for flooding in the parking area, and other parts of the design that might be too sensitive to survive the weather in the local environment. The variances that the developers are seeking hope to rectify those problems, including extra measures for flood prevention, embellishment heights, and more. 

Are There Any Unique Construction Considerations to be Taken?

For contractors who are accustomed to coastal locations, there is likely not going to be a lot that’s new about building a structure like this on the boardwalk. It will need the proper supports and foundation, and some further issues cited in the variances may come in that help to make the hotel more sound. As mentioned before, it will not be the only hotel coming up in the area, so any new considerations may quickly become familiar to workers in the region. 

What Will It Take to Complete This Project?

For contractors and developers on the project, this will not be a short process, from the very beginning.

  • The original structure must be demolished, and the ground underneath needs to be reworked in preparation for the parking garage, with the required supports.
  • The parking structure, whether single or multi-level, may wind up consuming much of the time allotted for finishing the project on deadline (still to be determined). It is projected to hold space enough for 100 cars, one for each room above.
  • The hotel itself, with eating and retail establishments on the ground floor and guest rooms above, will also have an outdoor pool accessible from the second floor. 

 

The finished product hopes to manifest the grandeur of the original historical structure alongside its modern amenities, all of this just steps from the bustling boardwalk that a portion of the hotel will front. 

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?

Belmont Arena Project Bringing Hockey Back to Long Island

Early August, the state of New York signed on the dotted line to approve the proposed Belmont Arena project, which could construct a stadium and more, to be the new home for the New York Islanders hockey team. The franchise, without a home for nearly a decade, should have a permanent residence when the $1.3 billion project finishes up in 2021, much to the delight of locals and fans.

What Is Still to Come Before Ground Is Broken?

With state approval out of the way, it’s not quite time to break out the shovels and bulldozers. This is just the first, very important step, so as yet there is no definite start date. Future steps include:

  • An environmental impact survey will hopefully put local worries to rest about how the project will affect the surrounding area as it’s being built and once it’s completed.
  • The project needs approval by the Franchise Oversight Board.
  • Any further objections and potential lawsuits will need to be addressed.

 

All of these will need to come to pass before a groundbreaking ceremony.

How Is the Belmont Arena Likely to Change the Area?

This new development will unfold over the 43 acres of vacant, government-owned Belmont Park. Behind the project are several groups: team owners New York Arena Partners,Oak View Group, and Sterling Project Development. The finished product is to include:

  • The Arena. With the capacity for 19,000 people, this will be the new home of the New York Islanders. Where once they shared games between Barclays Center and the Coliseum, they will have an established place with room enough for all their fans during home games, at true home games. 
  • The Hotel Space. Alongside a bustling arena, there will also be a projected 250-room hotel to house teams and visitors to the area. 
  • The Commercial Space. The finished project will include 350,000 square feet of retail, restaurant, and parking space, helping to transform the area into a full entertainment complex further.

 

In all, the project is predicted to create around 3,500 jobs, according to developers, who also promise at least 30 percent of those will go to locals within a 4-mile radius.

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?

Macys to Build Commercial Giant Atop Iconic Herald Square Store

There are few better ways to draw attention to your office than the knowledge that it’s above not just Macy’s but the Macy’s. The Herald Square location, while hardly the only Macy’s store in the New York metro area, is one of the largest department stores in the nation and also the flagship of the entire franchise, practically a landmark in its own right. Given its long history and the particular facade it cuts into the New York cityscape, people were surprised to hear CEO Jeff Gennette announce the intention to expand upward into a full skyscraper. It is another, familiar step in the multi-use direction that many a facet of the evolving metropolitan has begun to adopt. 

What is the Current Status of the Project?

At present, the project is still in its infancy, so the details on what’s to come are sparse but still encouraging to developers and commercial properties chomping at the bit for a prime headquarters location. A few of the highlights include:

  • 1.2 million square feet of space that will become available for rent. 
  • The current plan is to zone the floors of the skyscraper for commercial and office use. The potential for drawing revenue from the real estate aspect alone has been a key focus in recent discussions of the project. 
  • The proposed office tower will bring in an estimated additional 6,000 people to the area, and some think it will be a hopeful boost to the Macy’s brand at a time when department stores are not doing so well financially
  • The present hope is to have an outline thoroughly planned and approved by the end of 2019, and then bidding from designers and developers can begin. 

Can a Skyscraper Safely Be Built Atop the 118-Year-Old Department Store? 

There comes the question of whether or not it is safe or feasible to easily construct a skyscraper atop the historic Macy’s site, built in 1901. Will the scaffolding around the building be possible to construct? Will this force the store to close its doors during construction, and for how long? According to Jeffrey Roseman, vice chairman and co-founder of the commercial real estate firms Newmark Grubb Knight Frank, these are minimal worries, and he has nodded to similar undertakings with positive results. 

He particularly noted the One Vanderbilt project helmed by SL Green, which will soon complete a new, 1.7 million square-foot tower. It is being built in very close proximity to the midtown Grand Central Terminal, and is doing so very “uneventfully,” he says, with little or no issue in terms of construction and planning. It did, however, meet some backlash from the owners of the GST over development rights. 

People can see other places where projects around and atop historic landmarks are underway, and some have their own unique challenges to overcome. It was earlier reported that the historic Palace Theatre would be lifted 30 feet above its current, ground-level spot, as part of the Broadway TSX complex development. It is a wildly different endeavor than the one planned for Herald Square, but one cannot overlook the comparison, given the two buildings’ similar ages and historical significance. 

New Yorkers have yet to see what specific hurdles the Macy’s project will hold in its future for architects and tradespersons. Herald Square differs from the above two projects in at least two major aspects: The size of the Macy’s department store sits far above and beyond that of the Palace Theatre, and the skyscraper will not sit near Macy’s as One Vanderbilt does to Grand Central; it will be directly on top of Macy’s. Once ground breaks, it may be like nothing New York construction has seen.

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.

Manhasset Square Redevelopment Brings Additional Solutions to Long Island Housing Crisis

It was announced earlier this year that Brookfield Developments would be helming a $400 million reworking of the Macy’s parking lot off of Northern Boulevard. The project, called Manhasset Square, will cover 16 acres of land and transform it into a multi-use property to feature housing, offices, and retail space. 

 

This project has generated some local concerns, as the North Hempstead area of Long Island has no apartments, dominated largely by single-family homes. Critics have asked how this would affect traffic and school routes. However, Brookfield Developments and the local government seem to be confident in the positive boosts the project hopes to bring to the area. 

How Would Housing at Manhasset Improve the Area? 

Supporters of the Manhasset Square project have seen and heard the concerns, but the positive, to them, far outweighs the potential drawbacks.

  • Affordable, Manageable Housing. As the Island Now sees it, developments like Manhasset Square means rentals that local villagers can afford. Homeownership is a nearly impossible dream for many now, for a number of reasons, and there are many residents in the Long Island area who have no desire to leave the community they love but revile the expenses. Young people, the elderly, and empty-nesters may benefit from housing options that don’t include sizeable property taxes and more property than they would care to (or afford to) maintain. 
  • Increased Area Revenue. With a hotel, dining, retail, and office spaces included in the mix and many bids already to fill them, this development promises an economic boost for the area in the form of new jobs and tax revenue, plus shopping opportunities within easy reach.

What Will It Take to Finish This Redevelopment?

As of May 2019, Brookfield Developments is still seeking the zoning rights for the property, which currently allows for retail, office, and hotel space, but not residential space. 

 

When this is secured and ground is broken, tradespeople can look forward to opportunities in building on:

  • 355 luxury apartments. With predominantly studio and one-bedroom options, with some two and three-bedroom apartments as well, there are options for single and dual occupants as well as families. The specification of “luxury” implies not only the use of quality materials but also upgrades and amenities that will need to be accounted for in construction. 
  • 200-unit boutique-style hotel. With no shortage of tourism opportunities in the New York metro area, there will always be a need for accommodations. “Boutique” here suggests high-end living with, again, amenities, and this could include unique selling points from spas to special classes for guests, all of which will need unique spaces.
  • Office and Retail Spaces. With similar construction needs, these parts of Manhasset Square will afford people the opportunity to run all their errands within the area of Macy’s. There will be a similar demand for open floor space and storage, with some calling for unique architecture that conforms to a brand image. 
  • Dining. Visitors can finish their shopping with a quick bite or an intimate meal, depending upon what goes in. Formal and casual restaurant spaces need places to put the customers but also kitchens unique to what will be found in residences. Specific franchises will likely opt in to many of the spaces, and each of them tends to have unique facilities to construct. 
  • 2,271 parking spaces. New locations to visit means the roads to get there and the places to park. Presently, the intent is to construct parking both above and below ground, which in itself calls for special considerations a single-level parking structure would not need, including strong foundational support. 

 

With these, plus landscaping, wiring, plumbing, and other considerations across the board, there will be work to go around. For now, all there is left is to wait for all the signatures on the dotted line, and then Manhasset Square will be well on its way. 

 

With Steady Decline in Architecture Business Billings, Tariffs Exacerbate Growing Problem

In June of 2019, the Architecture Billings Index reported a negative in design deals as well as new project inquiries, the latter of which reached a decade low. This is concerning news following an earlier report in 2018 that stated a decline aside optimistic gains in job growth. The ABI, a reputable source in tracking economic growth for commercial and industrial developments, further reports that billings remain on the downturn in all regions save the south, which continues to see growth, up 1.9 points compared to the previous month’s growth. 

The news for firms in the New York metro area is far less positive, with the northeast region on a 3.9-point decrease from the previous month’s reporting. Sources report a generous backlog of projects, experts have expressed concern that a surplus may quickly whittle down to a deficit. While multiple causes may contribute to this disturbing trend, many are nodding to the pressures brought on by tariffs on China and other nations as only making the problem worse. 

What’s Going on with the Backlog?

In May, Associated Builders and Contractors Inc’s construction backlog indicator showed a near 9-month backlog of upcoming projects nationwide. That said, ABC’s Chief Economist Anirban Basu also indicated the following: 

  • Rises in the cost of materials and labor were still present. 
  • Declines in infrastructure-related jobs were reported as well, though he indicated this might be the result of a statistical anomaly. 
  • Spending has continued and, he reports, should continue through several more quarters. 

The concern, however, is with the slow in new projects and proposals to add to the backlog, and how many of those new projects are coming to the state of New York. With multiple sources reporting declines since the turn of the year, what appears to be the trend in the national region holds true in the Big Apple and all the boroughs as well.

 

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.

The Bronx Point Complex: Music History and Affordable Housing

Set to complete in 2023, a waterfront site in the South Bronx is, for now, the home of an ongoing project that shall evolve into a center for entertainment with promises for housing, jobs, and more. Sitting near the 145th street bridge that connects the borough to Manhattan, Bronx Point will come together under the leadership of L+M Management, bringing a reputation of outreach and building excellence. 

 

The Real Deal reports that the company, which successfully bid back in 2017 for the project with a projected budget of $200 million to finish, is already known for community-broadening projects such as converting a navy prison into affordable housing in Brooklyn and the Seward Park redevelopment. 

What Facilities Will the Development Include?

While many headlines have made a point to highlight the construction of the Universal Hip Hop Museum as a notable feature, the Bronx Point’s mixed-use plan means it is offering not only this but also much more. With the project moving in two phases, phase one will provide: 

  • The Universal Hip Hop Museum will break ground in winter of this year and has creative minds behind its development like LL Cool J and the first Hip Hop artist to be signed to a label, Blow, who is also the museum’s co-chairman. It seeks to bring the borough’s rich music history to the forefront for locals and tourists alike. 
  • Low-to-moderate income residential units to include the first half of the proposed final amount (600 of 1045) will expand an ongoing affordable housing initiative in the New York metro area. 
  • A multiplex theatre will offer further entertainment beyond the sights and sounds of the museum. 
  • Outdoor event space for live performances of any genre. 
  • Additional outdoor spaces such as a plaza near Exeter Street, and a 2.3-acre esplanade that follows the river and expands Mill Pond Park. 

Phase 2 of the Bronx Point development will finish the remaining residential spaces and add new commercial and community spaces. Further details are to be released when there is a set start date. 

What Kinds of Construction Jobs Will This Project Produce?

Under L+M Management, the first phase of Bronx Point is ready to take shape, and it will take tireless and creative hands to make that happen. 

  • On the museum side, with a facility hoping to include live performances, interactive exhibits, workshops, and more, contractors of all stripes will be called in to raise the walls that can house these diverse activities and displays. 
  • For housing, the units planned will need to be reasonably affordable to anyone seeking a place to lay their heads. Bedrooms, bathrooms, elevators, and private and communal living spaces all offer their unique challenges. 
  • A multiplex calls for space for tall screens, projecting equipment, washroom facilities, concessions, office space, and more. 
  • Outdoor event space needs ample sitting and standing space, a functional stage, and the means to operate a multitude of electronic equipment. 
  • Finally, the rest of the outdoor spaces will include walking and green space, lighting, and other facilities that will be both unique to the complex but seamlessly merge where needed with nearby locations, all to be designed and built. 

At their completion, there is another remaining phase, with still more jobs on the horizon for constructing new, unique facilities to distinguish the site further.