December 1st - December 5th, 2008
Construction Spending Falls
December 2 – The Commerce Department says construction spend fell 1.2 percent in October, much more than the .9 percent decline expected by many analysts. Several published reports predict the construction industry will be facing a difficult phase until probably the second half of 2009. The report also showed nonresidential construction dropped .7 percent in October, the third decline in four months. However, government building projects rose .7 percent and state and local construction was up .3 percent.
7 WTC Collapse Report Revised
December 2 – The National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) has revised a report on the destruction of 7 World Trade Center on 9-11. A report in Engineering News Record says the loss of column 79 would have initiated the destructive sequence of events that brought down the building which had been burning unattended for 7 hours. According to the NIST, the fire heated floor beams and girders, causing a critical column to fail.
Vacant Office Space Nearly Doubles
December 3 – The amount of vacant office space on the market in Manhattan is estimated to be around 16 million square feet, nearly double the space that was available a year ago, according to the latest survey by Colliers ABR, a commercial brokerage firm. The New York Times reports leasing deals signed in the last three months are down 20-30 percent from the summer with Downtown averaging about $45 a square foot compared to $75-80 in Midtown. The report predicts the downtown office market could become bleaker next year when more new space comes on line including 1.5 million square feet currently leased by Goldman Sachs, which plans to move into their new headquarters at 200 West Street late next year.
New Playground for Burling Slip
December 3 – Construction will begin early next year on a new playground at Burling Slip. According to The Battery Park Broadsheet, Imagination Playground will offer children the opportunity to create by using sand, water, building blocks, buckets, brooms and shovels. The playground is slated to be complete in early 2010 and the design can be seen at www.imaginationplayground.org.
No Bids for PA Taxable Notes
December 4 – The Port Authority received no bids for $300 million of taxable notes that it put up for sale, but the agency says that won’t have an impact on its current capital projects because the sale was held well in advance of the need for that money. The Wall Street Journal says the lack of bidders shows how few buyers there are; remaining buyers only want the cream of the crop in bonds. The PA says it will return to the market in the coming year when it’s confident the markets will recover.
NYC Deputy Mayor Addresses Construction Safety
December 4 – NYC Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler spoke recently about construction safety to the Building Trades Employers Association. Real Estate Weekly says Skyler called on industry workers to work in harmony with the city on this issue. “This is your job, this is our career. You have experience we can’t match,” said Sklyer. He added the city wants to decrease accidents and injuries; non-injury accidents are up 25 percent from last year. The Department of Buildings recently instituted several safety initiatives to prevent accidents on construction sites.
New Tenant for 7 WTC
December 5 - 7 WTC has a new tenant. A German bank, West LB signed a lease to take the top three floors of the 52 story building. The deal comes after HSBC pulled out of a lease to take the top floors. West LB is moving from its Sixth Avenue home into 129,000 square feet at Larry Silverstein’s building; published reports say West LB is paying approximately $70 a square foot.
Dey Street Reopens
December 5 – Dey Street is now open to traffic, after being closed since 2005. The MTA says construction of the structural box of the underground passageway that will connect the Fulton Transit Center to the PATH is now complete.
Safety Plan to be presented to CB1
December 5 – Milstein Properties expects to present its safety plan for the Battery Park City ball fields to Community Board 1 in January, according to The Downtown Express. In May, a large piece of steel from the Goldman Sachs construction site fell onto a field where children were playing. No one was hurt, but the incident raised concerns about safety. Milstein said in the past, the safety plan would be ready in September.
Cyclists to Receive Fines
December 5 – Bike riders- beware. The Battery Park city Authority is now ticketing cyclists who ignore the ‘dismount’ signs on the West St. bike path near the Goldman Sachs construction site. Pedestrians share the path and safety problems arose when cyclists refused to dismount. The Downtown Express reports the fines range from $50 to $200 depending on how aggressively bikers are riding in the prohibited area.