November 16th - November 20th, 2009
â€œSubwayâ€ in the sky
November 16 – In an attempt to speed up the work at the WTC site, the Port Authority gave the ok to build a Subway sandwich shop next to one of the cranes at the Freedom Tower. The New York Post reports the shop will allow construction workers to stay in the tower throughout their shift. It’s expected it will open by the end of the month and will come with a bathroom and construction office.
Manhattan Vacancy Rate Appears to Stabilize
November 16 – CB Richard Ellis reports the third quarter was busy for leasing activity throughout Manhattan. Midtown inked 8.84 million square feet of deals, off 17% from last year. The volume Downtown was 250,000 square feet. Meanwhile, the vacancy rate appears to be stabilizing throughout Manhattan. At the end of the October, it was 14.2% for Midtown, 9% for Lower Manhattan. Class A rents fell again in Midtown to about $65 a square foot, down about $4 compared with $41 in Lower Manhattan, down only about $1.
Four Firefighters Disciplined at 130 Liberty
November 18 – Two fire captains and two fire lieutenants were fined several days pay for failing to fully perform 3 hour mandated inspections of buildings. The Associated Press reports the men were caught by increased surveillance, established after the fatal Deutsche bank fire in 2007 found lax inspections failed to detect a broken standpipe. The report the firefighters left their firehouses late, returned to the firehouse early and spent time on non-inspected related activities, such as shopping.
Prevailing Wage Proposal Discussed
November 18 – Developers will soon be required to pay prevailing wage on construction projects that receive State funding under legislation Governor Paterson has proposed. Labor unions support the bill; business leaders worry the requirement will cost them $19.20 an hour in wages, nearly three times the current minimum wage. One developer told The New York Times, they will give up a project in the Bronx if forced to pay the higher wages.
Predicted Downtown Job Losses Revised
November 18 – The latest numbers show the job losses in Lower Manhattan won’t be as bad as predicted. State Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli told Crain’s New York Business, 175,000 may be out of work; in June, that number was at 328,000. The prediction was lowered after many large investment firms rebounded.
Demolition of the Deutsche Bank Begins
November 19 – The 26th floor of the building is beginning to disappear. The Battery Park City Broadsheet reported steel is being removed and the LMDC expects the top floor to be gone by Monday, November 23. The agency did not give the paper a timetable for when the building will be completely demolished, saying that will be determined once several floors are down.
Concrete Testing Company Goes to Trial
November 19 – Jury selection began in the racketeering case against Testwell Laboratories and four executives. The New York Times says the company allegedly faked tests on several major construction projects in NYC, including the Freedom Tower. Retesting has cleared several projects so far, including the Freedom Tower.
Doubletree hotel at 8 Stone Street Reaches Milestone
November 19 – Construction of the 43 story, 399 room hotel has been topped out, according to Real Estate Weekly. The $72 million project began in December of 2007 and the construction company, CNY Builders, credited the LMCCC with providing extensive logistics coordination to build on the landmarked Stone Street. The hotel is slated to open in the fourth quarter of 2010.
DOB Seeks Independent Testing Firm for Construction Trades
November 20 – The City’s Department of Buildings (DOB) wants an outside firm to give written and practical exams for a wide range of construction jobs including crane operator, electricians, welders and building maintenance. This task was administered by city employees, but the DOB says hiring an outside firm would allow for more frequent testing and provide a larger pool of qualified people, according to a report in The New York Times. The City said the decision to contract out the work would not result in layoffs of any city workers.
More Liberty bonds May be Issued
November 20 – A public hearing will be held December 3rd on whether to issue $2.6 billion of Liberty bonds for the WTC site. Congress has already extended the Liberty bond program once, according to Reuters. The Port Authority board this week also issued $1 billion in bonds to pay for several infrastructure projects at the site.
Downtown Commercial Market Upbeat
November 20 – Leasing in Lower Manhattan jumped almost 70 percent in the third quarter, as rents fell and vacancies increased, according to a report in The Downtown Express. The report from the Alliance for Downtown New York said 931,000 square feet was leased in the third quarter with average rents down about 4 percent since the second quarter. The vacancy rate, according to the report, is about 8.7 percent in Lower Manhattan.
Liberty Street Pedestrian Bridge Scheduled to Move
November 20 – The Port Authority announced the eastern half of the bridge will be rerouted to West Street, according to a report in The Tribeca Trib. It is being moved to accommodate underground construction of the VSC, Vehicle Security Center. Work will begin next week with a completion date of mid-February. The current bridge will remain in service until then.