November 9th - November 15th, 2007
Construction Art Casts New Light on Rebuilding
November 15th: A new public art campaign designed to beautiful downtown construction sites was launched this week by the Alliance for Downtown New York in partnership with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Called "Re:Construction," the program puts an unexpected artistic face on otherwise merely practical traffic barricades and safety components. With more than $60 billion invested in several dozen private and public projects south of Canal Street, "Re:Construction" gives the creative community a distinct outlet for displaying art at local construction sites. For more on this story, click here.
New York Citys First Green School Receives Approval
November 13th: A much needed new school in Lower Manhattan has finally received approval after nearly two years of pushing and prodding by Community Board 1 and Assembly Speaker Sheldon Silver, according to the New York Daily News. What has been described as a "highly-coveted" plot of state land will now make way for the city's first "green" school.
The site, located on Battery Place between First and Second Place, is the last available site in Battery Park City, according to the Daily News. For the past nine years, Governor Eliot Spitzer has "reserved" the space for a new women's museum, but with explosive residential growth downtown in recent years, the need for a new school has become a more pressing consideration. In that past six years, the residential population south of Chambers Street has risen by 30 percent, which translates to 45,000 new residents, according to the New York Sun. A serious overcrowding problem in schools has resulted.
In addition to providing more class space, the new building will also be the first "green" school in New York City, reports the New York Post. The building will be equipped with solar panels and day lighting to help cut energy costs by at least 25 percent and high-efficiency plumbing that will reduce potable water usage by 40 percent, according to the Post's report. Construction is expected to begin in June 2008, with a slated completion date of 2010-11.
Lower Manhattan Community Organizations Awarded $37 Million in Grants
November 13th: Thirty-three nonprofit organizations in Lower Manhattan received $37 million in funding this week, thanks to the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation (LMDC). Community grants went to a range of institutions, including museums, affordable housing programs, the New York Downtown Hospital, and various other projects that focus on healthcare, education, public services, recreation, and cultural enrichment. To read more about this story, click here.
Cushman & Wakefield Takes on Leasing Assignment for Freedom Tower
November 9th: After winning the leasing assignment last week, the brokerage firm Cushman & Wakefield is now the exclusive leasing agent of the Freedom Tower at 1 World Trade Center, reports Real Estate Weekly. The company signed a three-year agreement with the Port Authority of New York, which states that it will now be responsible for leasing the tower's remaining 1.5 million square feet of space, or 60 percent of the total building, reports the Weekly.
Green Concrete Enters the Mix at NYC Construction Sites
November 8th: A new mandate issued by New York City's Department of Design and Construction (DDC) marks a big step forward for the city's "green" movement by requiring developers to incorporate more eco-friendly building materials into their construction projects. Several of the industry's top contractors, engineers, architects, and developers recently attended a LEED seminar hosted by the Concrete Promotional Council, where they discussed the environmental impact of traditional concrete and explored possible sustainability and recycling alternatives, reports Real Estate Weekly.
While the Weekly describes concrete as a "relatively benign substance," its report also points out that it is made with cement, a material that consumes large amounts of energy and water and is a source of greenhouse gas emissions. In addition to the production process, the means of transporting concrete requires large concrete mixers and trucks to be used throughout the construction process, which contributes to air pollution. In a city where asthma rates are four times the national average, the need for major contributors of air pollution -- including members of the construction industry -- to be actively involved in efforts to reduce these rates is particularly high. For this reason, panelists at the seminar focused on finding ways to make concrete "less taxing on the environment," according to the Weekly's report.
The DDC now mandates the use of recycled materials such as fly ash and sag concrete, both of which reduce the amount of water used, set faster, and are less permeable and therefore more resistant. By using these materials, builders can reduce the amount of cement used in the construction process. Additionally, participants at the seminar advocated for mixed fuel trucks to help reduce air pollution and for more semi-permeable sidewalks, which prevent overflowing and protect tree roots, reports the Weekly.
NYC Department of Buildings Cracking Down on Construction Violations
November 8th: The New York City Department of Buildings has expanded a program to crack down on builders who violate stop work orders, according to Real Estate Weekly. The stop work order patrol team, which has been operating in other boroughs since late 2006, has expanded into Manhattan. The team is composed of inspectors and city sheriffs who make unannounced inspections of sites that have been issued stop work orders. Since the patrol began, 3,417 unannounced inspections have been conducted, and the patrol has issued 196 violations, reports the Weekly.
The number of builders found in violation of stop work orders has decreased in Queens since the program started, though violations remain high in Brooklyn. Penalties for violating a stop work order also have subsequently jumped. They are now $2000 for a first violation, an additional $5000 for a second violation, and $10,000 for any subsequent violation, reports the Weekly. The city also has said that it will not conduct re-inspections of these sites until all fines are paid in full.
FDNY Announces Improved Inspections Standards
November 8th: New York Fire Department Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta announced last week that the department is overhauling its inspection program for all sites undergoing construction or deconstruction in the city, according to reports in multiple New York papers this week. The New York Times reports that department officials say they will now notify fire companies of all permits issued for construction or demolition in the city in order to clearly and easily identify which buildings will need to undergo inspection and when. Firefighters also will spend more time conducting the actual inspections, with hours dedicated to this task increasing from six to nine per week, reports the New York Post.
A new computer program that will provide firefighters with "pop-up" alerts when inspections are due (or overdue) is also being developed. The new system will function as a central database that tracks and indexes all buildings over 75 feet tall that are undergoing construction or deconstruction, reports Metro New York. The intended outcome of the new rules, which went into effect this week, is increased coordination between the FDNY and the city's Department of Buildings as well as greater compliance with building inspection standards.