New York City: Open for Building

On 10.23.14, the New York Building Congress released the New York City Construction Outlook 2014-2016, the organization’s annual forecast. According to the report, the industry should expect more than $100 billion in construction spending over the next three years. This upturn is the result of an increase in high-end residential construction and strong commercial and government sectors.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz opened the program with an enthusiastic embrace of the building industry. She informed the crowd that Queens is open for building and welcomes good development. The Borough of Queens is home to more than 2.3 million residents, representing more than 120 countries and speaking more than 135 languages. As the diverse population continues to grow, zoning can help create necessary housing throughout the borough, including in commercial centers like Long Island City, Downtown Jamaica, and Downtown Flushing, reflecting the latest development trends and projected future needs in those areas. Development, however, must match the built character of neighborhoods and prepare them for growth. The borough president is working to contextually rezone neighborhoods. Katz also addressed the shortage of senior housing in the borough.

Alicia Glen, NYC Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, applauded the industry, and confirmed that the de Blasio Administration wants to continue to build. Although she has focused specifically on building affordable housing over the past few months, Glen spoke about development more broadly. She stressed that private developers will play a large role in providing public services to the city. The city is hoping to rezone East Midtown to make room for new office towers that will help NYC remain a competitive commercial center. But private developers’ plans will not receive approval if they do not include infrastructure updates. Glen referenced SL Green’s One Vanderbilt project, a 65-story office tower that includes transit upgrades, as the model for the city.

Glen also discussed the city’s commitment to building efficiently. By improving the efficiency of the built environment, we can work together to achieve the 80% by 2050 goal. In addition, she emphasized the importance of building resilient as the city faces the effects of climate change. The success of these initiatives relies on the support and hard work of the building industry.

Pulse Points

  • Governor Andrew Cuomo announced a plan to modernize LaGuardia Airport, John F. Kennedy International Airport, Republic Airport on Long Island, and Stewart International Airport in the Hudson Valley to bring them up to 21st-century standards for service, access, and amenities. There will be Master Plan Design Competitions for LaGuardia and JFK. Read more about them in the press release here.
  • Mayor de Blasio announced significant progress in Sandy recovery efforts. The administration overhauled the Build it Back program earlier this year, and has set new goals that will continue to expedite the process by year-end. Read the press release here.
  • On 10.21.14, Illya Azaroff, AIA, co-chair of the AIANY Design for Risk and Reconstruction Committee (DfRR) testified at the NYC Council Committee on Waterfronts oversight hearing examining the City’s Clean Waterfront Plan. Read his testimony here.
  • AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, testified at the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing on the Park Avenue Christian Church project on 10.21.14. Read his testimony here.
  • On 10.23.14 AIANY Executive Director Rick Bell, FAIA, testified at the NYC Council Committee on Environmental Protection hearing on reducing greenhouse gases by eighty percent by 2050. Read his testimony here.
  • City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito announced a new policy agenda for senior citizens. The initiative will expand the Aging Improvement District program. The Council will partner with the Hunter College Silberman School of Social Work and the Brookdale Center for Healthy Aging to create a system that will help connect seniors with services and benefits. Read more here.
  • On 10.22.14, advocates and designers gathered at the Center for Architecture for “Issues in Civic Visioning: A Town + Gown” event. Speakers discussed projects that exemplify the role of design in place-making and neighborhood change, and the role of BIM and human-centered design in policy making. A summary of the program will be available here in the coming weeks.
  • The de Blasio Administration has allocated $13 million, one-third of an initial $39 million in energy efficiency investments, as part of the Accelerated Conservation and Efficiency (ACE) program. ACE is a funding program to expedite energy capital projects and guarantee CO2 reductions and cost savings. This initiative is part of the One City, Built to Last plan. Read the press release here.
  • The New York City Department of City Planning (DCP) released Retrofitting Buildings for Flood Risk, a comprehensive guide to retrofitting buildings against future floods. Representatives from the DCP presented the guide at the Center for Architecture on 10.29.14. Video of the presentation will be available here in the coming weeks.