New York

Admirals Row, the historic six-acre site at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, moved a step closer to redevelopment with the New York City Council's approval last month of the site's transfer to the city from the federal government. The city, which owns the 300-acre Navy Yard, says it expects the property transfer to occur soon and that the Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corp. (BNYDC) may be able to issue a request for proposals by year-end.

The redevelopment project will include construction of a 74,000-sq-ft supermarket, 79,000 sq ft of retail space and 127,000 sq ft of industrial space. The project is expected to create hundreds of construction jobs, says the nonprofit BNYDC, which oversees the site.

Admirals Row was built in the 19th century and has remained under federal control since it was vacated in the mid-1970s. It contains historic structures that have severely deteriorated. Earlier this year, several groups and lawmakers, including U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, pushed for the federal government to allow the city access to the site for emergency stabilization of certain structures and to expedite the property transfer.

The groups have long fought for the preservation of at least two of the 12 buildings on the site: a timber shed built in 1853 that is the last remaining one of its kind in the U.S. and Building B, a free-standing house. Earlier this year it was agreed that those buildings would be saved.

The council's approval is good news, says City Council member Letitia James. "The project will incorporate historic preservation into a progressive sustainable site plan, which will in turn become a huge boost for the local economy," she says.

The Northeast

Region Becomes Major Solar Generator

Northeastern states now account for much of the 1.7 GW of photovoltaic solar power that the U.S. now generates. And New Jersey, in particular, is far ahead of every state, except California, in solar installations. Aggressive business and homeowner incentive programs in the Northeast are largely responsible for this milestone, said speakers at the PV Power-Generation Mid-West & East conference, held in New York City last month.

"The Northeast is the new California market," Shaun Chapman, deputy director of government affairs at integrator Solar City, San Mateo, Calif., told attendees. New Jersey is by far the most active state in the region, as evidenced by its relatively new position as the country's second-largest solar market. "If you are a serious [solar] project developer, you are doing something in New Jersey," Chapman says.

As of the end of September, New Jersey had about 447 MW of installed solar capacity and 5,002 projects—totaling more than 569 MW—under way, says Mark Warner, founder and CEO of Sunfarm, Flemington, N.J., a solar installer. "There are about 345 installers, 275 of which [entered the market] in the last two years," he says. Warner says that New Jersey is installing the equivalent of a small coal-fired powerplant in solar power each year.

The New Jersey market has undergone "explosive" growth during the last two years, Warner says. "A lot of people come in, do projects and disappear when they discover that it is a hard, [highly competitive] market," he adds.

New Jersey's rise is largely due to its solar renewable-energy certificates (SREC) program, which requires electricity suppliers to secure part of their power needs from solar generators and allows developers to recoup some of their investment costs. The New Jersey market has become so saturated, however, that long-term SREC contract prices have plummeted. Several speakers at the conference see this as more of a market correction than a sign of the market's demise.

Other Northeastern states including Connecticut, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island and some Midwestern states are also making strides in this market, speakers said.

Meanwhile, the EPA and the Dept. of Energy's National Renewable Energy Laboratory recently announced plans to evaluate the feasibility of developing biomass, geothermal, solar or wind power production on 26 Superfund brownfield and former landfill or mining sites. The joint feasibility study, part of EPA's RE-Powering America's Land initiative, calls for EPA to provide about $1 million in technical assistance to the sites, Lura Matthews, RE-Powering America's Land project lead, told attendees.

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New York City

Inventory of Stalled Projects Falls 8%

The number of stalled construction projects citywide fell by 8% from October 2010 to October 2011, according to a New York Building Congress study of Dept. of Buildings (DOB) inspection records and Dept. of Finance (DOF) records. However, the amount of stalled projects—roughly 638 this year—is still 40% above the number in the DOB's database for 2009. DOF estimates the aggregate market value of the current stalled projects in the database is $1.3 billion.

"It is encouraging to see that we have stemmed the flow of stalled sites and that at least a portion of these projects are moving once again," says Richard T. Anderson, NYBC president. The organization has called for the city to establish a program that includes tax incentives and zoning adjustments to restart stalled sites.

The study also indicates that each of the boroughs showed a modest decrease in the number of stalled sites. Brooklyn remains the leader, however, with a total of 299, or 47% of the citywide total. Queens has made the most progress, the study shows, as its number of stalled projects dropped 14%, to 131 this year. Manhattan posted 126 stalled sites, Staten Island registered 52 and the Bronx, 30.

Residential projects, particularly multifamily projects, dominate the database. Some 37% of the stalled sites remain vacant, indicating that developers have obtained land and construction permits but have not begun work, NYBC says.

New York City

DEP Wants CMs On $14B Program To Be Certified

Construction managers working on the Dept. of Environmental Protection's (DEP) $14-billion capital construction program must now be certified, the agency announced last month at the Construction Management Association of America's national conference in Washington, D.C.