"We are raising the bar," says Kevin Donnelly, deputy DEP commissioner. "For us to be successful, we recognize that we need to change our organization, both internally and externally."

The DEP says it expects more leadership from its CMs in areas including safety, quality management, risk management and the timely resolution of issues.

"Our resident engineers will continue to be professional engineers registered with the state of New York, but with the high desirability that they also will have the credential of the certified construction manager," Donelly says.

The U.S. has 1,700 certified construction managers, with about 300 more in the process of being certified, the CMAA says.

New York City

Gotham Breaks Ground on a $520M Complex

Gotham Organization Inc. broke ground last month on its massive $520-million Gotham West, a four-building, mixed-use residential complex that spans from West 44th to West 45th streets between 10th and 11th avenues in Manhattan. The 1,200-unit complex, scheduled for completion in 2014, is expected to create more than 2,900 construction and construction-related jobs and 34 permanent jobs over the next three years.

The groundbreaking follows a contentious round of owner-union negotiations last summer that ended with the unions, including laborer and structural trades, agreeing to a 20% wage cut.

Gotham Construction Co. LLC, an affiliate of Gotham Organization, is the construction manager. The project includes a 31-story tower, 550 luxury apartments, a 10,000-sq-ft courtyard and onsite parking garage.

Designed by Schuman Lichtenstein Claman and Efron, New York City, the project also includes 682 income-restricted housing units and a public elementary school to be built adjacent to the site. Gotham is also planning to renovate a historic school, built in 1904, into residential condominiums on the same site.

New York City

Planned Hudson Yards Tower Secures Tenant

Developers related Cos. and Oxford Properties Group, both of New York City, have secured their first tenant, luxury retailer Coach Inc., for their planned tower on midtown Manhattan's West Side. Coach will occupy more than 600,000 sq ft, or more than one-third of the initial tower of the Eastern Rail Yards, part of the 26-acre, mixed-use Hudson Yards site that the city hopes to develop.

The 1.7-million-sq-ft, 51-story tower will generate more than 20,000 construction jobs, according to NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg's office. When completed in 2015, the tower will be the largest commercial building in New York City. Construction is expected to start in mid-2012.

The Hudson Yards site is the single largest piece of undeveloped property in Manhattan. The tower, along with completion of a new park and the No. 7 subway line extension that will nearly reach the site, will have a "domino effect" on development of the rest of the proposed Hudson Yards, Bloomberg said in announcing the Coach deal with other stakeholders and city officials. Neither he nor the stakeholders detailed financing plans for the tower or the rest of the site.

New York-based Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates designed the tower, which will be on the corner of 30th Street and 10th Avenue.

New York City

DOT Denies AAA Request to Block PA Toll Hikes

The Dept. of Transportation has denied the American Automobile Association's request to oppose the recently enacted Hudson River toll hikes. AAA, which at press time was still pursuing legal action related to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey's toll and fare increases, maintains that revenue from the increases should not be used for projects outside of the PANYNJ's transportation network, such as the World Trade Center.

DOT told AAA that since Congress passed the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance Act in 1987, the agency no longer has "oversight of tolls on interstate bridges over navigable waters," but that "the 'just and reasonable' requirement for toll increases remains in effect."

AAA says it is working with New York lawmakers to enact legislation requiring PANYNJ to use toll revenue for transportation, "not real estate development." It adds, however, that since PANYNJ is a bi-state agency, AAA would also need similar legislation from New Jersey.

At press time, the organization and PANYNJ were set to have a federal court hearing regarding the authority's toll hikes.

Tri-State rRgion

Construction Employment Rises Slightly

Year-over-year construction employment in the tristate region rose slightly, following a broader national trend, according to the Associated General Contractors of America's latest analysis of Dept. of Labor data.