Thanks to the new buildings and infrastructure that began construction in 2018, regional residents and visitors should soon be able to get around a lot easier in the New York and New Jersey region and enjoy a host of new living spaces and entertainment options.

ENR New York’s Top Starts list of the largest projects to break ground in 2018, compiled using information provided by Dodge Analytics and project team members, ranked 40 projects worth a total of almost $14.5 billion.Infrastructure and transportation dominated the list, with the 13 such projects totaling more than $5 billion.

Residential buildings came in a close second among sectors, with nine projects totalling $3.4 billion. Mixed-use buildings comprised the third-highest number of projects, with eight jobs worth $2 billion. Some sectors contributed a small number of new works, such as the two culture projects, which totaled $613 million, and the three commercial projects worth a total of $2.43 billion.

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ENR New York 2018 Top Starts

One commercial project topped the list: the $1.8-billion Spiral Office Building in Manhattan’s Hudson Yards, developed by Tishman Speyer Properties. The 65-story, 2.2-million-sq-ft structure will take up a full city block. Landscaped terraces with hanging gardens will ascend one per floor in a spiral motion, creating a continuous green pathway that wraps around and around the facade.

The two other billion-dollar projects on the list are both transportation-related. The $1.46-billion Long Island Rail Road (LIRR) Expansion Mainline Third Track project will create 9.8 miles of a new train track and eliminate seven street-level train crossings, and also include sound walls and station upgrades.

In New Jersey, the $1.4-billion Newark Liberty Airport Terminal One project will be a replacement 1-million-sq-ft, 33-gate terminal with a weather-protected pedestrian bridge. Another notable infrastructure entry is the $190-million Paulsboro Marine Terminal and second-phase port expansion and infrastructure upgrade in Paulsboro, N.J., across the river from Philadelphia. The project includes a 550-ft barge berth and two deep-water wharf extensions more than 1,500 ft long.

“This project will serve as an anchor port in response to changing volume demands for shipping along the East Coast,” says Daniel Bontempo, a principal at Stantec, construction manager for the project, which is owned by South Jersey Port Corp. and Gloucester County Improvement Authority.

“One challenge in particular has involved managing the schedule with local environmental considerations,” he adds. “The team is navigating … around permitting restrictions, which restricts work in the waterway due to freshwater fish migration periods from March to July.”

Two major cultural projects in New York City came in at No. 10 and No. 20, respectively. The $375-million Ronald O. Perelman Center for the Performing Arts in Manhattan will be a 10-story, 90,000-sq-ft building sheathed in translucent marble. It contains three theaters and a rehearsal space that can be combined in 11 ways depending on a production’s need. The structure is being built at the World Trade Center above the downtown transit hub, posing special challenges.

“In order to rest above this site and for tenants to remain operational [during construction], the team conceived a unique solution where the [Perelman building’s] weight will be supported by a few super columns, distributing the load over several points above ground,” says Maggie Boepple, president of the Perelman Center. “The gigantic columns, designed to act like stilts, will be inserted into the site’s foundation … enabling it to ‘float’ in midair.”

Another “floating” cultural project, also in lower Manhattan, is the $250-million Pier55 Floating Park and Performance Space that will replace the deteriorated Pier 54. The three-acre public park will feature more than 100 tree species meshing with public art installations and performance spaces including a waterfront amphitheater.

“Pier55 is significant ... for the way it pushes the boundaries of structural concrete,” executive project manager Celine Armstrong says. “The 132 sculpted ‘pots’ displace the load of the park down through the piles to the bedrock of the Hudson River.”

Other projects broke ground after months or years of anticipation.

For the $375-million Macy’s parking garage redevelopment and mixed-use building in Brooklyn, the design and construction team will reduce the store’s old carpark to a one-story retail building and build a mixed-use tower on top with 475 residential units and 41,000 sq ft of retail space. There will also be 55,000 sq ft of amenities, including a swimming pool and a 150-space parking garage.

Two 100% affordable housing projects broke ground in the Bronx: La Central Buildings A and B at 556 and 600 Bergen Ave. Together the projects are worth $370 million and include 496 affordable housing units and a 39,729-sq-ft YMCA.

Meanwhile, three other projects on the list include mixed-income housing: two buildings at the massive Essex Crossing in Manhattan’s Lower East Side and one development in Coney Island in Brooklyn. Both are under construction by L+M Development Partners, which is ENR New York’s Owner of the Year (see story, p. 16).