Rendering courtesy of Related Cos
The choice of a firm not based in New York City has angered some groups.

Work on the $4-billion Hudson Yards project on Manhattan's West Side is set to start by late summer with the recently announced surprise choice of Tutor Perini, Sylmar, Calif., as prime contractor. New York City-based developers Related Cos. and Oxford Properties Group say they will form Hudson Yards Builders, a joint venture with Tishman Construction, to operate as owner-builder for the 26-acre site that is Manhattan's single-largest undeveloped property.

"[Tutor Perini] has an exemplary track record with complex, large-scale developments," says Jay Cross, president of Related Oxford Hudson Yards. The contractor's work in New York City includes the Greenwich Street Corridor project at the World Trade Center, and it has made several acquisitions in the last year, including GreenStar Services Corp., one of the city's largest mechanical and electrical services firms. The first phase of the project will focus on building a 51-story tower, with completion set for 2015.

No union contractors or unions returned calls from ENR, but one industry source says the choice of out-of-town Tutor Perini outraged city union contractors. Because it owns subcontracting firms, Tutor Perini may be able wring wage and terms concessions from the unions. The entrance of Tutor Perini into New York City's "vertical market" is also causing the local community to question what this "outsider" offered the developers that local contractors did not.

"It wasn't that we said, 'Here's what we want to do, and let's have a bake-off between firms,' " Cross says. Related Cos. was project manager on the Cosmopolitan Casino Resort, Las Vegas, completed in 2010, "a complicated project" for which Tutor Perini was the general contractor. "We had a very good experience with them. We knew they had the expertise," he says. The contractor has a national scope on the civil side but in New York vertical construction "not so much. Our thinking was, perhaps, to introduce some new players," Cross adds.