Construction starts in New York City have had mixed results as of August 2017.
On the one hand, the dollar volume for erecting commercial buildings in the city accounted for $12.36 billion year-to-date, up 54 percent from $8.02 billion during the same period in 2016, according to statistics provided by Dodge Data & Analytics. On the other hand, the residential side is slumping 13 percent with about $7.24 billion of construction in the first eight months of 2017, compared with $8.3 billion during the same period last year.
What changed? The development of super-luxe residential condominiums slowed down and public institutional projects took off. For example, the first phase of the redevelopment of LaGuardia Airport began in January, and in the summer, construction began on both the Jacob K. Javits Center expansion and the Moynihan Train Hall.
With that in mind, we adjusted slightly how we ranked companies from last year in our second-annual top 10 construction firms in New York City list. Using information provided by Dodge, our 2017 list looks at the top companies based on the construction value of the projects that started in the five boroughs within the 12 months ending in August, rather than all of the projects they are currently working on or total revenue.
And the top projects listed for each entry are the projects that began construction within our slated time period.
We ranked firms solely on the size of its construction work (and not other services it may perform such as consulting, architecture or engineering), and we homed in on the firms that have been doing the most work recently. This likely cuts companies that have been primarily focused on projects that began more than a year ago or those that are doing projects out of the city. Like last year, the list covers companies doing the most construction work regardless of where their headquarters is located.
So without further ado, here are the top 10.—Liam La Guerre
LaGuardia Airport Central Terminal B redevelopment
Moynihan Train Hall at the James A. Farley Building
Hours after the ball dropped in Times Square Gov. Andrew Cuomo, Metropolitan Transportation Authority officials and construction firm Skanska USA executives commemorated the opening of the Second Avenue subway with a flood of straphangers.
“The Second Avenue subway was planned to improve congestion and mobility on the east side of Manhattan, making life easier for the millions of New Yorkers who will ride it every year,” said Michael Viggiano, the executive vice president of Skanska USA, according to a press release at the time. “It’s a proud milestone for Skanska in our century-long journey of building New York.” Skanska USA’s parent company is based in Sweden.
The United States arm has about 10,000 employees in more than 31 metro areas, is not nearly done with major transformative projects in New York City. Last fall, it began work on the redevelopment of the Central Terminal B building at the LaGuardia Airport in Queens.
Skanska has designed and will build, operate and maintain the facility via a public-private partnership with the Port Authority of New York & New Jersey as a part of the LaGuardia Gateway Partners (a consortium of management, investment, construction and design firms). The contract is valued at $4 billion, and the group’s lease to operate the building runs from 2016 through 2050.
And across the Hudson River in Manhattan, Skanska commenced construction on the Moynihan Train Hall project earlier this summer, which will transform the landmarked James A. Farley Post Office Building into a transportation hub connected to Penn Station. The connected Penn Station and Farley building are known as the Empire Station Complex, a $3 billion project. One feature of the Moynihan Train Hall will be a 45,000-square-foot, 92-foot high skylight. Skanska will restore many of the structure’s features, including the facade, windows and columns.
Long Island Railroad and Amtrak trains will access nine platforms and 17 tracks via the new train hall. At 255,000 square feet, the Moynihan Train Hall will expand the total concourse at Penn Station by 50 percent. And the project is expected to be completed by 2020.
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
1 City Point
“It’s kind of a funky market,” said Ralph Esposito, the president of Lendlease’s New York metro region. “Gone are the billion-dollar projects on 57th Street. You’ll see more modest product being built in Manhattan and the outer boroughs.”
That’s Esposito’s prediction for the future of building in New York City. An example of a smaller project he cited is 281 Fifth Avenue (rebranded as 277 Fifth Avenue). Lendlease is “making progress” at the 55-story, 12-condominium unit building between East 29th and East 30th Streets. (Lendlease and Victor Group are the developers, marking Lendlease’s first foray into development in New York City.)
While smaller projects may be in the future, Lendlease is still involved with some of the city’s biggest projects, like the state’s Jacob K. Javits Convention Center (in partnership with Turner Construction Company), Vornado Realty Trust’s 220 Central Park South and 138 Willoughby Street ( also known a 1 City Point) in Brooklyn, for Extell Development Corp.
Also for Extell, Lendlease is working on Central Park Tower at 217 West 57th Street, in what will be the tallest residential building in New York City, when completed, at 1,550 feet tall, Esposito said. “You can start to see the facade of the building on the lower floors and what [anchor tenant] Nordstrom will ultimately look like,” Esposito said.
Esposito anticipates there will be an “increasing exploration of the use of modular construction and using more technology to do things better, faster, cheaper,” he said. Lendlease is employing the model in bathroom pods in hospitals.
“We’ve started to manufacture them offsite and deliver them into the market and erect them faster and with better quality than building them onsite with constrained circumstances,” Esposito said.
Accomplishments over the past year include making “a lot of headway on 520 Park Avenue for the Zeckendorfs” (The Wall Street Journal reported that two condo units in the East 60th Street tower went into contract this summer for over $70 million apiece) as well as at Hines’ MoMA Tower at 53 West 53rd Street.
Jacob K. Javits Convention Center
181 Mercer Street
Turner Construction was founded by Henry Turner in New York City about 115 years ago and, since then, has built a number of lasting Gotham projects, from Madison Square Garden to Lincoln Center to the new Yankee Stadium.
Now add the Javits Center’s 1.2-million-square-foot expansion to that historic list. Turner, a subsidiary Germany’s Hochtief AG, was selected to design-build the new addition to the conference center along with partner Lendlease. The New York Convention Center Development Corporation, a subsidiary of the Empire State Development Corporation that owns the convention center property, approved the selection in January.
The development, which will cost $1.2 billion to build (plus an additional $355 million for new furniture and insurance), began in earnest in August and seeks to add 90,000 square feet of permanent exhibition space, 45,000 square feet of meeting rooms, a 55,000-square-foot ballroom, a green roof terrace and pavilion that can accommodate up to 1,500 people and an on-site truck facility that can store hundreds of trucks (used to move exhibit materials). There will also be 27 new loading docks and kitchen and service areas.
In addition to that project, Turner began work on the $300 million mixed-use building at 181 Mercer Street for New York University in February. The 735,000-square-foot development, which will replace the former Jerome S. Coles Sports Center, is expected to be completed in late 2021. The project will feature classrooms, performing arts spaces, a modern athletic facility, student and faculty housing and a public atrium as well as a number of open spaces.
Finally, Turner is expected to soon complete NYU Langone Medical Center’s 830,000-square-foot, 21-story Helen S. and Martin L. Kimmel Pavilion and Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center’s 750,000-square-foot David H. Koch Center for Cancer Care. Both projects began in 2015.
505 West 43rd Street
The Jacx at 28-01 Jackson Avenue
New Line is “a family-owned company with family values,” according to Martin Loy, the president of the New York City-focused construction firm. “Commonplace words like honesty, integrity, strength and honor that are used on the television every minute of every day actually mean something at this company.”
Loy, a 25-year veteran of the construction industry, started the firm in 2008 after 13 years with Tishman Construction (now AECOM Tishman), where he was a vice president and, before that, senior project manager on developments including the Staten Island Ferry’s Whitehall Terminal and RFR Davis’ 425 Fifth Avenue residential tower.
New Line’s first venture was the Chetrit Group and Stellar Management’s five-building Columbus Square residential project on the Upper West Side, completed in 2010. Since then, Loy has grown the company to 105 people and nearly $1.7 billion worth of contracts across nine separate projects either in construction or preconstruction in the five boroughs.
Of those projects, the most ambitious are in the outer boroughs.
In Long Island City, the firm is just getting started on United Construction & Development Group’s massive 66-story, 1-million-square-foot City View Tower residential condo tower, which will become one of the tallest buildings in Queens, as well as both towers at Tishman Speyer’s complex on Jackson Avenue in the borough. Called The Jacx, Tishman Speyer’s property will feature two 26-story towers and span roughly 1.2 million square feet of office and retail space.
New Line was also the construction firm responsible for what is now Brooklyn’s tallest building: the Hub, developer Steiner NYC’s 610-foot-tall residential tower at 333 Schermerhorn Street in Downtown Brooklyn, as well as “Building #1” at the Durst Organization’s sprawling Hallets Point residential complex on the Astoria, Queens, waterfront.
“We have focused over the past number of years on the larger value-add projects where there are economies of scale,” Loy said. “Instead of dividing 10 small teams over 10 projects that are 100,000 square feet each, we have chosen to focus more on the projects in the 1-million-square-foot arena with one large team. This leads to extra efficiency, and efficiency is the key to successful projects.”
1 Clinton Street
25 Kent Avenue
T.G. Nickel & Associates’ bread and butter may be residential buildings, but the company began a truly mixed-use summer.
For developer Hudson Companies, T.G. Nickel commenced work on the 36-story condominium, library and retail building at 1 Clinton Street also known as 280 Cadman Plaza West.
The project will replace the Brooklyn Heights branch of the Brooklyn Public Library with a new 26,620-square-foot library, two retail spaces and 134 condominium units.
The new, three-story library, designed by Marvel Architects, will have a double -height area on the ground floor. The building will also include a 9,000-square-foot science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) laboratory to be operated by the New York City Department of Education. Construction is slated for completion in 2020.
With its construction costs pegged at $280 million, according to Dodge Data & Analytics, 1 Clinton is a huge project for the company.
“We are well known as residential builders, and that’s something we’re really proud of. Yet over the past few years, we’ve had the opportunity to build on that reputation—expanding our portfolio into other markets,” said Joseph Chiarelli, a partner and director of operations at the company.
A case in point: Late last year T.G. Nickel began construction on Rubenstein Partners and Heritage Equity Partners’ ground-up spec office development 25 Kent Avenue along the Williamsburg waterfront. The 500,000-square-foot building will feature 60,000 square feet of retail, 64,000 square feet of light manufacturing and 376,000 square feet of office space.
In Manhattan, T.G. Nickel is working on the second site of Essex Crossing for L+M Development Partners, BFC Development Partners and Taconic Investment Partners. The nearly 400,000-square-foot Lower East Side project will include a 14-screen movie theater, a rooftop farm, 195 rental apartments and a 150,000-square foot market that will replace the 76-year-old Essex Street Market.
Lexington Gardens II at 1465 Park Avenue
25 Park Row
Most people who know the name L+M Development Partners know it as a developer of affordable and mixed-income housing.
But through its construction arm, L+M Builders Group, it landed on our list boosted by two mega-projects that recently commenced.
Earlier this summer the company and partner Tahl Propp Equities began working on an affordable venture—a 400-unit, 15-story apartment building called Lexington Gardens II, at 1465 Park Avenue in East Harlem. It will comprise apartments for low- to moderate-income families.
The nearly $200 million, 558,600-square-foot project will feature 43,625 square feet of community space to be leased by two East Harlem nonprofits—the Northside Center for Child Development and Union Settlement Association. There will also be 29,099 square feet for retail and 57 parking spots, according to city permits. Designed by Curtis + Ginsberg Architects, the development is expected to be completed by mid-2020.
Affordable housing apartments aren’t the only things L+M is working on. In a project started late last year, L+M partnered with the founders of J&R Music and Computer World to replace a now-demolished store at 25 Park Row with a 50-story residential condominium. The 266,000-square-foot tower, designed by COOKFOX, will house 110 condominiums and have more than 53,000 square feet of retail space. This tower is slated for completion by 2020.
And although it began a little before our timeline for this list, L+M is also erecting the 1.9-million-square-foot Essex Crossing project. Its development partners are BFC Development Partners and Taconic Investment Partners. More than 50 percent of the Lower East Side development’s 1,079 rental units will be affordable, and there will be 700,000 square feet of retail space, 400,000 square feet of office space and a new public park.
130 William Street
90 Park Avenue
Bill Gilbane, a senior vice president and managing director at Gilbane, said his company is finishing a “major milestone” at the New York Proton Center in East Harlem: the installation of a 170,000-pound cyclotron (a giant particle accelerator), the largest piece of equipment for the center.
New York Proton Center will be the first proton beam therapy facility in the state.
“The center will provide a state-of-the-art cancer treatment regimen using targeted radiation that is especially effective on pediatric, head and neck and eye cancers, among others,” read a 2015 press release from New York City Economic Development Corporation when it sold the 51,000-square-foot parcel at 225 East 126th Street for the construction of the center.
Gilbane is providing construction management services for developer Murphy & McManus, and the facility will be operated by a consortium of New York health care institutions when it opens in spring 2018.
In the past year, Gilbane has broken ground on Lightstone’s 60-story condominium at 130 William Street in the Financial District with 15,337 square feet of retail and 228 condominiums slated to be finished in late 2019.
Other projects Gilbane has continued working on in the last 12 months include 55 Hudson Yard, a 1.3-million-square-foot, 51-story commercial office building in the 28 acre Hudson Yards development.
And at Vornado Realty Trust’s 90 Park Avenue, Gilbane is performing alterations to the second to fourth, sixth, eighth and ninth floors.
Gilbane said that he wants to ensure his business is “balanced” with work funneling in from the different sectors as he looks ahead.
With that in mind, the firm plans to “continue to build our public sector business,” Gilbane said, citing clients like the EDC and the Hudson River Park Trust. “Our public sector clients are a big focus for us in the next year.”
The Crossing at Jamaica Station at 93-01 Sutphin Boulevard
Tammany Hall at 44 Union Square
CNY Group is smaller than most of the firms on this list by employee count, but the company makes up for its size with a roster of unique and ambitious projects.
The 14-year-old outfit led by Kenneth Colao just wrapped up construction of Property Group Partners and Romanoff Equities’ 860 Washington Street, a glassy office building next to the High Line anchored by a Tesla showroom. It’s also working on two major historical conversion projects—Tammany Hall in Union Square for Liberty Theatres LLC and the Woolworth Building in the Financial District for Alchemy Properties.
The top half of the 58-story Woolworth Building is being converted from offices to 33 residential condominium units. The landmarked 1912 skyscraper got new elevators, staircases and mechanicals, along with a completely restored facade.
“The terra cotta that was chosen was from the original quarries and had to have eight different color variations to match the original materials,” Colao explained, adding that it took eight months for an engineer to build scaffolding that would support workers repairing the building’s neo-Gothic exterior.
Meanwhile, Tammany Hall, the former headquarters of the city’s Democratic machine, is being largely demolished as the owner converts the site to six stories of offices and retail. CNY knocked down the building’s famous auditorium while keeping the shell of the facade, which is landmarked. The mostly new building, designed by BKSK Architects, will be outfitted with a tortoise-shell-shaped glass dome.
In Queens, CNY is working on the 720,000-square-foot, mixed-use The Crossing at Jamaica Station at 93-01 Sutphin Boulevard. Although the BRP Companies project is only just getting its foundations, the finished development will include two towers with 669 apartments, 25,000 square feet of retail and 20,000 square feet of community facility space.
However, CNY’s most expensive project is a new 39-story Marriott Edition hotel under construction at 20 Times Square. Construction costs for the 452-room hotel, developed by the Witkoff Group, are expected to top out at $350 million.