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    Category: Apartment Building Construction

    Paving the way for taller buildings on smaller lots, 21-story First Hill apartments will be super green and use modular construction – CHS Capitol… - December 5, 2019 by admin

    (Image: Sustainable Living Innovations)

    A new high-rise residential building along Madison Street will make use of both the citys Living Building initiative and a new modular construction technique as it climbs above First Hill.

    The land on the corner of 9th Ave and Madison is currently home to the Quarter Lounge, Georges Delicatessen, and the now-empty former home of Lotus Asian Kitchen.

    The building will be demolished to make way for a 21-story residential structure, with ground floor retail, being built by Sustainable Living Innovations.

    Plans call for a 176-unit building, of which 47 will be affordable units, using two housing programs MFTE and Mandatory Housing Affordability. The building will have a mix of sizes including efficiency, and 1- and 2-bedroom units. The affordable housing component will similarly have a mix of efficiency and 1- and 2-bedroom units. Five of the 47 affordable units will be 2-bedroom units.

    The developers of the 901 Madison project say they are working with the existing retail tenants, and talking with the First Hill Improvement Association to find the best fit for retail in the area for the corner across the street from neighborhood icons Vitos and The Sorrento Hotel.

    The building will have two underground parking levels with about 40 spaces, which will enter and exit off 9th.

    The developers plan to make use of the citys Living Building incentive program. Under the program, they will be permitted two additional floors of height (without the living building, only 19 floors would have been allowed) in exchange for meeting ecologically friendly building standards.

    Madison is no stranger to green building. The ultra-green Bullitt Center is a few blocks up the road at Madison and 15th. Meanwhile on Capitol Hill, Bertschi School on 10th also has a certified Living Building as a part of its campus.

    The developers plan to have the building generate 105% of the power it uses through a mixture of wastewater heat recovery (using the heat from hot water that goes down the drain), efficient heat pumps and solar panels. They are also exploring the idea of using wastewater heat from other nearby buildings.

    The developers 303 Battery project in Belltown will soon open as a 15-story, 112-unit Net Zero Energy building

    Downtown at 1800 Terry, Sustainable Living Innovations is planning this 40-story, 428 unit luxury apartment tower that will also employ the modular construction technique

    In addition to the heat, the building will use graywater treatment, where water that might otherwise go into the sewer is instead used for things like flushing toilets or irrigation.

    Under program guidelines, builders are permitted to claim credit for off-site solar panels, and that is something the developer will likely do as well. They have yet to determine the layout of the on-site solar panels, so theyre not yet certain how much off-site solar will be required or where the offsite solar will be.

    While not formally part of the Living Building program, developers say that their modular construction methods will be another feather in their environmentally conscious cap.

    In this method, the building will be constructed in parts in a factory in Tacoma, then shipped to the site and slotted into place. This style of building helps reduce waste, and can ensure insulation is properly fitted, the developers say. The building will be the second high-rise of its kind in Seattle, after the developers 303 Battery, which is slated to begin construction in December 2019.

    The method can also help reduce the construction time. In this case, they expect a total of 16 months, which includes demolition, site prep and construction. Developers hope to start construction in the end of 2020 or early 2021 and have the building open by the second quarter of 2022. By then, the RapidRide G bus rapid transit line should be fully in motion serving the corridor.

    Going forward, the developers say 901 Madisons construction technique can make erecting taller buildings on small lots economically viable across the city (in the case of 901 Madison, the site is about 8,000 square feet), meaning we could see more modular buildings sprout from redevelopment sites. First Hill, by the way, will also see an innovative construction technique that is expected to become more widespread when a mass timber highrise ascends at 1422 Seneca. That new project will replace a one-story 1949-built dental office with a 12-story apartment building with room for 108 small efficiency dwelling units that also might end up being Seattles tallest mass timber, cross-laminated wood struture.

    At 901 Madison, theres nothing on the schedule yet in terms of community meetings but the developer plans to make presentations about major design updates to the First Hill Improvement Association. And the project will also need pass through the East Design Review Board though that process has not yet been scheduled.

    In the meantime, 901 Madisons modular construction and solar arrays hopefully wont be delayed by the same environmental concerns that delayed the Bullitt Center when a neighboring building used theStates Environmental Policy Act(SEPA)to fight against the structures vital solar infrastructure and, even more audaciously, tried to force the net zero waste building to provide more parking. In October, the Seattle City Council approved legislation to reform the use of SEPA aimed at minimizing environmental appeals.

    Paving the way for taller buildings on smaller lots, 21-story First Hill apartments will be super green and use modular construction - CHS Capitol...

    Developers break ground on The Duet apartment project in White Plains – Westfair Online - December 5, 2019 by admin

    A groundbreaking ceremony was held this morning for The Duet, a development that would consist of two apartment buildings at the intersection of Hale and Maple Avenues in White Plains.

    There actually are two parcels involved: a lot at 97-111 Hale Ave., on the west side of the street and another directly across on the east side at 110-114 Hale Ave. The developer is Hale WP Owner LLC of Armonk. Saber Real Estate Advisors LLC, PCD Development LLC and Circle Squared Alternative Investments compose the development partnership. Martin G. Berger leads Saber; Jonathan Stein is the managing member of PCD, which is in New Providence, New Jersey; and Jeff Sica is president and CEO of New Jersey-based Circle Squared.

    According to documents on file with the city of White Plains, the building on the east side is designed to be seven stories and have 70 apartments while the one on the west side would be eight stories and have 57 apartments. The total 127 residential units would include 13 designated as affordable. The buildings would have enclosed parking to accommodate a total of 170 vehicles. Both buildings are below the permitted height of 125 feet. The lot area on the west side of Hale is shown as being 20,000 square feet and the lot on the east side is 24,753 square feet.

    The west building would have six studios, 31 one-bedroom units and 20 two-bedroom units. The east building would have five studios, 49 one-bedroom units and 16 two-bedroom apartments.

    At the groundbreaking, White Plains Mayor Thomas Roach said, At one time this city was a retail hub, it was a corporate hub and it still remains that. But, both of those areas have shifted dramatically and you have to shift with them. He said the city has done that in development by moving to the residential side and this is just another great example of that.

    Berger told the Business Journal that although construction costs have gone up since The Duet project was first proposed, they anticipate it will come in close to the $48 million originally estimated.

    We spent the last 18 months redesigning the parking garages which were exorbitantly expensive because of the limited size of the parcel and we were able to take all of those savings and put them back into upgraded finishes throughout the building, he said. We used the savings to upgrade the interior finishes and the exterior finishes on the building.

    The Westchester County Industrial Development Agency provided incentives for the project, including $370,000 in mortgage recording tax exemption and $794,685 in sales tax exemption. When the IDA adopted a resolution granting benefits to the project, it noted that this was presented as an open shop project from a labor standpoint and included a requirement that the developer have discussions with unions to help achieve the developers hope to use as much union and local labor as is competitive in the project. The IDA was told that the project would create 180 construction jobs and five permanent jobs.

    We are doing everything we can to keep our costs in line, Berger said about the costs of materials and labor. He also said that lenders seem to like financing projects in White Plains these days in part because the city has a controlled supply of developments either underway or in the pipeline. I think what is problematic is that real estate taxes are high and construction costs keep soaring, he said.

    Berger drew a contrast between the Hale Avenue project and one hes doing in Poughkeepsie, which encompasses 156 acres of multifamily and mixed-use development. In regard to the Hale Avenue apartments, what is nice is that the buildings are small in size and you have the benefit of being with a smaller collection of residents, he said, adding that with projects like the one in Poughkeepsie, You create a village, a work-play village.

    Berger expects two major factors to have special appeal at Hale Avenue: the location and the attention to detail in the finishes. The location is excellent. You have Whole Foods next door, you have The Westchester and Neiman Marcus across the street and youre two blocks from Mamaroneck Avenue so with the walkability you have all of the restaurants and bars, Berger said. He also noted that the proximity to I-287 should be attractive for people who need highway access rather than being next to a Metro-North station.

    The Duet project has been designed to appeal to couples, including empty nesters, rather than millennials. The bathrooms have double sinks and double vanities. They have large, oversized closets, little things that are essential for couples and older people as compared with millennials, Berger said.

    Berger said that with the groundbreaking accomplished, they plan to be putting the real shovels in the ground right after the new year and expect to start taking residents about 20 months after that.

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    Developers break ground on The Duet apartment project in White Plains - Westfair Online

    In downtown Vancouver, Our Heroes Place crosses the finish line – The Columbian - December 5, 2019 by admin

    Its been a long and at times arduously slow road for Our Heroes Place, but the pair of five-story apartment buildings at 409 E. Mill Plain Blvd. are finally complete or at least, very close and ready to join the growing lineup of housing options downtown Vancouver.

    The two buildings are named Ed and Dollie in honor of the late philanthropists Ed and Dollie Lynch. The project from Vancouver-based Prestige Development broke ground in February 2017 with the tentative goal of wrapping up in May 2018, but a series of setbacks ended up more than doubling the length of the development timeline.

    Nearly three years later, the Ed building is complete and the Dollie building is on track to be finished by the end of January. Prestige Development will unveil a sculpture on the west side of the block in a ceremony at 4:15 p.m. Thursday, followed by a ribbon cutting for the Ed building and an open house.

    Prestige Development president and CEO Elie Kassab said its gratifying to finally cross the finish line. The finished project hews very close to the vision outlined at the start of construction, and its a concept that he said will be worth the wait.

    It feels really good, a huge amount of relief, he said.

    The two buildings have a combined 49 apartment units, and the Ed building on the north side of the block includes 3,400 square feet of ground-floor retail space and a drive-thru window for a future business tenant.

    The Ed building includes studios and one-bedroom units, while the Dollie building has units that range from one to three bedrooms, along with three penthouse units. The Dollie buildings lower floors include a garage with 42 off-street parking spaces, and both buildings include an exercise room.

    Prices at the Ed building range from $1,150 to $1,250 per month for studios and $1,300 to $1,880 for one-bedroom units, Kassab said. A monthly cost of $1,880 will be the starting price for one-bedroom units in the Dollie building, although most of its units are two- or three-bedroom with prices ranging up to $2,650. The 3,000-square-foot penthouse units are expected to cost around $7,000 a month.

    The two buildings share an external design that emphasizes red brickwork, similar to the design used in Prestige Plaza, an adjacent apartment project from Prestige Development. Kassab said the color scheme was the Lynches idea, inspired by the architecture of the nearby Providence Academy.

    Ed and Dollie were good friends of ours, and they really liked the colors of Prestige Plaza, which mirrored the Academy, he said. We tried to stay with that here, too.

    Despite the protracted development time, very few details about the project changed from the announcement to the endpoint. The original plan called for the Dollie buildings units to be condos, but Washington states notoriously tough condo insurance laws ended up prompting a change to apartments. The units will still have condo-quality finishes, Kassab said, allowing for a possible conversion in the future.

    Theres another distinction between the two buildings: the Ed building is fully furnished, with everything from linens and dishes to artwork on the walls. Kassab said the goal is to attract tenants who want to move in quickly with minimal fuss. That could mean business executives, downtown workers, Clark College students, or Millennial renters who are moving into their own apartments for the first time.

    (The furnishings) are not all the same, Kassab said. Its not like a hotel; every room has its own personality.

    Plans for Our Heroes Place were originally announced in January 2016. The permitting process went smoothly, Kassab said, but challenges emerged once construction was underway.

    The construction phase was hit by a number of delays, culminating in a decision to switch out the projects general contractor in the fall of 2018, at a point when Kassab described the project as approximately 50 percent complete.

    Work on the project had ground to a halt for more than three months during the summer of 2018 due to what Kassab described at the time as the original contractors struggle to line up the necessary labor.

    Work resumed in October 2018 with the new planned completion date of May 2019. But several months before the deadline, Kassab said, it became clear that the project would once again miss its target. Work was still progressing, but it had slowed to a crawl because the same fundamental problem persisted: the necessary labor simply wasnt available.

    You just cant get enough people to work on any trade, Kassab said.

    Kassab said hed never encountered labor scarcity to the same degree on any prior project. A few specific contractors proved exceptionally difficult to line up, he said; fire sprinkler installation technicians were the foremost example.

    The labor shortage has been hitting the entire construction industry, not just in Clark County but nationally. One of the biggest causes cited by Kassab and other developers is a generational shift in the industry an increasing number of older workers are retiring, and too few new workers have been entering the trades to replace them.

    Other factors can exacerbate the workforce shortage, particularly changes in the weather. Natural disasters in other parts of the country have a major impact on construction, Kassab said, and the United States is enduring an unprecedented spate of wildfires and hurricanes.

    We havent seen this type of damage in many years, he said.

    The fires and floods lead to large-scale home rebuilding efforts, Kassab said, which in turn causes a nationwide spike in demand for every component lumber, sheet rock, wiring, light fixtures as well as the tradespeople to install them, stretching an already thin trades workforce even further.

    At this point, Kassab said, the delays Our Heroes Place encountered can be expected to happen on nearly every major construction project.

    If somebody is telling you, Oh no, were not delayed, theyre lying to you, he said.

    Even the trade war had an indirect impact, Kassab said, forcing Prestige to switch from granite countertops from China to a more expensive local alternative.

    The final project price tag came in at about $22.5 million, Kassab said, which was about 15 percent higher than originally projected.

    With the project wrapping up, Kassab said the only real lesson to take away from the delay is that labor shortages are now a constant reality, and its something all developers are going to have to be prepared to deal with.

    People who want to get a project finished, they just have to stay with it, he said.

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    In downtown Vancouver, Our Heroes Place crosses the finish line - The Columbian

    November building permits issued in Kamloops climbing towards record construction values – CFJC Today Kamloops - December 5, 2019 by admin

    There were four single family dwelling permits issued in November, valued at $1,715,000, compared to last Novembers 11 permits issued, totaling $5,366,455 in value.

    Despite less single family homes being built and more apartment style units going up, Dixon says its another really strong year for construction all around.

    Weve had some projects this year the redevelopment at Aberdeen Mall- we still have some permits there that are being processed, so there is a lot of commercial activity there. And the hospital project is still ongoing, so thats more institutional but well see more activity there in the coming year for sure.

    So far this year, building permits taken out are valued at $271,715,708.

    Dixon says should another $15-16 million worth of permits be issued in December, that could mean another record year for City of Kamloops construction permit values.

    Ive been saying all along that I didnt think we were going to set another record, three years in a row seemed a bit much, but were getting awfully close to that, he says, So I might have to be surprised in a month if we actually break the record.

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    November building permits issued in Kamloops climbing towards record construction values - CFJC Today Kamloops

    This Is What a Decade of Development Did to Boston’s Skyline – Boston magazine - December 5, 2019 by admin


    With the end of the decade right around the corner, let's take a look back at the ways city's streets and silhouettes have evolved over the past 10 years.

    Tourists venture to Boston, in part, to travel back in time. They want to walk along the Freedom Trail, trace the steps of the Founding Fathers, and be led around by modern-day civilians dressed in Colonial garb. They want to take a much-delayed ride on the oldest continuously running subway system in the U.S., and visit the yard of its oldest university. They want, above all, to end the day with a beer at Cheers.

    If youre only in town for the weekend, its not hard to see how the city could feel like its stuck in time. But for those of us living here every day, we know that couldnt be less true. Weve been priced out of our apartments, watched the housing prices go nowhere but up, and bemoaned the addition of yet another luxury condo to the market. Weve witnessed shopping plazas spring from parking lots, neighborhoods gentrify beyond recognition, and skyscrapers break ground. Weve schlepped through the snow, ducked under scaffolding, and hurried across the wind tunnel of the Mass. Ave. bridge only to begrudgingly stop and stare at that ever-changing view. And weve watched our streets and skylines shift all the while. With the end of the decade just around the bend, from the much-anticipated to the infamous, lets take a walk through some of the memorable ways our city has developed since 2010.

    What better place to begin than on Comm. Ave., a public thoroughfare that runs from the outskirts of Newton straight through Brighton, Allston, Kenmore, and Back Bay until it hits the edge of the Public Gardensbut which from Packards Corner to Kenmore, is colloquially known as Boston University. And new campus buildings are changing the streets topography all the time. If we start by Boston University West, we can walk beside the newly installed protected bike lanes, and take in the angled glass facade of the Joan & Edgar Booth Theatre, a colossal performing arts center built for the university in 2017. Keep walking past Boston University Central and Boston University East and well see the parking lot-turned-Center for Integrated Life Sciences and Engineering, completed a few years ago, which is across the street from the recently approved Boston University Data Science Centera 19-story high-rise that will be designed to look like a giant stack of books.

    As we make our way into Kenmore, lets turn off Comm. Ave. and onto Brookline, noticing how bright red sweatshirts fade into business casual attire. Beyond Fenway Park itself, the list of old buildings in Fenway is likely shorter than the list of newluxury condo complexes and fast casual joints have sprung up at every corner in recent years. But one new construction rises, literally, above all of the rest: The Pierce, at 378 feet high, is the tallest tower in Fenway, and standing directly in front of it is like sitting in the first row at the movie theater. Crane your neck upwards to fully take in the grandeur of the 30-story residential building, and see if you can remember the days when Brookline and Boylston met instead at a DAngelos sub shop. Now, the former cheesesteak sandwich haven is home to a ground-floor wine bar.

    Well get out of Fenway by strolling through the Fens, ambling down Huntington Ave. and into Back Bay for a quick tour of some of Bostons tallest buildings. (Dont forget to look over to the MassArt Treehouse, a distinctive dorm that didnt exist until 2012). This was, after all, the decade that saw Boston surpass New York as the city with the highest percentage of high-rise apartment construction. Though it changed its name in 2015, the massive mirror that is 200 Clarendon (formerly the John Hancock Tower) has owned the title of tallest since its construction in 1976. Forty feet below, the top of the Prudential has been an iconic part of the city skyline since 1964but now it has neighbors. Standing 742 feet tall, the just-completed Four Seasons managed condos and hotel rooms of One Daltonnow punctures the citys silhouette as the third tallest building in Boston, and the tallest residential tower in New England. If you can manage to look out the window of one if its $40 million penthouses without catching vertigo, youll be nose-to-nose with the all-caps lettering of the Prudential sign.

    Lets pick up the pace to make it over to Downtown Crossing, waving hello to the newly unionized Freedom Trail tour guides and the flock of tourists trailing behind them as we pass by the Common. Once downtown, we can climb up the Time Square-esque stairs to nowherethough these ones are stone gray instead of flashy redand look across at its accompanying Millennium Tower. After officially breaking ground in 2013, the bougie residential building opened its doors three years later as the Hubs third tallest tower, before recently losing the bronze to One Dalton. Once upon a time, before it was home to some of the citys priciest homes, it was the Filenes flagship department store. In the perpetual Black Friday of Filenes Basement, my sister once lost her purse to the black hole of its disorderly racks, likely mistaken for another piece of discount merchandise. These days, taking the escalator down into the buildings depths leads to a neatly organized expanse of Roche Brothers groceries.

    If we wind our way out of downtown and over to the West End, well be smacked in the face with the brand new Hub on Causeway. The total North Station overhaul gave way to an expanded TD Garden, a 38-story apartment building, a music venue, a Guy Fieri restaurant, and so much more. Rising from the site of the former Boston Garden, the development transformed an area most only visited to catch the Commuter Rail or watch Celtics and Bruins games into a miniature metropolis.

    We could keep walking through this past decade of development all daywe could even walk through another transit-oriented project, back in Brighton at Boston Landing. We could marvel at the way the ever-growing Seaport has materialized like a trendy pop-up store, seemingly overnight, since then-Mayor Menino first dubbed it the futuristic-sounding Innovation District back in 2010. We could walk across the Longfellow Bridge, which reopened last year after almost a decade of restoration, and take in the skyline from between the stone salt-and-pepper-shaker beacons. We could go shopping at Assembly Row, which started the decade as a series of asphalt lots and barren fields, and continues to develop into a self-contained shopping, office, and entertainment village. From there, we could look across the Mystic River at Encore Boston Harbor, the Vegas-based resort and casino that brazenly bursts from the low-profile Everett outline.

    And thats all to say nothing of whats to come. The next decade will usher in Winthrop Center, which is slated to unseat Millennium Tower as the fourth tallest structure, even after losing a good 80 feet to the debate over the shadows it would cast on the Common, and quite possibly the second Seaport at Suffolk Downs. Well build up, well build in, well build out. And, assuming we can still afford to live here, well watch it all alter the skyline once again.

    This was the decade that proved that construction is as much as part of Boston as its history, and if we had enough time, wed bring this walking tour through all of the citys corners, taking in their landscapes as they are now before they inevitably change. But all this walking has made us a little tired, and honestly, that beer doesnt sound so badthough were ditching Cheers for one of our favorite local breweries.

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    This Is What a Decade of Development Did to Boston's Skyline - Boston magazine

    Council still seeking information on flawed concrete walls of Auckland apartment block – - December 5, 2019 by admin

    This story was originally published on and is republished with permission.

    Central Auckland's tallest apartment block is yet to get out of the ground because of flawed concrete in its foundations.

    The contractor China Construction New Zealand has been struggling to investigate and fix the defects at the Seascape building on Customs Street East for more than a year.

    The five-storey-deep walls of the carpark basement have voids in them and are contaminated by slurry.

    READ MORE:*Widespread defective or missing concrete or reinforcing steel revealed*Construction firm behind cracked Sydney tower building NZ's tallest residential tower The Pacifica*Weak base being fixed on Seascape, Auckland's tallest apartment building


    New imaging technology has revealed hundreds of major buildings nationwide have defective or missing concrete or reinforcing steel.

    Some concrete on the inside walls of the basement has been waterblasted and patched with structural concrete, but the outer face of the walls is buried in earth and has yet to be properly checked.

    The 52-storey Seascape had aimed to open its apartments in 2021, sitting on massive piles, a thick slab, and the basement walls that are well below the level of the sea just 200 metres away.

    Auckland Council said it was aware of the risk from seawater getting in and corroding the reinforcing steel.

    It had allowed carpark floors to be built only up to a mark five metres below ground level.

    "At this point we would not allow work to proceed higher unless we are satisfied that area of wall is compliant," the council said.

    The contractorfound defectsand promiseda quick fixback in October 2018 - back then, it said the concrete was "just a bit patchy".

    Fourteen months on, Auckland Council is still waiting for key information about the state of the outside face of the walls.

    Asked if whole new foundations might be needed, the council said "no", but added if the outside of the walls needed "extensive" repairs, then "other options may be looked at".

    It was "anticipated" the outside face of the walls would have the same defects as the inside faces, the contractors and developer said.

    But they insisted the defects were isolated, were anticipated, and could be fixed with methods regularly used worldwide.

    The walls themselves were being monitored "and these have performed as expected", the contractor and China-owned developer, Shundi Customs, said in a joint statement to RNZ.

    However, construction would not begin above ground until the defects were fixed, they said.

    "Shundi has dedicated Seascape development as its contribution to Auckland city. With the appointment of reputable contractors and consultants, and under the supervision of local authorities, Seascape aims to deliver a product that is of high standard and quality."

    Three of the companies involved with the basement are controlled by the French multinational Vinci.

    Sol Expert's findings are in a remediation report prepared by China Construction.

    Independent experts were reviewing that report and should provide their assessment by Christmas, the council said.

    "We are waiting on further information ... before making a final decision," said the council's manager of field surveying, Jeff Fahrensohn.

    "Once we have completed our review we will take any required action deemed necessary to ensure compliance."

    It repeated the companies' assertion that the problems were confined to the top five metres of the basement walls, without specifying what evidence it has of this.

    The council did not respond to questions about whether any independent investigations had been done on site.

    Patching the inside walls had been effective, the council said. "Engineers have certified that the wall's structural integrity has not been compromised.

    "Please keep in mind that the D-wall [diaphragm] does not support the tower structure."

    Shundi did not say if the timeframe to finish Seascape had changed.

    It rejected a comparison with the nearby Hengyi Pacifica tower, that is almost as tall, was started about the same time and was three-quarters finished, with Shundi noting the Pacifica did not have a big basement.

    As for near-neighbours of the Seascape, "there is a comprehensive monitoring program in place... at this stage, nothing indicates any compromise to buildings surrounding the site", the council said.

    Investigations of the outside faces appears to consist of drilling cores from the inside-out, reducing impacts outside Seascape's footprint. It is unclear how these cores can be drilled far enough through, with so much reinforcing steel in the way.

    Freyssinet New Zealand referred RNZ's queries to China Construction.

    The building has additional problems: Two piles sunk 29m from ground level into rock, have been built 400mm out of position at the bottom.

    The builders are having to thicken the foundation above and add extra anchors to other piles.

    The council did not expect to sign off the foundations until late next year.

    Also, the tower's fire design has still not been finalised, after two years of wrangling, and being rejected for not giving firefighters enough access in top floors.

    A fire design strategy has now been agreed on for when building consent for that stage is lodged.

    This story was originally published on and is republished with permission.

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    Council still seeking information on flawed concrete walls of Auckland apartment block -

    Invesco’s Robert Deckey on Its Affordable Housing Buy and 888 Broadway – Commercial Observer - December 5, 2019 by admin

    Robert Deckey started off his career making one of the biggest investment decision mistakes of his life, as he put it.

    Deckey was studying electrical engineering at Brown University and trying to figure out what he was going to do after graduation. A senior advisor suggested he checked out a then little-known company: Apple. He could build microchips for them.

    I was like, Wheres Cupertino? the California city home to Apples corporate headquarters and, Who wants to go work for a company named after a fruit? Deckey said. I went, and I saw [the office] and they were in lab coats and I was like, That is so boring.

    Instead, he met with some developers.

    I was like, Oh they design these cool buildings, Deckey said. I was enamored by the tall buildings and I was like, Im going to go do that. So thats when I said, Im going to go do real estate when I graduated.

    Apple became one of the largest tech companies in the world, but Deckeys decision still worked out for him.

    He earned a masters in finance from the Wharton School and started working at various real estate companies and banks. In 2016, Deckey left his post at George Comfort & Sons to become a managing director at the global behemoth Invesco Real Estate which has about $80 billion in assets under management in 16 different countries where he heads acquisitions on the East Coast in cities like New York, Boston and Washington, D.C.

    The company recently partnered with L+M Development Partners and dropped $1.2 billion on a portfolio of five former Mitchell-Lama developments in Harlem and on Roosevelt Island. As part of the deal, Invesco and L+M will return about 1,800 apartments to affordable housing while the rest will remain at market rate.

    Invesco also bought the upper floors of the former ABC Carpet & Home headquarters at 888 Broadway in the Flatiron District with Normandy Real Estate Partners, paying $130 million in 2017, and started work turning the space into a modern office condominium. In April, streaming giant Netflix inked a deal for 100,000 square feet in the property to house a 127-person corporate office.

    When hes not working, the 56-year-old Upper East Side resident enjoys spending time with his two children and is involved with the Museum of Modern Art, traveling around the world to visit different artists.

    Commercial Observer: What made you decide to come to Invesco?

    Robert Deckey: I would say its a combination of one, the culture even though its a big institution, the culture here is amazing. Everyone here is amazing, everyone is very collaborative and great to work with as a team. And then, secondly, because of the global perspective it has. It really does amazing research about the future of real estate. I loved getting that perspective, even though my job is very similar between what I did before.

    Can you tell us a bit about how the deal with L+M came about?

    We identified L+M as a great partner, and they have a great expertise and reputation in affordable housing. So, we said, While everyone else is trying to take apartments out of affordability, lets do the opposite. When we heard this portfolio was coming to market earlier this year, we identified it to work together.

    We like to call it double-bottom-line investing, where were doing really good for New York because were creating affordable housing. These are probably going to be mostly for nurses, teachers, firemen and then, also, it includes 7 percent for formerly homeless families that are trying to get back on their feet. And so its double-bottom-line investing because its doing good for New York, but also making good profits for us.

    What appealed to you about L+M? Was it their management team or their way of looking at business?

    I would say its both of those. Their management team is very similar to Invesco. Theyre incredibly humble and smart. And they have a very innovative business plan thats very different than most of the other developers out there. Second was this value-added business plan that was unique. In todays world, where we are in slow growth, we have to find innovative business plans that generate above-average returns, so were seeking partners who have competitive advantages in creating better returns through innovations.

    Are you looking to do any more deals like this?

    We would like to. What has happened since the new regulation bill is the investment sales of apartment buildings have dropped quite significantly, so there arent as many large portfolios like this for sale.

    Is it that because owners are just waiting and they dont want to sell?

    Yes. If you have a building that has rent stabilization, this bill has significantly curtailed your future growth. So there has been a large drop in value in rent-stabilized buildings. Most sellers wont acknowledge that significant drop. Its anywhere from 10 to 40 percent.

    What do you think appealed to Netflix about 888 Broadway in particular?

    I think the restaurants make a place, so were looking for assets today that have placemaking. Having three great restaurants on the first floor [of 888 Broadway] creates a sense of energy. Second, the architecture of the building has 33,000-square-foot floor plans which are very large for that Flatiron district and the ceiling heights are very high. So they thought they could put in mini theaters for screenings and movies and do different types of space that you cant do in a traditional office building.

    You had the idea to appeal to creative tenants. Was getting Netflix proof that you had the right idea?

    We kind of felt that the F.A.N.G [Facebook, Amazon, Netflix and Google] would show up in that space. We didnt know which one, but we figured one of them would come.

    Do you think the market is already in a correction?

    Yes. Lets go by property type. I would say Midtown office buildings peaking in value in 2015 and they are down quite substantially since then. That has been a correction thats been caused by two factors: One is the flight of companies to new construction in Hudson Yards, World Trade Center and Midtown South. Secondly, foreign investors are not coming here like they did in the past. Obviously, China has pulled out, Russian billionaires are not buying here anymore and the strength of the dollar and negative interest rates in Europe have made currency very expensive.

    In residential, the last three to four years because of all the new development and because of this new rent regulation bill I would say rents are soft to down.

    Lastly, retail. The availability on Fifth Avenue and Broadway is approaching 20 percent and rents are declining quite a bit. So when you look at the three primary property types in New York, I would say that we are in a recession; were in a bear market.

    How do you think thats going to look in the next couple of years? Do you think thats going to worsen?

    I think youll continue to see retail rents decline. I think multifamily is going to be interesting with development tapering off it peaked this year so were seeing new supply drop off quite substantially. Then because of the rent-stabilization bill, many landlords are keeping their units vacant rather than leasing them, so thats going to probably generate some good rent growth in the apartment center. In the office sector, as long as the technology tenants continue to grow, I think well see the imbalance continue. I think youll see further growth in Midtown South and, as tenants move to Hudson Yards over the next year or two, further vacancy in Midtown.

    Are there any pockets of distress right now creating opportunities in the market?

    I would say the pocket of distress is obviously retail. Were seeing lots of loan foreclosures there. In multifamily were seeing distress with rent-stabilized sellers who bought buildings at, say, two and a half cap rates because they were rent-stabilized and now theyre valued at five and a half cap rates. The lenders are starting to take back many rent-stabilized buildings. Third, in condos, there are about 6,000 unsold condos and I think we sell 1,000 a year, so that has been a big decline. And were seeing also on the office side this year particularly, a number of ground lease sales that have happened because of the fair market value reset in some of these ground leases. Were seeing a sharp decline in leaseholds.

    Do you think next year youre likely going to try to set up your acquisitions or keep it around the same level?

    Im hoping we have more opportunities to buy because of the softness in the marketplace.

    In terms of your financing, do you tend to work with the same lenders?

    We are really open to all different types of lenders. Since each one of our assets has a unique strategy and is in a different fund, we have different debt targets. For our last two multifamily acquisitions with Avalon [Invesco bought the majority stake in five Manhattan buildings from AvalonBay Communities in 2018] and L+M, weve used Fannie Mae. Theyve provided us with excellent execution. For ABC [at 888 Broadway], for example, we had a bridge loan from SL Green and then we just refinanced with TPG [Real Estate Finance Trust].

    How do you work together with Invescos loan origination team [led by Bert Crouch and Yorick Starr]?

    We view lending as really a relationship business. We did ABC with Normandy and we made them a loan at 89-90 Maiden Lane, so theres that connection. We own 80 Broad Street with Broad Street Development, they bought 370 Lexington Avenue and so we decided to be their lender there. Its all connected as a relationship business. Because our team underwrites every building in New York City thats for sale, we have full knowledge of You should lend on this building. Be careful on this building. I would be careful of this lender. I like this lender. Thats a bad strategy. Thats a good strategy.

    We are providing guard rails for our lending strategy and then also our relationships.

    You also focus on Washington, D.C., and Boston. What are you looking at in those markets?

    Boston obviously has amazing growth with technology in the lab, so that is definitely a high focus there. Were also building a lab in D.C. Were doing life science in Boston and D.C. and were trying to figure out how to bring it to New York.

    What worries you right now in the market?

    I would say New York City politics.

    Original post:
    Invesco's Robert Deckey on Its Affordable Housing Buy and 888 Broadway - Commercial Observer

    Do we need to kill the NSW Design Building Practitioners Bill? – Architecture and Design - December 5, 2019 by admin

    The Design and Building Practitioners Bill currently before the NSW Parliament must heed the lessons of the Banking Royal Commission or the bill will fix nothing and make things worse.

    Big banks. Big profits. Big profiteering. For years conservatives refused an inquiry into banks, the most profitable companies in Australia, saying it wasnt necessary as they had a tough cop on the beat (i.e. ASIC and APRA). When the inquiry finally happened, we discovered two things: there was a deep-rooted rottenness within the banks; and the cops had been utterly incapable of dealing with it.

    It turns out no amount of policing was able to detect, prevent, or cure the ingrained corrupt behaviour at the very heart of the banking industry. The public expects banks to reform the way they conduct their businesses, and act in a far more ethical and moral way or be sanctioned by newly beefed up police.

    The parallels with the construction industry are striking. Both are significantly large parts of Australias economy - construction is the largest single sector of employment - and both are under heavy scrutiny right now for the same reasons: a failure to meet decent standards. And just as it was with the banks, so there are refusals to have a (Royal) Commission of Inquiry into the construction industry, the conservatives saying that there are already cops on the beat (but adding that they need to be tougher).

    As it was with the banks, so the construction cops (in this case certifiers, architects and engineers) will be incapable of reeling in the problems coming to light in recent apartment failures, no matter how tough they are. However, this idea of better policing is the deluded approach that the LNP has made in its Design and Building Practitioners Bill - trying to stiffen the requirements of the cops but failing to address the real problem: developer-builders are currently not held responsible for the defects they create.

    The scenario is easy to understand: profits from construction are huge, particularly in apartments for sale. seven of the 20 wealthiest people in Australia made their fortunes in construction and real estate, so the sector attracts a lot of attention, and wanna-be millionaires. Large established firms are often the developers as well as builders (finance, management and construction), and are not at issue here, but a lot of the newer, smaller developers rely on builders who have a licence to build apartments, and who have competitively tendered to build at the lowest price.

    The problem for these smaller developers is that their builders can have no responsibility whatsoever for the defects they create should they choose to walk away. The builder closes the nominated building company by declaring bankruptcy and takes the builders licence to a new phoenixed entity. They never look back or go back to clean up the mess they made. And the developer follows suit, folding the tent and disappearing into the night.

    For these shonky builders the desire to make up for a low tender price, or to increase profits by cutting corners, is great. If the banks (them again) require pre-sales to guarantee a loan then the builder loses all incentive to build well (as discussed in here - Tone on Tuesday #2).

    There are lots of ways to dumb the building down: changing the design, omitting parts, lowering standards, substituting cheaper, non-conforming materials, forcing lower prices from sub-contractors and then not paying the last instalment. Thats profiteering.

    The Shergold-Weir Report was written in response to these problems, but it missed the mark as it answered the wrong questions, avoiding the issue of builders liability. The key remedy is to hold the builder directly responsible to fix any problems for a period of say six years after occupation. This requires that the building licence nominated at the time of issuing a construction certificate should not be able to walk away. Frequently the holder of the builders licence is nominated to a company, which allows the phoenixing of the company, closing one and opening another, so directors avoid liability.

    The solution is easy: change the Corporations Act to make directors (and hence the builders licence they operate under) responsible for their work. However, this would require a massive change to Australian corporate law and would be totally unacceptable to the Conservatives or even the market-obsessed Labor party. So thats never going to happen. Perhaps thats why the Shergold-Weir Report was mis-directed by the government to avoid the issue of builders being held primarily accountable.

    The solution is to bind the builders licence to a person, not a company, and then require that builder to pay a bond, or have insurance, or both. Quality builders, financially stable, have nothing to fear, and the risk-averse insurance industry would soon weed out the shonks. These issues were discussed here (Tone on Tuesday# 3).

    This is the only way to make the authors of the defects, and the consequent misery, pay for rectification. The NSW bill, which has just been deferred for further amendments, will ultimately fail as it does not address this key issue, but rather seeks to make more onerous demands on the practitioners (building police) without offering any increased powers or compensation. Trying to force the cop on the beat to undertake more and more onerous inspections on a shonky builder who can walk away, will not stop the rank profiteering.

    At the same time however, in the builders defence, we must answer why building apartments has become so fraught. The answer is twofold: extraordinary increases in complexity of design and regulation, and a consequent complexity of contractor arrangements.

    Some 17 years ago, NSW introduced legislation to ensure apartment design quality, which it has done for the external appearance, but it has driven perverse and undesirable changes internally as it was based on the flawed assumption that an apartment building is a stack of houses.

    Just two of the many issues are the demand for sunlight in the middle of winter which has produced thousands of apartments with huge windows facing east and west that overheat in summer, and cross ventilation that has created some of the most contorted plans imaginable to show an imaginary path for wind, the very wind that will never eventuate on the hot still nights when it is needed.

    We could fill a column in AnD for a year with the stupidity of the code and its elicited responses. You could start with all those unused balconies, with glass balustrades and curtained doors behind. Costly, leaky, wasteful.

    As well as design, increased building regulations and standards, such as sprinklers, higher acoustic requirements and fire ratings have added complexity and costs. Their undoubted necessity was in part driven by changes in materials: where once double brick sufficed, the costly lack of bricklayers mean that other options have been developed and they needed to be regulated.

    The demand for increased quality has also added complexity: apartments are larger, with tiles and timber floors (rather than quieter carpet) more bathrooms (with double the basins in each), air-conditioning (that needs external fans that have to be hidden), more glazing (with more curtains); the list goes on in the real estate culture wars.

    On the opposite side of the same coin, builders contractual arrangements to deal with this increased complexity have become themselves more complex. Where once a contractor would have a foreman in charge for the length of a project, overseeing employees of the main firm, now we have a hired site supervisor overseeing dozens of sub-contractors with sub-sub-contractors to them and so on. The person actually doing the work may be four or five times removed from the head contractor. Its nick-named pyramid building, not for what they are building but the way it is built.

    Long gone is the practice of the owner or developer having a clerk of works on site every day to check quality. A highly cost-effective solution that the government is trying to emulate by having multiple building practitioners make increased site visits, and increased reports. Some firms are finding the old clerk of works, often an experienced but semi-retired builder, is a better way forward.

    And being on a building site is more dangerous than going to war, the second highest number of workplace deaths in Australia. And who polices the staggering number of possible ways a worker can be injured? Not the local council inspectors whose numbers have been drastically reduced, not the states workplace authorities who are overwhelmed by the increased activity, but by the unions.

    Yes, that would be the same CFMMEU that the federal government wants to emasculate. Trying to remove one loud-mouthed obnoxious official, who has been making sites safer, could end up making every building site more dangerous.

    When building gets more complex, when construction processes gets more complex, when sites get more dangerous, when the possibility for failures is exponentially increased, we need a wholistic solution, not more cops on the beat.

    The sad irony in the NSW Design and Building Practitioners Bill is that, not only will it not address the key problem but it will reduce down the number of cops on the beat that it seeks to promote. Engineers, moreover architects and particularly certifiers are having their costs massively increased, insurances are rising up to 10-fold for PCAs. That will drive them out of the industry, leaving shonky builders even more scope to build badly. Lets hope the bill is stalled for good.

    The views expressed are solely those of the author and are not held or endorsed by AnD.

    Read this article:
    Do we need to kill the NSW Design Building Practitioners Bill? - Architecture and Design

    Rera lacks teeth to set things in order – Livemint - December 5, 2019 by admin

    Tejbir Raparia, a Gurgaon-based businessman, was 45 years old when he bought a flat in Unitech Vista, Sector 70, Gurgaon, in 2012. Given that the project was launched in FY10 and was scheduled to be delivered by 2013, Raparia didnt mind waiting. But with the project still incomplete seven years later, Raparia, now 52, is more realistic. Instead of waiting for the builder to act, he has joined a group of buyers in the project who have decided to take matters in their own hands. We have asked all the buyers to pull out their money and asked developers to pay the deficit for the remaining construction work. We are now monitoring the construction ourselves," said Raparia. He hopes to get possession in a year from now.

    Raparias is not an isolated case. Many Indian homebuyers have similar horror stories to share. Delayed possession, illegal or incomplete construction or unnecessary litigation have become more a norm than an exception. Yet for a sector that holds nearly 77% of household money, it took eight years for the Real Estate (Regulation and Development) Act (Rera), 2016, to see the light of day from the year it was proposed for the first time. If anything, this bears testimony to the fact that when it comes to real estate, developers backed by political clout still rule the roost and buyers having parked their life savings look from one authority to another for resolution.

    First horror: delay in construction

    Its one thing to not deliver a project on time due to unforeseen circumstances, but its quite another to make it a norm. In fact, having normalized delays, the risk really is not getting the possession at all. For instance, investors of Jaypee Infratech Ltd have been waiting for more than 10 years to get their flats while paying EMIs for properties they dont own or live in yet.

    According to data compiled by ANAROCK Property Consultant Pvt. Ltd, a real estate consultancy firm, About 5.76 lakh units were launched in 2013 or before and are still to be delivered. Given that the typical time required to complete a project does not exceed five years, these units can be categorised as chronically delayed or stuck inventory." And Jaypee is not a one-off builder; the malaise spans an entire geography. In many cases, developers launched projects in phases, where the construction work in the first phase was showcased to attract buyers for consequent phases. In many cases, construction never started in the later phases.

    While you suffer a delay, what do the developers do? Well many are known to use your money to fund other projects, or just simply siphon it off. Many of them are now facing insolvency proceedings, and their promoters and directors have been thrown in jail, but only after such practices became too big to ignore.

    Even the Supreme Court admitted that banks and government authorities have been hand-in-glove with developers. In its order against Amrapali Group, an NCR-based real estate developer, which is accused of siphoning of funds and money laundering, which resulted in non-delivery of more than 40,000 housing units, the apex court stated that the developer is not the only culprit, and that government authorities and banks are equally responsible. It said that the Noida and Greater Noida authorities were grossly negligent in reviewing and monitoring the progress of the projects, while banks failed to ensure that the money was used for construction.

    Second horror: illegal construction

    The risk in real estate does not end with getting possession of your home and living in it, as the residents of Campa Cola Society in Mumbais Worli discovered in 2005. The Supreme Court later found the residential cluster to be illegal and ordered that it be razed down. Residents who had been living in the society for about 25 years lost their homes overnight. It was revealed that the developer had permission to construct only a few floors, but it violated the approvals to build additional floors and units. No authority stopped the illegal construction or occupancy of the apartments. While some homebuyers were aware of the irregularities, their fears were assuaged by the developer that things will fall into place, but they didnt.

    Similarly, the Supreme Court recently directed authorities to demolish a residential building consisting of several flats in Kochi, as it was built on the coastal zone, violating various norms. In this case too, the authorities failed to restrict the progress of construction and occupancy of the apartment at the right time.

    Rera still has a long road to cover

    Real estate investment in India is fraught with risk and poor liquidity that the asset provides only adds to the problems.

    Even Rera has not been able to be of much help as its a state subject and many states are still to implement it fully. Since Rera came into existence, things are gradually coming into place. However, the Act is still at a nascent stage and needs to cover a long distance. Except two to three states like Maharashtra, Uttar Pradesh and Haryana, other states are still to implement it in its entirety," said Samantak Das, chief economist and head of research, JLL India, a real estate consultancy firm.

    Even in the states where Rera is functional, many of its orders are still to be executed. Getting the orders executed seems to be another battle homebuyers are facing as authorities (the district magistrate in most cases) who need to execute the orders do not come under the ambit of Rera. These are clear cases of negligence and ignorance by authorities, but the ultimate sufferers are homebuyers.

    Continued here:
    Rera lacks teeth to set things in order - Livemint

    Apartment Construction Boom Spreads Throughout St. Pete – St. Pete Rising - November 20, 2019 by admin

    Located less than 100 yards north of Grove Isle is the Waterview, the tallest multifamily building under construction outside of Downtown St. Pete. The Waterview broke ground in late August and is expected to be 15-stories with 226 units. It is being developed by Echelon and Third Lake Capital, which owns the 200 Central Avenue office tower in Downtown St. Pete.

    The apartments will be market rate and will sit on top of a structured garage base which features 13,400 square feet of ground floor retail. On top of the garage pedestal will be a resident pool and lounging areas. As the name suggests, units will have partial water views of Tampa Bay from the upper floors. Waterview is under construction and will likely open sometime in late 2021.

    Satori is another apartment complex under construction in the Gateway area, although its located just over the St. Petersburg city limits in Pinellas Park. Located at 3110 Grand Avenue, Satori is being developed by Davis Development and will features 270 units across four story buildings in a traditional garden-style design. Satori broke ground earlier this year and is expected to wrap up in 2020.

    View post:
    Apartment Construction Boom Spreads Throughout St. Pete - St. Pete Rising

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