Recent economic figures from the Architecture Billings Index (ABI) revealed that summer finished on a high note with a significant rise in the demand for design services. The ABI score for the month of August jumped more than a full point from July climbing up to 53.8 from 52.7 (any score above 50 indicates positive growth). AIA Chief Economist, Kermit Baker, sees positive growth for the industry, but remains cautious about the future. “As business conditions at architecture firms have improved eleven out of the past twelve months, it is fair to say that the design professions are in a recovery mode,” Baker said. “This upturn signals an impending turnaround in nonresidential construction activity, but a key component to maintaining this momentum is the ability of businesses to obtain financing for real estate projects, and for a resolution to the federal government budget and debt ceiling impasse.”
It is going to be an uphill battle for the developers behind two massive residential projects planned for Greenpoint, Brooklyn. DNA Info reported that Community Board 1 rejected the proposals to build over a dozen 40-story residential towers on the northern tip of the borough, but they indicated they could be persuaded to change their minds. The bargaining chip is more affordable and senior housing. The board would like the developers behind the two developments, Greenpoint Landing and 77 Commercial Street, to drastically bump up the number of affordable units in their plans, which so far include housing, retail, a public school, and esplanades along the water. This decision is just the first step in the Uniform Land Use Review Process (ULURP).
Fulton Street, the bustling commercial strip of the Brooklyn neighborhood, Bedford Stuyvesant, has just received a much-needed makeover. The Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corp., along with community stakeholders and city officials, gathered this morning at the new Marcy Plaza to celebrate the completion of a $20 million neighborhood revitalization project, funded by the city. The organization led efforts to revamp Restoration Plaza with the help Garrison Architects, build a new plaza along Marcy Avenue, implement public art, and overhaul a mile-long stretch along Fulton Street with expanded sidewalks, new benches, trees, plantings, bike racks, and lighting. These streetscape improvements aim to bolster local businesses and support the local residential community by creating a safer and more walkable neighborhood.
It has been several years in the making, but now the industrial strip along Brooklyn’s polluted Gowanus Canal will finally be transformed into a lush and porous green space aptly named The Gowanus Canal Sponge Park that will soak up and filter rainwater to help improve the overall water quality along the waterway. This $1.5 million project, a collaboration between the Gowanus Canal Conservancy and landscape architecture firm dlandstudio, will finally get off the ground with the help of city, state, and federal funding.
It has been a bumpy road for Brooklyn’s controversial Atlantic Yards development. The ten-year project-in-the-making is in the news yet again. According to the New York Times, 50 to 80 percent of Atlantic Yards is now up for grabs. Developer Bruce C. Ratner, chairman of Forest City Ratner Companies is on the hunt for an investor to buy the lion’s share of the development for a hefty sum of up to $800 million. Forest City would still hold the reigns over the future development of the project.
The former record needle and clothing manufacturing building, 5 Pointz, in Long Island City, Queens, is one of the few remaining refuges for graffiti art in New York City. For the last two decades, aerosol artists have flocked to this 200,000-square-foot warehouse to exhibit their work. But now the graffiti art mecca is one step closer to being demolished and replaced by two 47 and 41 story residential towers. In spite of Queens Community Board 2’s opposition to the plan, the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve a special permit that would allow developer G&M Realty to build a larger structure than permitted by the existing zoning. DNAinfo reported that Queens Borough President Helen Marshall also came out in favor of the plan with the stipulation that the development include 75 affordable housing units and studio space for artists.
Astoria may soon rival its neighbor, Long Island City, as the next major residential waterfront community in Queens. In a unanimous vote, the City Planning Commission has given developer Lincoln Equities Group the green light to move forward with a $1 billion residential housing development on Hallets Point peninsula.
DNAinfo reported that the project would include 2,161 market-rate and 483 affordable apartments as well as a public esplanade along the East River, retail, supermarket, and possibly a public school in NYCHA‘s adjacent Astoria Houses campus.
Summer isn’t slowing the demand for design services, according to the AIA’s latest economic figures. In fact, numbers are on the rise. The AIA’s Architecture Billings Index (ABI) for July increased more than a full point spike in non-residential construction activity from June’s ABI score of 51.6 to 52.7 (any score above 50 indicates positive growth). Most notably, the new projects inquiry index produced positive results with a substantial increase from 62.6 the previous month to 66.7 in July.
In recent years, Brooklyn’s waterfront has morphed into a breeding ground for start-ups, tech agencies, and boutique manufacturing. Now the massive Industry City complex in Sunset Park could emerge as the next creative hub in the borough joining other booming neighborhoods to the north such as DUMBO, the Navy Yard, and Williamsburg. Crain’s reported that Jamestown Properties, a real estate management and investment company, which owns Chelsea Market and the Milk Studios Building in Manhattan, is teaming up with Angelo Gordon and Belvedere Capital to purchase the sprawling 6.5 million-square-foot Industry City site.
On the roof of a construction site in Greenpoint, Brooklyn Monday, U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan announced the release of a new report outlining 69 rebuilding strategies designed to both help Hurricane Sandy–ravaged communities and to serve as a model for coastal regions across the country that are vulnerable to storm surges and rising sea levels. Close to the waterfront, the site overlooked the Newtown Creek Wastewater Treatment Plant—one of the few sewage treatment facilities to survive Sandy intact. It was a fitting place for Secretary Donovan, who also serves as chair of the Hurricane Sandy Rebuilding Task Force, to introduce this bundle of new recommendations that address both immediate and long-term needs of coastal communities, including resilient and region-wide approaches to rebuilding and infrastructure investment. A number of the initiatives in the report, such as HUD’s “Rebuild by Design” competition, are already underway.