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The lounge on the 42nd floor; photo by Michael Young for New York YIMBY

Tall-building activity remains brisk, government takes action, and a supplier opens its newest branch.

Legislature Pushes for Elevator Mechanic Licensing

The New York state Senate unanimously passed a bill that would mandate licensing for elevator mechanics, The Real Deal reports. Sen. Diane Savino, the Democratic sponsor of the bill, says, “The numbers of elevator incidents and workplace deaths is a national shame.” According to the NYC Department of Buildings, at least 22 people were killed in passenger elevators or shafts in the city between 2010 and 2018. There were also at least 500 incidents, with 48 of those resulting in serious injuries. Of the 22 deaths, 12 were mechanics who weren’t technically required to undergo training. The bill will require mechanics to go through a training program and annually renew their licenses with 8 h of continuing education. The measure also creates a nine-member Elevator Safety and Standards Board, which will oversee the enforcement of the new requirements. As of June, the bill still needed approval from the state Assembly.

Wurtec Opens Newest Branch in LIC

Wurtec, Inc. opened its newest branch in Long Island City (LIC), on June 12. Bill Popp is branch manager of the 36-50 31st Street location, which will carry tools for elevator installation, modernization, service and repair, including Wurtec’s popular V2 False Car, S3 Communicator phones and high-speed capstan hoist within a 15,000-ft2 space. The location may be reached by phone at (877) 225-3705. Wurtec Marketing Associate David Steingass stated:

“In 2011, we established our first branch in Toronto, and after a couple of years, we knew we were onto something. It would only be a matter of time until we had a branch in the largest elevator market in North America — NYC. In NYC, we already have incredible support from our local distributors, so we decided to open branches in Las Vegas, Vancouver, Miami and Shanghai to perfect the process. In 2018, we started receiving pressure from one of our largest customers to support their operation locally. So, the culmination of a growing market, great distributors and customers, and pressure from a large customer allowed us to feel comfortable with an investment in NYC.”

Viñoly Reimagines Striking Facebook HQ Supertall in Midtown

A plan in the works for at least 10 years for one of the largest office buildings in NYC has a striking, elegant new design by architect Rafael Viñoly, New York YIMBY reported. Developer Vornado revealed renderings for the 1,400-ft.-tall 15 Penn, which would serve as headquarters (HQ) for Facebook on the current site of the beleaguered Hotel Pennsylvania, which has witnessed multiple suicides, accidental deaths and a murder in recent years at 401 Seventh Avenue. While Facebook has already committed to One Madison Avenue in NoMad, the new plan may be moot.

However, it indicates the Viñoly design, dramatically different from a previous iteration by Pelli Clark Pelli with open floor plans, generous outdoor space, high ceilings and variable stacked floorplates cantilevered on top of one another, could be Facebook’s choice.

Contentious Midtown East Skyscraper Rising at Last

An 800-ft.-tall, or roughly 73-story, residential skyscraper in the Midtown East Sutton Place neighborhood that had been slowed by legal battles for the past several years is rising at 430 East 58th Street (ELEVATOR WORLD, February 2016), New York YIMBY reported. In late May, construction had reached the seventh floor, although a design had not yet been revealed. The original design for a 1,000-ft.-tall structure was by Foster + Partners, but Thomas Juul-Hansen is now the architect. Gamma Real Estate is the developer of the tower, which will boast views of the Ed Koch Queensboro Bridge, Roosevelt Island, Cornell’s new campus, Midtown and lower Manhattan. Completion is anticipated around 2021.

Manhattan NYCHA Properties Getting Needed Upgrades

The NYC Housing Authority (NYCHA) will be renovating 16 Manhattan buildings as part of a program that converts NYCHA buildings into Section 8 housing. The US$500-million project will affect almost 3,000 residents in 1,700 apartments, The Real Deal reports. The renovation will involve installing new kitchens, bathrooms and flooring; replacing heating systems;

and conducting a full elevator rehab for each of the buildings. The elevator project comes after a study reported an incident rate five times greater than that of other elevators in the city. The most recent renovation project will involve Monadnock Development LLC, Lemor Development Group, Kalel Holdings LLC and the Community League of Heights. The upgrades are a part of the NYCHA 2.0 initiative, which the city calls “a comprehensive plan to preserve public housing” by making US$24 billion in “vital repairs.”

43-Story Residential Tower Reaches Completion

A 43-story residential skyscraper called Summit (EW, January 2017) recently completed construction. New York YIMBY recently took a tour of the tower, designed by Handel Architects and developed by BLDG Management, located at 222 East 44th Street in the Turtle Bay neighborhood of Midtown Manhattan. The building includes 429 residences that range in size from studio apartments to three-bedroom units. The interiors were designed by Escobar Design by Lemay. “The unique shape of the building’s footprint, angled façade and extraordinary ceiling heights maximize the skyline and river views from every vantage point,” says Matthew Villetto, executive vice president of Douglas Elliman Development Marketing, the company leading the leasing of the residences.

39-Story Financial District Project Almost Finished

The Marriott Courtyard and Residence Inn at 215 Pearl Street is nearing completion. The 396-ft-tall, 39-story hotel designed by Gene Kaufman is expected to bring 320 suites to the Lower Manhattan Financial District. The building features floor-to- ceiling glass panels on the lower levels and red brick along the northern side. In addition to the Courtyard’s 200 rooms and the Residence Inn’s 120, there will also be a main lobby, offices, dining rooms, bicycle storage, a fitness center and a rooftop terrace. The initial timetable predicted the hotel would be finished by summer of 2017; however, the official completion date has not been announced.

NEII Field Safety Committee Meets

Reported by Ricia Sturgeon-Hendrick

The National Elevator Industry, Inc. (NEII) Field Safety Committee met in NYC in late June, with Ray Downs of TEI Group hosting. This committee continues to meet three to four times a year, reviewing OSHA activity and accidents in the industry. NEII is coordinating with the International Union of Elevator Constructors (IUEC) to submit/endorse code changes for ASME A17.1/CSA B44. Some of the ideas suggested by IUEC include access to hoistway doors from the back side, screening of hoistway/pit separations, hoistway access at top and bottom landings, pit ladders for existing units, limits on how high pit ladders can extend above the landing and guarding of side counterweights.

In addition, NEII Executive Director Karen Penafiel and Codes and Safety Director Kevin Brinkman are participating in a series of meetings in Philadelphia hosted by OSHA to discuss how OSHA, manufacturers, labor groups and others can work together to enhance worker safety. The committee recommended NEII continue to participate but focus on its Safety Absolutes and the Elevator Industry Field Employees’ Safety Handbook. The next NEII Field Safety Committee meeting is planned in Mobile, Alabama, on November 19 to revise the handbook. Sections of the handbook were discussed and assigned to members for review and revision.

Work starts on 35-Story Project in Kips Bay

The site of a new, 35-story mixed-use residential tower is now seeing excavation work, New York YIMBY reported. The project, at 368 Third Avenue in the Kips Bay neighborhood of Manhattan, New York, is being designed by SLCE Architects. Plans call for a 388-ft-tall, 145,000-ft2 tower that includes 100 apartments. There will be 3,000 ft2 of retail space and amenities, such as a fitness room, residential lounge and children’s playroom on the ground floor. There will be three to four apartments on each floor from the third floor to the 25th floor and two units each on the next six levels. The top two floors will house two penthouses. Completion is expected in fourth quarter 2021.

Excavation Begins for Columbus Drive Project in Jersey City

The future site of a new mixed-use complex at 25 Columbus Drive in Jersey City, New Jersey, is coming along as the existing parking lot is being ripped up, New York YIMBY reported. The project, designed by Handel Architects and developed by Mack Cali, will be 626 ft tall and include 57 floors. The complex will include 750 rental apartments, a privately funded public school, 16,485 ft2 of retail space and a public plaza. The plot of land for the project, which is surrounded by Columbus Drive and Washington, Warren and Montgomery streets, will feature the new skyscraper on the northern end, while an existing apartment building will remain on the southern side.

Shaq Tower in Downtown Newark  Now Open

Earlier this year, The Real Deal reported the US$80-million, 33-story residential tower 50 Rector Park, also known as Shaq Tower (EW, October 2018) as it is backed by former National Basketball Association star Shaquille O’Neal, opened on June 15. The development includes 168 rental units and 20,000 ft2 of retail.

The first market-rate high rise to be built in Newark (where O’Neal is from) in more than 50 years, 50 Rector Street takes the place of an 1800s brewery and a series of schools, the most recent of which was demolished two years ago. New York-based Gilbane Building Co. is the general contractor, and developers are O’Neal and Boraie, a firm founded by Egyptian immigrant Omar Boraie. The pair are also partners on a US$150-million, 350-unit tower near the Ironside Newark development, as well as a mixed-use project in Atlantic City.

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Elevator World | August 2019 Cover