June 2nd - June 6th, 2008
Contradictions in Wall Street Unemployment Reports
June 2 – Approximately 22,000 jobs have been lost during the past year on Wall Street according to a report from Crain’s New York Business which contradicts recent data from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; that report said employment on Wall Street had remained relatively steady in the past 12 months. The Crains report includes thousands of people who are still collecting severance and the approximately 7,000 Bear Sterns employees who were let go because of the takeover by JP Morgan Chase. Crains also points out staff cuts were announced in the last week at Citigroup, Merrill Lynch, UBS and Morgan Stanley.
First Freedom Tower Lease Signed
June 3 – A Chinese development company, Beijing Vantone Real Estate, is the first private company to sign a lease for the Freedom Tower. The Port Authority said Beijing will lease approximately 190,000 square feet on five floors. Beijing plans to build The China Center, a combination Chamber of Commerce and cultural center on floors 64 through 69. Christopher Ward, Executive Director of the Port Authority told The New York Times, “This interest from Vantone will help us building excitement as we aggressively market this building to other prospective public and private sector tenants.”
Additional Construction Safety Rules Proposed
June 4 – Following a deadly crane collapse on East 91st street, Mayor Bloomberg announced 13 proposals with the intent of improving safety in the construction industry. The changes include: totaling violations by construction firm, not just by building sites; requiring a site safety manager to be onsite during concrete work; minor violations will be upgraded to hazardous violations and sites could be shut down and the Department of Buildings will notify state regulators when an engineer or architect has been disciplined.
World Trade Center Site Delays to be Addressed
June 4 – In the next few weeks, the new Executive Director of the Port Authority, Christopher Ward, is expected to publicly address the issue of delays at the WTC site. According to The New York Observer, several officials involved in the rebuilding effort say multiple projects will be have their completion dates pushed back. Those projects include the Freedom Tower, the September 11 memorial and the PATH station. The paper says unrealistic timetables were set after 9-11, before the complexities of the site were understood.
Goldman Sachs Construction Resumes
June 4- Construction work is resuming at the Goldman Sachs building on West Street where a piece of steel fell 18 stories last month onto a baseball field. The City Department of Buildings is allowing interior work to start up because the builder, Tishman Construction Corporation, has hired an independent safety monitor and launched several other safety measures following the accident.
Building Permit Applications Up
June 5 – During the first four months of ’08, there were 98 applications for new building permits; that’s a 46 percent increase over the same period in ’07, when there were 67. A report in The New York Observer quotes several industry experts who say the spike can be explained by several factors. They feel developers are trying to finalize deals before the financial situation gets worse. There’s also the impending sunset of the 421-a tax exemption for developers. A third reason could be the rush to get permits approved before New York adopts the international building codes which could happen this year.
New ESDC Chairman Nominated
June 6 – Governor Paterson nominated Robert G. Wilmers, Chairman and CEO of M & T Bank Corporation, as chairman of Empire State Development Corporation ESDC. The 74 year old Wilmers will not receive a salary and will assist the Governor in choosing two people who will focus on upstate and downstate development and report directly to him.