October 31, 2013

CT Construction Digest October 31, 2013

Bethel bridge work focus of plitics

BETHEL -- One side calls it semantics. The other side calls it misinformation.
The complications and delays on the reconstruction of Walnut Hill Bridge and how it's been presented have become a lightning rod in the first selectman's race.Democratic two-term incumbent First Selectman Matt Knickerbocker called the project a state project, which needed state approval for steps along the way to qualify for state and federal funds.But Republicans are pounding Knickerbocker, saying he is the one in charge and has botched the project. They say he misrepresented the bridge reconstruction as a state project.The bridge, which crosses the Lime Kiln Brook on Walnut Hill Road and is an important artery that Bethel residents use to reach Interstate 84 and Route 6, is supposed to be done by Dec. 1. Despite unforseen engineering delays, the contractors said the goal will be to make the bridge passable -- if not finished -- before winter. Republican first selectman candidateWill Duff has signs around town saying "Fix the bridge, elect Will Duff."

Demolition begin for new Boys & Girls Club

BRISTOL — A century-old Gaylord Street house came tumbling down Wednesday to make way for the Bristol Boys & Girls Club’s new $11 million facility.Workers from Tabacco & Sons, a city-based contractor, razed the house to finish clearing the property so construction of the building can get under way. The company donated its services.Michael Suchopar, the club’s director, said he was happy to see the work progressing. He said the large section of the fenced-off property that faces West Street will be the front of the new facility, slated to open by Labor Day. The area behind it, along Gaylord Street, will be used for parking and a bus dropoff.The three-story house, built in 1900, crumbled like matchsticks as a large payloader ripped it to pieces starting just before noon.

Wallingford schools face roof work delays

WALLINGFORD — The roofing project at Parker Farms School is being delayed because of problems with the materials, according to Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Marc Deptula.
Contractors were working through the summer to complete the second phase of the school system’s roofing project, which includes installing new roofs at six schools: Moses Y. Beach, Rock Hill, Pond Hill, Cook Hill, Parker Farms and Highland. It also included completed sections of Sheehan and Lyman Hall high schools. Deptula told the school board Monday night that after discovering a problem with the glue holding pieces of the roof together at Parker Farms, contractors had to tear apart portions of the roof and reapply the glue, which led to a delay. At that time, Deptula believed the project would be finished by October. However, in addition to the problems they had to address, the contractors have been limited to working on weekends on areas of the roof over classrooms, Deptula said.

OLD SAYBROOK - Two weeks after the town approved $15.1 million to pay for capital projects, project planning efforts are already moving forward in earnest.To access the funds the town authorized, last week the Board of Selectmen adopted a resolution to sell $15.1 million in municipal bonds this month. First Selectman Carl Fortuna, Jr., said the town would issue the new bonds for sale to investors on Thursday, Oct. 31. Projections assume the town will need to pay investors in those bonds a rate of between 3.5 and 3.75 percent interest.On another front, the town asked for town land use bodies to conduct the required reviews of the various capital projects.The town's Planning Commission held a special meeting Oct. 23 to review the collection of capital projects for consistency with town plans.On the agenda for review as municipal improvements were the proposed police facility at 36 Lynde Street and the new turf playing field at the high school. The school maintenance and repair projects-replacement of the middle school roof, Goodwin windows, high school tennis court, and high school track-were also up for review per town plans.In parallel with action by the Board of Selectmen and town Planning Commission, the town's project building committees are also re-starting their work.

Storrs center looks good except that it lost its town green

 Storrs Center, the new town center adjacent to the University of Connecticut campus, is nearing completion and by and large, I like what I see.As a town resident, UConn employee and local pedestrian, I see a novel design, quality construction, locally owned business establishments, good parking, and best of all, a combination bookstore and cafe fronting a town square under construction. And though I've been paying little attention to the political machinations of the Mansfield Downtown Partnership Inc., the process has seemed quite transparent.However, something funny happened along the way. The town green became a putting green. The village atmosphere of a town green that residents had talked about for decades, the very one recommended by the "Storrs Green Task Force" in 1995, disappeared into a simulated urban landscape complete with a five-story canyon opening to a boxed-in town square containing a circle of sod 55 feet in diameter. I have no right to complain because I was looking the other way. Rather, I'm lamenting and writing a respectful minority opinion.

Solar park proposed for North Haven landfill site

NORTH HAVEN >> Plans are under way to take unused land and cultivate it for the town’s benefit.
A proposed solar park is headed to North Haven’s landfill on Universal Drive. It’s wasteland, it’s out of the way, and solar panels can be built on the kind of land that holds trash underneath it According to Greenskies Renewable Energy LLC’s proposal for the project, the plan is for North Haven to buy into a solar power purchase agreement. This means, in short, that Greenskies would own and maintain the solar panels, while the town would purchase the power created by the panels at a lower rate than otherwise available. “The solar project described here will be one of the largest in New England and will provide the town with a way to save on its electricity costs by transforming an otherwise dormant capped landfill into a symbol of ingenuity and economic developement,” wrote Michael Silvestrini, president of Greenskies.

Will the busway be the best way?

NEW BRITAIN — Commuters will soon have a new way of traveling to work: CTfastrak, a 9.4-mile dedicated busway that can take riders from New Britain to Hartford in 17 minutes — regardless of traffic conditions on the highway. Busway construction, which is slightly ahead of schedule, will be substantially finished in November 2014 and is expected to go into operation in February 2015. Towns along the busway route are already starting to benefit from transit-oriented development, officials say.

October 30, 2013

CT Construction Digest October 30, 2013

Oxford getting grocer

OXFORD – Haynes Development is finalizing negotiations with a major grocer anchor and hopes to begin construction in the summer of 2014. The Haynes Group, headquartered in Seymour, CT has owned the development site located at 278 Oxford Road for over a decade and acquired the site for its development potential.“While in the preliminary permitting stage, securing the anchor tenant is our primary focus”, said Kathryn Ekstrom, spokesperson for Haynes Development. Great thought and care is going into the design plan; the center will provide the conveniences and services that today’s consumers are looking for and future residents will come to experience.

Lawmakers hear divided opinions about "Pre-Vailing Wage" mandate

NEW BRITAIN — Signaling a new campaign to narrow the state's controversial "prevailing wage" labor law, speakers at a state legislative forum on Tuesday alternately described it as a valuable protection or a costly waste.Lobbying groups for small and mid-sized communities want the General Assembly to adjust the law so that it wouldn't apply to relatively small building renovations, repairs or construction jobs. They complain the provisions add as much as 25 percent extra to the cost of labor by mandating relatively high wage and benefit rates. Non-union contractors also oppose the law.Leaders of many larger cities along with construction trade unions vigorously defend the law as it stands, and want no changes. They argue that it protects the public from dishonest and slipshod contractors while ensuring construction workers take home a reasonable wage.The law sets out precisely how much contractors must pay their employees working on municipal construction jobs. Some fiscal conservatives want to suspend it altogether, but the two dominant lobbying groups for Connecticut municipalities mostly want to exempt small and mid-sized construction projects..

Remainder of Wethersfield High School goes out to bid.

WETHERSFIELD -- The town has put out to bid the remainder of the $75 million high school reconstruction project, including parts to remove some asbestos and PCBs over Christmas vacation.
"I've had quite a bid of interest and gotten a lot of calls," Lorel Purcell of O&G Industries, the project's preconstruction manager, told the building committee Monday night. "Everyone's aware of this project. They're all hungry for it."In addition to environmental cleanup, the town last week solicited bids for contracts expected to total about $55 million, Purcell said. They will cover most interior and exterior construction.Site preparation and other work on the three-year project began last month.

Architects to present Charter Oak School conceptual plans

WEST HARTFORD — Architects from Perkins Eastman will present conceptual plans for the new Charter Oak International Academy at a meeting Wednesday at 7 p.m.The firm came up with three abstract designs for the building and site layout after holding public meetings earlier this month.The town plans to build the new 86,000-square-foot building in an effort to correct a racial imbalance at the town's two magnet schools: Charter Oak, an International Baccalaureate school, and Smith STEM School; STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and math. The $44.6 million project is expected to cost the town between $9 million and $16.65 million, after reimbursement from the state under diversity school legislation.The current 1929 building will remain standing while the new building, which will hold nearly double the number of students the current school does, is constructed. The school currently holds about 300 students and has three classes per grade.

U.S. Highways in trouble? It could be worse....

The highway budgeting process in our nation's capital is broken, and state coffers for highway work are not exactly spilling over, but things could be worse. Consider Saskatchewan.The western Canadian province is a long and lovely vertical slice of Canada above the states of Montana and North Dakota. It is about 250,000 square miles of plains and farming country.In the 2013 highway construction season, Saskatchewan highway authorities spent some $280 million (Canadian and U.S. dollar values are more or less equivalent) on highway construction and reconstruction. That included 170 miles of repaving and 45 miles of rural highway upgrades. Unfortunately, $280 million was not enough.

Prevailing Wage debate pits towns against labor

Municipal associations asked the legislature’s Labor Committee to support changes to the state’s longstanding and politically secure prevailing wage policy at a public forum Tuesday in New Britain.
Connecticut law requires contractors working on state and town construction projects to pay their workers wages and benefits at least equal to rates posted annually by the Labor Department. The prevailing wage law applies to all new government construction projects above $400,000 and renovation projects costing more than $100,000.Prevailing wage frequently pits organized labor unions against municipalities. The unions believe the policy sets important wage standards for construction workers, and the municipalities view it as a burdensome unfunded mandate.
Although those thresholds have remained unchanged since 1991, they’re often challenged by legislation, usually from Republican lawmakers, seeking to increase the thresholds or scrap the policy. More than a dozen such bills were proposed last year and died in the Labor and Public Employees Committee.Efforts to change the law may face an uphill battle in the committee, which is chaired by Democrats Sen. Cathy Osten and Rep. Peter Tercyak.However, for representatives of the Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the Council of Small Towns, the trigger modification does not seem like a big request. Litchfield First Selectman Leo Paul, a Republican, asked members of the committee to put aside their political allegiances and help relieve towns of costly mandates.

October 29, 2013

CT Construction Digest October 29, 2013

A new report on global markets for cranes

According to a new technical market research report, Cranes: Technologies and Global Markets from BCC Research (http://www.bccresearch.com), the global market for cranes was valued at $26.6 billion in 2012 and is expected to reach $29.3 billion in 2013. BCC Research projects the market to grow to $41 billion by 2018, and register a five-year compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 6.9% from 2013 to 2018. Cranes are an integral part of the global material lifting equipment industry. With the increase in infrastructure development in the emerging markets, global demand for cranes has also grown considerably over the last five to 10 years. In particular, China has seen the greatest growth among the developing economies and has become the largest market for cranes.
To assess the market, cranes have been broadly classified into three major types: mobile cranes, marine and port cranes, and fixed cranes. Cranes vary according to their lifting capacity, outreach and, height. Current market trends include a focus toward higher lifting capacity. Complexities in infrastructure demands have necessitated greater flexibility from material lifting equipment. In addition, the market is focusing on “greener” fleets, advanced automation technology, and fuel efficiency.

Covanta waste management to recycle food wastes, organic materials

BRISTOL — Central Connecticut will be among the first places in the country to begin recycling food wastes and other organic material.Covanta Energy Corp., which runs a regional trash incinerator, is teaming up with an organics recycling firm that calls for the Pennsylvania-based Turning Earth to build, own and operate a recycling facility for the material in central Connecticut.
“I am proud that the Bristol region will be among the first to benefit from this unique partnership,” Mayor Art Ward said.He said it “continues a long-established collaborative effort between Covanta and Connecticut communities to attract environmentally-sound, cutting edge technologies and solutions to waste management in a manner that stimulates our local economies.”The agreement, announced Monday, doesn’t say where the new facility will be constructed. A press release about the facility, released by Covanta, said construction is anticipated to begin “in the latter half of 2014 following site selection, the receipt of permits and procurement of organic waste.” The state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection’s deputy commissioner, Macky McCleary, said it “has been actively encouraging projects aimed at diverting food wastes and other organic material from the waste stream.

NU's $338M Transmission Line put on hold

The most Connecticut-centric segment of Northeast Utilities' planned $1.5 billion transmission project for southern New England has been put on hold, slowing the creation of potentially hundreds of new construction jobs in the state.NU is in the midst of its New England East West Solutions (NEEWS) transmission initiative, a series of four projects designed to move electricity more reliably, quickly, and cheaply around Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island.Three of those four projects are either complete or underway, but the fourth — the Central Connecticut Reliability Project — has been shelved as industry officials re-evaluate its need for Greater Hartford."All these improvements have the idea of improving reliability," said Frank Poirot, NU transmission spokesman.Transmission lines are a vital part of the electric grid, carrying power from generating plants to local distribution systems, which then distribute electricity to homes and businesses.
As power plants are built and decommissioned, however, and local electricity demand shifts and grows as communities develop or shrink, the current transmission system is not always in line with today's electricity needs.The NEEWS initiative was planned and approved by grid administrator ISO New England so electricity could flow more easily and cost-effectively from power plants to end users via fewer connections.

Con Rd, Metro North duck blame

Bridgeport -- The presidents of Consolidated Edison and Metro-North took turns at a congressional field hearing Monday expressing regret and dodging blame for the power outage that disrupted the nation’s busiest rail corridor for 12 days, inconveniencing more than 100,000 commuters and costing the Connecticut economy an estimated $62 million.Craig Ivey, the president of the power company, refused to accept financial responsibility for the outage, saying Con Ed had no plans to reimburse Metro-North for refunds the regional public rail company paid to commuters during the outage. He called the outage a result of joint actions by his company and the railroad.The outage cost Metro-North between $8 million and $12 million in lost ticket sales, refunds and emergency busing and other costs, said Howard Permut, the president of MTA Metro-North.Both chief executives acknowledged having no contingency plan for such an outage, forcing the utility and railroad to quickly invent ways to partially restore power and provide alternative diesel train and bus service.

October 28, 2013

CT Construction Digest October 28, 2013

Westport Weston Family Y shows off construction progress

What began as a dream is becoming real.
Nearly 75 people on Saturday toured what will one day be the Bedford Family Center -- the new home of the Westport Weston Family Y on the 32-acre Mahackeno campus in northern section of town.While the building is still far from finished, Erik Melingonis, superintendent with Turner Construction, was able to lead a tour through the areas of the structure that will house the pool, locker rooms and lobby.If construction continues on schedule, Y officials hope to move from their longtime downtown home in late 2014, making way for the new Bedford Square complex of commercial and residential space."The last three weeks have been a big change," he said. "We're looking to be substantially completed by the summer," for phase one, encompassing 52,000 square feet of what long-range planners hope someday will be a 102,000-square-foot complex."Right now, we're around 70 workers," Melingonis said. "Over the last month it's ramped up from 40," with specialists focusing on electrical, plumbing, duct work and the exterior walls.

Faster CT-to-NYC trains face stumbling blocks

NEWINGTON, Conn. (AP) — Many of Connecticut's shoreline commuters would love a faster trip to New York City, but aging railroad bridges and a backlog of transportation projects pose a pricey stumbling block of at least $3 billion.Both politicians and a Fairfield County business group argue that such an investment is worthwhile because faster trains between the two states would improve the region's traffic flow and Connecticut's economy. A recent 12-day disruption along Metro-North Railroad's New Haven Line caused a $62 million drop in the gross state product, a measurement of economic output."This is the life blood of the economy here," said Joseph McGee, vice president of public policy for the Business Council of Fairfield County.McGee has advocated the "30-30-30" plan, which calls for 30-minute rail trips between Hartford and New Haven, New Haven and Stamford, and Stamford to Grand Central Terminal in New York. He contends faster speeds on the New Jersey Transit commuter rail line gave an economic boost to northern New Jersey. Connecticut legislators included $200,000 in the state budget to study the plan.Democratic state Sen. Toni Harp recently proposed an hourlong ride from New Haven to New York as part of her economic development plan in a bid for mayor of New Haven. The trip currently takes about two hours.

BRIDGEPORT -- The state Public Utilities Regulatory Authority this week approved a plan for UIL Holdings, parent company for United Illuminating, to install solar panels on nine acres at the old city landfill in Seaside Park, paving the way for the latest of Mayor Bill Finch's "green" initiatives.
"That's going to change the image of the city of Bridgeport," the mayor said, when making the announcement about the solar park at Captain's Cove. "I know it's been a long crawl to get here, but we made it."The plan for the solar panels -- likely about 1,000 of them, the mayor estimated -- has been in the works for nearly three years. The panels would produce 5 megawatts of power.
The landfill is separated from Captain's Cove by Cedar Creek and has been unused for decades, except for a few years in which Connecticut Community Boating ran its program out of the facility.
Early estimates place the project's cost at between $25 million and $30 million, said Tony Marone, senior vice president of customer and business services for UIL Holdings, which is funding the installation of the solar panels.Finch said UIL would likely make payments-in-lieu of taxes for use of the landfill, which would go from tax-exempt park space to a new revenue-generating property.
Finch said it was too early to determine the amount of that payment, but cautioned it can't be too high if the project is to be viable.Plans for the renewable energy park also include installing two fuel cell units at the landfill, each producing about 2 megawatts of power. Although officials said a company has not been chosen to install those, representatives from Danbury-based FuelCell Energy were at Thursday's announcement.

Construction on Boys and Girls Club underway

BRISTOL — Construction is getting underway on the new Bristol Boys & Girls Club and Family Center on West Street.Carpenter Construction recently erected a chain link fence around the lot where the $11 million club will stand and began moving in equipment to knock down an old triple-decker house that has to come down.Michael Suchopar, the club’s director, said demolition of the house should take place soon.Both mayoral candidates, Democrat Chris Wilson and Republican Ken Cockayne, said they’re glad to see the project underway.

Meriden HUB project comes in under budget

MERIDEN — Bids on the $13.5 million Hub redevelopment project came in under budget Friday, allowing work to transform the downtown parcel into a park to begin next month.
Eight companies submitted bids, with Meriden-based LaRosa Construction as the apparent low bidder. LaRosa submitted a base bid of $8,931,014. Though the city has secured all of the funds for the project, the State Bond Commission is yet to release $3.15 million. Because of that, three aspects of the project had to be bid as alternate pieces of work and will be added when the commission approves the funding. LaRosa’s bid on alternate pieces totaled $4,304,371 with a total bid of $13,235,385.City Manager Lawrence J. Kendzior said he was pleased the bids came in under budget
Infinity Music Hall & Bistro’s space at downtown Hartford’s Front Street looked nothing like an entertainment venue this week: backhoes and payloaders were carving out a space where concert-goers will eventually sit.But Dan Hincks, Infinity Hall’s founder, is thinking way beyond the construction equipment, and is giving a first look at renderings for what could become the nucleus of the Front Street entertainment district.Hincks told me the intent is to create a warm, inviting atmosphere with plenty of wood, for which Infinity Hall’s first location in Norfolk is known. But he said don’t expect an exact copy, either.“It would be a mistake to try to recreate an 1883 building in a brand new structure,” Hincks said.Those attending The Big Mo’ tonight — the annual fundraising event that supports Riverfront Recapture — got a sneak peek at the renderings for the $5.2 million project, which includes $1.3 million in state funding. The Big Mo’ (Mo is for momentum) was held in the space that will eventually house Infinity Hall.

Construction adds 20,000 jobs in September

Construction employment rose by 20,000 in September and the industry’s unemployment rate fell to a six-year low of 8.5 percent, while construction spending increased for the fifth consecutive month in August, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials cautioned that the data does not address any potential impacts from the recent federal government shutdown.“Both of these reports show the industry was doing relatively well before the federal government shutdown forced many firms to hit the pause button,” said Ken Simonson, the association’s chief economist. “But the shutdown likely disrupted a wide variety of projects and may have caused private investors and developers to delay decisions about new projects or plant expansions. As a result, future spending and hiring gains may be weaker.”Construction employment totaled 5.8 million in September, a gain of 20,000 from the August tally, which was revised up by 8,000 from the Labor Department’s initial estimate. The September figure is 3.4 percent higher than in September 2012, while aggregate weekly hours of all construction employees rose 4.2 percent over the year, indicating that companies are adding to existing workers’ hours in addition to hiring new employees. Employment climbed for the month and year in both residential and nonresidential construction.

October 25, 2013

CT Construction Digest October 25, 2013

Contractors sued for Southbury bid rigging

SOUTHBURY -- The state is accusing three private contractors who have plowed Southbury's roads for years of engaging in an illegal boycott and colluding to raise their prices ahead of a crippling early season snowstorm in 2011.In a 26-page lawsuit expected to be filed in state Superior Court in Hartford, Attorney General George Jepsen claims executives of the three companies strong-armed town officials into paying them a higher-than-normal rate to clear the roads just hours before a nor'easter struck the state on Oct. 29, 2011, then conspired afterward to rig bids for plow service for the rest of the winter season."This complaint alleges that the defendants put the town in a no-win situation: Agree to our demand to award us the work on our terms or face the likelihood that a significant swath of town roads would be impassable," Jepsen said.Named as defendants in the action, which was brought under Connecticut's anti-trust and unfair trade practices acts, are H.I. Stone & Son Inc., S&S Paving and Stone Construction, all of Southbury, and their heads, Chuck Stone, Kevin Starchak and George Stone Jr., respectively.

Officials celebrate improvement projects at Meriden's City Park

MERIDEN — With construction already underway, by the end of the year City Park should have a skating rink, basketball court, volleyball court and walking paths. On a crisp Tuesday morning, elected officials and community members gathered under the trees at the Bunker Avenue park to celebrate the changes with a groundbreaking ceremony. With leaves rustling under their feet, officials talked about the long process to develop plans and find funding for park improvements. Mayor Michael S. Rohde led the celebration. “This is a great community park,” Rohde said, mentioning that many people present had grown up with the park and remember when there was much more available. It once had a fountain and pond, a bandshell, a pavilion and other courts for recreation. Due to fires, flooding, vandalism and construction of Interstate 691, the park offered less and less as its size was reduced. “We’re bringing it back,” Rohde said. “We’re making it happen. It’s a great spot for neighbors to join together.”State Sen. Dante Bartolomeo asked the crowd if anyone remembered when the conversations about City Park started. With no one piping up, Bartolomeo said it was September 2009. Members of the City Park and Brookside Park Neighborhood Association got involved as well as the Mount Hebron Baptist Church. “It began as a conversation,” Bartolomeo said. “It was a meeting with 10 of us.”

Burns&McDonnell expands Maine operation

October 24, 2013

CT Construction Digest October 24, 2013

Moutinho's Mark IV sues town of Trumbull

TRUMBULL -- Embattled contractor Manuel "Manny" Moutinho, whose Mark IV Construction Co. allegedly botched one town sewer project and whose dealings are the subject of an FBI probe, is suing the Town of Trumbull on another sewer contract.Moutinho's Bridgeport-based company, which has a reputation for low-ball bidding and then jacking up prices through change orders, is suing Trumbull for breach of contract. Mark IV claims the town is responsible for breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing, lost profits, meddling with its work and unjust enrichment for failing to pay millions owed to the business.The suit claims it was Trumbull, not Mark IV workers, who have delayed completion of the North Nichols sewer construction project by withholding information on subsurface conditions that could have been anticipated when Moutinho submitted its winning $24.9 million bid.

Financing plan for Depot Square in the works

BRISTOL — The moment of truth is near for the long-awaited Depot Square project of a Long Island-based developer chosen to turn the former downtown mall site into a thriving urban neighborhood.
“The next couple of weeks are pretty big for us,” said Ryan Porter, the project manager for Renaissance Downtowns.Renaissance is scheduled to meet Friday with state development and housing experts to begin to figure what, if anything, the state is willing to do to help get the project off the ground.Among the issues on the table are the possibility the state may allow some sort of financing that would rely on future tax revenue to pay some upfront costs, the construction of a parking garage and roads within the project’s boundaries.Though Porter won’t talk about financing particulars, he said Renaissance is working with a couple of Midwestern private-equity firms, Lexington Partners and more.In addition, “we have local people who want to be involved,” Porter said.The big players on the financing side are eager to find out more about what “state enhancements” might be possible before a final deal is worked out, Porter said.He said the Friday session with state officials from the departments of housing and economic development are critical because it will “tell a lot about where we’re going to go.”

Job skills gap widens at high costto U.S. economy

Four years after the Great Recession, jobs remain scarce and unemployment painfully high. Yet good jobs that do exist can go unfilled for lack of qualified workers, employers say.The best jobs – jobs that pay well with benefits – are in health care, high-tech manufacturing, social services, finance and construction. All require sophisticated training or years of school.The challenge is to find workers with the right skills, or quickly provide those skills, to nurture the economic recovery and lift the long-term unemployed out of a deepening hole. So far, that challenge is not being met. One bright spot – public and private partnerships for job retraining – offers some hope for a solution, at least anecdotally. But the commitment to an overall solution is necessary to reverse some alarming trends.Long-term joblessness was at a six-decade high in August, nearly 38 percent of all unemployed, according to the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities in Washington, D.C. The federal government defines long-term as 27 or more weeks without work.

Developer won't appeal Storrs Center hotel decision

The developer of Storrs Center near the University of Connecticut won’t appeal a decision by town of Mansfield rejecting the addition of a hotel to the project.“Obviously, we are disappointed with the decision,” Howard Kaufman, managing member of developer LeylandAlliance, told me today. “We proposed the hotel because we felt it would be a great addition to Storrs Center and the new downtown mixed-use neighborhood we are creating.”He added: “In any event, we will not appeal. It is time for us to move on — we know we can develop a new plan that will be a positive addition to the new downtown.”LeylandAlliance had asked the town to change the zoning for Storrs Center to allow a hotel, not previously permitted. The planning and zoning commission earlier this week voted 6-3 against the request.Two nearby hotels operators — the Nathan Hale Inn & Conference Center and the Best Western — opposed the zoning change. They argued that it would further slicea hotel market that is already thin and one can fluctuate significantly depending on the season.

October 23, 2013

CT Construction Digest October 23, 2013

Letters fly over Trumbul-AFB contract

A war of words over alleged overcharges for renovations at Trumbull High School is escalating into exchanges of attorneys' letters, in which town officials claim AFB Construction Management has been overpaid by hundreds of thousands of dollars.According to copies of letters obtained by Hearst Connecticut Newspapers under the state Freedom of Information Act, lawyers for AFB Construction -- the politically connected firm owned by Al Barbarotta -- have complained that payments on invoices totaling $45,000 for school work performed in June, July and August are being withheld by the Trumbull High School Building Committee."I am informed, and minutes of the Building Committee confirm, that these invoices were unanimously approved for payment at a public meeting," wrote Edward R. Scofield, of the Bridgeport law firm Zeldes, Needle & Cooper, which represents Barbarotta and AFB Construction.

Developer floating reveamped boatyard pact with city

Building and Land Technology could resubmit a controversial license agreement for review to Stamford land use officials within days, resuming an effort to move forward with a plan to build a headquarters for one of the world’s largest hedge funds on Stamford’s west harbor, a lawyer for the Stamford based developer said Monday.“I expect it will be submitted to the Planning Board in the next few days,” John Freeman, general counsel and spokesman for BLT said Tuesday. “At this point, I don’t know when it will appear on their agenda.”At the end of September BLT withdrew a proposed pact with the administration of Mayor Michael Pavia that would have exchanged $5 million in public improvements for development rights to 2.4 acres of land to build a six acre “green” marina facility at 205 Magee Avenue.The developer needs approval of a boatyard plan to begin land use review of its application to build a $750 million, 850,000 square foot headquarters for Bridgewater Associates on the former site of Brewer’s Yacht Haven West on Bateman Way that the developer demolished without zoning board approval in late 2011. Since then the site has been closed by the developer, who has been prohibited by a cease and desist order from proceeding with any site work by a cease and desist order except for environmental site remediation.

Officials celebrate improvement projects at Meriden's City Park

MERIDEN — With construction already underway, by the end of the year City Park should have a skating rink, basketball court, volleyball court and walking paths. On a crisp Tuesday morning, elected officials and community members gathered under the trees at the Bunker Avenue park to celebrate the changes with a groundbreaking ceremony. With leaves rustling under their feet, officials talked about the long process to develop plans and find funding for park improvements. Mayor Michael S. Rohde led the celebration. “This is a great community park,” Rohde said, mentioning that many people present had grown up with the park and remember when there was much more available. It once had a fountain and pond, a bandshell, a pavilion and other courts for recreation. Due to fires, flooding, vandalism and construction of Interstate 691, the park offered less and less as its size was reduced. “We’re bringing it back,” Rohde said. “We’re making it happen. It’s a great spot for neighbors to join together.”State Sen. Dante Bartolomeo asked the crowd if anyone remembered when the conversations about City Park started. With no one piping up, Bartolomeo said it was September 2009. Members of the City Park and Brookside Park Neighborhood Association got involved as well as the Mount Hebron Baptist Church.

Danielson mill plan moves forward

DANIELSON - A Killingly commission this week gave its approval for the construction of 32 mixed-use apartments inside a vacant Danielson mill. The Planning & Zoning Commission on Monday approved an application from The Women's Institute for Affordable Housing and United Services, Inc. aimed at demolishing the bulk of the dilapidated Powdrell & Alexander Mill at 42 Maple St. The 145-year-old structure was sold a group of New York investors more than three years ago, though no work has since been done at the property. Uncollected back taxes and the cost of maintaining the structure's integrity — at the town's expense — have built-up since the sale.As of today, the owners have racked up roughly $43,000 in town and borough back taxes. In addition, they are liable for fencing and demolition costs the town incurred while attempting to keep the property safe — according to state law, the town is responsible for ensuring the mill does not pose a public safety hazard.

Foreclosure sale imminent for Plainfield Biomass

The Virginia financer of a 37.5 megawatt Plainfield biomass power plant has agreed to buy the facility out of foreclosure, after the original New Jersey-based owner failed to finish construction.
Leidos Holdings of Virginia announced its agreement with New Jersey-based Enova Energy Group for a consensual foreclosure where Leidos will assume ownership of the plant by the end of the year, pending government approvals.Leidos was a secure lender on the project along with Science Applications Corp. and Carlyle Energy Mezzanine Opportunities Group, providing the financing necessary for the $225 million construction.

Windsor approves Amazon tax abatements

WINDSOR —The town council voted 8-1 to provide online retailer Amazon with a 60 percent tax abatement over five years and a 50 percent reduction in building permit fees for its proposed $50 million, 1.5 million-square-foot facility on Day Hill Road.The abatement package and fee reduction, adopted late Monday, will save the company about $3.9 million over five years, while the town will receive about $6.2 million in taxes and permit fees.The vote ends a three-month saga of about whether Amazon would come to town. The company and the town traded proposals for tax abatement packages. One elected official advocated that the town require companies getting tax abatements to hire local workers for construction and permanent distribution center jobs and pay them above-average wages."I think a lot of the energy expended can now be redirected towards Amazon's commitment to local hiring, and now we can focus on more pressing issues," Mayor Donald Trinks said Tuesday.

Groundbreaking for senior community

On Tuesday, Oct. 29th, LCB Senior Living, LLC will hold a groundbreaking for its new Independent, Assisted and Memory Care residence for seniors located at 200 Deming Street in South Windsor. The ceremony will celebrate this project, which will create more than 70 permanent jobs ($1.8m annual payroll), more than 50 construction jobs, and will be one of the largest employers in the area.
The Residence at South Windsor Farms will include 80 apartments, and a host of amenities for residents.Ground breaking will take place Tuesday, Oct. 29th at 11 a.m. at 200 Deming Street, South Windsor. Scheduled speakers are State Senator Gary LeBeau, State Representative Bill Amen, Mayor Thomas Delnicki, Chamber of Commerce President Julie Lapp.

October 22, 2013

CT Construction Digest October 22, 2013

Bethel project will realign roads

BETHEL -- Town officials will go out to bid soon on a project that will realign Plumtrees Road at the corner of Whittlesey and Walnut Hill roads.This improvement has been in the planning and permitting stages for nearly a decade and a half. The goal is to begin construction in 2014.
The project will realign Whittlesey, Plumtrees and Walnut Hill into a standard four-way intersection, which will decrease the rush hour traffic backups caused by the current "dog leg" bridge configuration. Construction will probably last two years, but it is not expected to create major traffic problems because the majority of work will occur adjacent to the current roadway, without the need for major closures.

Demolition set to begin this week

NEWTOWN -- The Public Building and Site Commission will meet Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Reed Intermediate School.The agenda includes discussion of the progress of demolition and construction plans at Sandy Hook Elementary School, 12 Dickinson Drive. Demolition is currently scheduled to begin Friday.

Employees involved with Meriden school renovations receive awards

 MERIDEN — The woman overseeing the $107.5 million renovation project at Maloney High School for construction manager Gilbane Inc. has been named the project manager of the year by a state organization.Karrie Kratz, a senior project manager, received the award Thursday night at an event held by the Associated General Contractors of Connecticut at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. The runner-up to Kratz was Mark Gionfriddo, a project manager with Plainville-based Manafort, a firm working on the Maloney project.“It’s definitely a positive for the project and for the city,” Kratz said, Friday. “I was kind of floored that they selected me.”

IBEW seeks to organize at Millstone

Waterford — The International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers is seeking to unionize operators, mechanics and maintenance workers at the Millstone Power Station. John Fernandes, business manager with IBEW Local 457, headquartered in Berlin, said Monday that the organizing effort began this spring, prompted by worker dissatisfaction over benefit cuts and inequities in pay rates different workers receive for the same jobs. A previous effort by IBEW to organize about 10 years ago failed to win a majority during an worker election.IBEW, which also represents workers at Connecticut Light & Power, would like to unionize about 350 of the approximately 1,100 Millstone staff members employed by plant owner Dominion, the “working men and women” rather than the administrators, managers and engineers, Fernandes said. In a case pending with the National Labor Relations Board, Dominion has argued that if a union election is held, it should involve a larger group of employees.

New London's Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School to get a new roof

New London - The City Council approved a $6.2 million bond package Monday night to install a new roof and solar panels on Bennie Dover Jackson Middle School.No taxpayer money will be needed because the state will reimburse the city 78 percent of the costs, and cuts to electric bills will save thousands of dollars a year, according to a report by the Capital Region Education Council.
The report states that over the course of 20 years, the city will save around $2.4 million in electricity, which will offset the financing costs for the loan. After six years, the city will start saving thousands of dollars in reduced electric bills, The city has a contract with CREC to oversee the project.
The bonding package includes $3.5 million for the roof that covers the sprawling middle school complex and includes the Central Office. About $1.8 million will be spent on the solar panels, also called a solar photovoltaic system. Another $350,000 will go toward new energy efficiency lighting in the building. The project will include evaluating, planning, designing, constructing, repairing and modifying the roof.

 Busway pushing bioscience development proposal

Visible signs of progress are popping up all over the $567 million CTfastrak rapid transit route, and cities along the thoroughfare are prepping their economic development plans in anticipation of the opening.CTfastrak, formerly the Hartford-New Britain Busway, is on schedule for an early 2015 finish date, and the route has bridge, paving, and station work well underway along the 9.4-mile path.
City and town planners are trying to figure out how they can leverage the new transit line to spur economic development.Newington, with two busway stops, is planning a bioscience facility and a transit-oriented complex, said Andrew Brecher, Newington economic development director.
Next to its Cedar Street station, Newington has acquired the four-acre, blighted National Welding site and obtained a $2 million state grant for the demolition of the building.
Newington is strongly considering a bioscience facility for the site to leverage the bioscience plans for UConn Health Center in Farmington, Brecher said."There has been a great deal of developer interest," said Brecher.

CT Science Center resolves $10M roof lawsuit

The Connecticut Science Center in downtown Hartford has quietly resolved a four-year, $10 million lawsuit with a New Haven architectural firm over the design and construction of the building, particularly the infamous magic carpet roof."We are happy to have that all resolved, and it allows us to move forward," said Matt Fleury, science center president and CEO.The science center sued Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects of New Haven in 2009, saying the final design plans submitted for the $165 million construction project were inadequate, which delayed the building's opening 18 months to June 2009.A key issue was the high-profile magic carpet roof — the building's signature contribution to the Hartford skyline — which was sagging significantly when first installed, forcing it to be removed so supports could be put in place. Other problems mentioned in the lawsuit included inadequate design of the wind girts, which hold the walls in place, necessitating a significant redesign and refabrication of the girts.

Hartford's second housing wave needs long-term plan

Downtown Hartford is currently in the second act of its state induced housing boom. The first time around it was led by Gov. John Rowland and the Capital City Economic Development Authority.
In this very different act, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy created the Capital Region Development Authority, and with millions of dollars in hand, CRDA has been investing in the necessary housing projects, while beginning to plan for the long term, something the Six Pillars project did not do.
This is the quiet before the construction storm, and a good time to start thinking about the long term.
Downtown housing is not a new idea, here or elsewhere. It is now a tried and true practice that has been shown to work regionally (New Haven) and nationally (Los Angeles).These success stories reveal that housing, when paired with city planning and development efforts such as iQuilt, will attract residents, retail and office uses. This is the game plan, but the plan has to get past the realities of Connecticut and its Capital City. As Mike Tyson once said, everyone has a plan until they take their first punch. Issues here include a need for leadership and good old-fashioned politics.

Dozens turn out in Windsor to support Amazon tax-breaks

WINDSOR — The sidewalk leading to council chambers of town hall was lined with union supporters Monday holding placards and banners supporting tax breaks for Amazon, which the demonstrators said would create jobs.The council chambers were also packed with nearly 100 union supporters and others in favor of offering a tax abatement package without conditions to Amazon, the giant online retailer that is interested in building a $50 million, 1.5 million-square-foot distribution facility on Day Hill Road.More than 24 speakers on both sides of the issue voiced their opinions, with a majority expressing the view that Amazon, which has committed to creating 380 full-time jobs with medical and dental benefits, be given a tax abatement and reduced building permit fees without being forced to hire a specific percentage of union workers.

Upgrades to Middletown Veterans park approved by committee

MIDDLETOWN — A renovated Veterans Memorial Park could include a dog park, an upgraded public pool, more picnic areas, a new playscape and two features honoring veterans.
The Veterans Memorial Park Renovation Committee on Wednesday approved a final draft of its recommendations for a park overhaul. The report is scheduled to be considered by the common council at its Nov. 4 meeting.The additions include a Connecticut Trees of Honor Memorial, in honor of the state's 64 soldiers killed in Iraq and Afghanistan since 2001. It also would include the Greater Middletown Military Museum, which has a collection of local military artifacts and literature.

New Haven submits development agreement for coliseum site

NEW HAVEN >> The city announced Monday it has submitted the development and land disposition agreement to redevelop the former Coliseum site to the Board of Aldermen for their consideration, according to a press release.“The agreement submitted to the Board of Alderman represents the culmination of over two years of work engaging city and state leaders and – more importantly – the residents of New Haven,” said Mayor John DeStefano, Jr. in a statement.
The development agreement was done in partnership with Live Work Learn Play, based in Montreal, who were selected as the preferred developer for the project in 2011.   


October 21, 2013

CT Construction Digest October 21, 2013

Demolition begins on burned out Manchester building

MANCHESTER — Demolition of a burned out Main Street building began on Friday evening and is expected to be finished on Saturday.Workers were scheduled to start razing 801-809 Main St. early on Friday, but the contractor did not have the necessary higher level demolition license, town officials said. BriCo Environmental Services Solutions had to bring in a subcontractor with the right equipment and credentialed personnel, officials said.Fire Chief Robert Bycholski said the subcontractor stopped work on Friday night and planned to finish the job on Saturday. He said the demolition and debris removal may affect traffic on Main Street at times.The fire broke out on Oct. 12 and destroyed the 1905 building, which housed two businesses and eight residents in a rooming house. The fire was not considered suspicious, but no cause has been found, fire officials said on Friday.

A makeover for the village

SOUTHBURY — Heritage Village just turned 46, and to celebrate the community is making some big capital improvements.Workers have knocked down trees and excavated a 1-acre site known as the "Triangulum" behind the Activities Building to make room for two tennis courts that will be constructed in the spring.A few steps to the south, the Lodge building on Meeting House Pond is being renovated into a social center with rooms for card playing, billiards, table tennis, TV watching and relaxing with friends.The improvements are being paid for with money the community collects from condominium buyers.Everyone who buys a unit has to pay $1,200. The money is put into an account, and used to improve or replace the village's social and recreational facilities.
Fran Owen, president of the Heritage Village Master Association, said the community is constantly striving to improve its amenities for its residents and potential buyers."We're 46 years old. You have to move forward," she said. "My whole thing is if you don't move forward you move backward."The Planning Commission approved the tennis court proposal as part of a larger plan to build recreational facilities in the space near the Activities Building.
The project, known as the Recreation Park, eventually may include boccie courts, a putting green, a croquet lawn, a horseshoe pit and shuffleboard courts.

Neighbors nix plan for natural gas station in Killingly

KILLINGLY — An appeal filed by a group of Killingly residents — including a state representative — has scuttled a plan to construct a natural gas station near the town’s industrial park, a deal that would have netted the town tens of thousands of dollars.Representatives of the Utah-based Questar Fueling Company announced late last month that they have withdrawn their application for a subdivision change and special permit for property located at the corner of Lake Road and Alexander Parkway. The company in July received Town Council approval to purchase Killingly industrial park land for a planned public compressed natural gas, or CNG, fueling station.Questar, a Salt Lake City, Utah, subsidiary of the Questar Corporation, had agreed to pay $90,000 to build a three-pump CNG station on about two acres at 57 Alexander Parkway. The company also planned to buy another two acres from a private landowner for the station to supply CNG to drivers. The station would have consisted of six compression cylinders, with a total capacity of 300 gallons, used to funnel fuel to three pumps

October 18, 2013

CT Construction Digest October 18, 2013

On the road: Selectman back Kings Highway upgrades

A $1.2 million project, funded almost entirely by a state grant, would add sidewalks, bike paths and bicycle racks on a stretch of Kings Highway from Chambers Street to Brentwood Avenue.
The Board of Selectmen on Wednesday authorized First Selectman Michael Tetreau to accept the grant, though the request from Town Engineer Bill Hurley and Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart hit a brief roadblock during the meeting.It wasn't the project itself that had the selectmen hitting the brakes, but the fact that no bond resolution accompanied the request. The grant requires that the town first spend its money and then be reimbursed.The money has been accounted for in the town's capital projects spending plan, and Chief Fiscal Officer Robert Mayer said it wasn't necessary to have a bond resolution at this point. He said the $1.2 million would be included in the annual capital projects bonding package next year.

New Canaan YMCA unveils plans for big expansion

The New Canaan YMCA is preparing to submit plans for a major rebuilding at its South Avenue facility.The organization plans to add 13,000 square feet to the building, a 29 percent increase, by replacing its pools and locker rooms and reorganizing other spaces for basketball, yoga, child care and wellness."The board decided several years ago to address the second half of the building, which has failing parts of it and failing infrastructure," YMCA Executive Director Craig Panzano said.
The two pools at the YMCA were built in 1964 and 1977, and the locker rooms have consistently been a top priority among members for improvements, he said."In order to bring it up to standard, it's a little bigger, but within town regulations and setbacks," Panzano said of the expanded building.

CCSU relinquishes over 17 acres of land to help further Costco deal

NEW BRITAIN — One of the final pieces to the complicated Costco puzzle has finally fallen into place.The governing body of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities system voted unanimously Thursday to turn 17¾ acres of land along the Ella Grasso Boulevard that belongs to Central Connecticut State University over to the state Department of Transportation.As a result of Thursday’s decision, Costco is getting closer to breaking ground on its new store on Hartford Road.
Mayor Timothy O’Brien said it looks like closing on the Costco property deal will now take place in either November or December.“Costco doesn’t want to do any work until they actually have possession of the property,” O’Brien said. “After they take possession, they’ll be ready to go.”
Although the particular tract involved in Thursday’s manuever will never be touched by the wholesale giant, it ties directly into the Costco deal. Because the proposed Costco facility will consume a portion of Stanley Golf Course, the city is looking to replace that land, and the links it is losing.It will be able to do so when the DOT transfers approximately 15½ acres adjacent to the golf course to the city in exchange for 68 acres of land and 23 acres of conservation land elsewhere.
But, because the land the DOT will give the city has been tagged with “preservation” status under an Army Corps of Engineers permit, it must be replaced with land coming from the same watershed. The CCSU property along the Ella Grasso Boulevard fulfills that requirement.

After failed referendum, Colchester pumps brakes on building project

COLCHESTER — The task before Colchester leaders looking at how to proceed with improvements to the town’s middle school and senior and youth centers is threefold.They’re aiming to get feedback from residents in the wake of a failed $57 million proposal to renovate William J. Johnston Middle School and build a new senior center and community facility.Secondly, the middle school has immediate maintenance needs that require attention — and funding. And officials have to decide the future of the Building Committee that formed and guided the rejected plan.Members of the boards of Selectmen, Education and Finance met Wednesday night and decided on taking a slower approach and getting more input from residents. They’ve decided against trying to put a new referendum question before voters by next May to make a June 30 state deadline for reimbursement funds for school construction projects.

Flatbush Ave. bridge opens Friday

A newly constructed West Hartford bridge that will carry Flatbush Avenue traffic over the Amtrak rails will open Friday, transportation officials said.The four-lane bridge, 1,100-foot span, which has a pedestrian walkway, cost $23.1 million. The project also included a realignment and reconstruction of the intersections at New Park Avenue and Flatbush Avenue and at Newfield Avenue and Flatbush Avenue.

Rocky Hill board OK's River Edge permit

ROCKY HILL – The planning and zoning commission has given the go-ahead to River's Edge, the multi-use project planned for the long-blighted former foundry property along the bank of the Connecticut River.By unanimous vote, the commission Wednesday night agreed to issue a special use permit, and approve a site plan for the developers, Riverfront Future Partners, headed by New York real estate magnate Lenard Thylan.The decision came one week after the open space and conservation commission agreed to issue a five-year wetlands permit to the developers.Like the wetlands commission, the town planners held an extensive public hearing on the project, with four sessions continuing from June through September.

October 17, 2013

CT Construction Digest October 17, 2013

Aid on the way for demolition of Berlin's old industrial building

BERLIN — Nearly $900,000 is headed the town’s way to aid in the demolition and remediation of an old industrial building located near the proposed new police station.The money will come to the town via two brownfields grants.The Town Council has authorized Town Manager Denise McNair to enter into the grant agreement with the state Department of Economic and Community Development.
Mayor Adam Salina said the grants were secured by the town last year, but due to a delay in their execution, the council had to reaffirm the resolutions.
LITCHFIELD — Construction of a long-awaited new dam on the Bantam River outlet is one step closer to beginning after the Board of Selectmen on Tuesday endorsed an intermunicipal agreement dictating how Litchfield and Morris would manage the dam.The board's nod came one day after the Bantam Lake Authority, which operates the rudimentary dam the new dam would replace, voted to support the agreement. 
OXFORD — A Seymour-based company is proposing to use a temporary crusher to help redevelop a quarry off Route 67.Oxford Town Center at 32D Progress Lane, has filed an application for a special exception excavation permit before the Planning and Zoning Commission for a temporary crusher to perform major excavations on five different parcels on Oxford Road and one on Echo Valley Road, said Anna Rycenga, zoning enforcement official.

October 16, 2013

CT Construction Digest Octobrt 16, 2013

Platt renovation project beaks ground

MERIDEN — City, state and school officials stood under a tent on the front lawn of Platt High School touting the team effort it took to get to Tuesday’s groundbreaking ceremony. The team, which also consisted of Platt staff, students, and others, even brought a cheerleading squad of state Rep. Hilda Santiago, D-Meriden, and City Councilor Cathy Battista who wielded pom-poms and led the crowd in a cheer.“When we were graduating in 1968 we were complaining about the school, so to me it’s bittersweet and it’s awesome,” Battista told the crowd, sporting a Platt letterman’s jacket and tassels of the school colors in her hair.The event was a celebratory ceremony for the $111.8 million renovation the school is about to undergo. The area at the corner of Oregon Road and Coe Avenue has already been fenced off in preparation. Across the street in a lot that was formerly the skate park, another area has been fenced off as a staging area for construction crews. Project plans, similar to those at Maloney High School, call for renovated “like new” interiors and exteriors and a new wing that will include a library, cafeteria, and other features. The Platt project is expected to take four years and has been designed by Antinozzi Associates. O&G Industries, a Torrington-based firm, is the construction manager.Though the need for renovations were questioned by some, state Sen. Dante Bartolomeo spoke about the importance of the project.

Dominion facility's site plan approved

NORWICH — Dominion Nuclear on Tuesday cleared a final administrative hurdle in its bid to construct a 15,000-square-foot emergency operations center in Norwich’s business park.
The Commission on the City Plan unanimously approved site plans for the $10 million project, which will serve as the permanent command center for Millstone Nuclear Power Station in Waterford. Company officials say the complex should be functioning by the end of 2014. Approval of the plan was widely expected, after Norwich Community Development Corporation and city officials lauded Dominion’s announcement in late August to subdivide property on 24 Stott Ave. owned by Easter Seals Capital Region and Eastern Connecticut.“Normal use would be very minimal,” Tom Bransfield, a Dominion project manager, told the commission Tuesday night. He said the company will run “quarterly drills” that will drive up the building’s occupancy for “a day or two” each time.In addition to serving as Millstone’s emergency response center, the site will be used for training, equipment storage and limited administrative functions. There will be no radioactive materials on site.

Construction Institute to hold its State of the State

The Construction Institute will hold its 19th annual State of the State public construction market outlook at 8:30 a.m. Friday at the Pratt & Whitney campus in East HartfordThe event features industry and public officials speaking to the upcoming contracts expected from the Connecticut, municipal, and federal governments in the coming years.This year's event features officials from West Hartford, the state Department of Administrative Services, the Department of Construction Services, the state Department of Transportation, the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection, UConn, UConn Health Center, and the MDC.
For information, visit www.construction.org.

Union, Local jobs the focus at hearing on Amazon tax break request

WINDSOR — Amazon's request for tax incentives on its proposed 1.5 million square-foot distribution center on Day Hill Road went before the town council's finance committee Tuesday for public comment and questions from town officials.The committee is recommending that the request be placed on the agenda for the council's Monday night meeting.Much of the comment on Tuesday night centered on whether the online giant should commit to hiring a minimum number of in-state and local union workers for construction, as well as Windsor residents for the 380 permanent jobs they promise to create.
Developers are moving forward with a plan to convert a former cigar company warehouse into an apartment complex that they say will retain much of the building's historic features while integrating with the residential neighborhood along Hubbard Street.L.A.C. Group LLC is looking to turn the former Consolidated Cigar Corp. warehouse at 38 Hubbard St. into 40 one-bedroom and two-bedroom apartment units. The developers are "substantially reusing the entire building," said the group's attorney, Peter Alter."This historic structure and historic footprint will be retained almost in its entirety," Alter said, noting that the 53,000-square-foot warehouse has wood ceilings and post-and-beam construction. "We want to pay homage to the historical architectural features that are worth preserving."


October 15, 2013

CT Construction Digest October 15, 2013

Past and future $118M project will reshape Meriden's Platt High School

MERIDEN — It was long debated whether or not the city should have just one high school back in the 1950s, just as it was in more recent times. Dealing with exploding enrollment figures, officials examined different sites, weighed their options and agreed two schools would be needed on the outskirts of the city to accommodate the population that was spreading from border to border in Meriden.More than 50 years later, the city’s east side high school, Maloney, is already undergoing renovations and it will be Platt High School’s turn to break ground on a massive construction project this week. Once featured in the Wall Street Journal as a “fine new building” physically, Platt today is seen as out of date and deteriorating, similar to its near-identical twin, Maloney.
The $111.8 million Platt project will reshape the school, even more so than Maloney, over the course of four years. It is the second major renovation in the school’s history, with the previous one being an addition of more than 86,000 square feet, including 18 new classrooms, additional gym space and a pool. Unlike the original construction of the school and the first major renovation, the new renovations have nothing to do with increasing enrollment.“Having worked in other high schools, it’s clear it’s time for some major improvements at both Platt and Maloney,” School Superintendent Mark D. Benigni said, commending staff for still maintaining the buildings over the years. “Some of the internal systems are so outdated that some of the work that needs to occur is not visible to students every day, but it’s critical to operation of the facility.”
The Department of Labor has arrested the president of Jarosz Welding Co., who it alleges failed to pay more than $109,000 in employees.
Andrew Jarosz owes payment to 35 employees from work completed this year and last year, officials said in an announcement today.
Labor officials also allege that Jarosz falsified payroll records on government projects.
"This is a case where our investigators worked with the employer and gave him every opportunity to pay his employees the appropriate amount for the work they had done," Sharon Palmer, the state's labor commissioner, said in a statement. "In addition to non-payment of wages, Mr. Jarosz admitted that he did not pay his employees the full prevailing wage required for several projects and submitted numerous certified payrolls that he knew to be false."
Filing a false certified payroll is a felony in Connecticut, punishable by up to five years in prison, a $5,000 fine, or both.

Expect closures, detours along Route 34 interchange to Route 8north in Derby

DERBY >> Motorists traveling along the Route 34 interchange to Route 8 north can expect lane closures and detours beginning Tuesday because of construction.
The state Department of Transportation announced that work to replace bridge deck joints at the Route 8 north on-ramps from both Route 34 east and Route 34 west will get under way. The project involves replacement of existing expansion joint systems and includes some concrete header repairs, as well, according to the DOT. Ramp closures with detours will occur between 10 p.m. and 5 a.m. Most of the construction work will take place between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.State Rep. Linda Gentile, D-Ansonia, encouraged drivers to exercise caution during this construction period, which is slated to last until November 2014.

 Torrington breaks ground on health center

TORRINGTON -- The Community Health and Wellness Center of Greater Torrington ceremoniously broke ground Monday on a $6 million expansion of its Migeon Avenue facility to increase health services to the area.Edward Arum, president of the center's board of directors, said work is underway on a 24,000-square-foot addition to the existing 10,100-square-foot brick building.

October 14, 2013

CT Constructionm Digest October 14, 2013

Hartford's landmark Travlers Tower gets a face-lift
HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) — A $30 million renovation project is restoring some of the luster to the Travelers tower, a Hartford landmark that once symbolized the city's reign as America's insurance capital.The 527-foot-tall tower was New England's tallest building when it was completed in 1919, but it has been eclipsed several times by modern skyscrapers"It was looking dirty and kind of worn out," said Andy Bessette, chief administrative officer of The Travelers Cos.The makeover involves cleaning the granite, replacing 30 miles' worth of mortar between the stones and restoring decorative moldings. The project began in 2011 after a need for extensive repairs was discovered, and it is expected to take until 2015. The light at the top has also been upgraded, so workers who once climbed up with colored blue panels to celebrate UConn basketball championships can change the color with the push of a button.A century ago, mules, pulleys and ropes were used during construction to raise the pink-hued granite blocks, which came from a quarry in Westerly, R.I. Larger blocks were used at higher levels to give the illusion from the ground that they are the same size. As workers need to repair damage on the facade, they are pulling blocks from other parts of the building where any color difference would not be as noticeable.
Workers have broken ground at the former Cos Cob power plant site, commencing what officials hope is the beginning of the end of a nearly two-decade-long push to convert the property into a park. Though the town took it over in 1987, the property, which faces Cos Cob Harbor, has languished in development limbo, bogged down in lawsuits, remediation and regulations.
But the Greenwich Department of Public Works announced last week that work has started, with the aim of completing the park and opening it to the public in a little more than a year.
"We're very excited about this," said First Selectman Peter Tesei, who has been involved in administrative dealings over the park since 2008. "It is a great step forward for the town and the adaptive reuse of an industrial property for public and environmental good."
Construction duties rest in the hands of Providence, R.I., contractors RC&D, Inc., who were awarded a town contract in June for $4,315,000, beating out two other bidders for the position. As of last week, progress remains in a mobilization phase -- moving necessary equipment to the 9.7-acre plot, some minimal site clearing, outlining plans and other preparation for when construction ramps up in the next few weeks.

Yales new president says expansion top priority

NEW HAVEN, Conn. (AP) — The new president of Yale University said one of his top priorities will be a plan to build two new residential colleges, a project that represents the largest expansion in more than 50 years.The two new colleges are the largest expansion at the Ivy League university since it began admitting women in 1969 and will allow the school to admit about 15 percent more students each year. The expansion will bring total undergraduate enrollment to about 6,100, up from 5,300.
Yale admits only a small fraction of applicants; the 1,360 members of the class of 2017 were chosen from a record applicant pool of 29,610.I think as a first priority I really want to get that project done," Peter Salovey, who is being inaugurated Sunday, said in an interview with The Associated Press. "I'm very committed to enlarging our undergraduate college. I believe quite strongly that there are talented students very deserving of a Yale college education who aren't getting in. There are many."The $500 million project received a boost this month with a $250 million gift from Charles B. Johnson, a 1954 graduate who retired last year as chairman of the board of Franklin Resources, parent company of Franklin Templeton Investments. Yale officials are hoping to start construction in February 2015 and complete the colleges by August 2017.
DANBURY -- Despite lanquishing through the great recession, development on the city's west side is now moving forward at a breakneck pace and providing significant benefits to the city's economy.
Nearly a thousand housing units, from luxury apartments to townhouses, have been built in an area known as "The Reserve," a 545-acre planned neighborhood development that hugs the New York state border along Interstate 84. Another 1,112 luxury units are planned for the section of the Reserve known as Rivington, where more than 300 units have already been built."The kind of development the city is seeing on the west side is really unprecedented," said Greater Danbury Chamber of Commerce President Stephen Bull. "There is nothing like this happening anywhere else in the state. As the development continues to grow, so will the city's economy."

Cleanup at former chemical property continues

NORTH HAVEN — The environmental remediation of the former Pharmacia and Upjohn Company site is going smoothly and soon, both tidal and inland wetlands will be created on the property that sits by the Quinnipiac River. Last week, Nick Andreopoulos, senior manager of Pfizer Global Engineering, gave an update to the Board of Selectmen.“There’s been a lot of activity since 2011, a lot of progress,” he said.

Groups want to turn vacant Danielson mill into affordable housing

KILLINGLY — A historic Danielson mill that has sat vacant for years could get a new lease on life in the form of an mixed-use affordable housing complex.

CT Water to rplace water mains in Deep River

Connecticut Water today announced that work will begin this week on a water main replacement project on Route 154 (Main Street) in Deep River that will begin near Lafayette Avenue and extend south toward Essex. Connecticut Water will begin replacing about 5,000 feet of more than the 50 year old, 10- inch water main with 16- inch ductile iron water main.
"This project will improve water system reliability and increase the capacity of the water main to deliver water to fire hydrants for public safety," stated Terrance P. O'Neill, Connecticut Water's vice president, service delivery. Mr. O'Neill added that the project is being done through the WICA (Water Infrastructure and Conservation Adjustment) program. Through WICA, customers pay a small surcharge on their bills, currently about 7.9 percent, which is used to systematically invest in replacing unreliable, undersized water mains or for conservation related projects as authorized by the Public Utilities Regulatory Authority This project will occur in two phases. The first phase will work south from the area of Lafayette Avenue toward Essex. Work will continue as long as weather permits. The remainder of the project will be completed in 2014.