December 19, 2013

CT Construction Digest December 19, 2013

Windsor's Great Pond promoter askd CT for $12M

Great Pond Village's promoter is asking Connecticut taxpayers for a $12 million loan to jump-start work on the initial phases of the planned mixed-use complex in Windsor. Massachusetts developer-landlord David Winstanley in late November personally pitched directors of the Capital Region Development Authority (CRDA) about the project's scope and the need for a "bridge'' loan to start "shovel ready'' work on roads, water-sewer lines and other infrastructure for Great Pond's first phase
That phase envisions at least 300 new apartments and some retail spaces, Great Pond's advocates say.
If CRDA accedes to Winstanley's appeal, state money channeled to Great Pond, and later repaid, could be reinvested by the quasi-public state agency into similar regional residential-commercial development projects later on, officials say. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

U.S. construction hits highest pace in 5 years

WASHINGTON >> U.S. builders broke ground on homes at the fastest pace in more than five years, strong evidence that the housing recovery is accelerating despite higher mortgage rates. The Commerce Department said Wednesday that developers began construction on houses and apartments in November at a seasonally adjusted annual rate of 1.09 million. That’s 23 percent more than October’s pace of 889,000 and the fastest since February 2008, just a few months after the recession began.Construction of single-family homes jumped 21 percent to an annual pace of 727,000, also the  highest in more than five years. Apartment construction soared 26 percent to a 354,000 annual pace. Permits for future building slipped 3 percent to just over 1 million, down from 1.04 million in October. The drop reflected a decline in apartments, which can be volatile. Permits for single-family homes rose.“Evidently, builders in the field are genuinely confident about the outlook for sales of new single-family houses, despite the rise in mortgage rates,” said Pierre Ellis, an economist at Decision Economics. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Planners approve downtown New Haven apartments

NEW HAVEN >> More than a year after it originally was approved, planners Wednesday again gave their blessing to conversion of a parking lot at Chapel and Howe to market rate apartments that incorporate two historic homes and moves a third to a new lot. Randy Salvatore of RMS will take a year to construct 136 apartments in a six-story building with ground-floor retail, most likely a restaurant facing Howe Street, with parking for 92 cars to serve a mix of one-bedroom, studios and two-bedroom units. The current uses of the five apartments at 169 Dwight St. and the three apartments at 175 Dwight St. will continue. The development spawned a fight over zoning and later a clarification of the intent of new rules aimed at densier mixed-use development.It survived a lawsuit by neighbor Susan Bradford, the co-owner and managing agent of a six-story apartment building at 78 Howe St. on the historic registry.“Everything has its pluses and minuses but it is better than it was,” Bradford said after the City Plan Commission’s unanimous vote. She was pleased that the rooftop deck has been changed to a patio and that the new construction is stepped back somewhat from the property line. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

December 18, 2013

CT Construction Digest December 18, 2013

Bond Commission approves bridge in Terryville

BRISTOL — The Connecticut Bond Commission is set to approve $222,242 Friday to repair a bridge over an unnamed brook on East Orchard Street, Terryville. The commission is scheduled for its last meeting of the year in Hartford to vote on funding for an extensive list of projects around the state.
These include special tax obligation bonds totaling $14,687,844 for bridge projects in 21 municipalities.Inclusion on the commission’s agenda for vote is typically considered a formality

Ledyard approves building projects

Ledyard — The Municipal Building Committee continued to make small strides Monday night toward the completion of two major projects: a new police facility and the renovation of Ledyard Middle School.The committee voted to finalize the interior design requirements on the $6.75 million police facility, which residents approved at the budget referendum in May based on plans by Jacunski Humes Architects. The committee voted to hire the same firm this fall, and committee Chairman Pete McIntyre said the 12,130-square-foot plan has changed very little since approval at the polls.
Bond authorization was also approved this spring, and bonding will proceed incrementally as bills for the construction begin to come in. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING
Middletown residents have concerns about West Street Bridge replacement

MIDDLETOWN — Residents who live near the West Street bridge said at a hearing Monday night they prefer a bridge replacement strategy that keeps traffic in the area moving as slowly as possible.
The state Department of Transportation plans to replace the narrow wooden bridge in 2016, and invited residents to an informational meeting on the project at city hall.
Bridge replacement is expected to cost around $3 million, and would require West Street to be closed for about nine months. The bridge was built in 1932 and carries West Street over the Providence and Worcester Railroad tracks.
The state plans to replace the bridge, currently 17 feet wide, with a bridge 37 feet wide that includes two 14-foot travel lanes and a 5-foot sidewalk on the east side. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Mayor Bloomberg announces new legislation to limit the age of crane operatoring in NYC

Mayor Bloomberg and Buildings Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri have announced new legislation to limit the age of cranes operating in New York City as part of an ongoing effort to raise the standards for crane operations citywide. The bill would prohibit mobile and tower cranes manufactured more than 25 years ago from operating in New York City. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

December 17, 2013

CT Construction Digest December 17, 2013

Covanta close to plant deal

BRISTOL — The city and Covanta are scrambling to polish off an agreement that would allow the company that runs the trash incinerator to build and operate a regional recycling operation on city-owned property next door.
“If we can work out these last couple of items, it will be a great deal for Bristol,” said Mayor Ken Cockayne. Though the mayor wouldn’t provide details, he said the agreement would last for 10 years and that its terms are “not even close” to those that city councilors and the Board of Finance declined to endorse in an earlier proposal they considered in October. Cockayne said late Monday that lawyers for both sides were poring over the proposed terms to try to hash out an agreement both sides could support. The recycling center eyed in the deal would be constructed at the city’s own transfer station on Lake Avenue. Successive special meetings of the City Council, Board of Finance and Joint Board have been scheduled today to begin at 5 p.m. and run for about 90 minutes. A regular finance board session will follow them at 6:30 p.m. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Steel goes up at Platt

MERIDEN — Construction is progressing smoothly at Platt High School despite the recent snowy weather, as crews began erecting steel at the site Monday. Work on the $111.8 million Platt renovations is on track, said project manager David Cravanzola, of construction management firm O&G Industries, while watching steel beams being set up and bolted in during the early afternoon.
“It’s been just about 60 calendar days since we began construction,” Cravanzola said. “Everybody has done a good job so far.”  Construction at Platt calls for the school to be renovated “like new,” for a new classroom and library section to be built at the corner of Oregon Road and Coe Avenue and for a classroom wing to be demolished. So far, most of the work has been focused on the new construction and the renovation of the school’s pool. Though the city received close to six inches of snow over the weekend, much of it, within the construction area, had been cleared out or pushed to the side to allow for work to continue. Unless the snow is falling hard or “whipping around,” Cravanzola said construction crews typically continue to work. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING
The funding of major and minor Connecticut transportation projects is increasingly relying on diesel fuel users — namely, truckers — who are facing higher taxes, as everyday motorists drive more efficient cars and use less regular gasoline. "The trucking industry is forced to subsidize projects that don't benefit the trucking industry," said Mike Riley, president of the Motor Transport Association of Connecticut. "What's frustrating for our members is the predictable congestion that happens every day on the roads in this state only gets worse while the funds supplied by the diesel tax are tapped to provide expensive transit subsidies." The Connecticut Department of Transportation had a capital budget of $1.8 billion in 2013 to maintain and improve the state's highways, bridges, transit system, and maritime infrastructure. Half that funding came from the federal government while the rest came from Connecticut's Special Transportation Fund. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Powell laid foundation for 2014 natural gas expansion

Rodney Powell's biggest 2013 victory came in late November.
The Public Utilities Regulatory Authority on Nov. 22 approved the $7 billion plan to add 280,000 customers to the natural gas home heating system over the next 10 years, making natural gas the heating fuel of choice in Connecticut. Powell — president of Yankee Gas, one of three utilities implementing the plan — had hoped to get the approval sometime in the second quarter with construction underway by the end of 2013. Despite the delay, having a plan in place to increase Yankee's 208,000 customer base by nearly 50 percent is enough to keep Powell smiling.
"I'm excited about what we were able to accomplish this year and even more excited about the possibilities for next year," Powell said. In 2014, Yankee will look to grow its customer base and begin expanding its 3,106 miles of pipeline in 71 Connecticut cities and towns, Powell said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Burns & McDonnell elevates two to principal

Construction services firm Burns & McDonnell, which has its New England headquarters in Wallingford, has promoted employee-owners Chris Courtright and Don Chase to principal.
Courtright, who joined the firm nine years ago, will serve as both principal and regional construction operations manager for the construction design-build division of the company's New England office. He will supervise more than 100 employees across multiple projects.
Chase, who has been with Burns for three years, is living in Calgary, where he will continue to lead a team working on a $1 billion project for electric transmission operator Altalink.

Chesire retail complex moves one step closer to final approval

CHESHIRE >> Six years after being granted the first approval needed for a sprawling retail complex near the intersection of Route 10 and Interstate 691, a Massachusetts-based commercial developer will go before the town’s Planning and Zoning Commission next month to get final approval for the project. A lot has changed since W/S Development got its first approval in early 2008, most notably a decision to remove a movie theater and housing complex that were originally part of the plan as well as shift in overall focus from the faux-downtown of a lifestyle center to an outlet complex. But Louis Masiello, a W/S Development vice president, said key elements remain from the original plan, including between six and eight restaurants and an upscale organic grocery store. “We held a scheduling session with them last week and the hearings will begin on Dec. 13th,” Masiello said of the PZC on Monday. “Between now and then, their third party experts will be going over our plans and I would assume have questions for us when the hearings begin on Jan. 13th If the plan gets the final approval, construction would start sometime during the first quarter of 2014 and finish either at the end of the year, or more likely sometime during the first quarter of 2015. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

December 16, 2013

CT Construction Digest December 16, 2013

CT fasttrack provides jobs for locals

Miles of concrete barriers, retaining walls and curbing were needed to line the New Britain to Hartford busway. Much of it was cast at United Concrete Products in Wallingford.
The Church Street concrete manufacturer was one of a half-dozen companies in the Meriden, Wallingford, Southington and Cheshire region that received contracts or supplied builders working on CTfastrack. Those contracts represented more than $13 million of the project’s total half-billion-dollar price tag. State Department of Transportation officials hope to have Fastrak, the busway that will shuttle riders between New Britain and Hartford, operational by February 2015. The 9.4-mile CTfastrak is a bus-only roadway built over an abandoned rail line.  United Concrete employs 175 people, 15 to 20 of which were hired as a result of the castings needed for the busway. Owner John Gavin said the concrete supplied totaled about $8 million and represented a major project for the company. “We’re sad to see it coming to an end,” he said. “I wish there were about 10 more of those jobs lined up.” Bridge pieces, retaining wall sections and pipes can be cast at the company’s Wallingford plants rather than poured on the jobsite. Pre-casting is faster, cheaper and produces better results according to Joe Richello, pre-cast division manager. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING
Hartford — The Southeastern Connecticut Council of Governments will receive $2.7 million from the state to fund local road improvements as part of the state's new Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program, which was passed during the 2013 legislative session. The other funding for southeastern Connecticut was for Essex, which will receive $140,107 in grants under the state's Local Bridge Program. The money is included in the $10 million in general obligation bonds and $834 million in revenue bonds approved by the State Bond Commission on Friday. Of the total $844 million, there was $45 million in grants for the state's Local Transportation Capital Improvement Program and $15 million for Connecticut's Local Bridge Program. COG will accept road improvement applications from municipalities and work with them to prioritize projects for the region. "I think it is very, very exciting for our region and for the entire state," said James S. Butler, executive director for COG. Under the new program, it will be the municipalities' responsibility to design the road improvement projects, such as reconstructing roads, building new roads or realigning intersections, as opposed to the state Department of Transportation. The hope is that the road improvement projects will move more swiftly if municipalities are in charge of the project design, Butler said. "We view the state as partners, but some of our towns have suggested that it takes too long to approve initial design and final design, and some of our towns always thought they could deliver more quickly," Butler said. "So the DOT responded in a positive way."  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING
Design work on $35 million in state-funded improvements to the aging XL Center arena can now get underway, after the State Bond Commission on Friday approved financing for the planning.
The improvements will include the construction of a new bar area inside the arena, luxury seating lower in the bowl, and other upgrades to the concourse, locker rooms and mechanical systems. Construction is expected to begin in March and be completed in October, in time for the start of the 2014 Wolf Pack and University of Connecticut hockey seasons. The Capital Region Development Authority said it was crucial to begin design work now so the bulk of the construction could be done during the slower summer months at the arena.Even as plans go forward for the improvements, city and state officials are thinking about the future of the arena beyond the next eight to 10 years that the improvements are intended to cover. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

December 13, 2013

CT Construction Digest December 13, 2013

Today's biggest drivers of natural gas demand

Natural gas is projected to be the fastest-growing major fuel over the next two decades, according to research by ExxonMobil . Not only is gas currently much cheaper than oil on an energy-equivalent basis, but it also produces significantly less greenhouse gas emissions -- a crucial advantage as global warming becomes an increasingly serious threat to the environment. Given natural gas' huge advantages over other fossil fuels, let's take a closer look at the three most important factors that will drive demand for the cleaner-burning fuel over the next several years.
Power generation  The largest single source of natural gas demand over the next few years is expected to come from utilities' power generation needs. According to projections by Enterprise Products Partners, the nation's largest midstream company, power generation will boost natural gas demand by 4 to 7 Bcfd over the next 5-7 years. Due to the combination of relatively low gas prices and higher coal prices, as well as new environmental regulations seeking to curb U.S. greenhouse gas emissions, approximately one-sixth of existing U.S. coal-fired capacity will be retired by 2020, according to the EIA. Some of the largest utility companies in the nation have already committed to retiring some of their older coal plants. For instance, the Tennessee Valley Authority earlier this year announced it would reduce coal's share of its electrical generation by about half by shuttering eight coal-fired power plants that have a combined capacity of 3,300 megawatts, while Duke Energy said it will retire five coal-fired power plants in western Indiana by 2018 as part of a settlement reached in August. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Searching for $40M downtown developer still needs funds

BRISTOL — The Long Island-based firm tasked with revitalizing downtown is still searching for the financing it needs to begin the $40 million first phase of its ambitious Depot Square plan that promises to transform the city center.
The president of Renaissance Downtowns, Don Monti, said it will be a few weeks “before we get back to rolling our sleeve up” because of the traditional slowdown around the holidays.
But, he said, he hopes to be able to report progress in coming up with “the whole capital stack” by mid-January. City officials who met with Renaissance for two hours Thursday in an occasionally heated closed-door talk in the mayor’s office said they remain optimistic that the developer will put the pieces together in time to meet the May 26 deadline for purchasing the former mall property required in the first phase of the project. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Council approves bond for new high water tank

NEW BRITAIN — The Common Council voted 15-0 during a special meeting Wednesday night to approve a $5.39 million bond authorization for costs related to the design and construction of a new 30-foot-high water storage tank at Elam Street. The current tank, city officials said, is deteriorating.
“The roof was in danger of collapsing earlier this year and we took steps to shrink-wrap it for support. But, it’s reached its life expectancy,” said Alderwoman Suzanne Bielinski.
Construction on the new tank will begin early next year, Bielinski said. The project will take about a year, officials said. While the current tank is made completely out of gunite — a material consisting of a mixture of cement, sand and water — the new tank will be reinforced with concrete on the inside and gunite on the outside, Bielinski said. The water tank services residents on the city’s northeast side. It is important to note, Bielinski said, that the 115-foot storage tank that is visible from Elam Street is not affected by the project. The tank in question, she said, is not visible from the road.

Wallingford considers tax concessions for hotel developer

WALLINGFORD — The resurrection of a half-built hotel on Route 68 hinges on successful negotiations between town officials and a hotel developer who is looking to broker a deal that will keep his property taxes fixed for the next seven years. Robert W. Winston III, chief executive of Winston Hospitality, made a presentation to the Economic Development Commission this week and asked the town to enter into a tax-fixing agreement that would allow him to finish building a Hilton Garden Inn at 1181 Barnes Road.  The proposal includes a fixed property assessment of $1.75 million. The property is now assessed at $2.2 million. Under the proposal, Winston is asking that his property taxes be frozen at $45,325 for the next seven years. Taxes on the property are now $73,843 a year, according to Wallingford’s tax office. That number would grow in future years as the tax rate and assessed value increases. But the fixed-tax deal, allowed by state law, would allow him to spend the more than $15 million needed to complete the hotel project, according to Winston’s proposal. Winston was unavailable for comment on Thursday.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Norwich receives 6 bids to demolish Chestnut Street Mill

NORWICH — It will cost between $249,000 and $834,000 to remove hazardous materials and demolish a long-vacant mill site at 77 Chestnut St. — a price Mayor Deb Hinchey says is worth it for the return of prime downtown real estate to the tax rolls.“I absolutely think it’s worth it. I want to study the amounts but I think we need to clean up those properties,” she said. “There’s nothing we can do with them the way they are.” On Thursday, officials unsealed six bids for abatement and demolition work at the circa-1885 parcel the city acquired through a 2011 foreclosure. Redevelopment Agency chairwoman Marge Blizard said bringing it back into use should be a top priority.“It’s a very valuable site that’s in the heart of downtown, and in its current condition, it drags down the neighborhood,” she said. “If it was brought back to its highest and best use, it would return so much to the city.” CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Old Hartford Hotel now being converted

The conversion of the former Sonesta Hotel on Hartford's Constitution Plaza into apartments is kicking into high-gear now that the developers have lined up all of their financing for the $28 million project. Some demolition got underway in October, but with financing in place as of late last week, the developers are expecting the construction of 193 apartments to be completed in May 2015.
The building has been vacant for nearly 20 years.
Jeffrey D. Ravetz, president of New York-based Girona Ventures, said he and his partner in the conversion, Wonder Works Construction and Development Corp., are even more bullish on Hartford than they were in 2011 when they paid $500,000 for the long-vacant, 12-story hotel. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING
NEW HAVEN >> As the outgoing administration lined up to sign a $395 million deal for a mixed-use development envisioned as a new neighborhood downtown, Mayor-elect Toni Harp pledged to go after the state funding that will make it a reality. “Whenever there is change there is often worry that things will happen and things won’t be maintained,” Harp said to a crowd of officials at City Hall Thursday to ink the plan with Max Reim of LiveWorkLearnPlay, a Montreal-based company.
“I just want to assure the public that I believe in this project and this fabulous development team headed by Kelly Murphy basically gives us the ball. ... We will not drop that ball. We understand that this is important,” Harp said to a crowd that broke into applause.
“It’s a win-win and I’m going to work very hard to see that it happens,” Harp said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Businesses rate crowded highways as biggest economic drag

STAMFORD -- More lanes on Interstate 95 and other state highways to break up bottlenecks was the top transportation remedy that would help businesses thrive, according to a survey of executives conducted by the state's largest business and trade organization.  The Connecticut Business and Industry Association's 2013 Transportation Survey collected responses from 650 executives around the state this fall for the survey, with 55 percent of responses ranking highway capacity and improvement projects such as adding operational lanes on I-95 as the most economically helpful use of state transportation dollars. The survey was sponsored by New Haven-based power utility United Illuminating.  "Connecticut's economy will continue to stagnate unless we invest in improving connectivity both within the state and to the New York City and Boston metropolitan areas," said James Torgerson, chief executive officer of UI.  In the survey, 23 percent of business executives rated improved transportation systems as the government spending they were most willing to pay for, trailing only economic development which 37 percent of executives rated the top priority and education which 36 percent of respondents favored.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

West Haven officials angry at plan to close exit 44 on I-95

WEST HAVEN >> Plans to eliminate Exit 44 on Interstate 95 south have angered city officials, who say there wasn’t adequate notice or opportunity for local input. Mayor Edward O’Brien and state legislators, after meeting Thursday with state Department of Transportation design engineers, said they were upset because the exit is the closest route from New Haven to West Haven’s downtown.
Part of the DOT’s West River Crossing project, the exit ramp, which follows Exit 45 closely and runs in a tight loop, would be eliminated and the Exit 45 on- and off-ramps would be reconfigured. Both are situated in New Haven just across the West River. “My main concern is I would like to keep this somehow and have a direct exit to West Haven,” O’Brien said. The new route, he said, would include three traffic lights rather than one.  The new Exit 45 design would be “a combined diamond interchange with on- and off-ramps terminating on Ella Grasso Boulevard,” according to Brian Mercure, assistant district engineer with the DOT.  The main reason to eliminate Exit 44 is the close proximity of Exit 45, Mercure said, which forces entering and exiting vehicles to move on and off too closely. “The design was done a very long time ago; we just didn’t have the money for it,” Mercure said. He said the first public hearing was held in 2001 and another in July 2012. He said West Haven officials were notified, along with those from New Haven and residents of the nearby City Point neighborhood. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

December 12, 2013

CT Construction Digest December 12, 2013

Study: Labor violations don't stop gov't contracts

WASHINGTON (AP) — The federal government awards billions of dollars in contracts each year to companies that routinely violate safety, health and wage regulations, according to a report released Wednesday that calls for stricter measures to hold federal contractors accountable. The study from Democratic leaders on the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee found that nearly 30 percent of companies hit with the highest penalties for federal labor law violations from 2007 to 2012 were also federal contractors. The report identifies 49 federal contractors that paid $196 million in penalties for nearly 1,800 violations over the six-year period. The same contractors received more than $81 billion in taxpayer dollars in 2012. "I fear we are all too often paying companies that fail to pay their workers what they have earned and that regularly subject those workers to unsafe working conditions," said Iowa Sen. Tom Harkin, who chairs the Senate HELP Committee and commissioned the report. The U.S. government spends over $500 billion each year paying private companies for services ranging from weapons and construction to cleaning and security services. Federal spending for service work alone has tripled since 2000, from $99 billion to $307 billion. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING
STORRS, Conn. (AP) — The University of Connecticut is getting out of the municipal water business. The school's Board of Trustees approved a deal Wednesday with the Connecticut Water Co. for the company to supplement UConn's water supply. The agreement also calls for Connecticut Water to supply parts of Mansfield, including Storrs, that currently rely on the university for their water. A separate deal is being worked out with the town. "The university does a lot of things, but running a water supply system is not essentially a core competency of the University of Connecticut," said Thomas Callahan, UConn associate vice president for infrastructure planning and strategic project management. Under the agreement, Connecticut Water will absorb the estimated $21 million it will cost to build a 5-mile pipeline from Tolland to the campus. The school is expected to spend about $2 million to hook the line up to its existing system. The agreement calls for the company to sell the school up to 1.5 million gallons of water daily as needed over the next 46 years. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING
STAMFORD -- Stamford Hospital's massive construction project is moving along quickly, and next month the health care organization will accelerate work on a new 11-story state-of-the-art glass-clad medical tower.  The long-planned expansion of the hospital, estimated to cost $450 million, was once planned to be spread out over as long as 15 years, but is being completed now in a single phase in roughly five years. Recently, workers finished building an new power and utility plant that will provide power, steam and other essentials to support a new main hospital building that will be double the size of the current building. It's expected to begin accepting patients in 2016.  "This is really a milestone in the completion of the project when we have the new plant operational to supply the needs of the hospital," Stanley Hunter, executive director of the project, said. Where once houses, businesses and the Vidal Court public housing complex stood no long ago, concrete foundations and steel girders are sprouting up. Work has even begun on the new main entrance to the hospital complex, which will be from Stillwater Avenue, and will replace the multiple small entrances on West Broad Street and Shelburne Road. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Developer looks for tax incentives from Norwich

Norwich - Mayor Deberey Hinchey and the new City Council hope to hear answers Monday to questions pertaining to a hotel developer's request for $2.8 million in tax breaks over a 20-year period to take over a defunct hotel construction project on Route 82 at Interstate 395. Raleigh, N.C.-based Winston Hospitality Inc. completed a two-year complex foreclosure against the former owner, PRA at Norwich LLC. and numerous other lien holders in May for what had been a nearly completed hotel building at 154 Salem Turnpike. Winston Chief Executive Officer Robert W. Winston III presented a plan to the previous City Council in November that would call for investing $12.7 million to rejuvenate the hotel into a 113-room Hampton Inn. The firm is seeking a tax break in the form of tax increment financing in which $140,000 in property taxes per year for 20 years owed to the city would instead be used to pay off project debt. Tax increment financing is allowed in Connecticut by state law, but has restrictions. The council on Monday will hear a report from several city economic development, legal and financial officials on how the program would work and what the costs and benefits would be to the city. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING 

December 11, 2013

CT Construction Digest December 11, 2013

Water project advances in city

MERIDEN — A $20 million upgrade to one of the city’s water treatment plants has been put out to bid after more than a year of designing the new facility. The Broad Brook water treatment facility and pumping station was last updated in 1975. Improvements to the plant, just over the town line in Cheshire, will address water quality and update old technology. “Over the last several years, we have had problems with our water quality, plus the plant’s last upgrade was in 1975 and ’76, so it’s long overdue,” said Public Utilities Director David Lohman.  Broad Brook Reservoir is the city’s largest water supply, covering 345 acres and containing 1.1 billion gallons of water. It has been the source of foul smelling and tasting drinking water as a result of late algae blooms. The reservoir has been shut down on several occasions and treated with copper sulfate, an algae-killing agent. Algae have been a problem at reservoirs around the state in recent years, Lohman said. Though the city has been battling it, Lohman said the upgrade was necessary. “The (algae) might not have an effect on taste and odor for some of what we have been getting, but they’ve been raising havoc with water quality,” Lohman explained. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Idle Pearl St. towers $43M housing makeover nears

The $43 million conversion of two derelict downtown buildings on Pearl Street into more than 200 apartments could start as early as next spring, developers say. The Hartford City Council voted unanimously Monday night to sell seven-story 111 Pearl St. for $500,000 to a partnership that includes Wethersfield developer Martin J. Kenny and one of the nation's leading housing developers based in Philadelphia. "This was an important step,'' Kenny said of the city's support for the housing project. Kenny and his Connecticut partners, Hartford parking magnate Alan Lazowski and Farmington developer Sanford Cloud Jr., and Pennrose Properties of Philadelphia, now join the long list of local and out-of-state investors pouring millions of dollars into urban housing in downtown Hartford. Pennrose has a 51 percent stake in 101-103 Pearl Street Properties LLC; Kenny, Lazowski and Cloud own the rest. Next up for Pearl Street Properties, Kenny said, is to finalize the purchase of 101 Pearl St., the taller, 11-story tower next door, also for $500,000. Kenny is co-owner with the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority (CHFA) of that building, overlooking the corner of Lewis Street. Plans call for Kenny and CHFA to sell the structure to the Pearl Street development partnership. Closings for both properties should take place early next year, with construction starting soon after, Kenny said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

59-lot subdivision approved in Glastonbury

The town plan and zoning commission on Tuesday night unanimously approved the largest subdivision proposed in the past seven years. The commission voted 5-0 in favor of developer Jack Oliveri and his Highmeadow Investment Properties LLC's proposal for a 59-lot subdivision on 108 acres of the former MacClain Construction site — an abandoned sand-and-gravel operation along Hebron Avenue. Oliveri said after the meeting that he hopes to begin the project in the spring.
OIiveri plans to connect the new subdivision to the existing 23-home Tyler subdivision, which was approved in 2005 and was one of the last large developments in town. Oliveri's proposal includes nearly 30 acres of open space with five fishing ponds and hiking trails that will link to other town-owned properties, including Minnechaug Farms open space, which has one of the best views in the area. Community Development Director Kenith E. Leslie said that although the proposal is a "significant subdivision plan," the developer has worked hard with the town to come up with a plan that offers a "tremendous piece of open space."  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

King Industries to put $50M into its Waterbury expansion

King Industries Inc., an industrial chemical firm based in Norwalk, purchased land in Waterbury to expand its operations with a $50 million manufacturing center on a remediated brownfield site, the city said Tuesday."This is an extraordinary moment for Waterbury," Mayor Neil M. Leary said in a statement.The 11 acres of the company's new manufacturing center take up just more than a third of the industrial complex, which the city envisions as a "first-rate premier industrial park." CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

Cost to bring trail downtown $6.7M

WATERBURY -- A recreational greenway trail under construction along the Naugatuck River could expand into the downtown if the city is willing to shell out about $6.7 million. hat would be the city's 20 percent share of the $33.7 million of construction cost for the second phase of the Waterbury Naugatuck River Greenway project, according to a city-hired consultant. Te city would apply for a federal transportation grant intended for distressed cities to fund the rest of the project. Supporters think the city, which has never sought this grant before, will get it.The RBA Group of South Norwalk unveiled its concept Monday for the Board of Aldermen, which would ultimately have to decide if it wants to fund the design of this downtown expansion.Also on Monday, the owners of several local South Main Street businesses spoke out against the project, marking the first time the trail has met with any significant public criticism.The owners complained about the riverside trail running behind their businesses, saying that it would take away parking spaces and expose their property to increased vandalism.The expansion into the downtown overall would require seizure of some property by eminent domain, but the consultants aren't yet sure which properties, or how much, would be needed.
But the project consultants say the spinoff benefits of linking the greenway trail to the downtown could be immense, not only reviving the riverfront but abandoned industrial lots along the way.
"When you are in downtown Waterbury, you really have no idea the Naugatuck River is there, but it's no more than a 10 minute walk away," said RBA's Jackson Wandres. "The potential is huge."
The plans include a kayak launch area and a 2,000-foot tree-lined riverfront esplanade near the abandoned Anamet property, and an active and passive sport 19-acre riverfront park on Jackson Street.

Construction employers add 17,000 employees in November

Construction employers added 17,000 jobs in November as the sector’s employment hit the highest level since August 2009, and the industry unemployment rate fell to 8.6 percent, according to an analysis of new government data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials noted that the new employment figures come as construction spending levels hit a four-year high in October.“While these new employment figures are very encouraging, growth remains uneven by segment, region and time period,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “There are likely to be continuing variations in growth between homebuilding, private nonresidential and public sector.”Construction employment totaled 5,851,000 in November, an increase of 178,000 from a year earlier, Simonson noted. But while employment grew by 3.1 percent during the past year, construction employment remains nearly 1.9 million below the sector’s April 2006 peak. Meanwhile, the unemployment rate for workers actively looking for jobs and last employed in construction declined from 12.2 percent in November 2012 to 8.6 percent last month. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING

December 10, 2013

CT Construction Digest December 10, 2013

Surveyors plumb for work

They are akin to canaries in the coal mine when it comes to land development.
Well before a building project's first shovel of dirt or structural framing is set in place, land surveyors many equipped with the latest digital and laser- and satellite-guided tools — trace property boundaries, map site topographies and tag all of a landscape's natural and manmade elements.
As demand rises or falls for new and renovated houses, commercial buildings, roads and other public works, so goes the land-survey industry. But after a rocky trek dating back more than a decade, Connecticut's surveyors say they are seeing light at the end of what some describe as a long, dark tunnel, that still has too many of them chasing too few projects for limited fees. Hiring is almost nil.
"It's nothing like it was in 2000, I'll tell you,'' said Enfield's David J. Palmberg, a second-generation surveyor who presides over the Connecticut Association of Land Surveyors. "There's a lot more competition.'' What business exists, said Palmberg, who runs William R. Palmberg & Son LLC, the firm his father started in 1971, is spearheaded largely by commercial development, including neighborhood retail centers, restaurants, medical offices and apartments. All communities in Connecticut and elsewhere typically require a valid survey of a tract before they will allow it to go forward to zoning or wetlands review. Those are followed closely, he and other surveyors say, by growing engagements from mortgage borrowers and lenders in response to new flood-insurance requirements prompted by redrawn federal maps showing more Connecticut shoreline properties prone to deluge. Connecticut surveyors' recent annual meeting at Portland's St. Clement's Castle drew some 400 attendees from as far as New York and Vermont, many of whom shared the same lament.

Lane Construction Corp. attains environmental certification

The Lane Construction Corporation, a leading U.S. construction company, has attained its first International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 14001:2004 certification in the United States. The ISO 14001:2004 certification is the most widely recognized and accepted standard for Environmental Management Systems (EMS) in the world. Lane received certification for implementation of an EMS on its I-91 northbound and southbound bridge replacement project over the Mill Brook in Windsor, Vermont. The certification confirms that Lane's EMS on the Vermont project adheres to the comprehensive voluntary international standard, which is based on pollution prevention, compliance with legal and other requirements, and continual improvement. "Throughout the Lane organization, we are committed to operating and conducting business in an environmentally responsible and sustainable way. Earning the ISO 14001:2004 certification is especially significant because it's the first time we've gone after this elite recognition for one of our U.S. projects," said David F. Benton, executive vice president of Lane.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING FULL STORY

Old Glastonbury Mill Site to become park

Cleanup crews have removed the contaminated soil from the old Slocomb Mill site and the town is preparing to open the property to the public by spring. Crews spent much of the late summer and fall removing hazardous materials that had leached into the soil from years of use as an industrial site by the J.T. Slocomb Mill, a company that produced aircraft parts before it was abandoned in the early 2000s and demolished last year.  "It was a bit of a challenge," Town Manager Richard J. Johnson said about removing the contaminated soil. "There were a little more of the hydrocarbons than we anticipated."  Johnson said the work took longer than expected because crews uncovered more contaminated soil than was expected around the area where the previous owner removed a 12,000-gallon underground oil tank. There were also some polluted areas under building slabs and foundations that went undetected by survey crews using test borings to determine the extent of the pollution. "There was some penetration under the buildings we had to deal with," Johnson said. "Some of the solvents were more widespread than originally thought." Another part of the restoration plan for the historic site is the renovation of the brick smokestack and granite walls that are left over from the site's days as the Hopewell Woolen Mill. The mill once produced clothing and uniforms for both Union and Confederate soldiers during the Civil War. The mill also produced woolen goods for ladies' garments, flannels, meltons, broadcloths, pedestrian, golf and bicycle clothes, along with smoking jackets.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING FULL STORY

Closer look at construction numbers reveals a mixed bag

At first glance, recent statistics from the U.S. Census Bureau on public construction spending offered some surprisingly good news, but a closer look revealed a picture that insiders said remains worrisome — albeit hopeful. A “rare spike” in public construction pushed spending in the third quarter of 2013 to its highest level since May 2009. Much of the increase was attributed to spending on highway and street construction and education construction, said Ken Simonson, chief economist of The Associated General Contractors of America. “Nearly every category of public construction increased in October,” Simonson said. But while public construction spending jumped 3.9 percent for the month of October, the overall spending for public construction still trails 2012 by 2.8 percent.
Meanwhile, residential construction slipped 0.6 percent for the month, but still showed a 17 percent gain over 2012, while nonresidential construction spending was down 0.5 percent for the month, but up 0.8 percent for the year-to-date. “The private residence construction is certainly a mixed bag,” Simonson said. “It’s down because of slow down in single family construction, but multi-family construction continues to race ahead.” Single family construction was up 30 percent compared to the first 10 months of 2012, but that remains low when compared to the historical high.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE READING FULL STORY

December 9, 2013

CT Construction Digest December 9, 2013

Long- awaited downtown in begining stages officials say

BRISTOL — For all the talk during the past decade, the revitalization of the city’s downtown has so far consisted mostly of clearing the former mall site and installing some streetscape features.
Downtown is dotted with empty lots and empty buildings, including the former Chic Miller automobile dealership on West Street, the old armory on Center Street, the shuttered Bristol Press building on Main Street and more. The old Mamatseos Building on North Main Street is now a vacant lot. But officials hope that after years of stagnation, the long-awaited revitalization may be at least in its infancy. Construction of a new Bristol Boys and Girls Club is underway on West Street. In addition, the first phase of the proposed Depot Square project on the former mall site is slated to begin by next summer with two four-story buildings along Main Street containing housing and retail.
Renaissance officials said they are putting together a financing package for the project and expect to submit it to the Bristol Downtown Development Corp. within a couple of months, leaving time for the city to review it before the May 26 deadline for the purchase to go through.
Mayor Ken Cockayne said he is “extremely optimistic” downtown redevelopment will get underway on a schedule as outlined in the agreement with Renaissance Downtowns. “The redevelopment of the former mall property known as Depot Square has been a long time in the making, and it is a key component to our economic development efforts,” the mayor said. The development at the mall site may not be the only work done downtown. Ryan Porter, project manager for the Long Island-based Renaissance Downtowns that is spearheading the Depot Square plan, said a possible project may emerge that would use the Chic Miller site “in the near future.” Porter said that Renaissance also is working with the broker trying to sell the old Bristol Press building. One possible use for it, he said, is for a dinner theater. A national company is eyeing it, he said, but the idea is still “very preliminary.”

Mayor Stewart prepares for arrival of CTfastrak

NEW BRITAIN — Though it’s 14 months away, Mayor Erin Stewart says she has already circled her calendar. On Feb. 2015 the first CTfastrak buses will roll. “Overall, it’s impressive to see the amount of progress that’s been made,” she said. The city’s new mayor toured the future CTfastrak line Wednesday, taking special interest in the system’s three stations now under construction in New Britain. Connecticut’s first bus rapid transit system has 11 transit stations, a recreational trail and a newly-integrated commuter service for riders in central Connecticut.
CTfastrak’s media spokesman Ron Dresner arranged the tour for the mayor, along with administration and transportation officials. At various stops they discussed transit-oriented development opportunities currently underway in and around the stations.
Stewart was accompanied by her chief of staff, John Healey, Gerry Amodio, the city’s downtown district director, Robert Smedley, New Britain alderman, Michael Sanders, ConnDOT project manager, Tom Strand, Michael Baker Engineering and Brian Cunningham, ConnDOT official.
MERIDEN — Formerly known as the Meriden Mall and then the Meriden Hub, a 14.4-acre piece of land downtown will be getting a new name. The now-vacant property has been called the Hub since 1981, but with a redevelopment plan in place that will turn the site into a city park, officials want to give it a new identity as well. “The name tells people outside of Meriden what it is,” explained City Council Deputy Majority Leader Brian Daniels. “This is a real amenity and we want people to know about it.”  The City Council passed a resolution last week to come up with a process for naming the future park. City Manager Lawrence J. Kendzior said in the coming weeks a process will be firmed up, and it will likely allow people from around the city to suggest and submit names. The names would then be shortlisted and eventually a recommendation could be made.
“We want to make sure people are aware of all of the elements and different amenities involved with the park,” Kendzior said. With flooding a historic problem in downtown, the site will be used as a place to retain floodwater in the even of a significant storm. Harbor Brook will be uncovered at the site making it the only watercourse to flow openly through a city park in the state, according to officials. The site will also include a great lawn area for various exhibitions and events, an amphitheater, walking trails that will link up with the linear trail, and an “iconic” illuminated pedestrian bridge that will connect State and Pratt streets.
The State Bond Commission next week is expected to award the XL Center in downtown Hartford another $1.8 million to finance the planning and design of capital improvements, Gov. Dannel P. Malloy announced Friday. The funding is part of a $35 million package authorized by the General Assembly earlier this year for alternations and renovations at the downtown Hartford event venue. The $1.8 million was needed before Dec. 31 to meet the project's reconstruction timeline.
The entire funding package is meant to help the facility be both functional and competitive over the next 10 years. This includes replacing the electrical, mechanical, and plumbing infrastructure, and making upgrades to the concessions, rest rooms, locker rooms, seating, security, technology, signage, and lighting. Construction is scheduled to begin in March with a completion deadline of October.
Philadelphia-based Global Spectrum took over XL Center management from AEG at the end of August at the request of Malloy's Capital Region Development Authority.

Hartford laying plans to bridge the I-84 canyon

The ill-starred decision more than a half-century ago to run I-84 through downtown Hartford did wonders for moving cars — but at considerable cost to the physical integrity of the central city.
The highway cut the North End off from downtown, hastening its decline. It orphaned some buildings that were eventually torn down, creating a no-man's land of surface parking in areas where people once worked and lived. In combination with the second whammy, I-91 cutting the city off from the Connecticut River, it made the downtown smaller, limiting development options.
For decades, city officials have dreamed of restitching the urban fabric north of the highway as part of an expanded downtown with stronger peripheral neighborhoods.  The dream took a great leap toward the possible in January with the opening of the new $77 million public safety complex on High Street, on the site of a late 19th-century school. At about the same time, the city hired a team to do a master plan for the broad swath of land — 283 acres — to the north and west of downtown.
The findings have been presented at two public meetings thus far, with a third scheduled for Wednesday 11 at 6 p.m. at the Hartford Public Library. After that, the city plans to engage a broker and market the areas to developers.

Middletown sets public hearing on West Street Bridge project

MIDDLETOWN — The state Department of Transportation will hold an informational meeting on Monday, Dec. 16, on the planned replacement of the one-lane wooden bridge on West Street.
The bridge is 17 feet wide and was built in 1932 to carry West Street over the railroad tracks. The planned work would widen the bridge to two lanes of traffic, each 14 feet wide, and include a 5-foot-wide sidewalk on the East side of the bridge.
Public Works Director William Russo said the meeting will allow residents to ask questions about the project or share concerns with the DOT. "Some of the concerns are going to be where the bridge and sidewalks are going to be in relation to the properties [near the bridge]," Russo said. "A lot of questions are going to be answered."  Work on the project is not expected to begin until spring 2016, and would be completed in the summer of 2017. During construction, West Street would be closed and traffic would be rerouted, the DOT said. The bridge's narrowness makes it obsolete, and it's deteriorating, the DOT said. Construction would include about 600 feet of roadway.
Russo said access by fire trucks and school buses have been long-standing issues for the city. The city owns the roads on both sides of the bridge He said residents may also have questions about truck traffic and speeds on West Street once the road is widened, when it would be a way for commuters to get between the busy Routes 66 and 157. The project is estimated to cost about $3 million, said Judd Everhart, a DOT spokesman.The plans for the project will be available for viewing in the public works department at city hall. DOT representatives have already met with Mayor Daniel Drew, the public works department and property owners in the area of the West Street Bridge.


December 6, 2013

CT Construction Digest December 6, 2013

New York company, operator charged in CT crane collapse

STAMFORD >> The owner of a New York marine construction company and a crane operator have been charged with reckless endangerment in a crane collapse in Stamford Harbor.
Nicholas Concavage, owner of Concavage Marine Contractors in Port Chester, N.Y., faces two misdemeanor charges of reckless endangerment and a single charge of operating an unregistered crane, The Advocate of Stamford reported. Crane operator Richard Dufresne was charged with one count of reckless endangerment and operating a crane without a license. A phone message left Thursday morning at the company was not immediately returned. Dufresne does not have a listed number. The arrest affidavits say the crane flipped over last May, glancing a sail boat and landing on a power boat. No one was injured. A state inspector determined the crane lacked several safety devices, and the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration fined Concavage $165,200 for “willful and serious workplace safety violations” related to the missing safety devices.
The crane did not have boom stops that could keep it from flipping backward, inspection documentation, four-year flotation device inspection and other requirements, according to an arrest affidavit. A state crane inspector reported to the investigating state police officer that if any of the required devices was not in proper working order, the crane should have been taken out of service immediately, the affidavit said. The investigators also discovered that the crane was not registered for operation in Connecticut.

New Haven's $395M coiliseum still faces fight

NEW HAVEN — The fate of the biggest proposed downtown development project in New Haven’s history now rests in Hartford — where its prospects are by no means certain, according to lawmakers who’ll lead the charge on its behalf. The project is the $395 million remaking of the old New Haven Coliseum site into a busy new-urbanist mini-city of apartments, stores, offices, a hotel and a public plaza. The Board of Aldermen voted unanimously Monday night to approve a land disposition agreement for the proposal, a new development to be built on the former site of the New Haven Coliseum. The developer, a Montreal-based company called LiveWorkLearnPlay, intends to build a two-phased mixed-use development in the block bounded by the block bordered by Orange, George and State streets, and Martin Luther King Boulevard.LiveWorkLearnPlay says it will spend about $363 million to develop the block. It hopes to begin construction next summer, said Max Reim, principal of the company. Before then, the project will need “state commitments,” he said. Those include approvals for new infrastructure, including from the Office of the State Traffic Administration.And lots of money — from governments facing fiscal crises. Reim said LiveWorkLearnPlay won’t build the project unless the state and federal governments come through with some $20 million on top of now-approved $12 million in city money to reconfigure Orange Street and the I-95 and I-91 exits there. The money would go toward reworking the exits so all the traffic lets out onto Orange Street, rather than onto Church Street. Then Orange Street would be reconnected to South Orange Street at grade level, eliminating that stretch of the Route 34 mini-highway-to-nowhere that the state has already starting filling in for the Alexion Pharmaceuticals tower down the road at 100 College St.
The Metropolitan District has established a supplier diversity council to help steer contracts for its $2.1 billion water quality effort to small, women-owned and minority-owned businesses, it announced. Under the memorandum of understanding signed Wednesday, the state-chartered nonprofit — the largest water supplier in Central Connecticut — will work with a variety of agencies and groups to assist targeted contractors pursuing work or already working with the MDC.
MDC partners in the effort include the Department of Economic and Community Development, the U.S. Department of Commerce, the Minority Business Development Agency, the Connecticut Construction Industries Association, Capital Community College, the University of Hartford's Entrepreneurial Center and HEDCO Inc. The MDC's Clean Water Project aims to meet the standards of the federal Clean Water Act by 2020. The project's main elements include reducing sewer overflows and nitrogen levels. The state-created nonprofit provides water, sewer and waste collection services to a dozen Greater Hartford communities.

Construction Spending Hits Four-Year Peak

An unusual surge in public construction in October pushed total construction spending to its highest level since May 2009 despite a dip in both private residential and nonresidential activity, according to an analysis of new Census Bureau data by the Associated General Contractors of America. Association officials urged lawmakers in Washington to make water and surface transportation investment a top federal priority. “Nearly every category of public construction increased in October, according to the preliminary Census figures, although for the first 10 months of 2013 combined, public spending continues to lag the 2012 year-to-date total,” said Ken Simonson, the association's chief economist. “Meanwhile, residential spending slipped for the month but still showed strong year-to-date gains, and nonresidential spending remained stuck in neutral.” Construction put in place in October totaled $908 billion, 0.8 percent higher than in September. But figures for August and July were revised down below levels that initially exceeded the current October estimate. The total for the first 10 months of 2013 was 5.0 percent above the year-to-date mark for the same months in 2012.
Public construction spending jumped 3.9 percent for the month but trailed the 2012 year-to-date total by 2.8 percent. The two largest public components were mixed: highway and street construction increased 0.6 percent in October and 0.3 percent year-to-date, while educational construction leaped 8.

December 5, 2013

CT Construction Digest December 5, 2013

$1.2 M Kings Highway project unlikely to roll untill 2015

Although town boards have already approved how $1.2 million in state money will be spent to enhance the Kings Highway East area, Fairfield Economic Development Director Mark Barnhart said it will be about another year before construction starts on the project. The town recently received formal notification that the $1.2 million grant from the state Department of Transportation, allocated through the federal Transportation Alternatives Program, is in the pipeline. The money is expected to fund most of the project designed to add new sidewalks, bike paths and bicycle racks along a stretch of Kings Highway East, from Chambers Street to Brentwood Avenue, and at the Fairfield Metro train station. "There are a couple of procedural things we need to take care of," Barnhart said, including finalizing the grant agreement. "We're looking toward the first quarter of next year for getting the design process underway." That design process, he said, will likely take a year, which will include the opportunity for meetings with the public to provide information about the plans and get input before the design is finalized for construction. Construction should start in 2015.
The funding will be used to construct new sidewalks and curbs along both the north and south sides of Kings Highway East, as well as median improvements for better pedestrian access and neighborhood aesthetics. American with Disabilities Act-compliant handicap ramps will be installed at intersections, and bicycle amenities, such as racks, signs and bike parking will also be included, though mostly at the new train station.

O&G Plans rail terminus at quarry

O & G Industries plans to transport crushed rock from its New Milford quarry by rail.
The firm has a special permit application before the town's Zoning Commission to approve the construction of a railroad siding at the northeast end of O & G's Boardman Road property.
The siding would be 3,000 feet long, with 1,600 feet on O & G property and 1,400 feet on neighboring CL & P property. The terminus would connect to the Housatonic Railroad tracks that run parallel to River Road. Housatonic would likely transport the crushed rock to points south within the state, according to Ken Faroni, O & G's director of planning and permits. "We would park our own locomotive on the site for internal work," Faroni explained to zoners. "On a second spur of the teminus, two sets of 20 box cars each would be kept for filling." "We anticipate the loads would be headed south," he said. "If all goes well, we will be doing this next year."
Faroni estimated one string of 40 cars would be transported by Housatonic once a month. The work to install the siding on the O & G property would take several months to complete, he said.
"This not only gives Housatonic an opportunity to improve the tracks south," Faroni said. "I think there's a greater good to this in that it may get the state of Connecticut onboard with rail improvements."

Seven companies shut down at Middletown worksite

MIDDLETOWN >> The state Department of Labor has shut down work by seven companies on a Middletown Housing Authority project over lagging insurance filings and disputes over the statuses of some workers. The state issued stop-work orders to Comfort Zone Home Improvement of Bristol, Cometa Siding Construction of Bridgeport, General Solution of Bridgeport, JNS Contractors of Bridgeport, 4 You Home Improvement of Orange, The Brothers Property Restoration of Vernon and EDJ Construction of Bridgeport Monday at a work site off of Long Lane.
The seven subcontractors are working for general contractor Allen Construction of Orange, who in turn was hired by the Middletown Housing Authority. Allen employees were able to continue working since all of their filings were in order. Nancy Steffens, a spokeswoman for the labor department, said Monday that “Our wage-and-workforce unit was in Middletown today, and issued a stop-work order to seven subcontractors.” Steffens said, when local companies receive stop-work orders, they generally produce the requisite paperwork quickly, but out-of-state contractors sometimes decide to call it quits. All of the subcontractors served Monday are Connecticut companies. Jessie Allen, project manager for Allen Construction, said the workers will likely be back at work as soon as Thursday.Kristaps Pakers, a principle for General Solution, said the lag could drag out into next week.

Private sector hiring strongest in a year

Here's something to be merry about this holiday season: Private sector employers added 215,000 jobs in November. That's the strongest level of hiring in a year, according to payroll processing firm ADP. The ADP jobs report also showed that small businesses (those with fewer than 50 employees) accounted for 102,000 of the new jobs, while large businesses with more than 500 employees added 65,000 positions. Hiring picked up in construction, manufacturing and the financial sector.
The ADP report is closely watched by economists and investors, as it comes just two days before the Labor Department's monthly jobs report -- which also includes data on government jobs.
Economists surveyed by CNNMoney predict the monthly jobs report will show employers added 183,000 jobs and the unemployment rate remained at 7.2% in November.

Middletown officials seeking a development plan for Metro Square Area

MIDDLETOWN — The city is seeking a consultant to plan future redevelopment of the two downtown blocks surrounding the Metro Square property.Planning Director William Warner said the city will ask a developer to create a concept similar to West Hartford's Blue Back Square for Metro Square. The study will also include the location for a parking garage off Court Street behind the Superior Court building and the auto repair property on the corner of Dingwall and deKoven drives.New development could be years away, but the site is ideal for retail, restaurants and more downtown housing units in Middletown, Warner said. Forming a long-term goal for the parcel now will ensure that any development plans will include input from the city, officials said.
Warner said with the city starting to pursue plans for a new garage, the timing is right to make sure the site will support future downtown development. Warner said with the city starting to pursue plans for a new garage, the timing is right to make sure the site will support future downtown development.
"Up until now it's really been in a vacuum that we're just building a parking garage," Warner said. "Are we just building it to warehouse cars or are we building it to support downtown? We're going to develop a concentrated plan to show how the city believes [the area] should be developed in the future and how our garage will support it." Metro Square and the auto body property are privately owned. Warner said he has met with the property owners to share the city's vision.
He said the Storrs Center project at the University of Connecticut and Blue Back Square in West Hartford have proven the effectiveness of a city teaming up with private landowners to develop an area. In both projects, the communities and the state have invested in infrastructure, including parking and roads, while private developers have brought in retail, dining and residential space.

December 4, 2013

CT Construction Digest December 4, 2013

The Rizzo Companies Go 'Back To School'

The Rizzo Companies have teamed up with the Danbury School System to do major updates and renovations on three of its schools.  Construction has started on all three projects, which help aid the City of Danbury to meet the challenge as the student population grows over the next few years.
Shelter Rock Elementary School will see a new three-classroom addition, a new two-classroom addition, a new cafeteria addition, modifications to an existing classroom and a new parking lot and student drop-off area. The first phase of this project has already been completed, which allowed for a smooth opening to the 2013-2014 school year. Stadley Rough Elementary School will receive a new three-classroom addition, with a staircase and elevator connecting two stories, a new cafeteria addition, new parking lot and student drop-off area, and alterations to the existing basement including a classroom, two bathrooms, two storage rooms and a corridor. The first phase of this project was also completed on time. Finally, the biggest project will see the conversion of an existing elementary school into Mill Ridge Middle School. In a $13.5 million dollar project, Rizzo and their subcontractors will transform the building into a new space where children can learn in a new and updated environment. Approximately 1,000 square feet of space will be added to the existing 61,400 square feet, and the school will be updated in line with new life safety and accessibility codes. The layout will be reconfigured with new finishes, roof, and windows. Mechanicals, updated electric and data work, along with a renovated gym with new equipment, will also be added. The exterior will also be updated with a new student drop-off area, separate parking area, new drainage system, updated utilities, new plantings, curbs, sidewalks and paving.

New NB lanes on I-95's Moses Wheeler Bridge to open soon

Driving across the Moses Wheeler Bridge between Milford and Stratford is about to change.
The state Department of Transportation says a traffic shift is scheduled for Friday night into Saturday to realign Interstate 95 northbound travel lanes and to allow for the demolition of the existing northbound lanes.
The northbound traffic shift realigns the three northbound travel lanes onto the new section of the structure.
One lane of traffic will be closed at 7 p.m. Saturday so that preliminary work can begin on the realignment efforts, which include the resetting concrete barrier, adjusting signing and applying pavement markings.
The shift will be completed by 7 a.m. Sunday.
With the opening of the new northbound portion of the bridge, the remaining portion of the old Moses Wheeler Bridge on I-95 will be taken out of service while work continues on the center portion of the new bridge.
Lane closure information:I-95 Northbound Only
Reduced to single lane of traffic from 10 p.m. Friday to 7 a.m. Saturday.
Special advisory:
I-95 lane widths are reduced to 11 feet during construction and the legal speed limit is 45 mph between Exits 33 and 34.
Construction began on the Moses Wheeler Bridge Foundations Project in September 2009 under a $52.2M contract with general contractor O&G Industries, Inc. of Torrington. Project changes amounted to $8.3 million bringing the contract total to $60.5 million. The changes included the addition of 4 foundations slated to be performed in the Bridge Reconstruction Project. Completing this work early contributed to the $40M in savings realized by the State during the competitive bid process for the second bridge. The Foundations Project was completed on schedule in November 2011.
The $166.5 million bridge section of the project was awarded to the joint venture of Walsh Construction Company and PCL Constructor’s Inc. (WPJV) on July 8, 2011. The project is anticipated to be completed in late 2016 a year ahead of schedule.
For more information on the Moses Wheeler Bridge project, click here.

Demolition taking down the former AES Thames Plant

Montville - A national environmental contractor has purchased the now-defunct coal-fired power plant on Depot Road and is moving forward with a salvage and demolition project. Stephen Durkee, president and CEO of the Arizona-based Interstate Construction Services, said the company was unable to find a buyer for the intact plant and is now focused on selling usable assets and scrap metal.
The plant was formerly owned and operated by AES Thames Inc., which filed for bankruptcy in February 2011. ICS purchased the plant from the bankruptcy court for $2.5 million in December 2012 and recently began the demolition process, Durkee said. He expects the demolition to be finished within six to eight months. Durkee said ICS specializes in the removal of hazardous materials, demolition and site restoration, and has been working closely with the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection "from day one." In August 2012, the trustee in the AES Thames bankruptcy case filed notice that he planned to abandon the buildings, machinery, chemicals and other remaining items at the site of the plant, claiming that the property and assets were of inconsequential value. At the time, Montville Mayor Ronald McDaniel said the notice was filed because insurance lapsed and was expected to be withdrawn. Despite that, the DEEP filed an objection to the abandonment, arguing that there were no safety measures to prevent contamination of the Thames River, which borders the Depot Road property. Durkee said his company is uniquely equipped to handle environmental obligations, including a large pile of coal that is located on the site, and that he has been keeping the DEEP as informed as possible throughout the demolition process.

DEEP honors new Southbury water treatment plant

Connecticut environmental and educational officials on Tuesday praising a new Southbury wastewater pump station that will improve water quality in Transylvania Brook, which is a tributary to the Pomperaug River. The Department of Developmental Services operated a wastewater treatment facility at the now demolish Southbury Training School that had reached well beyond its design life and its discharge was contributing to water quality in the area. In June, the Division of Construction Services removed the discharge from the site and put in a new pump station to send all flows to the Heritage Village Water Pollution Control Facility. DDS, DCS, and the Department of Energy & Environmental Protection held a ceremony Tuesday morning to recognize the importance of the upgrade to water quality in the area.

CT awarded $2M to give to construction firms

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has awarded $2 million to Connecticut for municipal and government contractors to purchase or retrofit construction equipment.
The purpose of the Diesel Emissions Reduction Act funding is to upgrade construction equipment engines to reduce pollution. Connecticut has received $5 million in DERA funding since 2008.
Construction firms have until Jan. 15 to apply to the state Department of Energy & Environmental Protection. Contact Pat Kelly in the DEEP Bureau of Air Management at

New Haven Coliseum Redevelopment to begin in 2014

The redevelopment of the long-vacant New Haven Coliseum property could begin as soon as next summer, the developer says, now that a key agreement with the developer has been approved by the city. The Montreal-based developer, Live Work Learn Play, plans a $360 million development of hundreds of residential units, a hotel, an office tower, shops, restaurants and public spaces. The development is part of an even larger vision to stitch back together New Haven's downtown, divided in the 1960s by the Route 34 connector, which was never finished.
"This will create a brand new sense of arrival into New Haven," Max Reim, LWLP's co-managing partner and founding principal, said Tuesday. "Highways will give way to mixed-use urban boulevards. We'll be reconnecting neighborhoods."
Late Monday, New Haven's board of aldermen approved a development and land transfer agreement with LWLP and helped clear the way for a redevelopment that has been contemplated since the Coliseum was demolished in 2007. If built as planned, the as-yet-unnamed development would unfold over the next seven to 10 years.