August 31, 2015

CT Construction Digest August 31, 2015

Stamford school construction workers race to finish

The waxed floors at Dolan Middle School gleamed Thursday morning, and the tiled walls shined.
In the classrooms, tables, desks and chairs were arranged. On Monday, students will arrive to fill them and start a new school year.
A week or so earlier, you wouldn’t have thought it possible.
Dolan then was crawling with workers.
Furniture was piled in the hallways and cafeteria. Masons were on scaffolds outside the building. Painters were at work inside. Contractors, inside and outside, were installing new windows.
It was loud with the sound of tools and equipment. Dust was everywhere.
“It looked pretty bad a week ago, but I feel good about the progress of it now,” Dolan Head Custodian Scott Johnstone said Thursday. “It was kind of like that show, ‘While You Were Out.’”
That was an HGTV cable television program that sent in a team to make over rooms while the homeowner was gone for the day.
Change the home to a school, change the day to the summer, and you get the idea.
Each summer, depending on the allocation of funds, one school building in particular gets a makeover.
This year it was the 67-year-old Dolan building at Toms Road and Hope Street. About $3.8 million of work has been done since the end of June, said Jeff Pardo, construction manager for the city Engineering Department, which oversees large school projects. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Groundbreaking for new Harding High campus

BRIDGEPORT — After years of debate and planning, the city Monday broke ground on a new Warren Harding High School.
“The Harding High School community deserves a new state-of-the-art campus, and thanks to years of hard work, we’re doing just that,” said Mayor Bill Finch.
The school, expected to open in 2018, is being built at Boston Avenue and Bond Street on General Electric property the company will give to the city upon completion.
The contaminated site is being cleaned up by GE, under the supervision of the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection. The decision to build a school on that site was a hotly contested one and there are still some, like the school board’s Howard Gardner, who believe it to be a bad idea.
The size of the new Harding High has also changed over time, expanding to 145,000 square feet — large enough for 1,150 students. And with that, the price tag has grown from $78 million to $106 million.
The school will have baseball and football fields and an eight-lane running track.
Finch’s dream is to rename Harding after President Barack Obama, but that change would need school board approval.

Public hearing planned for Eversource substation proposal

Efforts to stop a proposed new electrical substation on Railroad Avenue could reach a critical point Tuesday when the Connecticut Siting Council conducts a public hearing on the issue.
Eversource Energy wants to build a new substation; the council will make the ultimate decision on its application. Residents and business owners have been making a push to block the project.
The utility company’s spokesmen say the new substation is needed to keep Greenwich’s demand from going over capacity.
Melanie Bachman, the siting council’s acting executive director, said the members and their staff are scheduled to gather at 1 p.m. at the Greenwich Library. They will take a bus tour of the proposed site, starting at the existing Cos Cob substation, moving to Bruce Park and finally to Railroad Avenue.
“This is an opportunity for the council and staff to step onto the site itself and observe what’s in the vicinity,” Bachman said.
Engineers from Eversource will be at the site visit to explain how the plans will impact the area. Discussion would likely include how the substation would fit into the existing environmental system and any potential wetlands impact.
“Our charge is to balance the potential adverse environmental effect with the potential need for the project,” Bachman said.
Once the visual inspection of the site is done, the council is scheduled to return to the library at 3 p.m. for two hours of testimony from the company, the project’s supporters and its critics. The council will have the opportunity to cross examine anyone who speaks.
After a dinner break, the public will be allowed to make comments beginning at 6:30 p.m.. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New price tag $55M Middletown voters to decide on $15M more for sewer project

MIDDLETOWN >> Not for the first time, the city is asking the voters for more money to finish a crucial sewer project.
With estimates from engineering experts at Rocky Hill-based CDR Maquire proving inadequate to build a new pumping station and connect the city’s wastewater lines to the Cromwell-based Mattabassett Sewer District, the electorate will decide whether or not to authorize an extra $15 million in bond sales.
Voters first approved what would have been a $37 million project in 2012. In 2014, the city agreed to pump in an extra $3 million.
Now, the total price tag may nose up to $55 million, although $5 million of the latest round of bonding — if it passes muster in November — is a safety net
“Just because we’ve authorized it doesn’t mean we have to use it,” said Water and Sewer Director Guy Russo.
Officials stressed that the city would not necessarily borrow the entire sum at once, and that bringing a Middletown-only sewer system up to snuff would cost exponentially more than the regionalization plan. CDR Maguire originally estimated that construction on a pump station would cost $19.5 million. Russo said the city only received one bid on the project, for $28.9 million, and the consultants then updated their estimate to around $25 million.
Republican Councilwoman Sandra Russo-Driska, who is challenging Democrat incumbent Mayor Daniel Drew, sent written objections through her fellow Republican Councilman Sebastian Giuliano, who read them at last week’s special meeting of the Common Council.
“There is no excuse for a project to have a 45-percent overrun,” Russo-Driska wrote.
Contractors from New Jersey-based Northeast Remsco Construction have been laying sewer pipes along Route 9 for months already, drilling sideways through the earth to string PVC and steel segments from Middletown to Cromwell. Russo told the Press that the drillers were closing in on the project’s halfway mark.
With costs mounting, the city finds itself rather between a rock and a hard place.
“If we don’t join the Mattabassett District, it’ll cost us triple the amount to do our own,” said Majority Leader Thomas Serra, who sits on the district’s board of directors as well as the city-side Mattabassett Regionalization Building Committee.   CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Meriden encouraged by downtown development

MERIDEN — City officials are encouraged by a recent report that shows several new commercial and real estate developments, especially in the downtown area.
The annual report details work by the city’s Planning Department in 2014. It also represents progress in the city’s downtown transit-oriented development (TOD) zone, City Planner Dominick Caruso said.
That district roughly comprises the land within a half-mile radius of the State Street train station, and is designed to ease the application process for developers. Land within the district is subject to special zoning regulations, including parking requirements.
Caruso said the TOD is a little more than 8 percent of the entire city. According to the review, more than 16 percent of the site plans submitted to the city were within the district.
“All the work we did to get the TOD going is verified here and it continues here,” Caruso said.
Two site plan applications were submitted for areas within the TOD, whereas 10 were submitted for the rest of the city. One in the TOD was approved, and eight elsewhere in the city were approved, according to the annual review.
The one not approved in the TOD was for a commercial and residential development at 143 W. Main St. The plan stalled because it’s pending other approvals. The one approved was for a residential and commercial building at 24 Colony St., Caruso said. It is expected to have 11,000 square feet of ground floor commercial space, 63 apartment units, and an attached four-story parking garage expected to be used by rail commuters.
City Economic Development Director Juliet Burdelski said that the project is “the major milestone for the city. We haven’t had any major development downtown in decades.”
While the application for 24 Colony required administrative review because of its complexity, plans submitted that meet development requirements in the TOD are subject to an expedited review process. This was the case for a new laundromat at 72 Cook Ave., Caruso said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
A new report commissioned by a coalition of industry groups concludes that a failure to invest in natural gas and electricity infrastructure in New England will cost businesses and households billions of dollars in higher energy costs by 2020.
Investment could also create or save as many as 168,000 permanent and temporary jobs, according to the New England Coalition for Affordable Energy, whose membership includes the Connecticut Business & Industry Association.
The study compares two scenarios. The first scenario is that energy infrastructure levels remain where they are today. The second assumes a 43 percent expansion in natural pipeline capacity, 1,360 megawatts of added wind energy, 920 megawatts of added nonrenewable generation, and a 500-megawatt addition of electricity imports from New York or Canada.
Adding that capacity would generate approximately $9 billion in construction activity, the study said. The study's authors noted that there are six proposed major New England infrastructure projects, including Northern Pass, that are expected to mitigate some of the financial and economic impacts. DOWNLOAD PDFs
Read the energy coalition's report

Rival developers stake out plans for EH, WL malls

EAST HARTFORD — Simon Property Group has announced plans to build an outlet mall in Windsor Locks, but the CEO of Horizon Group Properties, which is developing East Hartford’s The Shoppes at Rentschler Field, asserts that the only outlet mall in the area will be in East Hartford.
“There’s only going to be one outlet built in the Hartford market,” Gary Skoien, CEO of Horizon Group Properties, says. “Our project is the one that is going to be done first and therefore the only one, and also the one that’ll make a difference to the state of Connecticut and the greater Hartford area.”
The Shoppes at Rentschler Field are well on their way to becoming a reality for East Hartford after planning began in March 2014. With a Department of Transportation traffic study nearing completion and a final site plan undergoing review, a groundbreaking is expected in late fall.
The outlet mall is part of a plan by town officials to redevelop the area around the stadium and the Silver Lane corridor. At completion, it will boast an entertainment center and apartments, as well as the outlet center.
“The difference between these projects is that this is transformational,” Skoien said. “The other is just an outlet center. It’s really going to be a huge change for East Hartford. And the other thing is that it’ll be huge for Hartford’s conventions. It’s just one more selling point.”
East Hartford Mayor Marcia Leclerc echoed Skoien, saying the redevelopment will signify a new chapter for the town. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Quarry Walk ready to run

OXFORD — A long-anticipated economic development project that officials say would create a defined town center is more than just a concept — it is well on its way to getting built.
On Friday, Haynes Development Co. broke ground on construction of the first building in the project — a 2,500-square-foot Newtown Savings Bank branch. It's part of the first phase of a mixed-use development project at the site of Haynes' quarry on Route 67, or Oxford Road.
"This is happening, it's the beginning of the project and it's going to be great for the town," First Selectman George R. Temple said.
The development, once dubbed Oxford Towne Center and now known as Quarry Walk at Oxford Towne Center, is described as an upscale, $70 million development at 297 Oxford Road.
Along with the bank, plans call for the town's first grocery store with a drive-thru pharmacy, a medical facility, an automotive service center, restaurants, small retailers, and 150 residential units. The homes will be one-and-two-bedroom townhouses and flats. Officials say it is possible that a proposed new municipal library and a dog park could be constructed within the project, which will be built on 32 acres. Developers are also planning for outdoor eating areas and open fields, similar to town Greens, within the development.
The bank will sit at the entrance to a boulevard leading to where the remainder of project will be constructed and will be a focal point of the development, said Kathy Ekstrom, development manager for Haynes.
The bank branch, which is slated to open in June, will look more like an Apple iPhone store than a traditional bank, she said. It will have a modern feel with several square feet of open space at the entrance, surrounded by conference rooms for the community and private rooms where customers can meet with bankers.
THE FACADE of the building will have a modern appearance that will include stone from the quarry.
Stone will be a focal point of the overall development, Ekstrom said. Even the pile-on sign will not be the stereotypical, neon signs that are seen in most developments. "Ours is going to be a mammoth rock with signs on it," Ekstrom said. "It will be beautiful stone wall that will have our logo — Quarry Walk — as well as the logos of other businesses. And Newtown Savings Bank is the first of many to come." The next groundbreaking will likely happen within a couple of months, she said. That will be for a grocery store called Market 32 by PriceChopper. The company is in the midst of a $3 million rebranding campaign to develop grocery stores that are akin to the style of Whole Foods Market, which is known for selling natural and organic foods at stores nationwide. PriceChopper, however, plans to keep its price points low, Ekstrom said.
On its website, PriceChopper describes the Market 32 concept as a place where shoppers can indulge their curiosity with product sampling and recipe demonstrations. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE






August 27, 2015

CT Construction August 27, 2015

State DOT proposes major redesign of route 82 in Norwich

Norwich — The busy Route 82 commercial strip in Norwich has borne the ignoble nickname “Crash Alley” for decades, earned by frequent vehicle crashes, numerous screeching tires from near misses and the uncounted nervous heartbeats of pedestrians trying to cross even at signaled crosswalks.
The state Department of Transportation has proposed a major, two-phase reconstruction project along the four-lane strip running from just west of the busy intersection with New London Turnpike to the intersection with Asylum and Mechanic streets.
Six roundabouts would replace traffic signals at key intersections, the largest one at New London Turnpike.
A 6-inch high median divider would prevent all left-hand turns along most of the stretch, and sidewalks would be reconstructed to improve pedestrian safety and reduce steep driveway ramps into businesses.
And in spots just beyond the major reconstruction zone, left-turn lanes would be created in the center of the roadway to improve left turns into side streets and businesses.
The intersection of residential street Surrey Lane would be eliminated, forcing traffic from that road and several side streets to drive east to New London Turnpike to get to Route 82.
Several properties along the route are outlined for possible acquisition by the state, including the Extra-Mart gas station at the Dunham Street intersection, a sign business at the corner of Asylum Street, a long-vacant former gas station at the New London Turnpike intersection, a vacant office building at the corner of Osgood Street and a vacant lot at Mechanic Street.
Road widening and sidewalk reconstruction might require other land acquisition not denoted on project maps. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New Britain is proof busway is spurring development

NEW BRITAIN — Douglas Bromfield says he's on course to redevelop the long-abandoned Berkowitz Building into 52 apartments and first-floor retail, and credits CTfastrak with helping make the plan possible.
"If you want to know what transit-oriented development looks like, come back after this is built," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said at a Wednesday afternoon press conference across Main Street from the hulking, boarded-up Berkowitz Building.
Looking to promote the economic growth potential of the $567 million busway, Malloy and Mayor Erin Stewart spent the late morning touring several businesses where owners said CTfastrak's downtown station has brought in more customers.
"CTfastrak has been such a benefit to the city of New Britain. We're seeking lots and lots more visitors," Stewart said.
Stewart, a Republican, was unwavering in her praise for the busway, even though state GOP leaders frequently criticize Malloy and Democratic legislators for building it. She said the bus rapid transit system created many opportunities for business growth in New Britain.
Malloy and Stewart ate hot dogs at Capitol Lunch, posed for photos at Eblens, and visited the Las Caribenas salon and the Roly Poly bakery.
The key point of the tour was Bromfield's big four-story brick building, where business won't be going until 2017 at the earliest. Stewart said it will be a crucial part of revitalizing the stretch of Main Street that links downtown and the Broad Street neighborhood known as Little Poland.
Bromfield, a Hartford-based developer, has purchased the building and is looking for state housing grants along with historic preservation tax credits to offset some of the renovation cost. He hopes to have financing lined up by February so construction can begin in the spring. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

7 years later, Madison field house projects break ground on Friday

MADISON >> After seven years of planning, raising millions of dollars and construction, the second phase of the Strong Center renovation plan is set to begin Friday.
Ground will be broken Friday at 10 a.m. for the construction of two new field houses, which will start the second half of overall renovations being done to the Strong Center at the Surf Club.
The project involves building the Strong Center Field Houses, where two buildings will be built to create Garrity Plaza, as well as a grand entrance into the area. Garrity Plaza will be named after Kevin Garrity, the largest donor to the project with a gift of $100,000.
The field house project is estimated to cost around $600,000, according to Strong Center Board member Larry Ciotti. For the project to be completed, the committee is still seeking $500,000 in donations and Ciotti said naming rights are still available for parts of the plaza.
Ciotti, the first high school football coach at Daniel Hand High School in 1970, said hundreds of sporting events over the years turned the once lush sporting facility into a shell of its former self.
“The field just looked tired and the bleachers couldn’t fit as many people as they should have, so something needed to be done,” said Ciotti.
The first phase, which was completed in recent years, installed a new turf field, flagpoles, bleachers and a scoreboard to the Strong Center. Those projects cost an estimated $2.4 million, with $1.1 million coming from the town and the rest from sponsors and donors, according to Ciotti. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Lyman Hall athletic upgrades on track

WALLINGFORD >> The Board of Education received assurances this week from the district’s Buildings and Grounds Supervisor Marc Deptula that the $2.27 million upgrade of the track and football field at Lyman Hall High School is going smoothly.
Board Chairwoman Roxane McKay sought assurances from Deptula at the board’s meeting Monday that the project will be finished shortly before Thanksgiving. The project, which is being done by Moutainview Landscapes and Lawncare of Chicopee, Massachusetts, calls for installing a new running track, an artificial turf field and new lights at the school.
A pre-Thanksgiving completion would allow the annual powder puff football game between girls from Lyman Hall and cross-town rival Mark T. Sheehan High School to be played on the new field. That game is played the day before the traditional Thanksgiving varsity football game between the two schools.
“Are we still on schedule?” McKay asked.  Deptula said that despite what he described as “some pretty extreme weather,” work has proceeded at a steady pace since construction began in mid-July.
“We had two days with pretty heavy rains and they were able to work right through it,” he said of Moutainview Landscapes.  Most of the old running track has been taken up, Deptula said, although a small portion remains in place to serve as roadway for construction equipment. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

New Report CT traffic is bad and likely to get worse

Washington – Connecticut has some of the worst traffic in the nation, with snarls that cost drivers about 20 gallons of wasted fuel and dozens of hours of lost time each year — and things are likely to get worse, a new report says.
Texas A&M Transportation Institute and the traffic monitoring firm INRIX say the Bridgeport-Stamford area is the second-most congested area of its size in the nation, and motorists there spent an average of 49 hours in traffic tieups each year.
Among similar, medium-sized cities, only Honolulu had worst traffic, the study said. The “Urban Mobility Scorecard,” released Wednesday, said Hartford was the fifth most congested medium-sized city in the nation, with drivers' spending an average of 45 hours a year in traffic delays. New Haven came in 11th, with an average of 40 hours a year in traffic jams.
Among large metropolitan areas, Washington, D.C., and its suburbs topped the list of the most congested cities, followed by Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, Calif., and the San Francisco metropolitan area.
The New York-Newark, N.J.- Connecticut metropolitan area came in fourth. Drivers in that area spent about 74 hours in traffic delays and wasted about 35 gallons of fuel.
“The problem is very large,” the report said. “In 2014, congestion caused urban Americans to travel an extra 6.9 billion hours and purchase an extra 3.1 billion gallons of fuel for a congestion cost of $160 billion. "
The study said truckers were hit hardest, accounting for about 17 percent of the congestion cost, much more than their 7 percent of traffic.
Kevin Nursick, spokesman for the Connecticut Department of Transportation, said, “There is no sugarcoating that there is congestion.” But, he said, larger metropolitan areas in the nation have more severe traffic snarls.
“There’s a lot worse than what we’re dealing with,” he said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

August 26, 2015

CT Construction Digest August 26, 2015

You can blame the beeping economy for worst U.S. traffic ever

WASHINGTON (AP) — More jobs and cheaper gasoline come with a big, honking downside: U.S. roads are more clogged than ever now that the recession is in the rearview mirror.
Commuters in Washington, D.C., suffer the most, losing an average of 82 hours a year to rush-hour slowdowns, a new study finds. Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York come next on the list of urban areas with the longest delays.
But the pain reaches across the nation.
Overall, American motorists are stuck in traffic about 5 percent more than they were in 2007, the pre-recession peak, says the report from the Texas A&M Transportation Institute and INRIX Inc., which analyzes traffic data.
Four out of five cities have now surpassed their 2007 congestion.
Rounding out the Top 10 worst commuting cities are San Jose, Boston, Seattle, Chicago, Houston and Riverside-San Bernardino.
Cities with fast-growing economies and the most job growth are the most plagued by traffic. Other factors: Urban populations are increasing and lower fuel prices are making driving less expensive, so more people are taking to city roads.
Congestion increased in 61 of the nation's 101 largest cities from 2012 to 2013, the data showed. The following year, nearly all cities — 95 out of 101 — experienced greater congestion.
The findings are based on federal data about how many cars are on the roads and on traffic speed data collected by INRIX on 1.3 million miles of urban streets and highways.
The growth is outpacing the nation's ability to build the roads, bridges, trains and other infrastructure to handle all these people on the move. Congress has kept federal transportation programs teetering on the edge of insolvency for nearly eight years because lawmakers have been unwilling to raise the federal gas tax and haven't found a politically palatable alternative to pay for needed improvements. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
MERIDEN — Progress to rebuild a collapsed wall at 72-80 E. Main St. continues slowly but surely, officials say.
The building’s rear wall was roughly halfway rebuilt on Tuesday, but Building Official David Zwick said it still a long way to go. 
“They haven’t gotten to the point yet where we can call it stabilized,” Zwick said.
The back wall partially collapsed in January 2014, forcing residents in 30 units and several business to evacuate. The following June, another smaller collapse occurred. The building, deemed structurally unsafe, remains empty.
Zwick said the owner, Nue Vuksanaj, and construction crews have been following designs created by an engineer to ensure that the wall is rebuilt properly.
The engineer, Troy Dixon of the locally-based DeCarlo and Doll, Inc., said crews need to “build the foundations to put the wall on, put the wall up,” and anchor the wall.
“Engineers are overseeing the placement of the concrete, how the cement blocks are intertwining with the corners — they have to establish a bond with the old building,” Zwick said. “Once they get to that last (western-most) corner, that’s when we can say they have four good corners and four walls established. “
Crews are adding reinforcing bar, or rebar, to the rear wall as well. “That’s a major improvement to strengthen the wall,” Zwick said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
MERIDEN — A construction trade training facility recently opened on Center Street, with organizers hoping to capitalize on the city’s many building projects.
The Construction Workforce Initiative 2 opened at 547 Center St. at the end of July. The non-profit partners with unions to provide pre-apprenticeship training to prospective laborers in New Haven county.
Originally based in New Haven, the program was attracting mostly New Haven residents, said the organization’s board secretary Nichole Jefferson. State funding requires a broader spectrum of county residents.
“Meriden is more centrally located,” Jefferson said.
The organization, founded in 2003, is funded through the state Department of Labor and New Haven county building trade unions. Teachers for the training programs come from the labor unions,
Since the goal is to funnel workers to job sites, Jefferson said Meriden made sense.
“Meriden has a lot of construction work going on right now, between the (Meriden) Housing Authority projects, work at the train station, and project-labor agreements with the schools, we’re hoping this will be a good avenue for us,” she said.
The MHA is spearheading the construction of a residential and retail building at 24 Colony St. that will include a state parking garage. The housing authority is also in the early stages of a 100,000-square-foot mixed-use building project at 143 W. Main St.
Also, the state is building a new train station on State Street as part of the New Haven-Hartford-Springfield rail project.
The city is also planning to develop housing and retail on five properties in downtown.
Elsewhere, both the city’s public schools are in the midst of multi-million dollar updates. When the projects were approved, councilors passed project labor agreements that set goals that 30 percent of the total hours on each project would be worked by Meriden residents, 10 percent by minorities, 5 percent by women, and 5 percent by veterans. The agreement also stipulates that the hiring be done through union referrals.
To date, the Meriden residency goal hasn’t been met at either school, though Jefferson hopes the CWI2 program can help.
“This is union-based training. Folks trained through us are generally the first taken in through building trades, and the unions get first choice for our candidates,” she said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
The Midwest operator of the Clinton Crossing Premium Outlets says it plans a similar shopping venue in Windsor Locks.
Indianapolis-based Simon Property Group said Tuesday it has applied for a zoning change to allow for development of Hartford Premium Outlets on Old Country Road, near the intersection of Route 20 and I-91.
No development pricetag was listed. If approved, construction would begin next fall, with an opening slated for the fourth quarter of 2017.
The first phase will consist of 350,000 square feet of retail space, a food court and a pair of restaurants on the property's perimeter, Simon officials said. It also will feature pedestrian promenades, with fountains, art, a children's play area, and an outdoor fireplace.
"We are tremendously excited to bring the world's most recognized and popular brand of upscale outlet shopping to the Hartford area," said Mark Silvestri, chief operating officer for Simon Premium Outlets division. "We are off to a solid start – the Town of Windsor Locks has been very supportive and welcoming. This will be a great development."
The architectural style of the center will be inspired by Classic Colonial and Connecticut rural architecture, so that the village-like setting will be reminiscent of a Windsor Locks community.
"This project will allow Simon Property Group to create retail space that will lead to hundreds of new jobs for area residents, attract visitors, and boost the overall economic development base for the region," Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said in a statement accompanying Simon's announcement.
Among Simon's 85 Premium Outlets nationwide, its other shopping centers nearest Connecticut include Wrentham Village Premium Outlets in Wrentham, Mass., and Lee Premium Outlets in Lee, Mass. Simon also owns Waterford's Crystal Mall.

Storrs Center's condos break ground

Site work is underway on 42 luxury condominiums, the latest — and perhaps final phase — of the mega Storrs Center development adjacent to UConn's campus.
Westchester, N.Y., developer LeylandAlliance LLP just recently sealed the deal for construction of the Main Street Homes project with its announcement of a $6 million credit line for its Main Street Homes-Storrs LLC unit from Rhode Island's Washington Trust.
LeylandAlliance CEO Howard Kaufman said demand already is outpacing its ability to ramp up construction of the first units, due to be ready for occupancy by early 2016. All 42 units are slated to be built and sold by late that same year.
"This is the first for-sale residential product at Storrs Center,'' said Kaufman, whose firm is a minority partner with Centerplan Development in recasting Harford's Downtown North, or "DoNo,'' section into a mix of office, retail and apartments/condos, anchored by the new Dunkin' Donuts ballpark under construction for opening next spring.
Twenty-three of Main Street Homes' floor plans are pre-sold, Kaufman said. Prices for units ranging from one- to three-bedroom flats and townhouses start at $269,000 to as high as $530,000, Kaufman said.
It is, he said, more confirmation that Mansfield's residents, business and college-student body have fully embraced Storrs Center. To date, he said, the mixed-use development's approximately 600 apartments are occupied, and most of its 166,000 square feet of retail space is leased.
"It's a huge success,'' Kaufman said.
The $220 million project has involved a massive private-public partnership, two separate development companies, a financing package that mixes taxpayer money with private equity and bank loans, a relocation of a small business cluster and redevelopment around wetlands.
Moreover, the project was assembled throughout the 2008 financial crisis, which led to the nation's worst economic downturn since the Great Depression.
All of the condominium units, Kaufman said, will be contained in eight separate buildings on four acres that architect Union Studio, of Providence, R.I., has designed. The units will average 1,510 square feet in size.
A ninth structure, a three-story mid-rise to be called The Leyland Building, will house 10 flats that residents can access through garages and elevators at the building's rear, Kaufman said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Waterbury factory building demolished and salvaged
 WATERBURY — Pulling down a 125,543-square-foot brick building is no small feat, especially when carefully preserving building materials for reuse or recycling.
Waterbury Wrecking Co. began taking apart the century-old Berbecker & Rowland Manufacturing Co. factory at the corner of Thomaston and Huntingdon avenues two weeks ago. One wing of the building has already been turned into large piles of brick. The crew is now working on the original three-story building.
Waterbury Wrecking owner Peter Vileisis expects to have the job done in another two weeks.
Vileisis couldn't share his fee or cost for pulling down the massive building, but he did say money from recyclables in the building will allow him to charge about half what he would otherwise expect. He began his company 55 years ago as a teenager, pulling down houses by hand to make way for new doctors' offices. Today he uses heavy tractors.
Cheshire-based developers Robert Roscoe and Robert Oris paid $800,000 for the property in April, according to city records. They plan to demolish the factory and put up three buildings, each around 4,000 square feet. These will be for a bank, a restaurant and a Cumberland Farms convenience store, according to the City Planning office.
Vileisis and his five-man crew are careful to sort metal, bricks and huge wooden beams that might be sold for scrap or recycled building materials. Workers could be seen pulling bolts from metal supports and tossing them in five-gallon buckets Tuesday. "Every little nut and bolt gets picked up," Vileisis said.
The metal will go to local scrap yards, the brick to Wethersfield Building Supply. Vileisis expects to salvage 1,000 heavy beams, to be shipped to Japan by a Spanish company.
The beams are about 15 inches wide and tall. Some are 22 feet long. Some are 42 feet. "Today you've got to recycle," Vileisis said. "If you don't recycle, you may as well go out of business."
The building is in an industrial zone, so the proposed uses are allowed, City Planner James Sequin said Tuesday.
Roscoe and Ortis plan to build the Cumberland Farms right away, but will have to wait to secure a special permit for the other buildings.
That's because the additional construction will push excavation past the 500-cubic-yard-per-acre threshold that is automatically allowed, Sequin said.     


August 25, 2015

CT Construction Digest August 25, 2015

Manchester school board hears update on Bennet-Cheney project

MANCHESTER — The school board heard an update Monday on the planned fifth- and sixth-grade school, which the project architect said is on schedule to be completed by the summer of 2017.
Construction on the Bennet-Cheney project is expected to begin early next year, principal architect Randall Luther of Tai Soo Kim Partners told the board.
The new campus will combine Bennet Academy with the Cheney Building, a former trade school, and its adjacent boiler building. The work is part of an $84.2 million school modernization plan that voters approved in November. The Bennet-Cheney project is estimated to cost $17.9 million, with local taxpayers responsible for about $7 million after state reimbursement.
The planning and zoning boards recently approved the project, along with local and state historic preservation organizations.
The Cheney and boiler buildings will retain their historic facades. The two buildings will be connected and include 21 fifth-grade classrooms, special education and English Language Learners classrooms, a main office and a nurse's office.
The project also includes additional music and art rooms on the Bennet side and an expanded cafeteria to accommodate about 1,000 students in three lunch waves, Luther said.
The campus now has 83 marked parking spaces, but specifications call for at least 160, Luther said. The Bennet-Cheney school will have a total of 183 spaces, and most of the new spaces will be in a lot that is now an open playing field adjacent to Bennet Academy, Luther said. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Spectra Energy holds open house about pipeline expansion

Recently, Spectra Energy outlined its plan for expansion of parts of the existing Algonquin Natural Gas Pipeline, with a project titled "Access Northeast," at a series of open house events.
One of these open houses took place in Glastonbury -- which is crossed by the pipeline -- on Aug. 18.
Several residents attended to ask questions or to express concerns, and others came in protest of the plan and the pipelining of natural gas in general.
Arthur Diestel, Stakeholder Outreach Manager, was one of about 30 representatives from Spectra and its affiliates on hand at the open house event
Diestel said that while there are other projects to expand the Algonquin pipeline -- at various stages of development (including the apparently-now-defunct Atlantic Bridge Project) -- Access Northeast is being developed by Spectra, as well as Eversource and National Grid, to serve power generation in New England.
The project will cover 125 miles of pipeline expansion and new market area storage facilities, and will provide up to 1 million cubic feet per day. The pipeline currently serves approximately 60 percent of the gas power generators in New England and the expansion will increase that load to approximately 70 percent.
Diestel said the project includes "looping," or adding an additional pipeline, in several areas. In some places in Connecticut, it will also replace pipelines with larger ones. It also includes the construction of some new segments in Massachusetts. He added that the construction will make use of existing rights-of-way, and will have minimal environmental impact.
The project is in the "initial project evaluation" stage.
"We have not engaged any regulatory bodies or agencies at this point," Dietsel said. "We want to reach out to stakeholders. We want to understand what's going on in these communities."
The plan is to enter the pre-file process later this year, with the filing of formal certificates about a year later. The construction start date is targeted for the second quarter of 2018.
At the open house, residents were able to input their address on computers, which then displayed a map of their neighborhood and the proximity to the pipeline and its proposed expansion. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

August 24, 2015

CT Construction Digest August 24. 2015

Engineering, oil and gas: Industry sees need for heavy machinery operators

Any time a structure is going to be built, or large equipment or items are going to be moved, heavy equipment and heavy equipment operators are needed.
However, heavy machinery is also used to unload ships at the Ship Channel, in the oil and gas industry, and in many other areas and industries as well, so there is always a demand for these professionals.
"We have a shortage of heavy machinery operators. In our training program, the classes are full. Yet, at any one time, we are short 20-50 operators to fill jobs," said Danny Vasquez, organizer, Union 450 Local Union.
Construction equipment/heavy machinery operators use machinery to move construction materials, earth, and other heavy materials at construction sites, including pipelines and refineries.
They operate equipment that clears and grades land to prepare it for construction of roads, bridges, buildings, and other structures.
Operating engineers and other construction equipment operators work with one or several types of power construction equipment. They may operate excavation and loading machines equipped with scoops, shovels or buckets that dig sand, gravel, earth, or similar materials.
In addition to operating bulldozers, they operate trench excavators, road graders, and similar equipment.
Often they may drive and control industrial trucks or tractors equipped with forklifts or booms for lifting materials.
Most heavy equipment operators' jobs are short term, from one to three months, and then they go to another job. Therefore, many of these skilled professionals work with employment agencies and/or unions. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

More I-95 backups in store at New Haven-West Haven line

NEW HAVEN >> Drivers traveling over the West River bridge on Interstate 95 next weekend will run into a second lane shift in three weeks, and that may mean longer backups for motorists who have been plagued with bumper-to-bumper traffic this summer.
But the state Department of Transportation’s Ghazi Alsaqri, the project engineer, emphasized one thing: There will be no work done on the highway between 9 a.m. and 7 p.m. Saturday, the last day of the Connecticut Open women’s tennis tournament in New Haven’s Westville section. “This is really important because we made a promise to them and we are not going to interfere at that time,” Alsaqri said as he looked out over the I-95 construction zone from the Howard Avenue bridge.
This shift will take drivers off the old southbound lanes and enable workers to demolish part of the old bridge over the West River, which divides West Haven and New Haven. The work, which will start at 11 p.m. Friday, is being done by Middlesex Corp. of Littleton, Massachusetts.
Drivers were backed up for miles on Aug. 15 because a truck delivering asphalt to the project from eastern Connecticut was caught in a backup caused by a fatal accident in Old Lyme. That delayed the shift from the northbound lanes of I-95 onto a portion of the new bridge. Alsaqri acknowledged the delay choked the highway that day but said the work was still finished a day early, on Aug. 16.
“For every interference with lanes you should expect some backups,” Aqsari said, but added that the DOT hopes to keep them to a minimum.
This coming weekend, southbound traffic will be moved to the former northbound lanes, which are now unused. Drivers approaching from Long Wharf will encounter a split in the road, as well, near the Howard Avenue bridge. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Power plant near Oxford airport to be expedited

OXFORD — The company proposing a 785-megawatt combined-cycle power plant near the Waterbury-Oxford Airport is in active discussions with investors to finance the $1 billion project and plans to move forward with construction within months, even as appeals are ongoing by local intervenors. Maryland-based Competitive Power Ventures, which is operating here as CPV Towantic, LLC, plans to begin construction of the CPV Towantic Energy Center off of Woodruff Hill Road, near the town's borders with Naugatuck and Middlebury, between December and February and to begin operating here in 2018, said First Selectman George R. Temple. He has been an advocate for the project for years primarily due to its potential to bring tax revenue to town coffers.
He said the company plans to pay Oxford $7 million in upfront costs before construction begins, and that once the plant is built, it would pump $5.3 million a year for into the town's grand list, a listing of all taxable property in town.
"We intend to lower taxes and nothing is better for property values than lower taxes," he said, adding that he believes the plant will also lower electricity bills in the long run. "I think it's an asset, and we're really looking forward to it."
CPV's proposed power plant here will be fueled primarily with natural gas, but would be authorized to use distillate fuel oil in certain limited circumstances. The plant has been controversial as neighbors worry about its impact on property values and public health. The project has been approved by the Connecticut Siting Council, but still has several hurdles to clear before construction can begin. Still, CPV representatives seem confident the project will move forward.
Among the issues CPV faces in getting the project off the ground are:
* The company needs an air permit from the state Department of Energy and Environmental Protection, which has indicated it is likely to grant the permit. They would establish air emissions standards and operational restrictions for the plant in accordance with state and federal air pollution control law. DEEP has scheduled a hearing for that project for 6:30 p.m. Sept. 17 at Oxford High School's auditorium.
* The company has presented a detailed development and management plan to the Connecticut Siting Council, which has approved the project contingent upon a favorable review of that plant, an air permit from DEEP and a favorable review from the Federal Aviation Administration, which has ruled that the project's two 150-foot smokestacks would have no adverse effect on the safety of aircraft landing at the nearby airport. The Siting Council was expected to discuss the development and management plan last week, but a council member fell ill and the review was postponed to next month, said Melanie Bachman, acting executive director for the Siting Council.
* The FAA ruling has been challenged by Raymond Pietrorazio, Middlebury's representative for the airport, who criticized the ruling for not mentioning the effect plumes of smoke may have on the visibility of pilots and the airport tower. Currently, FAA regulations do not take into account the effluent from smokestacks when considering whether they are a hazard to flying safety.
* The company is in the process of working with Heritage Village Water Co. to get the 218,000 gallons of water a day it needs to operate the plant. The Pomperaug River Watershed Coalition has concerns about the proposal, saying that water taken out of the Pomperaug River will not be returned to the basin as it is with other uses. The coalition's executive director, Len DeJong, has concerns about prolonged droughts and that the power plant's varied seasonal water demands may further burden what he said are existing critical low river flows.
Raymond Adamaitis, vice president of Heritage Village Water Co., assured Southbury officials last week that the company has more than enough water available — more than 1 million gallons per day and another 500,000 daily from Connecticut Water Co. as a backup. Heritage Village Water Co. has never had to use the backup water. Adamaitis said any contract with CPV would be written in such a way that it protects its water system and service area.
* An additional battle CPV is facing will be fought in court between the town of Middlebury, various intervenors and the Connecticut Siting Council.
Middlebury has filed an appeal of the Siting Council's approval of CPV Towantic at New Britain Superior Court. Attorney Stephen Savarese filed the lawsuit July 2 on behalf of the town and several other nearby property owners, including Greenfields, Oxford Greens Association, Middlebury Land Trust, Marian R. Larkin and the Lake Quassapaug Association, to name a few. A pretrial conference is scheduled for Sept. 8.
Bachman said the plaintiff's appeal does not preclude CPV from beginning construction but noted the company would be doing so at its own risk.
Various financial publications have indicated that CPV has had multiple discussions with banks over financing the project, indicating that the company is ready to get a shovel in the ground.
Braith Kelly, Jr., senior vice president for external affairs at CPV, said he could not comment about financing. But he said development of the plant remains on track.
"We're trying to work with all of these different stakeholders, and we believe that there is a clear path to resolve all of these issues," he said. "We remain willing to work toward whatever resolutions we can. We're still confident that the project can move forward and it is moving forward."

August 21, 2015

CT Construction Digest August 21, 2105

High expectations for Bass Pro

BRIDGEPORT — The banners promoting Bass Pro Shops’ jobs fair hung outside the Klein Memorial Auditorium between advertisements for performances by John Hiatt, Wynton Marsalis and a tango show.
The placement was appropriate.
The Missouri-based outdoor retailer’s Bridgeport location, under construction between I-95 and the harbor, is billed as not just a store but a 150,000 square-foot attraction, complete with a restaurant and bowling ally.
A “trip generator” is how Mayor Bill Finch described it during an interview Tuesday on WNPR’s “The Colin McEnroe Show.”
So, Monday through Wednesday, job applicants ages 18 to 72 from within and outside of Bridgeport, milled about the Klein’s lobby and auditorium, as if auditioning for a big production.
“It’s a brand new place for Bridgeport, it’s on a bus route, and it looks exciting,” Stratford resident Sondra Miller, 72, said after her job interview.
The company is hiring nearly 400 people for the Bridgeport site, which was first announced with great fanfare in the summer of 2012 and is expected to open later this year. Nearly half of those openings are full-time salaried or hourly positions, according to Bass Pro.
A company spokesman said more than 950 applicants showed up Monday, day one of the three-day event. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Work resumes on three Stamford schools

STAMFORD — Stop-work orders were lifted at three district schools Wednesday, and all schools remain on schedule for their Aug. 31 opening, city and district officials said.
City permit records accessed Wednesday afternoon confirmed that all necessary permits had been issued for work to resume at Scofield Magnet Middle School, Springdale Elementary and Stamford High School.
“All work is permitted to continue,” said Michael Handler, the city’s director of administration, who said the city was collaborating with the district to open schools on time.
Handler said the city’s building department authorized schools facilities manager Al Barbarotta to remove the red stop-work notices from the schools’ front doors.
The stop-work orders were issued after three surprise inspections Tuesday morning found projects under Barbarotta’s oversight at the three schools lacked building and electrical permits.
Building department officials expedited the missing permits, which were all in place by Wednesday afternoon.
In the city’s first extensive comments on the week’s events, Handler said such work site investigations could be triggered for several reasons. All permitted work sites are automatically slated for inspection, he said. In addition, certain officials, such as tax assessors, can call for a building inspection. Inspections can also arise as a result of a complaint. Handler said he didn’t know what exactly prompted Tuesday morning’s inspections. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

CT hiring lowers in July jobless rate to 5.4%

Connecticut employers hired 4,100 workers in July, cutting the state's jobless rate to 5.4 percent, state labor authorities say.
Last month was the third in a row for job gains, the state Labor Department said Thursday, citing preliminary U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. The U.S. jobless rate fell to 5.3 percent in July.
Connecticut has now recovered 102,000 jobs, or 86 percent, of the total lost during the Great Recession, the agency said. The state's June jobless rate was 5.7 percent, and was 6.4 percent in July 2014.
Hiring in professional and business services, education and health services, financial activities and government contributed to July's job gains.
Conversely, construction and mining, information, leisure and hospitality, and trade, transportation & utilities shed jobs, the state labor department said.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy released a statement on the jobs report, saying it shows progress.
"Jobs are dramatically up, the unemployment rate is significantly down, and we're on track to reach private sector job levels that the state hasn't seen since before the Great Recession," Malloy said. But we cannot – and will not – stop here. We are going to continue fighting for more good paying jobs with good benefits as we engage with companies like never before."

August 20, 2015

CT Construction Digest August 20, 2015

Construction sector jobs shortage not felt in CT

With a recent report suggesting U.S. homebuilders are struggling to find workers amid a building boom, Connecticut’s main construction trade group says local companies have been able to hire qualified workers, despite the recent recession discouraging some from sticking with the industry.
Connecticut’s construction industry spiked 8 percent in June, crossing the 60,000 job plateau for the first time since 2008 when the sector reached a historic high of almost 70,000 jobs. Only five states saw their construction employers boost jobs by a bigger margin, according to the most recent data available from the Associated General Contractors of America (AGC), with Connecticut leading the Northeast. Idaho led the nation at 13 percent.
June marked the biggest year-over-year gain for any single month in Connecticut since June 2004, and it wasn’t just happening in Connecticut. Construction employment nationally—for which there is more recent data—in July climbed to the highest level since February 2009, while the number of unemployed workers with construction experience shrank to a 14-year low, according to the AGC. And the U.S. Department of Labor reported housing starts nationally in July reached their highest level since 2007, prompting the National Association of Builders to warn that a labor shortage was hurting project growth.
Jobs are an imperfect data point in a state as small as Connecticut, with builders able to hire out-of-state firms that win with low bids and truck in workers from across the border. But according to the head of the Connecticut Construction Industries Association (CCIA), the local jobs data matches reality.
CCIA saw the boom coming 18 months ago, according to Don Shubert, CCIA president, as companies began calling to ask for help staffing up the projects they were winning. CCIA has been filling cohorts for its apprenticeship programs as fast as it can form them, providing long-term stability to a sector that is eyeing a number of long term projects that could generate billions of dollars in new work over the coming years. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Bridgewater's HQ project unanimously backed by conservation panel

The Conservation Commission has unanimously approved plans by Bridgewater Associates for upgrades at its 15.84-acre Glendinning campus.
The commission’s Wednesday special meeting continued a four-hour public hearing July 29, where board members felt there were many unanswered questions about the hedge fund’s plans, including some concerning a proposed underground parking garage and the impact of the work on wetlands.
Bridgewater’s lawyer, Eric Bernheim of Halloran and Sage, said the applicant responded in writing to “numerous questions received” since that meeting and Craig Lapinski, a civil engineer with Fuss & O’Neill, said, “We’ve been careful to address every comment we’ve gotten.”
The project;s impact on wetlands remained an issue for some commission members, but they were assured that only a small area of wetlands, most described as “low functioning,” would be disturbed during construction.
The panel also discussed the removal of about 10,000 cubic yards of hazardous materials on the property during remediation, in particular, the safe handling of the material during that time. Trucks would be lined up to take the material off-site so there won;t be stockpiling, commission members were told.
Public access to the property and use of adjacent waterways — the three rivers that run through the property — will remain the same, the way it has been since Bridgewater occupied the property, they were told. And the Aspetuck Land Trust would still have access to its property, via an existing easement.
“We don’t plan to make things difficult,” said Bernheim. “We won’t be putting up signs.”
But, he noted, there could be some restricted access during construction, including when a septic system is being installed and remediation is taking place. Like any construction site, he said, there will be a fence around it.  CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Southington replacing bridge on Old Mountain Road

SOUTHINGTON — Construction crews are working to replace a bridge on Old Mountain Road, a project expected to be complete in the fall.
Martin Laviero Contractors of Bristol won the bid for the bridge replacement for $694,450. The work includes removing the old bridge, replacing a culvert and constructing of a 125 foot retaining wall.
  Town Engineer Keith Hayden said the bridge will be replaced with a concrete box culvert which should last about 50 years.
According to police Old Mountain Road between School Street and Meriden-Waterbury Turnpike will be closed to all but local traffic until the project is complete. Detour signs will guide motorists around the area.
Portions of the Old Mountain Road bridge are considered deficient by the state Department of Transportation.
Bridges are rated by the state on a scale of zero to nine. The highest rating indicates a brand new bridge and a zero is a closed bridge. Ratings of four or less are considered structurally deficient but not necessarily unsafe.
The deck, superstructure and structural evaluation were listed as 3 in a state report compiled in February. The bridge’s substructure and channel were both rate as 7.
State officials say they don’t hesitate to close bridges that could pose a danger to drivers.
There have been weight limits on the bridge for the past few years, a move Hayden said is unusual and shows the bridge was ready for replacement. The new bridge will be wider and Old Mountain Road straightened slightly to improve safety.
“It gets really narrow there now,” Hayden said.
The project received a state grant for about 30 percent of the cost, according to Hayden. He expects it’ll be finished in the first or second week of November.
Town Manager Garry Brumback said the bridge replacement is part of a number of infrastructure projects including School Street and County Road repaving. To refinish Country Road, Southington and Wolcott joined to pick a contractor and have the road on both sides of the border completed at once, avoiding the need for multiple projects and disruptions. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE
After four years of trying, the conversion of an old mill complex in Glastonbury into 250 apartments is getting underway, with the developer's purchase of the property last week sealing the deal.
Developer Martin J. Kenny closed the purchase of the 31-acre complex on New London Turnpike from longtime owner Flanagan Industries for $3.6 million and, on Wednesday, construction fences started going up for the $50 million project.
"This is the largest project that I've been involved in," Kenny said. "We're utilizing these old mill buildings. We're going to have a sophisticated industrial look. We're really excited about showcasing the history of the mill and the tannery."
Plans call for converting two old mill buildings into rentals, plus the construction of five new structures to the rear of the property. The apartments — to be named Flanagan's Landing — will be a mix of studios, one-, two- and three-bedroom units, with estimated monthly rents ranging from $1,200 to $3,000.
The first apartments could be ready for occupancy in fall 2016, Kenny said.
The project also includes a 6,000-square-foot space facing New London Turnpike for a restaurant. Kenny said he has four potential operators interested, but he declined to name them Wednesday.
The development comes amid a surge of apartment construction in the Hartford area, both in the city and the suburbs. Kenny said he's optimistic about leasing at the complex in Glastonbury because there has been little new rental construction since the 1960s and 1970s.
Kenny said there aren't a lot of options for young professionals from Glastonbury to live in the town where they grew up. CLICK TITLE TO CONTINUE

Construction begins on expansion of State Veterans Cemetery in Middletown

MIDDLETOWN — Construction has started on a project that will expand the State Veterans Cemetery, adding 10 years worth of burial space.
More than 7,000 veterans and 3,000 of their family members are interred at the Bow Lane burial ground, state officials said at a groundbreaking ceremony Wednesday.
Gov. Dannel P. Malloy said the project is a way for the state to recognize the contributions of veterans. Other initiatives include job programs and efforts to end homelessness among veterans.
"We are seeing a growing appreciation for our veterans and the sacrifices they and their families have made," Malloy said.
State officials said the project will be followed by improvements to the veterans cemeteries in Darien and Rocky Hill.
"We can look forward to honoring our commitment to all of our veterans and their spouses," Malloy said. "We owe the people buried a deep debt of gratitude for the sacrifices they made during their lifetime, in some cases losing their lives on our behalf."
Commander Larry Riley of the Middletown Council of Veterans, a Vietnam War veteran, said the State Veterans Cemetery has become known as a place to visit and reflect, and is a source of local pride.