On April 28, 2015, the New York City Brownfield Partnership hosted the seventh annual Big Apple Brownfield Awards (BABAs) at New York Law School. The event was well attended by developers, consultants, attorneys and representatives from the non-profit and government sectors. In addition to highlighting seven exceptional New York City redevelopment projects, the Partnership also recognized the collaboration between the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation and the New York City Office of Environmental Remediation in promoting and furthering brownfield redevelopment in New York City. The award was accepted by Robert Cozzy, Director – Remedial Bureau B, DER, NYSDEC; Jane O’Connell, Chief, Superfund & Brownfield Cleanup, NYSDEC Region 2; and Shaminder Chawla, Deputy Director, NYC Mayor’s Office of Environmental Remediation
The keynote address was delivered by New York City Council Member Donovan Richards Jr., Chair, Committee on Environmental Protection.
The attendees were welcomed on behalf of Partnership President Deborah Shapiro by Executive Director Sue Boyle, who reviewed the year’s accomplishments, including the first networking event for Young Brownfield Professionals, the efforts of the Partnership’s Legislative Committee regarding the proposed revisions to the New York State Brownfield Cleanup Program Regulations, the update of the 2014 study on the impact of the BCP on site remediation and redevelopment, and the expansion of the Partnership’s pro bono program.
Mimi Raygorodetsky, Chair of the Events Committee, introduced the award segment, and Michele Rogers and Kendra Logan, the event Co-chairs, introduced the following winning projects.
Sustainable Remediation Award
52-01 Queens Boulevard, Queens, NY. The redevelopment of this property transformed it from a vacant industrial space to a vibrant, mixed-use space. Through participation in OER’s Clean Soil Bank Program, approximately 95 percent of excavated material was beneficially re-used within the five boroughs, with much of the soil used to build a new park at Bush Terminals, Brooklyn. With so little reliance on out-of-state landfills, the development’s carbon footprint and expenditures were reduced significantly and the use of a vapor barrier and ventilated parking garage to minimize soil vapor impacts will significantly minimize the energy costs associated with continued operation and maintenance of an active system.
Green Building Award
Chelsea Park, Manhattan, NY. One of the most impressive features of this LEED- Silver certified building is the tenant-accessible green roof. Incorporating this feature reduced the heat island effect, reduced storm water runoff and provides outdoor space and panoramic views. Other green features of this development include low-flow fixtures throughout the project, thereby achieving a water use reduction of 30 percent. Through a high-efficiency condensing boiler, BMS management system, energy star appliances, LED lighting, and high quality air sealing techniques, this project achieved a 24 percent energy savings. Construction wastes were diligently tracked with over 75 percent of generated material diverted from landfills and incineration facilities.
Community Outreach Award
551 Tenth Avenue, Manhattan, NY. 551 Tenth Avenue, a former auto repair shop located in Hell’s Kitchen, lies adjacent to Saint Raphael’s Roman Catholic Church and Rectory, a structure that has been standing since the earlier part of last century. Throughout construction, the 551 Tenth Avenue team went the extra mile to protect the church’s integrity, utilizing vibration monitoring and stained glass window protection, and holding weekly meetings with church staff. The church’s basement event space remained easily accessible during construction, with the developer providing additional parking and support for church events. Most notably, six floors of the 52-story mixed-use building will be dedicated to community use as schools, dorms and non-profit offices and the western façade of the new structure will be dotted with light sources mimicking the sun shining through the affected church windows.
Environmental Protection Award
Former Nessen Lamps, Bronx, NY. This Bronx property is fully occupied by a former manufacturing building that has been most recently utilized as a public school. The property has historically been used as a garage with gasoline storage, a drug company and a lamp factory. The Site building also served as a public school through 2011. The need to work within the existing building, (immediately adjacent to a residential apartment building and aboveground and underground NYCT subway structures), combined with complicated geology and elevated levels of chlorinated VOCs, necessitated ongoing coordination of various technologies to address environmental concerns and successfully complete the investigation and remediation over an accelerated timeframe. Subsequent to development of a conceptual site model, multiple remedial technologies were implemented to eliminate all exposure pathways and remediate the Site in accordance with the approved remedial plan and applicable regulatory requirements.
44 Withers Street, Brooklyn, NY. The 44 Withers Street site is a former gas station and auto repair shop located in the Green Point section of Brooklyn with soil contaminated with petroleum and high levels of heavy metals. A spill was reported during the due diligence investigation and the developer proactively contacted NYSDEC and NYCOER, and explained the need to make decisions within the small amount of time allotted to close on the property. Considering the data in the context of the proposed development scenario, both agencies assisted the developer to lay out a remedial scenario that propelled the property sale and eventual redevelopment forward in this extremely short time period. As a result, this formerly vacant lot is now the location of three four-story residential buildings with dedicated commercial space. 44 Withers Street is a prime example of what can be accomplished when all parties involved collaborate openly and effectively.
Economic Development Award/Brownfield Opportunity Area Award
One Fulton Square, Queens, NY. The winner of both the Economic Development and Brownfield Opportunity Area awards, One Fulton Square is located in downtown Flushing, Queens. Historically, the Site contained an auto body repair shop, garage, and a gasoline station. Prior to remediation, the Site was a vacant lot and a parking lot, which was being operated since 2001. The Site is now occupied by a 168-room Hyatt Place hotel built atop of a three-level glass retail podium. The new Hyatt boasts two fully equipped gyms, a yoga studio and a rooftop swimming pool. It will also have approximately 1,000 square feet of meeting space. A separate office condominium will contain 22 professional and medical offices, 43 residential condominiums, and 300 parking spaces. The retail space encompasses 330,000 square feet and the entire project is one million square feet in size. This $125 million project is in its final stages of completion.
This project will produce approximately 940 new jobs and has employed 250 construction workers, creating a positive effect on the community and creating millions of dollars in tax revenue generation.
The project is located within the Flushing Willets Point Corona Local Development Corporation (FWCLDC) Brownfield Opportunity Area (BOA). The Flushing BOA Plan is intended to further the community’s vision for the Flushing area by updating and integrating stakeholder’s ideas and concerns, leading to the formulation of recommendations for spurring reinvestment in the area. One of FWCLDC’s principal objectives for the BOA program is to encourage greater connectivity and linkages between Flushing’s waterfront and downtown Flushing. In August 2011, FWCLDC designated One Fulton Square a BOA Strategic Site because of its location straddling Flushing’s waterfront and downtown Flushing and its role in attracting additional investment in the area.
Big Apple Brownfield Award
Hour Apartment House III, Queens, NY. Hour Apartment House III is located in the Long Island City neighborhood of Queens – a neighborhood characterized by a mix of industrial, residential and commercial spaces. Prior to redevelopment, the property was occupied by three small buildings, which housed offices for the non-profit organization, Hour Children, as well as residences and a thrift store. As part of site redevelopment, impacts to soil, groundwater and soil vapor were remediated and in the process an NYSDEC spill was closed. The resulting structure is a 25,000-square-foot, sustainably designed building that serves a dual purpose: it serves as headquarters for the non-profit Hour Children and it provides much-need affordable housing to formerly incarcerated mothers and their children. The housing is welcoming and bright and it is obvious that much thought went into the design of these spaces, which function as a stepping-stone for families post-incarceration.
The Partnership also recognized the 2015 Abbey Duncan Brownfield Scholars and the 2014-2015 Brownfield Interns.
2015 ABBEY DUNCAN BROWNFIELD SCHOLARS:
Kevin Barrow, New York University
Sara Perl Egendorf, Brooklyn College
Raiana Phuong Frey, New York University
2015 BROWNFIELD INTERNS:
Alyssa Baldassini, Brooklyn Law School
Sarah Baldwin, Fordham Law School
Jack Donelan, University of Tennessee
Garrett Gissler, Columbia University
Catherine Hatt, Pace Law School
Mary Lorper, SUNY Binghamton
Catherine Lyster, Pace Law School
Brian McGrattan, Columbia University
Michelle Sarro, Vermont Law School
Rebecca Sorenson, New York Law School
Haijun (Navy) Su, CUNY Queens College
Yi Xiao, NYU Polytechnic University
Ruijie Xu, NYU Polytechnic University