De Blasio urges Building Congress to pressure Albany to expand design-build to NYC

By Kathryn Brenzel | January 23, 2017 03:25PM

Bill de Blasio and Carlo Scissura (Credit: Getty Images)

Mayor Bill de Blasio urged the New York Building Congress on Monday to put pressure on Albany to expand design-build authority to New York City.

“It’s something we all know will help us get a lot more done more quickly, but we’re going to need your help in Albany,” the mayor said to members at a luncheon at the Pierre on Monday. “There’s a lot of reach in this room. There’s a lot of firepower in this room. We need your voices to be heard in Albany.”

In his latest budget proposal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo proposed expanding the project delivery system to more state agencies —but not to those in New York City. Design-build typically involves a single contract between a government agency and a design-development team that pledges to complete a project — often a major infrastructure project– on a specific schedule and budget. Cuomo’s long been a big proponent of design-build, which is being used for the redevelopment of the James A. Farley Building, the Jacob K. Javits Center and LaGuardia Airport. New York currently only allows certain state agencies to use design-build, despite its wide use throughout the country. Influential construction firms and legislators from upstate have repeatedly prevented design-build from becoming a reality in New York City.

De Blasio, who’s up for re-election, is expected to introduce his own bill for the project delivery system.

The mayor spoke at the first Building Congress luncheon held since Carlo Scissura was named the organization’s new president, taking over from Richard Anderson, who held the position for 22 years. Scissura, who most recently headed the Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce, has known de Blasio since 1999, when they both ran for different community school board seats.

The mayor also used the speech to announce a few components of his capital budget, which will be unveiled on Tuesday. He said the budget includes a proposal for repaving 1,300 lane-miles of city streets, adding to the 4,000 lane-miles pledged for this past fiscal year. The budget also proposes the funding of 40,000 more school seats.

De Blasio also touted his affordable housing program, which recently set the record for the most units built and preserved in 25 years (21,963). He said the city and real estate industry need to work together to assure that residents can afford to stay in New York City.

“Let’s be straightforward that the path to an inclusive city and allowing people to stay in the city that they love is not by putting our head in the sand or acting like development pressure or market pressure is suddenly going to go away,” de Blasio said to a crowd of industry professionals. “It’s by accepting certain realities around us, and figuring out how to work around them for the good of all. It’s not to be antidevelopment, it’s to seek development that achieves the most for the most new Yorkers.”