The Daily Dirt: Developers may soon have to pay higher construction wages

An analysis of New York's top real estate news

TRD New York /
Jan.January 23, 2020 02:15 PM
Governor Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Getty Images)

Governor Andrew Cuomo (Credit: Getty Images)

TL;DR the state’s proposed budget? Well, a familiar measure makes an appearance.

For several years, legislators have tried to make owners pay union-level wages on construction projects receiving public funds. These attempts — controversial and often facing fierce opposition from the real estate industry — have failed.

In his 2021 budget proposal, Gov. Andrew Cuomo pitched expanding the definition of public works to require more private projects to pay prevailing wages. His proposal mirrored previous ones in a few key ways, such as carve outs for projects receiving 421a tax breaks and certain affordable housing projects. But his proposal also applies to fewer private projects: Whereas previous bills called for all projects receiving any amount of public funding to be considered a “public work,” Cuomo’s bill only applies to projects where at least 30 percent of the cost is covered by public money. His proposal also excludes more affordable housing developments and paves the way for an 11-member “public subsidy board” to recommend changes or more exemptions.

It’s unclear whether REBNY will support the governor’s proposal.

“We will continue to work with elected officials and other stakeholders to promote policies that result in good wages and benefits and oppose ideas that exponentially increase the cost of construction, leading to less development and fewer jobs for both union and non-union construction workers,” REBNY President Jim Whelan said in a statement Wednesday.

REBNY recently formed an alliance with the Building and Construction Trades Council. The two have butted heads on prevailing wage in the past. It’ll be interesting to see if they work together on this issue.

Bond New York just bought a Midtown rental brokerage.

The company has acquired Caliber Associates, a 56-person rental brokerage based in Midtown, E.B. Solomont reports.

“The decision to bring Caliber under the BOND umbrella was rooted in our desire to strengthen our position amidst recent changes in the market,” Caliber’s Levi Adir said in a statement, which cited Bond’s “tech-forward” culture and marketing resources. The terms of the deal were not disclosed (but feel free to send our way).

The deal comes as rental brokerages in the city face heightened market pressures and just three months after Bond shut down its Chelsea office. Bond co-founder Noah Freedman called the deal a “strategic acquisition” that reflects Bond’s resilience “in a challenging real estate climate.”

What we’re thinking about: What will happen to the Wing and WeWork’s other investments? Send a note to [email protected].

CLOSING TIME

Residential: The priciest residential closing recorded Wednesday was for a condo unit at 30 Park Place in Lower Manhattan, at $10.5 million.

Commercial: The most expensive commercial closing of the day was for an apartment building at 83 Clifton Place in Clinton Hill, at $22.9 million.

BREAKING GROUND

The largest new building filing of the day was for a 48,731-square-foot residential building at 101 Bruckner Boulevard in Port Morris.

NEW TO THE MARKET

The priciest residential listing to hit the market was for a co-op unit at 820 Fifth Avenue on the Upper East Side, at $20 million. Brown Harris Stevens’ Jill Roosevelt has the listing. — Research by Mary Diduch

A thing we’ve learned…

The Paramount Group apparently has a ground lease with itself at 1633 Broadway “for tax purposes,” according to bond rating documents. The company pays itself $1 in rent per year. Sweet deal. Thank you to Kevin Sun, who provided this tidbit.

Elsewhere in New York

— Coming to a subway near you: “Open gangway”-style cars? The MTA released images of subway cars with accordion-like connectors instead of interior doors that allow passage between the cars, Gothamist reports. Twenty of the cars will be delivered later this year, while another 500-plus will arrive sometime in 2021. The MTA says the cars will cut down delays. The Twitterverse says this means every car will be the “smelly car.” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

— Michael Bloomberg knows the key to luring staffers: Free meals and electronics! Oh, and higher than average salaries. According to the New York Post, the presidential hopeful is paying state press secretaries $10,000 a month — more than double the average of $4,500. State political directors are making $12,000 a month. Staffers also get a free iPhone 11 and MacBook Pro on their first day. They also receive three meals a day. No word on free snacks, though.

— Manhattan District Attorney Cy Vance Jr. lagged behind two challengers in raising money for his campaign in the last six months, The City reports. The incumbent only brought in $25,450.


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