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The construction pause: speculation and implications (like delayed buildings, school, and timelines)

Now that we know that construction at the B4 (18 Sixth Avenue) and B15 (37 Sixth Avenue or 662/664 Pacific Street) towers is winding down for a pause of unspecified duration due to coronavirus concerns, that invites some speculation.

Construction field office at 38 Sixth Ave. (B3)
First, how was this decision arrived at?

It wasn't explained, but there are numerous participants in the construction process, including (and perhaps I'm missing some):
  • the master developer, Greenland Forest City Partners (GFCP)
  • the partner with GFCP on B4, the Brodsky Organization
  • the developer (and site lessee) of B15, also Brodsky
  • Tishman Construction, part of AECOM Tishman, which is building both towers
  • various subcontractors
  • various suppliers
  • union workers and union locals
  • lenders
  • the School Construction Authority
While there may be business reasons to continue construction, and while some workers (in the city overall) might want to continue, others--and their families--have been vocal about the difficulty to maintain social distancing and cleanliness on job sites.

Was it solely about worker safety? We don't know. It's also possible--again, I speculate--that one or more of the parties may have weighed in, for various reasons, and helped reach that outcome.

Note that, while B15 is not a project by the School Construction Authority, it is involved in funding it, and the SCA has paused its projects.

Implication: delay, and extended timelines: B4

The pause will delay, for an unspecified time, the completion of both towers, as well as the completion of the middle-school at B15.

While a sign on the fence outside the B4 site has predicted completion by April 2023, GFCP's Scott Solish said last November that they expected move-ins in the first half of 2022.

If so, that means they might meet a deadline for "substantial completion" of a minimum amount of square footage on the arena block by 5/12/22. (If not, the developer could face fines of $1.65 million, I calculated.)

However, that's subject to Unavoidable Delay, and surely a global pandemic qualifies. At B4, 258 of 860 units would be affordable.

Implication: delay, and extended timelines: B15/school

The developer of the B15 tower has estimated Spring 2022 as completion, which may now be less realistic.

At B15, 94 of 312 units would be affordable.

As to the 800-seat middle-school, it's planned to open in September 2023. That perhaps represents a cushion for delays.

However, keep watch--even a relatively slight delay could miss the beginning of the school year.

Implication: extended timeline for the platform and the affordable units

As of 3/3/20, Greenland was "close to being ready" to announce progress on first phase of platform, the first of two railyard blocks, and the site of three of the six towers over the Vanderbilt Yard.

That's surely delayed.

Two weeks ago, I suggested that coronavirus crisis might stall all but crucial work--and that related delays related might qualify as allowing for extensions regarding previously contracted obligations.

That could extend the 2025 deadline for 2,250 affordable units. Note: delays in B4 and B15 would, presumably, still deliver those affordable units by the deadline. 

But if the platform is delayed, and it's a precursor to two towers (or more) that will deliver the final affordable units, that could shift that overall deadline.