Construction leaders join call for Albany to “Let NYC Build Better, Faster”

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New York Construction Report staff writer

Labor, civic and construction industry leaders are joining local politicians calling for State government to ease restrictions and “Let NYC Build Better, Faster and Cheaper” using the same modern construction and contracting tools that the States around the country and private sector use successfully every day.

“There is no reason building a bathroom should take years and cost millions—to say nothing of the complex infrastructural demands that the climate change crisis places on our city,” said Deputy Mayor for Operations Meera Joshi. “We need every tool in our toolbox to maintain New York’s infrastructure within timelines and budgets that make sense for New Yorkers.

“It is our duty to be good stewards of our city and taxpayer dollars; these tools, like Progressive Design-Build and Construction Manager-Build (CM- Build) are critical to helping us do that.”

“Every time DDC has been given the chance to use common sense design and construction practices, we knock it out of the park, we build faster and more efficiently,” said DDC Commissioner Thomas Foley. “We have taken a chainsaw to the bureaucracy with our growing design-build program, completing major projects more than two years faster than we could before.

“We’ve proven during emergencies that we can use construction methods like CM-Build effectively. It’s past time for Albany to acknowledge these successes, hold us accountable and cut the red tape.”

Much of the city’s capital work is managed by DDC, which has a portfolio of active projects that is growing; today the agency oversees $33 billion worth of projects, including massive new resiliency and sustainability projects to manage the effects of climate change, and maintaining the city’s aging cultural and civic institutions.

Four bills would speed project completion and reduce costs:

  • Allow the use of the CM-Build and Progressive Design-Build: Both contracting processes team designers and builders early in the process so they can work together as a team to innovate and solve problems. Under lowest bidder contracting, where a completed design is handed off to a contractor to build, designers and builders have a harder time working together.
  • Expand public notice and comment requirements to save time on registration and increase opportunity and access to comment, allowing for simultaneous public notice and comment on certain City contracts, potentially saving weeks of time for thousands of contracts;
  • Establish new insurance optionsvia the ‘Small Contractors Relief Act’ to make it easier for small and emerging firms with less than $3 million revenue and M/WBEs to qualify for insurance the City requires, compete for City projects and complete them successfully;
  • Make DDC into an authoritywith leeway to create new procurement rules specifically geared towards design and construction, along with the ability to boost M/WBE utilization.

DDC has awarded more than $575 million in its growing program of design-build public buildings and infrastructure projects. In October 2023, Mayor Adams broke ground on the new $141 million Shirley Chisholm Recreation Center in Brooklyn. That project is expected to be completed by the end of 2025, a full two years faster than under lowest bidder contracting.

The $92 million Mary Cali Dalton Recreation Center in Staten Island, where Mayor Adams broke ground in February alongside the family of the late Mary Cali Dalton, is on track for similar time savings. DDC will soon break ground on its first design-build infrastructure project, installing water mains and new pedestrian safety improvements on a stretch of Lexington Avenue in Midtown. The agency is also using design-build for the citywide program to upgrade pedestrian ramps and is in active procurement for Parks restrooms and raised crosswalks.

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