With Mayor Bill de Blasio announcing last week that New York City will be fully open for business this summer, the timing couldn't be better for a massive mixed-use project nearing completion in the heart of the Big Apple.
Superstructure construction is underway at TSX Broadway, a $2.5 billion, 550,000-square-foot project in Times Square. Anchored by a 669-unit hotel where every room will have floor-to-ceiling views of the action on the Square, the project will include 75,000 square feet of retail, 30,000 square feet of food and beverage, a 4,000-square-foot outdoor stage and performance venue and 51,000 square feet of dazzling LED signage, according to a project fact sheet emailed to Construction Dive.
As part of the project, the existing, 105-year-old Palace Theater will be raised 30 feet in the air to its new home on the third floor of TSX Broadway, where it will undergo a $50 million renovation to preserve its historic interior, refurbish its ornate plaster, add 10,000 square feet of back-of-house space and create a new lobby with a bar and a box office.
New York City-based Pavarini McGovern, a member of Structure Tone, is serving as construction manager on the project, with Mancini Duffy taking on the lead design role.
The project is a welcome breath of fresh air for the city's beleaguered retail, entertainment and hospitality sectors, which were hard hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
"We are hoping that in our wake on this development, we'll pull some other projects back into play as well," Robert Israel, executive vice president at L&L Holding Company, LLC, which is developing the project in partnership with Fortress Investment Group, told Construction Dive.
Construction financing was already in place when the pandemic struck, and demolition of the previous building on the site started in 2019. The first concrete was poured in November 2020, Israel said, with the superstructure rising now.
To meet the requirements of its building permit, TSX Broadway had to keep at least 25% of the footprint of the old 36-story building, and it has incorporated the first 16 floors of the original tower into the podium of the new design.
"Depending on the floor, we're leaving those slabs and structures in place, and then pouring the new slabs around it," Israel said. "Ultimately, parts of the old structure are being consumed by the new one."
The lifting of the historic Palace Theater, which will make way for retail at the ground level, is scheduled for August. To bring the theater up to the third floor, Urban Foundation Engineering will place a 4-foot-deep concrete ring beam underneath the building.
Then, using hydraulically controlled caissons, the project team will push the theater upwards, a half-inch at a time, over two pre-scheduled lifts.
After raising the building up an initial 12 feet, engineers will check the structure and lock all components in place, before performing a second lift — another half-inch at a time — for the remaining 18 feet.
"We'll be lifting it up very carefully," Israel said, "to make sure we bring up the entire theater box in one piece."
For New York City construction mavens, its lifting will be reminiscent of other building acrobatics in the area. One massive crane recently lifted a slightly less massive crane to sit atop the iconic Tiffany & Co. building in Midtown for a new three-story façade on that structure.
While the TSX Broadway development's schedule did hit some delays due to the pandemic, the logistics of building at the corner of West 47th Street and Seventh Avenue in the middle of Times Square actually became easier with the emptying of New York City during COVID-19.
"When it came to coordinating around people and cars and traffic, it actually has been a help," Israel said.
With the project now scheduled to open in the fourth quarter of 2022, Israel said he thinks time is finally on its side.
"It is a true testament to this team, and the New York City design and construction world that really shined during these tough times," Israel said. "We have the Times Square New Year's Eve show in our sights for 2023."