- New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio announced this week that the city is restarting $17 billion of capital construction projects as part of its pandemic recovery effort. During a press conference, De Blasio's recently appointed Senior Advisor for Recovery Lorraine Grillo said 1,700 construction projects will be given the green light by the end of March.
- Grillo said that the reboot will not only be an opportunity to put architects, engineers and construction professionals back to work after being sidelined by the pandemic but will also provide opportunities to the city's minority- and women-owned contractors and to small construction businesses that can now restaff their operations.
- After the COVID-19 pandemic arrived in the U.S., the city's water, sewer and infrastructure projects, deemed essential, continued but in late March 2020 the New York City Department of Design and Construction directed firms with contracts for design services for city-backed projects to halt work, according to The Architect's Newspaper.
Applauding the de Blasio administration's decision was Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO of the New York Building Congress. Resuming work on the $17 billion initiative, he said in a press release, is an acknowledgment of the key role that the construction industry will have in New York City's recovery.
The work in the city's five boroughs includes:
- Building more school capacity in underserved and overcrowded districts.
- Affordable housing construction.
- Coastal resiliency and climate change-related projects.
- The Vision Zero initiative focused on roadway safety.
- Major library projects.
- Repairing, replacing and upgrading sewer and wastewater management infrastructure.
Grillo said the renewed construction efforts will be a shot in the arm for the city and its residents. "This is exactly what's needed to bring this city back and make this a recovery for all of us," she said.
De Blasio appointed Grillo, also referred to as the city's recovery czar, to the new position last month. She had been with the New York City School Construction Authority for almost 30 years, most recently as president and CEO, and was not only brought on to drive the capital construction program but the city's economic recovery in general.
"I build things. That’s what I do. And together, we are going to build a recovery that lifts up every New Yorker," she said at the time of her appointment.
During her career with the city, Grillo has coordinated almost 4,000 capital building projects and managed $28 billion in budgets. That work includes:
- Delivery of more than 89,000 K-12 and universal pre-K public school seats.
- Reopening 71 schools damaged by Hurricane Sandy.
- Opening 35 universal pre-K centers in less than six months.
- The development of public-private partnerships for school construction.