- The Suffolk County (NY) Planning Commission has approved the initial 10-year phase of the Heartland Town Square project, a $4 billion, 460-acre, mixed-use redevelopment of a former hospital site, according to Long Island Business News. The proposal now moves to a town board, which must decide whether to approve rezoning and permits for the project.
- The megaproject, which has been 15 years in the making, will start with the construction of 3,000 apartments, 400,000 square feet of retail space and 300,000 square feet of office development. When all phases of the project are complete in an estimated 30 years, it will feature 9,100 apartments, 1 million square feet of retail and 3 million square feet of office space.
- The project is expected to generate a total of 26,000 permanent jobs upon completion and 1,500 construction jobs each year. Local trade building union members asked the commission to require the developer, Gerald Wolkoff, to enter into a project labor agreement and legally require him to give local workers priority before hiring from outside of the area.
This is just the latest in the growing trend toward megadevelopments. Related Cos.' Hudson Yards in Manhattan is expected to provide almost $19 billion in economic benefit to the city when completed. In Chicago, a Lendlease-led JV broke ground last year on the $1.5 billion, 3,600-unit Riverline project in the city's South Loop neighborhood. And, while still in the very early stages, AECOM proposed a 246-acre waterfront residential development including up to 45,000-units for the Red Hook area of Brooklyn, NY — a project at least twice the size of Battery Park City and nearly nine times that of the 28-acre Hudson Yards development in Manhattan.
Although PLAs that prioritize local, union labor are typically associated with publicly funded projects, many private developers have turned to PLAs for their projects as well, desiring to take advantage of a steady stream of qualified workers, Brent Booker, secretary-treasurer of North America's Building Trades Union, told Construction Dive last month. Beyond just the hiring aspect, these agreements can also set the framework for other community benefits like skill-training programs and workforce development aimed at minority, women and veteran contractors.
Critics — such as the Associated General Contractors of America and the Associated Builders and Contractors —of pre-set project terms like those found in PLAs have been vocal in their opposition and argue that PLAs restrict open and fair competition for projects by increasing the costs of labor and requiring that nonunion contractors and workers pay into union benefit programs that they can't collect on unless they join the union.
The ABC and AGC, as well as other private-industry groups, have made a public call to President Donald Trump in an effort to persuade him to repeal Executive Order 13502, signed by former President Barack Obama, which encourages federal agencies to use PLAs on projects of $25 million or more in value.