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Bronx Borough President Fernando Ferrer updated leaders of the design, construction and real estate industry on development in the borough, and called for consolidation of the building approval and review process, during a Construction Industry Forum co-hosted by the New York Building Congress and New York Construction News.
During his introduction, Building Congress Chairman Jeffrey M. Levy praised Ferrer for his ability to spur development in the Bronx, which had been lagging behind other parts of New York City economically. "This industry is particularly impressed with the $2.5 billion in new construction in the Bronx since 1990," Levy said.
Ferrer offered praise for the design, construction and real estate
industry for its work in the borough. "All of you have played
an important part in an urban revival story. These don't come very
often," he said, adding, " very seldom are masses of people's
lives changed for the better."
While citing a host of new construction projects - including libraries, schools, parks, bridges and health centers Ð implemented during his tenure as Bronx Borough President, Ferrer noted that the best accomplishments have come in housing, where 64,000 new units have been added in the last 13 years. It is, he said, "the largest single concentration of new housing starts in the United States."
During his presentation, Ferrer echoed the recent concerns of U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer about New York City's need to promote development and create office space outside Manhattan.
"There will never be enough office space in Manhattan. If we built all everyone wanted, Manhattan would be unrecognizable," Ferrer said. He added that New York must respond to the challenge of Jersey City by targeting and acting upon development opportunities outside Manhattan, especially areas that are close enough to Manhattan to be integral to it.
|Marla Glickman (left), Vice President of Barney Skanska Construction Company with Marcie Burros, Associate Director of the NYU School of Continuing and Professional Services - The Real Estate Institute, at a recent briefing on the proposal for a new Guggenheim Museum.|
Ferrer called for a "marriage of capital budgeting and planning. It is hard to build for the future of this City when different parts of the debate even within government are in different corners of the universe," he said, noting that different City officials are responsible for what should be interconnected functions. He also advocated reform in the way the City pre-approves, approves, inspects and reviews projects. The process should be project rather than agency-driven. Doing so would allow builders to go to one place for all approvals rather then being forced to bounce from City agency to agency depending on which aspect of the work requires attention. Making this transition would save money, bring down the cost of business that government imposes and decrease time-consuming delays.
"Building has always been the glory of New York. Today, we have the luxury of admiring our resurgence. However, we need to recognize that not a lot of time is left to take advantage of it," Ferrer added. He con-cluded by noting that the City must find ways Ð while the economy remains strong Ð to house more people, educate them better, move them around more efficiently, and set the stage for future growth.