Thursday, November 19, 2015

Take A Walking Tour Of Roosevelt Island Cornell Tech Campus Construction Site And Get Current Status Update From Cornell Tech, Forest City Ratner, Hudson Companies & RI Residents

On Tuesday November 17, Cornell Tech Director of Capital Planning Andrew Winters provided a press update on the current status

and future plans for the construction of the Cornell Tech Roosevelt Island campus

 scheduled to open in Fall 2017.

Mr. Winters was joined by Forest City Ratner Senior Vice President Kate Bicknell, developer of the Bloomberg Academic Center

and The Bridge Co-Location Building

as well as Hudson Companies President David Kramer, developer of the Cornell Residential building which is the first high rise Passive House in the world. (Fondly referred to by Mr. Kramer as the PHRAT House - Passive House Residential At Tech).

Mr. Winters described plans for the Bloomberg academic building and phase 1 (750 Thousand square feet) of the campus.

More than 20% of the campus site will be used for public space, with no gates, walls or barriers and include a public cafe open to restaurant deprived Roosevelt Island residents.
Forest City Ratner's Ms. Bicknell reported that Cornell Tech would occupy about a third of the approximately 230 thousand square foot Bridge Co-Location building and the remaining space would be a mix of co-working space tenants and a combination of established tech companies with tech start ups. She added that the mission of the Cornell Tech Bridge building is to bring together academia and industry to stir innovation.

Hudson Companies President David Kramer said the residential building is the biggest Passive House in the world rising to 26 stories and will have 500 beds in different layouts of studios, 1, 2 and 3 bedroom apartments.

Questions and answered followed including:
  • Have any leases at the Bridge been signed yet? No,
  • Ferry Service? Yes,
  • Proportion of faculty and students living on Roosevelt Island? 50% of students, less for faculty.
  • Interaction with Community and all of NYC? Lots, public space, festivals, arts, local schools,
  • Connection to Long Island City? Opportunity for housing and commercial development that could be tied to Cornell Tech,
  • Pedestrian Bridge From Long Island City to Roosevelt Island proposed by developer? Very early stage, waiting to see community reaction to proposal by the developer.

Then a walking tour of the Cornell Tech construction site. Mr. Winters began by describing elevating the campus ground level to protect from flooding. As the group was walking the construction site, Hudson Companies David Kramer reveals where he goes to get his Roosevelt Island information. Guess where?

Reaching the top of a hill, Mr. Winters and Ms. Bickel answered questions about:
  • Barging of construction materials,
  • Whether the barge can be used as dock for future Roosevelt Island Ferry service? No he said.
  • Phase 1 construction is 750,000 square feet of space. Future Phase 2 and 3 of the campus construction will have approximately the same square footage each. 
  • 80 Geothermal wells up to 500 feet deep providing the heating and cooling system for the Bloomberg Academic Building.
  • Wireless service for public space - being worked on. Don't have answer yet.
  • Ms Bickel indicated that Forest City Ratner is hearing from NYC Tech industry sources that there is great excitement at having access to intellectual talent, similar to that available in San Francisco, coming from Cornell Tech graduates. 
  • She also discussed the development opportunities in Western Queens coming from companies graduating from Cornell Tech.

Mr. Winters noted that Tishman Construction is overseeing all logistics for the Cornell Tech construction site, Barr & Barr is building the Bloomberg Academic Building, Turner Construction is building the Bridge for Forest City Ratner and Monadnock Construction is building the residential building.

What do members of the Roosevelt Island community think about the new Cornell Tech campus? The issue of Roosevelt Island quality of life issues impacted by the Cornell Tech campus was discussed during the October 28 meeting of the Roosevelt Island Community Coalition (RICC). RICC Co-Chair Ellen Polivy noted (at 7 minute 20 second mark):
 ... When we first started there was an attempt to be cooperative and then there was a batting of heads while everybody figured out how much ground they could give up and how much they weren't willing to give up. And now, just like any negotiation, we're at a point right now where we are basically being cooperative with one another. That seems to be the place Cornell likes to be at and they are starting to give some ground....
Other members of RICC raised issues regarding:
  • air quality monitoring, 
  • incorporating the Cornell students and new businesses into the Roosevelt Island community, 
  • overcrowding
  • transportation,
  • recreational space needs and 
  • Public Safety matters.
Here's the discussion.

RICC describes itself as:
... formed in 2012, is an advocate for the health and well being of the Island community and its organizations during the Cornell development. We work to urge the fulfillment of Cornell's verbal and written commitments to the community....