Sign of the Times: 719 Seventh Avenue
Sometimes called the Crossroads of the World, Times Square has certainly earned its place as the most famous retail and entertainment hub in the country—even the world. So when SL Green Realty Corporation had the opportunity to redevelop an underused property in the center of the action, they jumped at the chance.
“When we underwrite and acquire properties, we explore all possible development scenarios to elevate our success to new levels,” says Edward V. Piccinich, executive vice president at SL Green. “719 Seventh presented another opportunity for us to continue our past history of retail success in Times Square. The combination of a new boutique retail building and ultramodern LED sign program is bound to garner the attention of the real estate community and a future tenant that aligns with our same winning strategy.”
The company, with the help of Pavarini McGovern, rebuilt the corner site at 719 Seventh Avenue as a four-story, 10,500sf modern steel and glass retail space with a spectacularly eye-catching feature—close to 5,800sf of LED signage, including a 100-foot-tall tower.
To get the project up and running before the holiday season, the team got started immediately after demolition, leaving the foundation in place with temporary sheeting and bracing. They then lowered the existing foundation slab and constructed a new foundation liner wall with support from excavation and underpinning of adjacent footings. The curtainwall was divided into clear glass, spandrel glass and aluminum panels.
Not surprisingly, getting this work started on a tight site in the City That Never Sleeps presented some challenges. First, the team had to obtain a number of variances for working after hours, as well as work within the NYC Department of Transportation’s specific windows for concrete pouring and structural steel and sidewalk work.
“We erected the building steel and signage support steel overnight to allow the concrete decks and shear walls to continue during the day without any downtime,” says Michael McFadden, Pavarini McGovern superintendent.
The site’s footprint also limited the access and mobility of typical equipment. Shoring of the west side, for example, reached across nearly a quarter of the site, making it tough for the excavator to negotiate the space and remove materials.
Coordination quickly became the name of the game. “We had to sequence and schedule materials very carefully,” says Keith Mason, Pavarini McGovern project manager. “Keeping a steady flow on and off the site helped maintain the schedule without overloading the project.”
What’s more, looming ahead in the schedule was New York City’s holiday construction embargo which, starting just before Thanksgiving, restricts construction activities through New Year’s Day. “We knew it was coming, so we developed an accelerated work schedule to make sure we met city requirements and had the sidewalks cleared in time for the heavy foot traffic during the holidays,” says Mason. Maintaining that pace also included resequencing the steel and above-ground slabs to keep things moving while the building’s underground and cellar were being redesigned.
Despite the challenges, Times Square now has a striking new addition that, says SL Green’s Piccinich, has “literally transformed the corner of the block.”
Company: Pavarini McGovern
Size: 10,500sf/4 floors
Owner: SL Green Realty Corp.
Architect: TPG Architecture
Structural Engineer: Severud Associates
MEP Engineer: Syska Hennessy Group
LED Signage Consultant: Sensory Interactive
LED Signage: SNA, LLC
Services: Preconstruction, Construction Management
Completion: January 2017