NYC Mayor Shortlists JVs for $6B Jail Projects


In a press release issued last month, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio and the Department of Design and Construction (DDC) announced that they had reviewed and approved six teams to develop detailed proposals to design and construct four modern, smaller, humane borough-based jails.

The new jails are slated to replace the aging facilities on Rikers Island, which will close permanently in 2027.

“New York City deserves a smaller, safer, and fairer jail system. That starts with building modern facilities – and getting off Rikers Island once and for all,” said de Blasio. “I’m proud to see borough-based jails continue to move forward, and I look forward to celebrating more progress as expert teams design and build these new facilities.”

Some Project History

The closing of Rikers was first announced by de Blasio in April 2017—a capital project involving a 10-year plan—that would close the eight facilities on the island and build four smaller facilities in locations around the city.

In March 2018, former governor Andrew Cuomo’s counsel Alphonso David penned an outline to New York City Council Speaker Corey Johnson proposing New York City allow design-builds for all capital projects.

Through a design-build, one team (often a joint venture or partnership) is responsible for the design phase through construction, streamlining large projects into one contract.

Prior to David’s proposal, legislation for expanding design-build as an option for more agencies and municipalities in New York had failed to pass entirely. However, at the time it was proposed once more, big projects planned such as the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway and Rikers Island were forming, stressing various time crunches.

“[If] the city was aggressive in expediting the closing of Rikers, they would request design/build authorization for construction of the new jails,” David’s letter read.

By February of 2019, de Blasio and his administration announced a new initiative, “Strategic Blueprint for Construction Excellence,” which included a design-build strategy, among others, in effort to control construction costs and reduce schedule times of capital projects.

“We are overhauling operations in order to deliver City capital projects more efficiently and within budget,” de Blasio said in a press release. “This plan will ensure critical infrastructure projects are finished faster and with less disruption to our neighborhoods.”

Then, in June, the DDC awarded a $107.4 million contract to the joint venture of AECOM and Hill International for the program and project management of the work.

AECOM-Hill is in charge of structuring the upcoming procurement, developing program requirements and managing the chosen design-build teams.

Moving forward in the $107.4 million contract, JV AECOM-Hill will be tasked with the following:

  • Creation of procedures, protocols, forms and program and project manuals for all aspects of the design-build program;
  • Development of procurement strategies and protocols;
  • Creation of program- and project-specific virtual document and payment control systems;
  • Preparation and management of industry outreach strategies;
  • Preparation of specifications and criteria for each design-build project;
  • Monitor the design-build teams’ minority- and women-owned business enterprise requirements;
  • Management of the four jail projects until closeout of each; and
  • Quality assurance/quality control services.

In February 2020, the DDC issued a Request for Qualifications for design-build teams interested in constructing the new facilities in Manhattan, the Bronx, Brooklyn and Queens. At the time the RFQ was issued, the DDC reported that there were seven anticipated contracts: three for early work in Brooklyn and Queens, such as the demolition of an existing jail, and four for the construction of the new jails themselves.

By June of last year, it was reported that heavy construction on the project at the site in Queens had officially launched. A new parking garage and 25,000-square-foot community space is expected to reach completion by fall 2022.

Shortlisted Firms

According to the Official Website of the City of New York, a panel of the Borough Based Jail team, which includes DDC’s construction professionals, evaluated the Statement of Qualifications (SOQ) based on firms’ financial capacity, experience, design-build approach and past performance.

“We had an exceptional response from the industry given the size and scope of this program,” said Tom Foley, Acting Commissioner of the DDC. “The response gives us further confidence that we will be able to deliver on the promise of a more humane justice system for New York City, on-time and on-budget.

“We were particularly impressed with the teams’ commitment to the values and goals of the Borough Based Jails program.”

The current RFPs and shortlist is as follows:

  • Manhattan: The first RFP was released last week for the Manhattan facility to a joint venture led by the Gilbane Building Company and the Alberici Corporation. After a collaborative process with city officials to ensure project and technical goals are met, the final RFP submission will be due in the fall of 2022. After response review and contract negotiation, the project will move into design and construction late next year.
  • Brooklyn: A similar process for the Brooklyn site will commence in spring 2022, with an RFP issued to two teams: one, a joint venture led by Lend Lease Corporation and Halmar International; another led by Tutor Perini Corporation. Project commencement is slated for winter 2022/23.
  • Queens: An RFP for the Queens site will be issued to the Leon D. DeMatteis Construction Corp in summer 2022, with the project due to get underway in spring 2023.
  • Bronx: An RFP for the Bronx site will be issued in the summer of 2022 to Transformative Reform Group, LLC, led by SLSCO and Sciame Construction; and to Cauldwell Wingate 2022 Company, LLC. Once a team is selected, work will commence on the facility in summer 2023.

The firms will now prepare responses to an RFP for each site. The RFP also asks the design-build teams to provide more detail on their approaches for designing and constructing the new facilities, including how the team will achieve the vision for the humane facilities and innovative approaches to ensure efficient, cost-effective construction.

The City highly encourages participation in the jails program by Minority- and Women-Owned Business Enterprises (M/WBEs) and will set significant requirements for M/WBE participation in the program’s design-build contracts.

Following the RFP process, two firms will be selected as the sole respondents for Manhattan and Queens, respectively, based on evaluations of their SOQs. In addition, two firms will be selected to compete for the Brooklyn facility and two will compete to design and build the Bronx facility.

Due to restricted time and resources required to prepare detailed RFP responses, stipends will be provided to firms who are not selected to work on one of the facilities.

According to reports, work will already be underway at all four sites throughout this process as design-build contracts for dismantling of existing structures and site preparation were all registered at the end of December.

In Brooklyn, Queens and Manhattan, the design-build teams will dismantle existing facilities on the sites and construct temporary “swing spaces” to facilitate NYC Department of Correction’s transfers of detainees for court appearances during construction. At the Bronx site, where the former Lincoln Hospital used to be located, the design-build team will remove debris from the old hospital and perform environmental testing to prepare the site for future work.

“The City's commitment to closing Rikers Island permanently has never wavered. This crucial step in the construction process is a testament to the hard work, determination, and professional focus of the Borough Based Jail team,” said the Mayor’s Office of Criminal Justice Director Marcos Soler.

“Soon New Yorkers will see active construction work throughout the City as we move ever-closer towards a new, improved justice system for all.”

The entire $8.2 billion program is to be handed over to the Department of Correction in 2027.


Tagged categories: Construction; Contracts; Government; Government contracts; Maintenance + Renovation; NA; North America; Ongoing projects; Prisons; Program/Project Management; Project Management; Projects - Commercial

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