New York City is getting back to work after a 12-month pause that brought building work on 1,700 city projects on hold.
Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that the city will resume its $17 billion capital projects plan that includes new schools, library projects, parks and sewer work by the end of March.
“This is a city that builds things,” said the Mayor. “We build things. We keep building, we never stop building. It’s one of the things that makes us great. So, we are going to get fully back to work with a host of major construction projects, capital projects that will build the future of this city that will make life better for generations to come.”
Lorraine Grillo, the Mayor’s newly-appointed Recovery Czar, said many of the projects were put on hold by the pandemic and re-starting them will help get New Yorkers back to work.
She said, “This is really truly great news for the city and great news for the dozens of contractors who work on city projects.”
A 30-year veteran of the construction sector, Grillo said she has been “especially concerned” for Minority and Women Business Enterprises (MWB/E) who have struggled over the last year because so many projects were projects were paused.
“This is going to give them an opportunity to put them back to work and give them the opportunity to rehire staff,” said added. “This is exactly what’s needed to bring this city back and make this a recovery for all of us.”
Carlo A. Scissura, president and CEO of the New York Building Congress, agreed the news “represents a tremendous sense of relief” for MWBEs.
He added, “Restarting capital projects is an acknowledgment of the critical role the building industry will play in our city’s recovery. Advancing projects in housing, education, transportation and environmental protection will strengthen our city today and have a lasting impact on residents for years to come.
“The Building Congress applauds Mayor de Blasio and Recovery Czar Lorraine Grillo for this forward-thinking decision.”
The news comes as the nation reaches another COVID milestone with more people now vaccinated in the U.S. than the number of confirmed cases of COVID-19.
The CDC has issued new guidelines that note fully-vaccinated people can gather with other vaccinated people indoors without wearing a mask or social distancing.
In New York, the state continues to ramp up its vaccination program with 10 new mass vaccination sites set to open and the city on pace to hit five million vaccinations by June.
Re-opening efforts are also ramping up with both New York and New Jersey giving the go-ahead to large arenas and public venues to operate with some restriction and, in Connecticut, restaurant restrictions have been lifted to full capacity.
Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that restaurants outside of the five boroughs can expand indoor dining capacity to 75 percent starting March 19, although Manhattan restaurants will continue to operate at 35 percent capacity indoors.
Cuomo’s decision still has to be approved by the New York legislature after he was stripped of his emergency powers as he grapples with accusations of sexual harassment and his administration’s role in allegedly covering up nursing home deaths.
Meanwhile, the House is scheduled to vote on the Senate version of President Joe Biden’s $1.9 trillion COVID relief bill today (Tuesday) that promises aid to schools, small businesses, museums, restaurants, transit, theaters, vaccine distribution and local governments as well as a $1,400 in direct aid payment to many Americans struggling through the pandemic.
Andrew Rigie, executive director of the NYC Hospitality Alliance, welcomed the the passage the American Rescue Plan, which includes $28.6 billion for dedicated restaurant relief.
“This is incredibly hopeful news for New York City’s restaurants and bars, who will now receive direct grants to help pay rent, payroll, vendors expenses and more,”said Rigie.