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Dec 12, 2014 5:36 PM

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STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. -- Five Staten Island projects, including the New York Wheeland a new Brooklyn Brewery facility, are getting a total of $8.8 million from the state's Regional Economic Development Council funds.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the awards on Thursday, with $61.2 million given to 71 projects throughout New York City, which is less than 9 percent of the statewide $709.2 million that was awarded.

Cuomo established the Regionals Councils in 2011 to jumpstart the economy and create jobs. Community, business and government agencies apply for grants under this annual awards system.

The New York Wheel, a proposed 625-foot observation wheel on the North Shore, will be visible from downtown Manhattan and the 38-minute, 36-capsule ride will offer views of the Statue of Liberty, the Manhattan skyline, the Verrazano Bridge and others.

The Wheel is expected to create 350 construction jobs and 500 permanent jobs.

Brooklyn Brewery will be crossing the bridge to construct a new production facility on the West Shore and was awarded two state grants totaling $6 million.

The total cost of the 200,000-square-foot facility on Staten Island is $70 million and its creation would bring 92 full-time jobs to Staten Island, according to the proposal.

Only about 20 percent of the company's beer production is done in the borough it's named after, with the other 80 percent taking place in Utica. The Staten Island location would allow the brewery to expand its operations, holding up to 1 million barrels on 20-25 acres.

Three other less-known Staten Island projects also got funding through the state this year. They are a wetland mitigation bank, a marsh master plan and business improvement district feasibility plan.

The New York City Department of Small Business Services, in partnership with the New York City Economic Development Corporation, will get $1 million for the Saw Mill Creek Pilot Wetland Mitigation Bank, the city's first wetland mitigation bank. The project will restore wetlands at Saw Mill Creek.

New York City Department of Parks and Recreation will get $200,000 for the Mariners Arlington Marsh Master Plan -- a master plan to revitalize the Mariner's Marsh and Arlington Marsh waterfront brownfield properties on Staten Island's North Shore.

Lastly, $50,000 will go to the Staten Island Economic Development Corporation's South Shore Feasibility Plan. The group will study the feasibility of creating a local development organization and business improvement district on the South Shore.

Dec 12, 2014 5:42 PM

City begins bidding for new Build it Back contractors to speed repairs on Sandy-damaged homes

Build it Back program Hurricane/Superstorm Sandy

CITY HALL -- The city put out a bid on Friday for new Build it Back contractors in order to speed up repairs on homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy. 

The new procurement seeks up to three borough-focused construction managers to accelerate home rehabilitations, elevations and reconstructions on Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens. 

The city's housing recovery office director, Amy Peterson, said earlier this year that she hopes the contractors will quadruple the pace of Build it Back construction by the spring. 

Each of the new managers would concentrate on specific neighborhoods within the three boroughs and would bundle homes for construction based on location, pathways and other criteria. Existing contractors work house by house.

The city currently has three contractors each for repairing homes and total house rebuilds. The six, which have numerous subcontractors, will continue to operate as they normally do. 

Construction has already been authorized to start on 911 homes citywide, with 343 on Staten Island, according to city figures through Thursday. There are 125 completed projects in the borough and 266 total.

The city hopes to finish sending reimbursement checks to homeowners through Build it Back next year. There have been 589 checks totaling $7.9 million sent on Staten Island and 1,931 at $34 million citywide.

The progress comes after an overhaul of Build it Back announced by Mayor Bill de Blasio in the spring. When he took office, no construction projects had been authorized to begin and no checks had been sent. The city is expected to meet year-end goals and even set new targets for reimbursements. 

"Since the mayor's overhaul, this has been a year of significant progress, and we expect the onboarding of new construction firms -- who will deploy new strategies to target entire neighborhoods -- will continue to accelerate the City's Sandy recovery," Peterson said in a statement. 

The construction managers will have to comply with a hiring initiative that looks to give residents in Sandy-impacted communities new jobs and training. The city hopes to hire contractors and subcontractors with 20 percent of employees who are residents affected by the storm. 

For projects greater than $30,000, the new construction managers will have to work with contractors and subcontractors with apprenticeship programs. 

Proposals are due by Jan. 8 and the city anticipates the new contractors will begin work by the end of March.