At the crux of one of the most trafficked intersections in the Western Hemisphere sits TSX Broadway, a 48-story hotel in the heart of Times Square. While busting hordes of tourists pass underneath the shadow of the project dazzled by the bright lights and soaring skyscrapers of Times Square, what they don’t know is that the colossal construction project above them is something to behold.
According to General Superintendent Thomas McGeown, the project is unlike anything they’ve ever built before. “Typically, when you do a job, a demolition guy comes in and he knocks the building down then leaves. Then, the foundation guy comes and does the foundation work and then he leaves. Then, we come in and we start putting the building up.”
On this job, Thomas explains, all those projects are happening simultaneously. Union members are building up the hotel while it’s being demolished underneath their work boots, and then going back to do the pick-up work. They’re also working around all the other trades – the steel workers, the foundation workers, the mechanics. “All this work going on underneath us is pretty intense,” Thomas says. “We’re all trying to squeeze into a small little area to do it, so lots of coordination is involved.”
A notable aspect of the project is the cocoon system being used to protect the workers, the building, and the pedestrians below. Matthew James, Local 212 shop steward for the project, said it’s a vertical self-climbing protection system about 40 feet tall that encases the area where members are working. As members build the tower up, the cocoon goes up with them. Safety is a major component of union work, but this is especially so for the workers and the public in such a highly trafficked location like Times Square. The erection floor serves as fall protection, and the stripping floor catches anything falling off the building. “God forbid even so much as a tape measure falls off. It could be devastating,” Matthew says.
Perhaps the most challenging aspect of all is the 108-year-old Palace Theater, which is a historic landmark and must be preserved. The theater, which currently sits at street level, is being raised 30 feet in the air using a ring of steel beams. They hoist the theater up in the air an inch every hour. If that sounds like an extremely expensive and time-consuming project to you, you’d be right!
“Somebody had the idea that the real estate is so valuable, that the potential for the retail is worth it,” Thomas says.
The developers plan to use the street location where the Palace Theater once sat as high-end retail space. According to the online architecture, construction, and real estate outlet, New York YIMBY, the TSX Broadway will house 75,000 square feet of retail space and has a projected capacity to serve between 10-15 million shoppers annually.
“The building will also feature a 4,000-square-foot performance venue that is slated to have Times Square’s only permanent outdoor stage protruding above the sidewalks of Seventh Avenue; broadcast and streaming capabilities hardwired into the infrastructure; an 18,000-square-foot LED sign enveloping the western and northern sides of the podium; a smaller 3,000-square-foot LED sign on the southern tower wall; and three 420-squarefoot signs on the crown. Also, part of the programming is 30,000 square feet of food and beverage space with a 10,000-squarefoot outdoor terrace, the largest of its kind in Times Square,” according to YIMBY.
The total cost for the project is projected to be $2.5 billion.
“The job is challenging and new to me, but I’m learning a lot,” Matthew says. “TSX is going to be a good place. I don’t think I’ll be able to stay here, but I’ll certainly show my kids the next time we’re in Manhattan.”
Thomas recognizes all the hard work members have put in, especially Local 212 General Carpenter Foreman Milos Budzel. “He’s been doing a tremendous job. Milos has been buried in this work but knows how to get the job done. All the carpenters do. Without the carpenters union, we’d be way behind where we are now.