Even beneath a sizzling summer sun and wearing a hardhat and heavy construction clothes and boots, Titus Paul remained upbeat and cool in describing how he found work on the massive City Point project now under construction in Downtown Brooklyn.
“I saw work going on and asked somebody about the job, and then I came in myself and got put on the job,” said Paul, a carpenter with a wife and two kids who lives in Crown Heights. “I’ve been looking to be on a site like this. This is an open shop site and while I’d like to be in the union it is what it is. There’s a lot of protocol to join the union and then you have to wait your turn. I’m surviving trying to put food on table and I’m happy with that.”
The City Point project, located on the former Albee Mall Site and bounded by the Fulton Mall, Gold Street, Willoughby Street and Flatbush Avenue, is currently in the second phase of construction. The first phase was recently completed with the opening of Armani Exchange.
The second phase currently underway will have 1.3 million square-feet broken down into 680,000 square feet of retail space and 680 units of housing including 125 units of affordable housing for moderate and low-income residents. The retail end will ultimately include anchors such as New York City based retailer Century 21 and the seven-screen Alamo Drafthouse Cinema.
Just as importantly, City Point developer Albee Development LLC continues to show a commitment to maximize local and minority contracting and employment.
“The total number of WMBE (Women and Minority-owned Business Enterprise) contacting for phase one and two together is $35 million,” said Albee Development Spokesperson Tom Montvel-Cohen. “This figure is not words. This is $35 million of real commitment to minority and women owned business in our community. Right now 85 percent of the people working on the job today are either people of color, women or Brooklyn residents.”
Among the black-owned contractors that recently won a bid for some of the work on the project includes C&D Iron Works, 194 Sackman Street, in East New York.
“We’re doing a couple of the floors,” said C&D Iron Works owner Derrick Roopchan, who has 10 workers on the job including the off-site fabrication. “It’s very important that they hire locally. There’s a lot of people looking for jobs and the people we hire come from the neighborhood or are recommended from workers we currently have.”
Ricardo Quammie, who lives in Crown Heights, and whose business, RMQ Service Corp, is in Flatbush, says he has three workers plus himself on the site. The company signed a two-year minimum contact for work at the site to mainly do clean-up related construction work.
“All my workers are local from Brooklyn,” said Quammie, noting he is not against construction unions, but there are discrepancies in their hiring practices such as the union policy of banning any person with a criminal record from joining the union.
“An open shop gives more local people a job on the site at very livable wages. In fact everyone on the site got a substantial raise not that long ago.”