http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424127887324461604578195394119641034.html?mod=WSJ_hpp_PhotosModule_1#slide/17Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment December 23, 2012
Dan Costello has been in the demolition business for more than 35 years, but he rarely blows anything up. He hardly ever uses his rusty wrecking ball. He dislikes being called a wrecker.
“We are dismantlers,” says Mr. Costello, 63, the owner of Costello Dismantling Co. of West Wareham, Mass., one of the largest demolition companies in New England. One big challenge is to find ways to take apart buildings and other structures without damaging parts that can be sold and reused.
“The business always used to be smash it down into a big pile,” then haul it to a landfill as fast as possible, says Mr. Costello. Today, he says, the work is more “surgical” and requires “looking at a building and asking what can we harvest from it.”
Customers want to show that they are taking down structures in the most environmentally responsible way, partly to earn points from the U.S. Green Building Council and to enhance annual sustainability reports. Demolition companies need to be able to mine as much money as possible from the scrap. In bidding for a job, a demolition firm estimates how much it will receive for selling the salvage. Sometimes the resale value of metal and other materials far exceeds the cost of demolition. In these cases, Mr. Costello pays the owner of the building for the right to tear it down and sell the scrap.
Arthur DrewesFor the former Worcester Lunatic Hospital, cranes lowered workers on platforms into the tower, where they chipped away at mortar with hammers, then pried out the stones one by one. Each stone is being labeled and photographed for later reassembly
“You save every piece that you possibly can,” Mr. Costello says. Though all demolition firms feel pressure to recycle, Costello Dismantling has been especially aggressive, says Mark Shaurette, an assistant professor of construction management at Purdue University, who uses Mr. Costello as a guest lecturer.
Metal and concrete are the easy parts. Scrap-metal markets are well-established, and concrete is crushed into stones used in building roads and other construction projects. The tougher parts include damaged or painted drywall, carpeting, insulation and ceiling tiles, but some of those materials can be recycled.
Some of Mr. Costello’s jobs have produced more than $1 million in proceeds from salvage. The demolition several years ago of a 19th-century textile mill in New Bedford, Mass., yielded more than $300,000 for the wood alone: carefully preserved Southern yellow pine that was sold to sawmills to be turned into flooring. Shredded scrap steel recently has sold for nearly $400 per ton.
The National Demolition Association says there are more than 1,500 demolition companies in the U.S., sifting through 115 million tons of debris a year, about 70% of which they manage to recycle.
On Belmont Hill, overlooking Worcester, Mass., Mr. Costello’s firm is dismantling a gothic building erected in 1877 as part of what was then known as the Worcester Lunatic Hospital.
Webb Chappell for The Wall Street JournalScrap metal waiting to be sold, pictured here, on a plot of land near the headquarters of Costello Dismantling. The firm monitors daily scrap-metal prices and tries to avoid selling when demand is weak.
The building’s 135-foot-high clock tower, with walls 3 to 4 feet thick, will be rebuilt nearby to embellish a modern hospital complex. The rest of the building will disappear. Some of the stone window sills could be sold to makers of quaint mailbox holders. Normally, Mr. Costello can sell the wood that he salvages, either for reuse in construction or ground up to become fuel or particle board. But the wood inside this building has been severely damaged by fire and contaminated with asbestos, so it will be trucked to a landfill designated for asbestos-laced materials.
Rather than old-style cranes with swinging balls, Mr. Costello uses excavators with hydraulic arms that can lift giant shears or grinding tools as high as 110 feet. He sometimes welds together his own tools. To pry valuable timber from old textile mills, he created a giant steel fork that can be attached to his excavators. He also built a rakelike implement to pull down drywall panels.
On a trip to Switzerland, he saw a demolition contractor using curtains made of recycled conveyor belts to protect nearby pedestrians and trains from tumbling debris. When he got home, he built his own 40-foot-high curtains from plywood panels.
One of his riskiest tasks was the removal three years ago of the two bottom levels of a parking garage at Boston’s Logan airport. Mr. Costello’s crew had to slice out those two floors “and not have the thing fall down,” even as the garage continued to be used for parking and more floors were added on the top. Mr. Costello’s workers used excavators with rotating concrete pulverizers, resembling dinosaur jaws. He says the floors had to be taken out gradually, “like you’re nibbling a row of corn,” while steel beams were brought in for temporary support.
Some of the choicest scrap found over the years has ended up in Mr. Costello’s Cape Cod home. Alongside his driveway is an Art Deco guard rail from a bridge. The kitchen floor is Southern yellow pine from a textile mill. A sculptor made whale tails from Quincy granite that once adorned the Charles Street jail in Boston.
Mr. Costello grew up near Boston, where his father was a wholesale liquor dealer. After getting a degree in political science from Stonehill College in North Easton, Mass., he tried selling insurance and mutual funds. “I wasn’t making much of a living and didn’t like it much,” he says. A friend referred him to a demolition firm, where he got his start driving a truck and doing manual labor. Soon Mr. Costello was assigned to the office and proved adept at preparing bids for new contracts. He created his own company in 1985.
Mr. Costello uses a praying mantis as his company’s symbol because, he says, the insects carefully take apart their prey before eating it and don’t waste anything. Even so, it hasn’t proved easy to change the public image of the demolition industry as a rough-and-tumble trade. Some of his workers belong to a union known as the Building Wreckers.Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment December 23, 2012
The Raleigh hotel, an Art Deco gem famous for its curlicue framed pool, sold this week for $55 million to new owners who plan to turn the hotel into a national brand.
But before Raleigh siblings pop up in places such as Brooklyn, Chicago and Hollywood, Calif., new owners David Edelstein and Sam Nazarian will pour millions into the historic 105-room property at 1775 Collins Ave. on Miami Beach.
They certainly have experience in that area. Edelstein, principal of New York City’s Tristar Capital, developed and owns W South Beach, about four blocks north of the Raleigh. And Nazarian, the Los Angeles-based founder, chairman and CEO of hospitality and entertainment company sbe, opened the SLS Hotel South Beach just down the street from the Raleigh earlier this year.
“The goal for the Raleigh isn’t to create the SLS or W, very highly stylized properties, but to create a very charming, very chic hotel that will be an alternative to the two properties,” said Arash Azarbarzin, president of sbe Hotel Group, which took over operations at the hotel Thursday. “To bring the Raleigh back to its grandeur.”
Initially, the new owners plan to invest about $2 million to $5 million in new furnishings and technological updates, “but keep the spirit and the flavor of the hotel exactly as it is, because it is magic,” Edelstein said. The hotel’s staff will remain.
The hotel, which was built in 1940,will stay open during short-term renovations expected to take place between April and November. The owners will spend a few months coming up with plans for a more comprehensive renovation with a bigger budget.
Nazarian wasn’t available to speak to The Miami Herald Friday, but he told The Wall Street Journal that longer-term plans call for another $15 million to $35 million in renovations to the hotel that, depending on approval from the city’s historic preservation board, could add 70 rooms and more restaurant and bar areas.
The Raleigh’s existing relationship with Miami chef Michael Schwartz will continue, and the renovation is expected to include a new restaurant from him next year. Edelstein said he envisions a Miami Beach version of Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, the Design District favorite. Azarbarzin said that while no details have been finalized, Schwartz will have more of a presence now that the sale has gone through.
Brilla Group, the private equity firm in Miami that sold the hotel this week, bought the hotel from celebrity hotelier Andre Balazs for $30 million in 2009, when the tourism industry was suffering the worst impact of the recession.
As the economy recovered, the hotel market rebounded quickly, bringing a flood of new competitors, said David Brillembourg, Brilla Group’s chairman and CEO.
“For us, it was the right time to prepare for an exit,” he said, adding later that the firm is “very satisfied” with the selling price.
Edelstein said he has been staying at the Raleigh since the 1990s and has long had a passion for the boutique property.
“Owning it has always been a dream,” he said. He approached Brilla Group earlier this year and said he was interested in buying it. By May, he said the deal was done with a handshake. In the course of talking to potential operators — everyone from Italian families to major chains — he spoke to Nazarian, who was interested in not only operating but also co-owning the hotel. The two have been friends since meeting at a Miami Beach design review meeting in 2005.
The long-rumored sale officially closed Thursday. The $55 million price tag includes the hotel, a nearby parking lot and the Raleigh brand.
“It’s definitely on the high side, but it definitely shows the strength of the Miami Beach market,” said Suzanne Amaducci-Adams, head of the hospitality group at the Bilzin Sumberg law firm. She represented another group that was interested in purchasing the property earlier this year.
She said the property is attractive because of its beachfront location and relative flexibility.
“The Raleigh brand is an established name, but it’s not an established brand, so there’s a lot you can do to shape the brand,” she said.
While the new owners say their priority for now is refurbishing the property, they see potential in future expansion. No time frame or specific locations were named, but locales including Brooklyn, Chicago, Boston, Hollywood and San Francisco were all thrown out as examples in interviews. Azarbarzin said the most likely scenario would involve renovation and repositioning existing properties.
“To duplicate the Raleigh anywhere else…would be impossible,” he said. “What we can transport and potentially take to other properties is the essence of the hotel and the culture and the service.”
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/22/3152249/after-its-sale-to-south-beach.html#storylink=cpy
The former director of a mental health clinic in Miami Gardens has been sentenced to more than eight years in prison for his role in a vast conspiracy involving dozens of co-workers who collectively tried to bilk more than $50 million fromMedicare.
Rafael Alalu, 47, of Miami, who worked for the Biscayne Milieu clinic, was convicted in August of conspiracy to commit healthcare fraud and two related offenses.
Alalu’s sentencing Thursday before U.S. District Judge Robert Scola was attended by scores of people who spilled out of the courtroom.
The trial evidence showed that Alalu participated in treating ineligible patients, falsifying their files, writing fabricated group therapy notes and instructing other therapists at the clinic to do the same.
More than 25 defendants, including the clinic’s owners, doctors, managers, therapists, other employees and patient brokers, have pleaded guilty or been convicted at trial.
In August, Biscayne Milieu’s owner, Antonio Macli; the company’s operating officer, son Jorge Macli; and another manager, daughter Sandra Huarte, were found guilty of conspiring to commit healthcare fraud by collecting $11 million in taxpayer-funded Medicare payments for therapy services that were not provided or needed from 2007 to 2011.
The family members were also found guilty of conspiring to pay kickbacks to patient recruiters who supplied Medicare beneficiaries living primarily at halfway houses in South Florida.
Some patients, who suffered from substance abuse, were lured from out of state with promises to put a roof over their heads, prosecutors said. They were told if they dropped out of the group therapy sessions, they would lose their housing.
Read more here: http://www.miamiherald.com/2012/12/21/3152770/ex-director-of-miami-gardens-mental.html#storylink=cpy
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The operator of Homestead’s baseball stadium is once again behind on more than $162,000 of utility and insurance bills.
The city is locked in a legal battle with the operator, in part, over the bills. The operator, La Ley Sports, filed a class action lawsuit against the city in May, claiming that Homestead overbills its utility customers.
A Miami-Dade Circuit Court judge dismissed the case in October and gave La Ley a chance to re-file its complaint because of issues with the way it was originally filed, Homestead’s attorneys said. La Ley has filed an amended complaint which Homestead’s attorneys have again asked a judge to dismiss, in part because the lawyers still believe there are problems with the way the case has been filed.
Meanwhile, La Ley’s bills have stacked up.
The sports organization, owned by Miami Spanish-language TV lawyer John H. Ruiz, owes about $118,000 in utility bills as of Nov. 26, according to city documents. His group owes about $45,000 in insurance bills, according to the city.
Ruiz’s company has been behind on its utility bills essentially since it first took over the stadium in July 2011.
But Ruiz has argued that he was never past-due because he never owed the money in the first place, because Homestead overbilled him.
The city in April admitted that it did, in fact, accidently overbill La Ley by $22,000 for a dumpster that wasn’t even on the property. But taking into account the overbilling, Ruiz’s company still owed $3,000 in past-due utility bills at the time.
Karen Barnet-Backer, who is representing La Ley in the case, did not return an email for comment and did not immediately return a phone call for comment.
In a separate lawsuit, La Ley has sued the city for fraud and breach of contract because of disagreements between the two sides over their rental agreement. The relationship between the company and the city soured quickly after La Ley tried to get out of paying insurance premiums for the stadium. The city refused to waive the $10,000-a-month bill.
“The city’s position is that he now owes upwards of $100,000,” said Michael Popok, one of the attorneys representing Homestead in both cases.
The lawsuit stemming from the lease disagreements is still pending.
The suits have been “relatively dormant,” Popok said.
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Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment December 15, 2012
The City of Miami provides dependable, courteous and value-priced collection services to more than 68,000 homes within the City. Using modern automated collection vehicles, the Department of Solid Waste continues to look for newer, more effective ways to improve the quality of your neighborhood, your community and your environment.
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â€¢ All trash, garbage & recycling must be placed out, at curbside before 6:30 a.m. on collection day.
â€¢ No Garbage or Trash service will be provided on Christmas Day and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. DayPosted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment December 15, 2012
According to a report from KCCI-TV in Des Moines, the envelope, which was wrapped inside old newspapers, contained tens of thousands of dollars. It was discovered Dec. 12.
“One of the employees as they were getting ready to shred some paper had noticed an envelope,” Des Moines Police Sgt. Jason Halifax told KCCI. The machines were stopped and workers looked inside the envelope.
It was stuffed with 50- and 100-dollar bills.
“They saw it, recognized it, thought, ‘Hey, somebody wants this money back. I’m going to turn this in.’ A fantastic effort on their part,” said Halifax.
The cash had been bundled together so long by paper clips, the clips had started to rust, Halifax added.
Police are confident they will find the cash’s owner.
“Luckily, the guy paid with a check — so we do have his information,” Halifax told KCCI. “We’re going to try to backtrack to get ahold of him, to see if the money does in fact belong to him.”
Until the owner is tracked down, the cash will remain in storage.Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment December 14, 2012
OPA-LOCKA (CBSMiami – An Opa-Locka Police Captain, who has been under investigation for nearly a year has pled guilty to drug charges.
Arthur Balom, 44, of Miramar, will be sentenced December 17th for his participation in the distribution of cocaine, Ecstasy and Oxycodone, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
According to statements made in court during Thursday’s plea hearing, Balom was part of a drug trafficking organization operating out of an Opa-Locka apartment complex known as “The Back Blues.”
The organization was known as the “Back Blue Gang” which controlled everything from street sales to mid-level drug distribution.
According to in-court statements, while Balom was a Captain in the Opa-Locka Police Department, he aided and abetted in the distribution of drugs by re-routing Opa-Locka Police officers away from where the gang would be doing business. He would also tell the gang about police activity in the area and assist gang members when they came into contact with law enforcement.
In one instance discussed in court, FBI agents provided Balom with a notebook containing photographs of various suspects related to an armed robbery. The FBI agents asked Balom about a suspected co-conspirator. The day after speaking with FBI agents about the suspect, Balom met with that very suspect and showed him the notebook provided by the FBI.
In another instance, Balom provided ballistic vests to members of the drug organization.
Those vests, federal officials have previously stated, were used by the crew that carried out a Miramar Brinks truck robbery and murder in 2010.
Federal agents were able to trace the bullet proof vests back to the Opa-Locka Police Department through the serial number after one was left by the criminals near the scene of the Brinks guards’ murder.
Balom faces a possible maximum statutory sentence of up to 40 years in prison.Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment December 14, 2012
A homeless man sleeping inside a trash bin behind a Fort Worth, Texas, business was crushed to death Wednesday after he and the contents of the container were dumped into a collection truck and compacted.
The incident occurred just before 7 a.m. behind an O’Reilly Auto Parts store, according to a report in the Dallas Morning News.
As the truck’s compactor engaged, the truck driver heard screams.
Rescue personnel performed CPR on the man, a 41-year-old, at the scene, according to KXAS-TV.
The man underwent emergency surgery but did not survive. The cause of death was a crushed pelvis, the Tarrant County Medical Examiner’s Office told KXAS.
Temperatures had fallen into the 20s Tuesday night in the Dallas-Fort Worth area. And the man likely climbed into the dumpster to escape the cold.Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment ← Older posts Newer posts →