By STUART YOUNGS of The Montclair Times

MONTCLAIR, NJ, MAY 10, 2006 —After producing nothing more than a gargantuan hole over the past several months, the future Siena building finally began moving in the right direction last week: Upwards.

“We are finally getting out of the ground,” said Nick Szilvassy, project manager of the construction project. He attributed the apparent delay in vertical construction to water problems at the site that have since been remedied.

Szilvassy’s crew of some 40 workers recently began work on the steel framework of the seven-story building, and Szilvassy said he anticipates that structural work will be completed in approximately seven weeks.

Following that, Szilvassy said, he hopes to expedite the project by fitting the building’s roof as quickly as possible, so that work can begin on the core of the building without the threat of weather delays.

Szilvassy was adamant that the 101-condominum project would be completed by its March 2007 deadline. He said he would be “fast-tracking” work at the site to ensure that the building is “built under deadline and under budget.” To that end, he said, up to 200 workers would be working on the site when at full capacity.

“Things will really start to fly now,” he said.

However, despite having nothing more than an architect’s rendering and a DVD of the future building to show, sales of the Siena’s residential space have been off the ground for some time.

A sales office for the building has been set up in an office suite of The Georgian Inn, on North Mountain Avenue, and there Sales Director Gail Avery said she was encouraged by the level of interest in the building so far. Of the 91 units being sold at market value — 10 income-controlled apartments will be filled by HOMECorp, a local affordable-housing agency — roughly a third are under contract. It’s a number Avery expects to see rise in the coming months.

“When something goes in the ground, and you can see it, then people start getting excited,” said Avery. “So we are expecting even more interest.”

While Avery tends to the residential space, Neal Richards, vice president of Vanguard Realty Inc., is responsible for securing commercial tenants for the 18,000 square feet of retail space that will not be occupied by New York Sports Club, the building’s only confirmed business tenant so far.

“There’s no leases signed, but there’s a lot of activity,” said Richards this week. “Since the steel has begun going up, we can get a clearer delivery date, which we are projecting for summer 2007.”

Richards said he expects to see the remaining retail space divided between seven or eight retailers.


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