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Developer Taking Heavy Duty Approach to 'Launch' Manhattan West

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There's not much land left to build on in Manhattan, so developers are getting creative when it comes to building the borough's newest neighborhood, the so-called Far West Side. NY1's Jon Weinstein filed the following report.

A machine known as "The Launcher" was specifically created for Manhattan West. The $7 million Italian-designed apparatus is creating a platform over the existing - and extremely busy - railroad tracks that lead into Penn Station.

"In essence we're building land," said Henry Caso, Brookfield's Vice President of Manhattan West Construction.

The nearly $5 billion Brookfield development is going up between Ninth and Tenth avenues and 31st and 33rd streets. Ultimately on top of the platform will be an open public space with two commercial towers, a residential building and possibly a hotel around it. Along with Related Companies' Hudson Yards project and the 7 train expansion, this will transform a once-barren strip into a hub of activity.

"It's kind of Manhattan's final frontier in a sense. There'll be lots of parks, lots of amenities and the transportation is huge being right next to Penn Station," said Melissa Coley, Brookfield's Vice President of Investor Relations and Communications.

The machine is like ones used to build bridges. It moves massive pieces of concrete into two layers of platforms. Much of the work happens between 2 and 3 a.m. when there are fewer trains running.

"We're using bridge-building technology so we can do two things at once, maintain an operational railroad and create the land so we can build buildings on top of it," Caso said.

Each one of the pieces being moved into place weighs about 56 tons, the equivalent of 25 cars. When the whole span is completed it will weigh the equivalent of 187 buses or 11 blue whales -- 2,400 tons.

Inside two of the platform tunnels are ventilation systems for when the railroads are completely covered below.

"The air comes into this chamber and is exhausted through fans which are equipped inside the structure," Caso said.

After two years of construction, the platform is scheduled to be done by the end of the year.

Brookfield won't start building the office towers until there are anchor tenants, but says they're in negotiations.

There is no specific start date for the residential building, but it's clear that the transformation is well under way.

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