Despite the rainy, windy weather that is set to hit New York tomorrow and a last-minute lawsuit filed to stop Extell from evacuating two co-op buildings adjacent to One57, plans to repair the crane broken during Hurricane Sandy are still moving forward Saturday morning.
Which means that the unfortunate residents of Alwyn Court, the landmarked building at the corner of Seventh Avenue and 58th Street, will either vacate the building voluntarily in the next few hours or face forcible eviction. The crane repair involves swinging a boom over Alwyn and two other buildings before hoisting it up the side of the unfinished tower.
The co-op board of the Alwyn reached a late-breaking settlement with Extell this morning after filing an injunction to block the emergency evacuation—an unpleasant reminder of the other emergency evacuation that ousted residents from their homes when the crane broke during Hurricane Sandy.
To see how things were going, The Observer checked in with Michael Gross, chronicler of high-end real estate, author of 740 Park and resident of Alwyn Court. Mr. Gross, who is unhappily adjusting to his unenviable, unexpected role in the city’s super-luxury real estate saga, recently penned an angry op-ed in The New York Times about relative wealth and privilege in New York, questioning the Department of Building’s decision to evacuate the buildings rather than force Extell to employ the slower, costlier method used at other construction sites around the city.
Mr. Gross was walking his dog in Central Park when we talked, getting ready to leave his apartment in the next few hours and check in at a nearby hotel. He said that though the details of the settlement had not been disclosed to residents at this point, his understanding was that it would involve Extell increasing its insurance coverage for the maneuver, and more compensation for residents (Extell had initially offered up to $1,500) without them having to submit receipts for all purchases.
“Frankly, I was not worried about the apartment so much as the corruption of the city and the unfairness of all this. Cranes go up and down in the city all the time and no one gets evacuated,” Mr. Gross said. “Who is the city working for here? What they’re doing is unsafe. The city is going to create a false emergency to save time and money. Extell has been undiplomatic, but I’m maddest at the DOB.”
In response to questions about the method of repair, both Extell and the DOB told The Times that the completion of One57 was in the interest of the neighboring buildings, with an Extell spokesperson saying that “we understand, and apologize for the inconvenience caused by this disruption; however, this operation will allow for the safe completion of the building.”
Mr. Gross told us that some of his neighbors have said that they will refuse to leave Alwyn Court, even though eviction orders were posted on all floors of the building last night—including in the sub-basement where he and some of the other soon-to-be refugees store their suitcases.
And what of the comments on his Times op-ed that lambasted him for complaining about a $1,500 hotel stipend and not being reimbursed for “household necessities” from high-end retailer Gracious Home during the Sandy evacuation?
“You know what we bought from Gracious Home? We bought a travel iron for $20 because the apartment that we rented did not have one,” Mr. Gross said. He added that he thought Extell should be paying residents $20,000 to leave for the weekend.
“They’re selling apartments for $90 million!” he griped. “The problem is that it’s in everyone’s interest to finish that monstrosity.”