The more you know
Have you ever wished that there was a better way to keep up-to-date with all the developments and trends over at the Department of Buildings?
There might not be a whole lot of us, but fortunately, the Department of Buildings is always anticipating the needs and desires of its heavy-users (well, some of our needs and desires—we’re awaiting the day when we can see actually see PDFs of building plans online). They’ve started producing a monthly podcast! It’s called State of Construction.
We warned of a deluge of lawsuits surrounding the crane accident at One57, and it looks like the tide is already rising. A tipster sent Curbed a photo of a flyer seeking claimants for a suit against Extell, the contractors on the site and the city’s Department of Buildings. Turns out the attorney putting together the suit lives on West 58th Street and was evacuated during the accident. The sweetest revenge is judicial!
Before Hurricane Sandy even reached the Five Boroughs, the city was thrown into chaos when its prevailing winds knocked over the boom of the crane hanging off the side of the billionaire-beloved One57 condo tower. In our oral history of Hurricane Sandy, Fire Chief Sal Cassano told The Observer that was the moment the storm got serious. “That was pretty much the start of a very, very active and serious night,” Mr. Cassano said. “We had a four-alarm assignment for an incident that wasn’t even a fire.”
Yesterday, The Times had a harrowing account of the moments surrounding the crane snapping. It includes the main city engineer on the scene saying he gave the boom a 20 percent chance of breaking off entirely and falling earthward. His boss, Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri, felt more secure, as he told The Observer during our interview for the oral history that, following some initial panic, he felt confident the boom would hold through the storm and the days ahead.
“We had made an estimate that, at the time, we knew the crane was not going to fall,” Mr. LiMandri said. “We felt very comfortable that the ties that held the mast up were intact, and that was a very good sign, knowing that the mast had not been compromised. We had some estimates on the iron chords that were holding the mast together to the balloon, so we were fairly comfortable that that part was secure.”
Well, the recovery continues faster than expected in New York. We’ve got subways almost miraculously coming back to life after flooding throughout the system, and now the securing of the crane boom dangling over West 57th Street has been completed a day ahead of schedule, wrapping up tonight rather than Monday night as the mayor had previously predicted.
It will still be weeks before the crane—whose boom was almost torn asunder during last week’s hurricane—can be removed and construction can resume on the billionaire-beloved One57 tower. Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri’s full statement on the operation is below.
The crane that snapped back at One57 is still hanging precariously over Midtown, but the city is preparing a plan to secure the boom on the billionaire-beloved building that will commence tomorrow and should be completed by Monday night, Mayor Bloomberg announced at his press briefing this afternoon.
“Tomorrow, work on securing the crane will begin,” he said. “It’s approximately a 36 hour operation, and the goal is to remove the vacate order to allow people in the vicinity to return to their homes and offices by Monday night. We’ve just got to make sure we do this in a way that doesn’t cost any lives.”
Look What The Web Dragged In
StreetEasy, the go-to sales and listings database for the buyers, renters and the real estate obsessed has just made it easier to snoop on the buildings that you love and the apartments that you covet.
Also, you can now figure out if any of your neighbor are planning a massive renovation or if your co-op board is actually following through on repairs.
The hearing room was full and the overflow room was overflowing at the New York City Council’s offices at 250 Broadway this afternoon. Maybe it was the fact that this was the first elevator safety hearing since two New Yorkers lost their lives in elevators in the past year. Maybe it was the fact that this was the first oversight hearing on elevator safety since 2003.
This in a city where most people live and work in high-rise, all serviced by some 60,000 elevators.
The main issue of the afternoon was two new elevator safety bills proposed by the council: one that would require existing elevators to be furnished with more safety devices and another that would require elevator workers to be licensed.
“We require licensing of our plumbers. We require licensing of our electricians. And the lack of elevator licensing is a major loophole,” said councilmember James Vacca, a sponsor of the licensing bill. “It is also a threat to the safety of millions of New Yorkers.”
Following today’s warehouse collapse in Manhattanville that killed a construction worker, Columbia University released a statement expressing its sympathies for the family.
“First and foremost, our hearts go out to the family, friends and co-workers of the construction worker who was killed in this tragic incident, and our thoughts remain with the two other workers who were injured this morning and their loved ones,” the university said in a brief statement.
The building was being taken down to make way for a public plaza that is part of the university’s second phase, which remains years away. The scheduling of the construction work was not immediately clear—why demolish now to leave vacant for later.
Law and Order
The former head of the Department of Building’s cranes and derricks division said that crane owner James Lomma should have been arrested for poorly maintaining two tower cranes in 2007.
During her testimony at Mr. Lomma’s manslaughter trial in a Manhattan courtroom yesterday, former DOB official Bethany Klein said that the head of New York Crane & Equipment Corp. had failed to make two crucial repairs to the two cranes, one of which eventually collapse and kill two men at the E. 91st street accident in 2008.
The city Department of Buildings issued residential permits for 8,936 units in 997 buildings in 2011 – a 33 percent increase from the year before, according to a new report released today by the New York Building Congress.