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BY COLIN MIXSON
A city proposal to rip up Warren St. has incited local legislators to renew their push for greater coordination and oversight of Downtown construction.
After the city announced that the two-year water-main replacement project would begin next month — even as a similar project continues on nearby Worth St. — local pols signed onto a letter drafted by state Sen. Daniel Squadron’s office to First Deputy Mayor Anthony Shorris calling on the city to assign a construction coordinator to Lower Manhattan to help mitigate the mayhem the Warren St. and Worth St. projects will wreak in Tribeca.
“Coordination from your office will ensure overlapping projects spanning multiple agencies and stakeholders will proceed on time and with minimal disruption to residents,” read the letter signed by state Sen. Daniel Squadron, Congreessman Jerrold Nadler, Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Yuh-Line Niou, and Councilmember Margaret Chin, and Borough President Gale Brewer. “The recent announcement of a Department of Design and Construction water main reconstruction… highlights this concern.”
Downtown leaders would ideally like to resurrect the defunct Lower Manhattan Construction Coordination Command, which was formed to help manage the massive rebuilding effort following the 9/11 terrorist attacks. The office convened biweekly meetings of developers, city agencies, and members of Community Board 1 to coordinate the many projects in the tightly packed neighborhood, and provided locals with a single point of contact to handle quality of life concerns and act as liaison with city agencies and developers.
The office was disbanded in 2013 and its functions taken over by the Department of Transportation’s Lower Manhattan office. But in the spring of last year, even the DOT’s dedicated Downtown outpost was merged with the agency’s borough office, leaving Lower Manhattan without a specialized office to supervise and coordinate the many projects still ongoing in the neighborhood.
Downtown leaders resisted each of those moves, arguing that the neighborhood still needs special treatment — not only because the area’s building boom continues unabated, but because the neighborhood’s narrow roadways, congestion, and 15th-century street layout make multiple construction projects more difficult to deal with than anywhere else in the city.
The politicians’ letter pointed out that 17 properties along the four-block stretch of Warren St. tagged for reconstruction already have active construction permits — something a central coordinating authority would have taken into consideration, along with the two bus routes along the street that would be disrupted.
The upcoming construction project will see Warren St. ripped up over the course of two years, as workers repave the roadway after replacing water mains and sewage infrastructure below.
The project, which is expected to begin in February, won’t be completed until 2019, and will include occasional night and weekend work — creating a quality of life nightmare for locals, according to one Tribeca resident.
“It will be extremely difficult for the residents there,” said Bruce Ehrmann, a member of Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee.