Tribeca construction riles neighbors

Photo by Marc Ameruso
Locals are furious at the owners of 53-55 Beach Street in Tribeca for doing construction work at all hours and using mobile cranes without proper permits.

BY LEVAR ALONZO

Neighbors are furious with the owners of 53 Beach Street in Tribeca over after-hours construction work and improper crane use, according to a local civic leader who lives nearby.

“I have seen men showing up at 7 am on the weekends and working way ’til after normal working hours,” said Marc Ameruso, a member of Community Board 1. “Are they not concerned about their neighbors?”

The behavior is part of pattern of conduct by the owners that betrays a brazen disregard for the community and the law, according to Ameruso.

For example, the owners came before CB1’s Landmarks Committee last month seeking approval to build a wheelchair lift in the building to make it compliant with the American Disabilities Act — but it turned out that they had already built the lift without notifying CB1 or getting approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which is required before the work could legally begin.

The committee has asked the commission to reject the owners’ retroactive application.

There have been numerous 311 complaints about construction noise at the site, according to the Department of Buildings, which it has followed up with repeated inspections.

Another big issue raised by neighbors is the use of portable cranes — or boom trucks — transported on the back of a flatbed truck. Ameruso said he has seen portable cranes being used on the eight-story building and said the contractor never got the necessary permits.

The crane violations are particularly galling to residents of Tribeca, where a massive crawler crane toppled along Worth Street in February 2016, killing one man and spurring a raft of new rules to improve crane safety — some of which the contractor appears to be flouting.

The Department of Transportation confirmed it has issued violations to the contractor, Pilku Construction, for crane use at the site, and said the contractor has since been put on a citywide hold for non-compliance.

But Ameruso worries that issuing violations and imposing fines may not be enough to deter lawless constriction in a hot real-estate market like Tribeca, where millions of dollars can be made by brining new and renovated units to market before competitors.

“It appears that the rich owner of 53 Beach Street has found a loophole in the system, in that he does not care how much he will pay in fines to reach a building completion deadline, which is putting the public in danger and eroding the quality of life in the community,” he said. “The City agencies should be granted more authority to stop this loophole practice.”

At its most recent full board meeting, CB 1 passed a resolution asking the DOB to issue an immediate stop-work order on the building.

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