Volume 18 • Issue 49 | April 21 - 27, 2006

Parker begins demolition before approval to rebuild

By Ronda Kaysen

A stand of squat, one-story buildings in North Tribeca will soon be demolished, making way for a controversial residential development project.

The Jack Parker Corporation began cleaning the buildings bounded by West, Washington, Watts and Desbrosses Sts. of asbestos last week and plans to begin demolishing them soon.

Parker recently applied to rezone the block along with three other blocks to make way for high-rise residential developments. The Parker Corp. insists last week’s work is nothing more than what it is: a preliminary demolition, and does not mean that the company is preparing to begin building before it has city approval.

“The buildings have deteriorated to the point that they are not safe standing,” said William Wallerstein, vice president of the Parker Corp. “Rather than repair something that will ultimately be demolished, we decided to bring them down.”

The Parker Corp.’s plans for the area have not boded well with local residents who insist the zoning proposal would open the door for large, bulky buildings. Residents launched a campaign to block the application, which must be approved by City Council and the City Planning Commission. Community Board 1 rejected the application, although the board is only advisory.

The demolition has not ignited anger in the community, however. “We welcome the demolition, we have absolutely no problems with that,” said Andrew Neale, a Community Board 1 member and a member of the Tribeca Community Association, which has spearheaded the fight against Parker. “What is there now? It’s a hideous eyesore.”

Neale was concerned, however, that the demolition would wreak havoc on the Fleming Smith Warehouse, a landmark building located across the street from the property.

Wallerstein insists that his company—which successfully demolished five buildings surrounding a historic Broadway theater in Midtown—knows how to take down buildings safely.

“The demolition work isn’t being done with a wrecking ball, we’re not bringing in dynamite,” he said. “We are concerned about any nearby building, whether it’s next door or down the block.”

— Ronda Kaysen


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