downtownexpress.com

Volume 19 • Issue 19 | September 22 - 28, 2006

Fiterman takedown still in limbo

State officials tapped PAL Environmental Safety Corporation to clean and demolish Fiterman Hall, a 15-story academic building that was badly damaged and contaminated on Sept. 11, 2001, although the demolition date is still uncertain.

The Borough of Manhattan Community College building sits at 30 W. Broadway. When 7 World Trade Center collapsed on it on Sept. 11, 2001, the falling tower tore off much of the building’s southern façade. For more than five years, it has stood damaged and shrouded in black netting, its gashed and battered face exposed to passersby.

PAL Environmental was involved in the Deutsche Bank building cleanup at 130 Liberty St. until 2004. They also cleaned and demolished 4 Albany St., a four-story, 9/11 contaminated building south of the Trade Center site.

“We’ve found a contractor who shares our vision and now we can get to the nuts and bolts” of the demolition, said Benn Lewis, a vice president for Airtek Environmental, an environmental consultant for the New York State Dormitory Authority, at a Sept. 18 Community Board 1 World Trade Center Committee meeting.

The dormitory authority will clean and demolish the building, which is contaminated with a host of Trade Center toxins, including asbestos, mold, mercury and dioxin.

Fiterman has often been described as an eyesore in Downtown, a persistent and ghastly reminder of that day. As developer Larry Silverstein built and leased the new 7 W.T.C., Fiterman sat beside it, draped in black netting. City University of New York, which includes B.M.C.C., was bogged down in litigation with its insurers for years, delaying the demolition. Last year, Governor George Pataki allocated $15 million — the last of the $187 million the school needed to demolish the old structure and rebuild anew — and said the demolition would begin in the fall of 2005.

The road to Fiterman’s end is still a long one. The authority must secure approval from environmental regulators to clean and demolish the 9/11-contaminated structure. Last January, the Environmental Protection Agency rejected its draft cleanup plan.

Instead of submitting an entirely new plan for cleanup and demolition, the dormitory authority will submit its plan in segments, hoping that might speed up E.P.A. approval. Within the next week, the authority will submit a plan to erect scaffolding up the sides of the building. The agency hopes to see the plan approved next month so it can erect the scaffolding by late fall.

“We want to improve the look and the safety of the site as soon as possible,” said Lewis.

The authority expects demolition to last four to six months, once it begins. After the building is gone, construction of a new, $125 million Pei Cobb Freed & Partners-designed building will take another four to six months. The new B.M.C.C. building will be 15 stories and roughly the same square footage as the old building.

CUNY plans to host a town hall meeting at B.M.C.C. about the Fiterman demolition sometime next month, university officials said.

—Ronda Kaysen



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