Volume 19 Issue 48 | April 13 - 19, 2007

Jack Parker exec ducks questions at Tribeca meeting

By Brooke Edwards

For those hopeful that the compromise reached last year over the size of the Jack Parker development in Northern Tribeca meant an end to the site’s controversy, the battle may have just begun.

With pressure from the City Planning Dept., Tribeca residents, Community Board 1 and Councilmember Alan Gerson, the City Council voted last summer to limit the buildings on the block bordered by West, Washington, Watts and Desbrosses Sts., trimming Parker’s original plan for towers as high as 210 feet, to a range of 110 to 150 feet. They also negotiated a smaller floor to area ratio, or F.A.R., which is the amount of space that can be developed compared to the size of the lot.

But when William Wallerstein, vice president of the Jack Parker Corporation, voluntarily came to the Community Board 1 Tribeca Committee meeting last Wednesday to give an update on the site’s progress, he refused to answer several key questions and raised concerns about what is being done to protect neighboring buildings.

Demolition began last April on the former parking garage and auto repair shop.

“The demolition is now complete,” Wallerstein told the committee without mentioning a large fire on the site Feb. 16. “The old slab has been removed.” He said they plan to begin foundation work within the next few weeks, which meant one thing to community members present at the meeting: pile driving.

Monday through Friday, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m., Wallerstein said, “There will be pile driving for approximately two months.”

He said they will be installing a vibration monitor in the Fleming Smith Warehouse building, a city landmark across from the site on Washington St.

“If, when we’re driving piles in the corner closest to the Fleming building, everything reads fine,” Wallerstein said, “then it’s safe to assume that’s the case in other buildings farther away. It will be a bell weather for everything else that happens around the site.”

Eileen Hickey does not agree. Hickey has lived in Tribeca for 31 years, directly behind what is now the Parker development on Greenwich St., and she expressed her concern during the meeting over how the pile driving might impact her building.

“This is a development that takes up a full city block and will reach 16 stories on one side,” Hickey told Downtown Express, “and they never conducted a complete environmental impact study.” Hickey’s building lies just outside the 90-foot limit that would require Parker to install a vibration monitor near a historic district. But she is afraid that, with two months of pile driving, her building may still be damaged.

After much discussion Wallerstein said, “I will look seriously into the seismographs.”

Wallerstein said there are no plans for a health club or restaurants on the property.

A board member also raised concern about monitoring the rat population that would be stirred up by the construction.

Wallerstein initially replied, “I don’t know how to respond to that. We have rats in New York City.” He added, “We have an exterminator who will monitor the site on a regular basis.”

When a community member asked how many units the development will have, Wallerstein answered, “I’m not really at liberty to discuss that.”

When pressed for at least a range of apartments, Wallerstein said, “We don’t feel it’s a matter to be discussed,” and said they are still deciding if the residential units will be for sale or for rent.

He also would not reveal any plans for the exterior of the development, saying they are not yet ready. He did not agree to show them when they are ready. “We did not intend on showing the designs to the board,” he said.

While Andy Neale, co-chairperson of the Tribeca Committee acknowledged that the committee does not have any say over the exterior plans, he told Wallerstein, “We’d ask you to strongly consider the neighboring buildings,” encouraging the developer to use brick and natural materials as possible.

Wallerstein said, “We’re trying not to have reflective glass or black glass.”

Another community member advised Wallerstein, “You know it’s in your best interest to try and get along with your neighbors.”

Leaning against the wall with arms crossed, Wallerstein answered, “I hope it’s in my neighbors’ best interest to get along with me.”

Ironically, Neale said right before the presentation that Jack Parker has been responsive to community concerns thus far, citing their quick response when residents complained about construction that began at 5:45 a.m.

Board members did not ask Wallerstein about the February fire. The cause was never determined by the fire department.

On a good note, Wallerstein said that he doesn’t anticipate any street closures around the construction area, as they plan to unload and hose down trucks onsite.

Wallerstein said that they expect the development will be “substantially completed in around 18 months,” and finished by the end of 2008. He said they plan to begin leasing units in Oct. 2008.

Downtown Express is published by Community Media LLC. 145 Sixth Avenue, New York, NY 10013
Phone: (212) 229-1890 | Fax: (212) 229-2790 | Advertising: 646-452-2465 | © 2007 Community Media, LLC

Written permission of the publisher must be obtainedbefore any of the contents of this newspaper, in whole or in part, can be reproduced or redistributed.