Volume 20, Number 42 | THE NEWSPAPER OF LOWER MANHATTAN | FEB. 29 - MARCH 6, 2008

Downtown Express photo by John Whittaker

Workers inspected collapsed wooden formwork atop the Superior Ink project on Bethune St. after Saturday night’s high winds.

Downtown Express photo by Shoshanna Bettencourt

Black netting shows where windows were cracked on the Trump Soho condo-hotel on Saturday night.


In high winds,Trump project rains glass down on Soho

By Albert Amateau

Winds gusting nearly 50 miles per hour on Saturday night played hell with Manhattan construction projects, including the accident-prone Trump Soho hotel condominium and The Related Companies’ residential project on the site of the former Superior Ink factory on the West Village waterfront.

The Trump Soho at 246 Spring St. at the corner of Varick St., the subject of neighborhood opposition since it was announced in the summer of 2006, was where a Jan. 14 construction accident caused the death of one construction worker and injured two others.

Bovis Lend Lease, general contractor for the 42-story building, was under a stop-work order since January for various violations, until Feb. 11 when work was allowed to begin again on the building’s lower 23 floors.

At about 10 p.m. Sat., March 8, gale-force gusts, which toppled construction scaffolding across the city, set a chain swinging from the 26th floor of the condo-hotel site and crashing into the north side of the building, cracking about a dozen windows. No one was injured.

Mary Costello, a spokesperson for Bovis, said construction personnel were on hand and responded first by knocking some broken panes out while the street was empty and notifying the Department of Buildings.

Police closed Spring St. between Varick St. and Sixth Ave. for two days, and Varick St. was closed between Dominick and Spring Sts. for a day. The city issued a stop-work order and cited Bovis for not having secured the chain that was being used to hoist windows for placement.

A Department of Buildings spokesperson said the department had issued an advisory to contractors on Fri., March 7, to anticipate high winds over the weekend and reminded them to secure construction sites. The department’s stop-work order halted all work on the Trump project except remedial measures, such as installing protective netting between floors 20 and 24 to allow safe removal of the remaining cracked glass, the spokesperson said.

Critics of the condo-hotel took the opportunity to blast it anew.

“This project should never have been allowed to go as far as it has,” said Andrew Berman, director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

Trump Soho is being built in a manufacturing zone in which hotels are permitted but residences are not. Trump signed a restrictive declaration with the Department of Buildings limiting the length of stays in the hotel, but opponents claim the declaration is unenforceable and a ruse to allow a residential building in a district zoned for manufacturing. The opponents took their case to the Board of Standards and Appeals on Feb. 27 in preparation for a lawsuit challenging the legality of the project.

“The developers have been extremely cavalier about the law,” Berman said. “In addition to zoning violations, there are serious concerns about construction issues. They should never have been allowed to go forward,” he said.

An artist who works in a fifth-floor studio in a building separated from the Trump project by an alley said a gust of wind shortly before midnight lifted a plywood roof from a shed on the fourth floor of the Trump building and sent it flying across the alley.

At the former Superior Ink site where The Related Companies is building a 15-story residential building at 469 W. 12th St. at West St., about 75 percent of the timber and plywood formwork at the roof level collapsed onto the 15th floor about 8 p.m. on Saturday night. No one was injured.

Wooden debris fell into Bethune St. and W. 12th St. and some apartments in an adjacent building on W. 12th St. were vacated. One resident of Westbeth on Bethune St. across from the project said residents saw large pieces of wood flying down the street in the wind.

The Department of Buildings issued a violation to Plaza Construction, general contractor for the project, for failure to safeguard the public and property affected by construction operations.

A stop-work order halted all work except for installing vertical safety netting on the 15th floor of the building and removing the collapsed debris.

Albert@DowntownExpress.com



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