Volume 17 • Issue 19 | October 01 - 07, 2004

Downtown Express photo by Jennifer Bodrow

Liberty St. is closed to vehicles after a piece of glass fell from the Deutsche Bank building Sunday.

Glass falls from Deutsche, shutting streets and pedestrian bridge

By Ronda Kaysen

Glass debris fell from the former Deutsche building on Sunday, Sept. 26, landing on Greenwich St., and causing the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which now owns the contaminated building, to close down the surrounding streets for several days.

The falling debris — the first incident of its kind since the L.M.D.C. purchased the building on Aug. 30 with plans to deconstruct it — has raised some community concerns about how pertinent information will be relayed to local residents and employees.

No one was injured.

One local resident was said to have witnessed the incident at around 6 p.m. on Sunday evening and several residents reported it to the L.M.D.C. 24-hour hotline (917-715-6790), a recently activated service set up to field questions about Deutsche, slated to be dismantled this year. Following a Fire Department inspection, the L.M.D.C. immediately closed Liberty St., the south pedestrian bridge into Battery Park City, and a portion of Greenwich St. The corporation installed hanging scaffolding over the top of the building later in the week.

The recent heavy rains may have caused the glass, which was not a windowpane, but decorative, exterior glass, to come loose from the building, according to Joanna Rose, an L.M.D.C. spokesperson. Rose, in a statement, called the debris falling onto the street “an isolated incident,” adding, “We have taken immediate action… to ensure that event is not repeated.”

Tom Lauricella, a staff reporter for the Wall Street Journal and IAPE  Newspaper Guild representative, learned about the incident on Monday from a colleague who had inquired about the cordoned off area. The Journal’s One World Financial Center offices in Battery Park City are separated from the former Deutsche Bank building by the pedestrian bridge.

When a representative from the union contacted Dow Jones, the Journal’s parent company, the firm seemed unaware of the situation, according to Lauricella.

“They only checked into it after we asked them about it,” he said. “It was pretty clear that Brookfield had not told Dow Jones or the tenants.” Brookfield Properties owns the World Financial Center and manages the pedestrian bridge.

Melissa Coley, a spokesperson for Brookfield, said her company was informed of the situation early Monday morning and told to close the bridge. Brookfield’s building management team informed all tenants of the situation, at the request of the L.M.D.C.

Dow Jones learned of the incident on Monday morning from a phone call from a concerned company employee, according to Nicole Pyehl, a spokesperson for Dow Jones. The company then inquired with Brookfield, the building’s landlord, for details. Dow Jones later sent an email to all company employees informing them that debris had fallen from the former Deutsche Bank building and the pedestrian bridge had been closed. When the bridge re-opened on Wednesday, Dow Jones sent a second email to its employees.

Lauricella said: “[The L.M.D.C.] needs to be straightforward with people about the risks,” he said, “Given the foot traffic that goes by there, one would hope that they’ll go the extra mile to make sure that the people who work and live in the immediate vicinity are protected.”

Rose of the L.M.D.C. does not expect other incidents of this kind to follow and said, because of the isolated and unique nature of the incident, the development corporation does not currently have plans to establish a policy for disseminating information to local employees and residents about future incidents of this nature.

For many local residents and businesses, the Sunday evening response was effective and met their expectations. “They really made a special effort to do outreach,” Pat Moore, a 125 Cedar St. resident, said of the L.M.D.C.’s response to the falling debris. Moore, who was one of the residents to contact the L.M.D.C. on Sunday, said the development corporation responded quickly to her call and informed the local restaurants and tenants in the area of the debris and subsequent street closings. “It was on track with how I hoped they would respond and how I hope they continue to respond,” she said.

The pedestrian bridge re-opened to traffic on Wednesday morning, however, the sidewalk along Washington St. from Liberty to Albany Sts. remains closed for the time being. Liberty St. between Church, Trinity and Greenwich Sts. remains temporarily closed to vehicle traffic and Greenwich St. between Liberty and Albany Sts. is also closed to pedestrian and vehicular traffic, according to the L.M.D.C. 


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