June 23rd - June 27th, 2008
Additional Inspections Begin
June 23 - Federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) inspectors began a two-week safety crackdown to add manpower to the 38 full time inspectors working in the city. According to The Daily News, the team will inspect tower cranes, high rise concrete and steel construction sites, mobile cranes and buildings undergoing demolition and top-to-bottom rehabilitation. OSHA expects to check about 300 high-risk construction sites in the next two weeks.
123 Washington Crane to be Removed
June 23 – The crane at123 Washington Street is being dismantled after cracks were found in the turning mechanism. The crane is owned by New York Crane & Equipment, the same company involved in two deadly crane collapses in the city.
June 23 – Citigroup announced it is downsizing. Published reports say the financial giant will lay off 10% of its investment bankers including its entire New York trading desk. Citigroup is dealing with $15 billion in losses over the past two quarters. Approximately 6,500 employees are expected to be affected; 9,000 workers were let go in March.
Vacancy Rates Rise
June 23 – Vacancy rates in Manhattan are increasing, new lease signings are dropping and the amount of sublease space is soaring. Crain’s New York Business is reporting that these factors are contributing to an estimated 7% drop in rents - the first decrease in six years. The story says the trend will accelerate as more financial firms shed staff and space to cope with the credit crisis. Sources told Crains approximately 4 million square feet of sublease space will be on the market in midtown alone in just a few months.
Pfizer Views Space
June 23 – Pfizer is apparently looking downtown for three-quarters of a million square feet of office space, according to The Downtown Express. The report says several companies may be looking to unload space. They include The Royal Bank of Scotland which has 140,000 square feet at 7 WTC; JP Morgan Chase which could put hundreds of thousands of square on the market downtown and Goldman Sachs plans to lease a half million square feet at 77 Water Street next year.
130 Cedar Street Deconstruction to Begin
June 23 – Deconstruction of 130 Cedar Street is expected to start in July now that the building has been decontaminated, a 7 month process. Once it’s down to its steel beams and framework, construction will begin later this year to add 7 stories to the building’s 12 stories. Construction will continue through early 2010, adding a hotel and retail space.
New Amsterdam Market This Sunday
June 24 – A farmers market will open this summer on South Street, the first step in the redevelopment plans for the Seaport. According to The Downtown Express, it will be a permanent 16 stall market that will be open 7 days a week starting in August. The market is one small piece of the developer’s larger plans to build a 42 story condo, hotel and several smaller retail buildings.
Construction Regulation Overhaul Announced
June 25 – Acting NYC Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri testified before the House Education and Labor Committee about construction safety. “I’m deeply troubled. It is simply impossible for our inspectors to be at every site at all times.” The DOB has just 4 crane inspectors to keep an eye on more than 200 construction sites. LiMandri called for tougher federal rules for tracking and testing crane components and requiring ‘black boxes’ on tower cranes like those used in investigating airplane crashes. The DOB announced its second major overhaul of construction regulations – a 7 point plan that will increase safety at tower crane construction sites by strengthening inspections and requiring safety reviews from one owner or operator to the next.
City Questions Records
June 25 – As many as 30% of the nearly 10,000 ground zero workers who are suing the city for health problems may not be sick. According to a report in The New York Times, a review by the city found that some workers have never been diagnosed with a specific disease and some have only a runny nose or cough. The city could be forced to pay $1 billion or more in compensation if the court finds it was negligent in not making sure that the workers received breathing masks and wore them. The judge in the case has ordered the workers lawyers to produce thousands of missing medical records by the end of the month so both sides can come up with a system to classify injuries by type and seriousness.
Waste-Transfer Station Agreement Reached
June 25 – An agreement has been reached to build a waste-transfer station near Gansevoort Street. The 1.4 acre piece of land for the station is part of the Hudson River Park. The agreement would set aside money for new parkland along the river. The bike and pedestrian pathway next to the transfer station will remain open during construction.
130 Liberty Demolition Cost Increased
June 26- The cost of demolishing the Deutsche Bank building is expected to increase by $40 million, bringing the new price tag to approximately $280 million. The LMDC board met Thursday to consider the additional expenditure. LMDC is now predicting the decontamination work will be finished by the end of the year, but it refused to say when the building will be down. According to The New York Sun, sources familiar with the demolition plans say that is far from a realistic goal.
Ground Zero Bill Passed
June 26 – As many as 1,800 ground zero workers who had been denied disability benefits could now be eligible to receive them under a bill passed by the Legislature. The bill extends the deadline for ground zero workers to register for state workers compensation in case they become sick or disabled in the future as a result of their work at the WTC site.
Progress Reports Coming
June 27 – On Monday, the Port Authority is expected to release its report on progress at the WTC site. The New York Sun reports the report will include a scaled back redesign of the PATH transit hub, demolition of 130 Liberty and problems with the no. 1 subway line. The Sun says the report will not include something the Governor wanted – a construction timetable for the site. Port Authority Executive Director Christopher Ward is expected to ask for an extension to sort out the more than 20 policy, engineering and design questions facing the reconstruction. That could mean a full assessment won’t go to the Governor’s office until the fall.
Waterfalls on Display
June 27 – ‘The Waterfalls’ art installation opened on the East River. There are four structures ranging from 90 to 120 feet tall, churning 35,000 gallons of water per minute. The exhibit runs through mid October and is expected to pump $55 million into the city’s economy. Best spots for viewing the 4 waterfalls are Pier 35, Governor’s Island and Piers 4 and 5 in Brooklyn.