Extell Development addressed concerns last night about the massive towers that will rise on the former Pathmark site on Cherry Street, but refused to tell local residents just how tall they will be.
No height information was given about the massive condo tower or its smaller, more “affordable” sister, scheduled for completion in 2019.
“This is a construction meeting and we are not here to address that tonight, but you’re still wanting an answer,” said senior vice president of development Raizy Haas to the crowd of community members who voiced their annoyance. “We’re building two buildings, a fair market and an affordable building and the number of stories is still a work in progress.”
Trever Holland, president of the Two Bridges Tower Resident Association, interjected to explain that the last filing with the community board listed 72 stories. In a chat following the meeting he said he expects it to be at least that many stories, possibly more. That’s insanely high for the mid-rise neighborhood – a recent article put it in perspective by explaining that the nearby Manhattan Bridge is 330 feet tall and, if built to the projected number of stories, the tower will be more than 800 feet tall.
During his briefing Anthony Abbruzzese, senior vice president of construction, outlined how the formation of the foundation has “significantly progressed.” The pile driving has caused noise and cracks in a nearby building at 82 Rutgers Slip, of which many at last night’s meeting were residents. It’s scheduled to end in two to three months, and the rest of the foundation work will continue through the first quarter of 2016. Commencement of the superstructure is scheduled for the end of this year. Abbruzzese promised that the noise should “greatly subside” once pile driving ceases.
Tension was palpable when Abbruzzese addressed the “hot issues,” i.e. the damages inflicted on neighboring streets and apartment buildings because of construction. He explained that the sinking of a nearby plaza and Cherry Street have been and will continue to be repaired – with an added promise that they are “safe and traversable.” Once the project is complete full repairs will be made to the plaza, streets and sidewalks that were damaged.
Abbruzzese also said a walk-through was conducted to inspect damages inflicted by the foundation work. Throughout the Q&A residents related issues like doors not shutting, locks shifting, cracks in walls, broken windows and problems with mailboxes.
“We’ve inspected all of the conditions and we’ve committed to repairing any damage that was caused by our construction,” responded Abbruzzese. But Extell’s plan to wait until the foundation work is done before conducting another walk-through and making “repairs accordingly” might not be the best plan for residents. One woman raised her hand and said her lock stopped working that morning.
Beyond repairs, residents wanted to know if locals would be hired for the construction. Susan Stetzer, district manager of Community Board 3, explained that there will be local hiring and details will be released soon.
In an attempt to prevent other topics from interrupting the focus on construction, Senator Daniel Squadron opened the meeting by saying: “Let’s be clear, this is a project that a lot of us are uncomfortable with in a lot of different ways, we miss our supermarket, but it’s also a project that Extell has been allowed to go ahead and build.”
He added, “It is clear, and it has been clear since the Pathmark closed, that we desperately need an affordable supermarket in this community. That, again, will not get solved tonight because this is about the construction.”
Though in its initial proposal Extell promised to dedicate part of the tower’s retail space to an “affordable” grocery, it won’t be constructed for another four years. In the meantime, Trever Holland said he was struggling in his daily hunt for groceries and relies on online grocery and food delivery services.
The panel didn’t want to discuss the heights of the buildings, but residents think this information is crucial. In every meeting Extell reps have explained that the foundation of 82 Rutgers Slip has extensive monitors and that engineers have confirmed that construction hasn’t affected its stability. But district leader Alice Cancel still feels uneasy, especially after looking at multiple cracks in walls and hearing complaints from residents.
“I know that they’re monitoring these things but, it’s like everything else, you’re waiting for a building to fall on someone in order to take action – that’s my concern,” she said.
Grace Mak, a resident of the building, shared the same sentiments. Though she feels that Extell is addressing damages, she said, “I wish they were more transparent about the height level of the buildings because obviously there’s been so many rumors about the height and that affects us. It’s construction. What happens when the superstructure goes up? That’s when it’s actually put to the test. Yes, they have engineers but there’s always a percentage of error and we’ll have to pay for those errors.”