June 15, 2006
Developer of Atlantic Yards Is Cited for Failing to Stop Demolition Work
The NY Times
By Nick Confessore
The Times picks up Norman Oder's story about illegal demolition and tenants' charges of intimidation:
The city's Buildings Department issued a violation yesterday to Forest City Ratner Companies, the developer of the proposed Atlantic Yards project near Downtown Brooklyn, on the ground it did not obey an order to stop demolition work on a building on the project site.
The stop-work order was issued on Saturday, after inspectors responding to a complaint about the demolition work found several building code violations, including a defective safety fence at the demolition site, formerly home to small auto garages at 622 and 620 Pacific Street.
Though Forest City Ratner contractors fixed the fence after getting the stop-work order and resolved other problems, they did not seek a required reinspection to lift the order, said Jennifer Givner, a Department of Buildings spokeswoman.
Contractors began tearing down the vacant Pacific Street buildings with hand tools — as required by the Buildings Department — on May 30. A backhoe was brought to the site on June 7 to help clear debris and level the ground, company officials said.
But Ms. Anderson and other residents say the backhoe was also used to demolish the exterior walls of the two lots, violating the building code and endangering residents living in 624 Pacific. They filed complaints last week with the city and took pictures of the backhoe at work.
No one was injured by the demolitions. Forest City officials said that the infractions cited by the Buildings Department were minor and that 624 Pacific, which the company owns, suffered no structural damage.
Pictures taken by Ms. Anderson and another resident, David Gochfeld, appeared to show the backhoe pulling down first-story sections of the buildings' exterior walls. But Ms. Givner said that inspectors visiting the site on several occasions did not see the backhoe being used unlawfully.
Atlantic Yards Report follow up:
After Pacific Street demolition continues, criminal complaint to be filed
Norman Oder adds three points to his previous report:
1) Forest City Ratner (FCR) knew that one of the adjacent properties was inhabited, but sent a document to the Empire State Development Corporation (ESDC) that said it wasn't. 2) FCR violated its explicit declaration to the ESDC that the exterior walls would be demolished "primarily with hand tools." 3) It appears that the ESDC is protecting FCR from public scrutiny. The tenants' lawyer, George Locker, twice requested documents pertaining to the demolition, in February this year and again in April. The ESDC released the documents only after demolition commenced in June.
There's more to the story: the ESDC's delay in informing tenant lawyer George Locker of plans to demolish the building until after the demolition; the alleged starting time of 6:15 a.m. on June 7, 45 minutes before the law allows; the apparent failure of Forest City Ratner to inform its tenants of the planned demolition; and Forest City Ratner's initial combative response to attorney Locker's charges that the contractors said they didn't know that 624 Pacific was occupied.
Posted by lumi at June 15, 2006 7:21 AM