Luxury High-Rise Granted 24-Hour Work Permits, Infuriating Residents

By Heather Holland on August 13, 2013 8:07am 

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 The Department of Buildings has issued more than 300 after-hours permits for One57 in the past year.
One57 Permitted to Work Around the Clock
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MIDTOWN — The developer of a luxury high-rise condo in Midtown has secured city construction permits to work 24 hours a day, leaving surrounding residents furious about what they say has been near-constant noise over the past two years.

The Department of Buildings most recently issued permits allowing workers at One57, the future 90-story condo and hotel at 157 W. 57th St., to run the exterior elevator and work on its crane from 12 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. every day from Aug. 5 to 18, including weekends, according to city documents.

Those permits are just the latest of more than 300 Department of Buildings variances issued over the past year allowing after-hours work at the construction site, often 24 hours per day, records show. 

Residents of 152 W. 58th St., a nine-story residential building that faces the construction site, have made numerous complaints directly to Extell, the developer, and the Department of Buildings, but to no avail, said Joel Maxman, a resident of the building, whose bedroom faces the construction.

“The work goes on 24/7,” said Maxman, who lives in the apartment with his wife and two daughters.

“Despite meetings and working with the developer, the construction manager, City Council members, community board liaisons and numerous people at the Department of Buildings and Department of Environmental Protection," Maxman continued, "the residents of our street have been unable to get the DOB to limit, in any significant manner, the rubber-stamping of after-hour variances."

When Maxman reached out to the DOB about the frequent approval of after-hours variances, he claimed the spokesman told him "that their job is to make sure construction gets done and noise is not [their] issue." He said residents were told there is no city policy limiting the number of after-hours variances that can be granted.

"[The DOB] doesn't give any thought to the neighborhood that surrounds the construction," said Marci Glotzer, a resident of 152 W. 58th St. for the past 20 years. "If I was in [the developer's] shoes...I'd ask to work 24 hours a day if I can get away with it.

Residents Complain of Constant Noise at One57
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Youtube/ExtellAndBovisNoise

"I don't blame [Extell] for trying," she added. "I blame the DOB for saying OK."

The DOB, DEP and Extell did not respond to requests for comment.

Last year, One57's crane partially collapsed during Hurricane Sandy, forcing nearby buildings to evacuate and shutting down the building's block. Some of the recent after-hours permits were issued for "crane maintenance or repairs," but it was not immediately clear whether the permits were related to last year's collapse.

The skyscraper, housing 92 condos and 210 Park Hyatt New York hotel rooms, is set to be the tallest residential tower in New York City when it opens as soon as later this year.

Most of the noise at the construction site comes from the hoist, an exterior elevator that is used to transport workers and materials from the ground floor to the upper levels of the building, residents said.

“The hoist is incredibly loud,” Maxman said. “Imagine sitting in the subway station. When the train comes through, you can’t talk. So you just wait for it to go by and then you can talk.

“We couldn’t plan a family dinner because we didn’t know whether there would be work on that night.”

After making complaints and getting no relief, some residents have gone to great lengths over the past few years to buffer their apartments against the noise.

Glotzer, who frequently works from home, paid $8,000 to install soundproof windows in her living room and bedroom during demolition work at the site about four years ago.

“There’s no place in this apartment that’s remotely quiet,” said Glotzer, whose bedroom and living room face the construction site's hoist. “When things have to be done, I have to step out in the hall. I have to turn everything up to its loudest level, to hear anything, and even with the soundproof windows, I have to wear headphones on the computer to hear what I need to hear.”

In late spring of last year, Glotzer reached out to Extell regarding noise and, after receiving numerous complaints from residents, she said the developer finally agreed to provide and install soundproofing curtains in nearby homes, starting with Glotzer’s.

However, Glotzer said the opaque plastic curtains blocked light and air from her apartment and had only a small effect on the noise, so she removed them after two weeks.

In April 2011, one resident of the neighborhood was so fed up with the constant noise that he posted a video on YouTube, recording work at the site on a Saturday afternoon. The noise level hasn't changed since then, Maxman said.

"It's like sitting in a sound chamber with 83 decibels running," said Maxmen. "[Extel] has done [nothing] to accomodate our neighborhood during their daytime, nighttime, early-morning or weekend extremely noisy construction work."

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