The DNAinfo archives brought to you by WNYC.
Read the press release here.

Residents Fume Over City's Frequent Approval of After-Hours Work Permits

 The DOB allowed after hour construction work at 35 W. 15th St. for nearly 200 days out of the year.
35 W. 15th St.
View Full Caption

UNION SQUARE — Construction of a luxury condo and school on a residential block that has occurred during off-peak hours for nearly every week in the past year will continue this month — angering residents who are questioning why the noisy work has been approved by the city with such frequency.

The Department of Buildings has given a high-rise condo construction site at 35 W. 15th St. its blessing to perform construction work late nights and weekends for nearly 200 days over the past year, and after-hours permits for the coming two weeks have already been approved, according to the agency’s website.

“We understand that construction is noisy…[but] it seems like the DOB gives these people permits at the drop of a hat, with no regard to the rest of the community,” said Allen Mohr, a resident of 22 W. 15th St., located across the street from the construction site, for the past 24 years.

“I work from home, and I hear it during the day, I hear it on weekends,” he added. “You just put up with it. You can’t change your schedule.”

The most recent after-hours variance permit that was issued for the property allowed construction work on Saturday, Aug. 3, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and from 6 p.m. to midnight every day of the workweek for the two weeks following — not including normal daytime work hours, which can start as early as 7 a.m., according to the DOB's website.

"For the weekday work, it's a long day," said Giuseppe Scalia, a resident who lives on the block between Fifth and Sixth avenues. "It's from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and then 6 p.m. until 12 a.m. Seems a little ridiculous. I can hear all the banging."

Building owners are required to pay a fee for after hours variance permits, ranging from $100 to $500, depending on the number of days of work. The greatest number of days for a single permit is 14, according to DOB's website.

After-hours variance permits are issued when certain types of work calls for them, including the two most recent permits issued by the DOB for this address, which gave the site extra hours to raise a crane and pour concrete, according to a spokeswoman for the DOB.

"After-hour variances are issued when the scope of the work necessitates that construction activity continue outside of normal business hours or on weekends," the spokeswoman said.

But it's how frequent the after-hours work permits are issued that have residents raging.

Tenants have left messages with 311 and written letters to the DOB over the past few months, to no avail, said Scalia, adding that he personally called 311 four times because of the weekend noise.

The DOB, however, would not comment on questions regarding why the permits were issued so frequently, and whether there was a limit to how many are approved for a particular location.

“There’s like a six-hour window to sleep, according to the hours they’re allowed to work,” said a resident of 16 W. 15th St. of more than 40 years, who declined to reveal her name because she is in ongoing communication with the developers regarding noise.

“It’s one thing to put up with the noise during the week, but to not be able to have your window open on gorgeous weekends because men are yelling ‘hoist!’, banging and sawing outside your window…you can’t even talk on the phone, it's so loud.”

While the construction has been going on since 2011, the 24-story condo is expected to top-off in September, according to Alchemy Properties, the building owner.

In addition to condos, the first six floors of the property will be home to a Catholic college preparatory school Xavier High School, currently located at 30 W. 16th St., and will include new classrooms, gymnasium and recital space, the Wall Street Journal reported.

“As is our policy with every project we undertake, Alchemy is utilizing every possible tactic to minimize any disruptions to our neighbors and will continue doing so,” said Joel Breitkopf, principal of Alchemy Properties.

The developer did not address the after-hours permits specifically.

"To accommodate one of our neighbors during tax season, for example, we modified our construction schedule to accommodate his client meetings several times," Breitkopf said.