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Tenants Want Manhattan West Developer to Soundproof Their Apartments

By Mathew Katz | June 11, 2014 11:40am | Updated on June 11, 2014 1:31pm
 Neighbors say late-night and early-morning work at Manhattan West is turning the neighborhood into a "war zone."
Neighbors say late-night and early-morning work at Manhattan West is turning the neighborhood into a "war zone."
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DNAinfo/Mathew Katz

HUDSON YARDS — Residents living across from Brookfield Properties' huge Manhattan West construction site are fed up with late-night and early-morning pounding, drilling and humming — and they want the developer to pay to have their apartments soundproofed.

Dozens of neighbors of the $4.5 billion project say the noise starts at 6 a.m. and goes until 2 a.m. or later as crews work to build a huge platform over the Amtrak rail yards between West 31st and West 33rd streets from Ninth to Dyer avenues.

"It just eats away at you," said Patrick Aitcheson, who's lived across the street for 14 years. "It's not just the noise level — it's the duration. It's been a year and a half and people are exhausted."

Neighbors want Brookfield to pay to install soundproof windows in at least two-dozen apartments across from the site, at a cost of approximately $144,000, which tenants say is a pittance compared to the overall price tag for Manhattan West.

Brookfield will eventually build two massive office towers, a luxury residential tower, a boutique hotel and retail space at the site.

The company is also about to start retrofitting an existing office building at 450 W. 33rd St. as part of the project, using chipping guns to remove concrete from the walls and transform the structure into a modern glass cube.

That work will run from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. for at least a year, Brookfield officials told residents at a recent meeting of Community Board 4's Quality of Life Committee.

According to the Department of Buildings, Brookfield has a 24-hour work permit, so the company can work all night long — which neighbors say they've done on many occasions since construction began.

Residents were disheartened to hear about the addition of even more round-the-clock Manhattan West construction on their block.

"We've had a piercing engine hum that goes right through you at night, and now they're going to be doing this work," said Karissa Krenz, 40, a freelance writer and editor who's lived across the street since 2001. "That's incredibly depressing and unacceptable."

The Department of Buildings has only received three complaints about the development, all in March 2013, a spokeswoman said, though the community board has received many more complaints.

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

A spokesman for Brookfield could not comment on the residents' requests for soundproofing, but said the company hoped to work with the community on their concerns.

“In order to lessen the impact on the community, we created an enhanced and aggressive sound-mitigation program that includes a sound cocoon system to enclose the exterior scaffolding wall with sound-dampening absorption materials," said Matthew Cherry, Brookfield's vice president of investor relations and communications, in a statement. 

"We will use smaller, handheld electric chipping tools for removing the exterior walls and debris will be transported internally through the building to street level instead of by traditional noisy exterior waste shoots."

Cherry also said that the company will monitor sound levels and make real-time adjustments as the work progresses, and planned to continue to meet with residents, Community Board 4 and local elected officials to work on any possible changes to their construction plans.

Tenants living near Related's massive Hudson Yards development had a similar problem earlier this year, where late-night drilling drove some residents of the Ohm building to look for a new apartment.

Sujaan Grimson, a practitioner of holistic health care, acupuncture and massage, and a 15-year resident of the neighborhood who lives across from Manhattan West, said the "unrelenting" noise stopped her from working out of her apartment.

"I understand this is New York City and I do not have unreal expectations of what living in a metropolitan area means as far as sound goes, but I often can't hear the person I am in the same room with me because too much construction noise is coming through my closed windows," she said.

Residents said they want more help from Brookfield and less late-night noise.

"It's noisy all the time — there's dust in the air all the time," Krenz said. "It's like living in a war zone."