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Residents Fume Over 'Deafening' Construction Noise Six Days a Week

 Four buildings have been demolished to make way for a 34-story high rise on 89th and First Avenue. Residents living near the construction site said they are angry the contractor was given a Saturday work permit for the project.
Construction Noise Drives Upper East Side Residents Crazy
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UPPER EAST SIDE — Residents living near a construction site on First Avenue are enraged by the "deafening" excavation work happening outside their windows six days a week, including Saturdays.

Four buildings at 1711, 1713, 1715 and 1717 First Avenue between East 88th and East 89th streets were recently demolished to make way for a 34-story luxury tower, according to public records and residents.

Demolition permits for the site were first issued last August, but the noise has been getting worse as workers started excavation work a few weeks ago, according to residents and Department of Buildings documents.

Since April, more than 30 noise complaints have been made to 311 about the site, according to city data. Many residents living in the area said sounds of drilling and hammering goes on for eight to 10 hours a day and has made life chaotic, especially during the weekends.

"This is a residential neighborhood, not Midtown filled with office buildings where a Saturday work permit might make sense," said Suzette Jacobs, who lives with her 15-year-old son and her husband in a building across from the construction site.

"Why on earth was the contractor given a Saturday work permit in a residential neighborhood — a day when families are together and should be enjoying their home environment?" Jacobs continued.

The high-rise, set to be built by 2017, will have 83 units and spread across half the block, according to Anbau Enterprises, the site's developer and owner. 

"I'm not even able to hear my kids in my apartment — it's crazy," said Yuliya Levit, a mother of a 5- and 3-year-old who lives at 1705 First Ave.

Her children's bedroom window faces the construction site and her kids have had to take naps in her room during the day because of the loud noise, she said.

"We try to get out of the house as much as possible on Saturday, otherwise our heads are pounding," she said.

An after-hour permit to work 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays was granted by the DOB on April 4, and it's been renewed every two weeks since then, according to the agency's website. The most recent permit will expire on May 23, records show.

Work is also being done from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m. on weekdays.

A DOB spokesman said after hour work variances are only granted when the need is justified.

In the case of this project, the agency granted a Saturday work permit because of "pile-driving excavation work that would interfere with the flow of a public thoroughfare during regular business hours," the DOB spokesman said.

After receiving a flood of complaints from residents, City Councilman Ben Kallos, who represents the Upper East Side, sent a letter to the DOB's Manhattan commissioner, Martin Rebholz, on May 11 demanding the agency limit the number of after-hour variances the city grants to developers.

"As you are well aware, City Council District 5 is a densely packed residential area which makes any construction work done in the area extremely disturbing to residents," the councilman wrote. "This problem has only worsened with the increase in the approval of new construction projects and the Department of Building's willingness to grant after-hour variances to this project despite the negative impact on the quality of life of the residents in this area."

A Department of Buildings spokesman said the agency is reviewing Kallos' concerns with the site. 

A spokeswoman for Anbau said the company is doing regular readings to make sure the sound levels are fully compliant with city regulations. She would not say exactly when the weekend work would be completed.

"We anticipate that the excavation currently underway will conclude in about a month, and we will continue our current efforts to complete project work as swiftly as possible," the developer said in a statement. 

The luxury tower will include a 24-hour doorman, a gym and a children's playground.