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Buddha's Curse Strikes Again at Pleasant Avenue Construction Site

By Gustavo Solis | February 17, 2016 3:32pm
 A disgruntled neighbor placed a curse on a construction site after a statue of Buddha that protected his garden was decapitated. 
Curse of the Buddha
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EAST HARLEM — The curse of the Buddha strikes again.

The city slapped a controversial developer on Pleasant Avenue with a partial stop work order after nails, tools and trash from the site began falling into neighboring back yards, records show.

Eugene Rodriguez who lives behind the 329 Pleasant Ave. site, cursed the project Oct. 2015 after crews decapitated a statue of Buddha that protected his garden in October 2014. Since then, the site has had three stop work orders and a botched concrete pour.

"The curse is getting stronger," Rodriguez said. 

The owner, HAP Investment Developers, is working to lift the stop work order and continue with their project.

“Our general contractor on 329 Pleasant is in full compliance with all DOB rules and regulations, and HAP Investments is fully aware of the current situation,” spokesman Alan Segan said. “We have called for a re-inspection today to have the partial stop work order lifted. We are confident that upon re-inspection the partial stop work order will be lifted.”

About half of the site is not protected from falling debris that include nails, wood, concrete, rebar, trash and tools, according to neighbors. 

Part of Laurena Torres' backyard is protected by netting but the net has a hole in it. She has seen dozens of long nails, trash and a grappling hook in her back yard.

“They have no idea what they are doing,” she said. “It’s been years of every possible thing that could go wrong does go wrong.”

Her dog stepped on one of the nails when she went out for a walk, Torres said.

Ronald Hamlow, who lives on Pleasant Avenue, said he has seen chunks of concrete, wood, rebar, and nails in his backyard.

Residents of Pleasant Avenue have criticized the developers in the past for damaging their property.

Rodriguez, the neighbor behind the curse of the Buddha, has been taking pictures of the work ever since his back yard was damaged. The damage resulted in a full stop work order, records show. 

Three stop work orders in the summer of 2015 came after problems with the concrete pour that overflowed into neighboring yards and was not in accordance with approved plans, records show.

After that mishap, the developers tried to improve community relations with on-site visits and hired a new project manager.