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Nike Store on Broadway Faces Protests Over Building Locals Say is Too Big

By Danielle Tcholakian | November 10, 2016 12:08pm
 Margaret Chin and Gale Brewer are leading a rally at Dept. of Buildings headquarters on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016.
Margaret Chin and Gale Brewer are leading a rally at Dept. of Buildings headquarters on Thursday, Nov. 10, 2016.
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Composite: DNAinfo

SOHO — A rally protesting a new Nike store in SoHo is being planned by locals who think  city's Department of Buildings ignored their concerns for two years.

The store is set to open at 529 Broadway in a building developed by Aurora Capital Associates, the same developer responsible for another site in the area where a worker's death led to a citywide investigation.

The rally outside the DOB's base at 280 Broadway, at the corner of Chambers Street, is scheduled for 2 p.m. Thursday and will be led by Councilwoman Margaret Chin, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Community Board 2 Chair Tobi Bergman.

Bergman and CB 2 have been fighting the development for two years on the grounds that the developer should have had to apply for a special permit to build a retail store larger than 10,000 square feet.

Brewer and Chin first wrote a letter to Chandler on Oct. 21, 2014, and also sent a letter with Bergman in February 2015 raising concerns about the agency's approval of "a surge of enlargements on non-conforming retail establishments" in SoHo and NoHo.

The neighborhoods are still zoned for manufacturing and the zoning prohibits retail over 10,000 square feet. The new Nike store at 529 Broadway is 55,000 square feet, according to a press release on the Nike website.

Aurora got around having to file for a special permit to have such a large store by obtaining an alteration permit instead.

"DOB is very compliant to that kind of thing. It happens all the time," Bergman said at a CB 2 full board meeting in July 2015 where the project was discussed.

The developers claimed that the wall of the building next to 529 Broadway was a "party wall," meaning it was part of 529 Broadway and the fact that it remained standing meant they had not demolished the entire structure.

Buying that argument "represents a taking by the developers as well as by the DOB of the property of that neighboring building," Bergman said at the July meeting.

The neighbors who live in the building next door sued the developers in New York Civil Supreme Court in a case that has been ongoing for more than a year and included more than 100 documents outlining damages to their building. It attempted to disprove the developer's claim to a "party wall."

Carol Sigmond, one of the residents of the co-op building at 99 Spring St. who filed the suit, said they were prompted to do so "for trespassing, because they put steel up against our wall without our permission, with no safety inspection, nothing."

"Based on everything that we have, there's no evidence in the deed that there's any party wall," she said.

"We have another wall on our west side that we share with the Judd Building on 101 Spring. The deed for 101 Spring clearly says it's a party wall."

Sigmond said they reached out to DOB "on numerous occasions."

"There's a letter that our attorney wrote to the Department of Buildings in December, which they have ignored," she said.

As DNAinfo New York previously reported, 529 Broadway was one of several sites around the city where Aurora Capital was employing the general contractor Harco Construction, and where Harco had "immediately hazardous" violations.

READ MORE: Contractor Behind Pastis Death Had Hazardous Violations at 7 Other Sites

Harco was convicted in June of manslaughter and criminally negligent homicide for the death of 22-year-old worker Carlos Moncayo, who was buried alive in an excavation pit at 9-19 Ninth Ave., the former home of the restaurant Pastis, which Aurora is developing into a Restoration Hardware flagship store.

READ MORE: Construction Company Guilty of Manslaughter in Death of Worker

On April 28, 2015, two weeks after Moncayo was killed, the site at 529 Broadway was issued a violation for "failure to safeguard all persons and property affected by excavation operations," the same issue that killed Moncayo. The contractor was fined $2,400.

Moncayo's death prompted an investigation by the Manhattan District Attorney and the city's Department of Investigation, and the DOB yanked Harco's permits all over the city and suspended the license of its owner, Kenneth Hart, on July 20, 2015.

But the DOB renewed the alteration — not new construction — permits for the site at 529 Broadway for the fourth time on July 23, 2015 under a new contractor who Aurora tapped to replace Harco at their sites around the city — Michael Marino of MJM Associates Construction — records show.

DOB spokesman Alex Schnell said the project was audited in April 2015 and was determined to be in compliance with building codes.

A vice president at Aurora did not respond to an email seeking comment.