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Construction at 10th Ave. Target Site Creating 'Toxic' Dust, Noise: Locals

By Maya Rajamani | July 17, 2017 1:14pm | Updated on July 17, 2017 1:35pm
 XIN Development International's construction site at 615 10th Ave., between West 44th and 45th streets.
XIN Development International's construction site at 615 10th Ave., between West 44th and 45th streets.
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DNAinfo/Maya Rajamani

HELL’S KITCHEN — Construction at a 10th Avenue work site that's slated to house a Target store is sending “toxic” dust swirling into the air and creating relentless noise, neighbors who live around the project say.

XIN Development International secured permits in May to start foundation and excavation work at 615 10th Ave., between West 44th and 45th streets, a city Department of Buildings spokesman said.

XIN — which is the U.S. development arm of Xinyuan Real Estateplans to build a retail and residential complex with a 29,000-square-foot Target store at the site, which was once home to a Speedway gas station.

Since work started last month, however, clouds of dust have been floating over the fence around the construction site and into the neighborhood, and the air reeks of gasoline, several neighbors told DNAinfo New York. 

“The air simply feels and smells toxic,” West 45th/46th Street Block Association co-chair Chana Widawski said, adding that she’s seen "dozens" of passersby covering their faces to avoid ingesting the dust. “I personally try hard to avoid walking or riding that way at all.”

Gotham West resident Cynthia Frank says construction work at the site starts up around 7 a.m. each weekday and carries on until around 5:30 or 6 p.m., and that noise from the drilling and jackhammering is “just unrelenting."

“The drilling… seems to be very intense in the morning, which is not a very pleasant way to begin the day,” she said.

Though Frank’s apartment isn’t in the Gotham West building closest to the construction site, she can still feel vibrations from the work when she’s at home, she added.

XIN first started meeting with neighborhood residents in the spring prior to the start of construction, according to Tom Cayler, president of the 517-525 W. 45th St. Tenant Association.

The developer’s representatives promised to address any problems caused by construction, but haven’t followed through, he maintained.

“The dust is blowing out of the site and up the street,” said Cayler, who said he’d filed three complaints with 311. “And even walking by the space, it’s so loud that you can’t carry on a conversation.”

Manhattan Plaza resident Constance Stellas said she’s filed seven 311 complaints and written to XIN, the DOB, the mayor and Community Board 4 about the issues, but hasn't seen any improvements at the site.

The city's 311 Service Request Map shows around 25 complaints were submitted so far in July alone from streets adjacent to the construction site, for issues including noisy construction equipment, construction taking place before or after hours, “banging/pounding” and dust caused by construction or demolition.

“It feels a little futile,” Stellas said. “I don’t think [XIN is] being very mindful of the community that they’re in.”

A representative for XIN said the developer has been spraying construction materials at the site with water — a common mitigation method — to keep dust from swirling into the air.

“We have been working with the community for months prior to the start of construction to anticipate and acknowledge concerns promptly, as well as keep them informed of ongoing construction activities,” the spokeswoman said.

“Additionally, we’re in constant communication with the Department of Buildings to ensure our site meets all requirements and regulations, and are taking all possible measures to mitigate the effects of construction.”

DOB inspected the construction site on June 29 in response to complaints that work was shaking an adjacent building, but found no “violating conditions” and determined that the site’s “vibrating monitoring systems” were functioning, a spokesman for the department said.

The DOB inspected the site again on July 11 after receiving a complaint about "excessive dust" and issued two violations — one for concrete work performed contrary to approved plans and the other for high vibration readings — but none for dust, the spokesman added.

But the next day on July 12, inspectors from the city's Department of Environmental Protection visited the site in response to two reports of "unreasonable dust" and issued a violation for "failure to control dust," a DEP spokesman said.

XIN's spokeswoman didn't immediately respond to a request for comment on the violations.