The cost of living next to a construction project

The developer of the former parking lot at 86 Warren has been working on the site for weeks now, despite the “New York on Pause” order for construction.

The DOB says the developer — Firmdale Hotels — received an Essential Construction Request application for work on the foundation only, which they indicated was for the interest of public safety. (The DOB did say it was auditing the request, but that was eight days ago.) In the meantime, the drills are grinding away while neighbors on three sides have to listen while trapped at home.

The flip side of New York on Pause is the pause continues for 65 W. Broadway (59-61 Warren) on the site of the old Mariachi’s and Racoon Lodge and that entire row of storefronts to the Murray corner. That site has been a hole in the ground for nearly three years and now rakers (thanks, James) are holding up 57 Warren, above Korin. (I would love someone to explain how you take those down in order to build out the site…) There is a partial stop work order on listed for 59 Warren, and a Class 2 violation (which in this case *I think* is for failure to maintain the retaining wall at 57) for 65 W. Broadway from last July that looks to be still valid.

But work seemed to be starting up there just before the pandemic, if the arrival of this crane below was evidence of that. The developer, Cape Advisors, was sent back to the drawing board twice, especially after the Tribeca Trust filed a zoning challenge and learned the building was bigger than it was allowed to be.

The other significant site in the neighborhood is 456 Greenwich, which seemed like it would be a forever hole in the ground when the developer declared bankruptcy. Construction was back on — until it wasn’t — earlier this winter.

Neighbors don’t get anything out of living next to half-built construction sites and the accompanying rats, darkened side streets and narrow sidewalks. But while people are trapped at home, not sure they should be forced to listen to construction either…



  1. Once a new foundation is completed, having been poured around the footing of the rakers, then the rakers are usually removed.

    These developments in and near historic districts often damage their neighbors during the construction of their foundations. Because the developer cannot “underpin” the neighbor’s foundation without consent, they often drill piles deep into the soil. Developers and GCs often use water to drill the piles and that water causes the soil next to and under the neighbors to liquefy and thereby eliminate the support of the foundation. Then the neighbor buildings tilt and drop down into the ground, if they have not already cracked from different parts of the building tilting and dropping at different rates, thus causing brittle bricks to crack because they cannot bend.

    The fact that the developers usually want to dig inappropriately deep foundations in formerly marshy areas in order to have many useable basements and sub-basements (that do not count against allowable zoning floor area) means that they are more likely to do damage to their neighbors’ foundations.

    If you have given the developer and the GC and the foundation contractor a written construction license to sign–which your attorney should draft and which the developer should pay for your attorney and engineering expenses and without which they cannot enter your property legally–then the developer is *strictly liable* for the damages, meaning you do not have to prove negligence by the developer or GC, but they figure on building the building first and fighting the damages bill later. Only if the Department of Buildings stops their work (and forces them to put up a raker) does the developer care.

    Any neighbor and their attorney should review the 2014 Building Code “SECTION BC 3309 – PROTECTION OF ADJOINING PROPERTY” at

    There are requirements for surveying your building, monitoring it during construction for damage, protecting your roof from overhead debris, making sure such protection does not prevent your rooftop ACs from working properly, etc. The developer should also agree to install permanent flashing, waterproofing, and emseal between your buildings to prevent water infiltration.

    If you (the existing building) are in a landmark district, even if the new development within 90 feet is not, you should also be familar with the more stringent requirements of Department of Buildings’ Technical Policy and Procedure Notice 10/1988 available for download here:

    One should also report rat sightings, excessive noise, or other issues to 311, even if just to make a documentary record of the issues.

  2. Welcome to the world of those of us living next to the Bogardus Garden construction for the past 2.5+ years (including many, many weekends with noisy work).

    • I always said I am going to stay till this garden is finished (and till now I am). It was supposed to be finished in October 2018 and as I was due that October I thought perfect, all done when the new baby arrives. Here we are almost two years later and still not finished. When did they start working, 2016?

  3. Wear earplugs or noise-cancelling headphones.

  4. How can that boutique hotel on Warren be essential when one block away there are 3 hotels on 4 corners that are empty and or closed. To be locked in with that noise out the back and Bogardus Park out the front and little children above my head who get running jags from the lock in and noise… not very human. i want someone to call Brian Lehrer at NPR this Friday at 10 AM when he usually has the Mayor take calls from the Public.

  5. Indeed, they are, James.

    According to the letter of the executive order, hotel construction which began before the ‘New York on Pause’ started, is technically authorised to continue. However; since hotels were deemed essential in order to provide safe haven to first responders who may shelter away from their families to help minimise spread of COVID-19, is certainly being exploited here in practice.

    I don’t blame the project’s developer for following the rules in front of them. That said, the spirit of the order is another matter. Continuing construction on a boutique hotel project started no more than 10 days before NY on Pause began, is patently absurd and an obvious exploitation of the executive order’s intent, especially since it won’t be a haven for anyone for at least 2 more years.

    We’re all New Yorkers here. We’re used to construction.

    Frankly, if they were expanding a medical center or reinforcing something any reasonable person would consider essential to the community, it’d be a lot easier to rationalise. But these are extraordinary times where we’re being responsible by working from home to keep one another safe and we can’t reasonably make the choice to head out to the local coffee shop or caf√© to escape the ALL DAY noise.

    Allowing this project seems really antithetical to keeping our community healthy and sane.

    • For the record, and this was in a previous post: the hotel construction on Warren was NOT deemed essential for the reason Luther explains; however the work that continues was given an exemption because it is emergency work, according to the DOB.

      • Thank you, T.C. for the clarification. I see the city record (via 311) has nearly 50 complaints against the 86 Warren development already. For my part, I’ve called the Department of Buildings and written to various agencies to try to gain some insight. Alas, I’ve so far received no explanation at all. My own 311 complaint/inquiry was supposed to be resolved within 2 days but has gone unanswered for over 20.

        • For those not in the immediate vicinity, here’s an 86 Warren Street hotel construction noise update:

          While it may initially have been deemed ’emergency’ work according to the Department of Buildings, the site pounded right through non-essential shutdown and continues every single weekday – just as it has for more than two months while the rest of us continue to need to stay home in order to keep others and ourselves safe. Not incidentally, none of the city agencies or representatives ever responded to the complaint I filed 50 days ago.

          I can only hope that when the hotel opens (in the autumn of 2022?), they’ll serve a multi-tiered, authentic English afternoon tea at a discount to those of us on the block. Meanwhile; I shall return to shopping for some new noise-cancelling headphones.

          Missing our neighbours… Well-wishes to all and thanks as always TribecaCitizen for this wonderful community resource!