Nosy Neighbor: Why is the roadway still blocked on Duane Street?

J. wrote: “The construction at 131 Duane has taken up an unusually large portion of the street, narrowing the roadway and making it rather unsafe for cyclists and pedestrians. Usually, the only thing within this work zone are two porta-potties. On the weekend occasion when their partition had fallen into the street, we had had to deal with day long closures until they felt like returning. All neighbors are up in arms. Any insight would be appreciated.”

As we all know, Michael Tojner just completed a very beautiful restoration of 131-135 Duane; you can see more pictures here. And I certainly thought it was finished, but it is not. They have open permits with both the Department of Buildings and the Department of Transportation, and the developer replied to my question with this:
“While we have made good progress, the building is not yet complete. It is not true that no work is going on, just less than before. There are still open permits and we will need need a crane to come to the building multiple times in order to finish the penthouse. I asked the construction firm’s manager and got the response below. Hope this explains it.

“This project saved several hundred jobs during Covid and definitely is an asset to the neighborhood, now that it is not falling apart anymore.”

And from the construction manager at Sciame, which is the contractor:
“We are not finished with the penthouse fit-out. We have open construction permits and we employ 30-40 workers daily to finish the work. The owner is entitled to a roadway closure; we pay lots of fees to DOB and DOT. We still have 1 or 2 more knuckle boom [a crane that lifts things up high] picks left to complete. There is no reason to turn over the roadway until mid-January.”

Also, the folks at the Department of Buildings told me they had not received any complaints about the contractors blocking the street in front of the property.

DUANE CONSTRUCTION PART II: A few neighbors have also asked me about the closed-off section of Duane Street on the south side in that same block, in front of 148 Duane. In that case, the owners of have active DOB permits associated with the renovation of the existing five-story building. But they do NOT have Department of Transportation permits to block the street.

From DOB: “On 10/11/22, DOB inspectors conducted a construction safety sweep of the building. During this inspection, our inspector issued a violation to the contractor, FALCON PACIFIC CONSTRUCTION, for erecting barriers on the street without the proper DOT permits.”

You can check for DOT permits here. 



  1. I would like to add 170 Duane Street to the list. They have had large plastic barricades up for many years now, seemingly protecting a portapotty and collecting garbage as there has been no visible activity in the street. I checked your map and there are no DOT permits to block the street noted there. We need more room for DOB cars and placard (ab)users to park!

  2. Is the issue on Duane 170 or 172? It seems that space has been sitting scaffolded with no activity for years now. Was quite the rat haven before the cold weather too

  3. The problem I have here is in the quote – “no reason to turn over the roadway until mid-January.” I get that they’re still doing work and they have all the right permits – but it seems to me this is exactly backwards. You shouldn’t need a reason to keep the road open as many days as possible, you should need a reason, as specific as possible, for every day you want to close it. That may not be the way the law works, but as far as ‘being a good neighbor’ is concerned, that turn of phrase makes it feel like more of an act.