Monday, June 29, 2009

June 30, 2009


The NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) issued a Full Vacate Order for the building at the NE corner of 92nd Street and Second Avenue (shown above) on Monday June 29th. According to the DOB, the building is [now] in danger of collapse.

The building, located at 1768 Second Avenue / 301 East 92nd Street, is a six story mixed use building with 3 commercial tenants on the ground level and 31 residential apartments above, according to the NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development web site.

This is the 2nd Vacate Order that has been issued for a building in the active 2nd Avenue Subway construction zone between 91st and 95th streets. (the 1st Vacate Order order was issued for 1772 Second Avenue earlier this month.)

When I took these pictures, at about 8:30 PM on 6/29, the NYC Office of Emergency Management, Department of Building and the Red Cross were on the scene offering assistance to the effected residents of the building.

The following commercial establishments are affected
by the vacate order:
The Big Easy (a bar) at 1768 Second Avenue
92nd Street Deli & Grocery at 1766 Second Avenue
Tony C. Laundromat & Dry Cleaners at 303 East 92nd Street

I spoke with employees from the laundromat, as they were leaving, and they said that they have no idea when they'll be able to reopen.

According to the NY Post article linked below, an MTA spokesman insisted, "the leaning condition at the buildings vacated on Second Avenue existed and was documented long before construction began."

I checked the DOB web site and see that the DOB issued a violation on 12/18/2006 (well before work started on the Launch Box site) with the reason listed as "Failure to Maintain Exterior Building Wall -- Defects noted: Bldg is leaning out of plum approx. for 10" out North side of Bldg. -- Remedy: Repair Defects."

Of course, the danger now is that the wall may have moved -- since the Vacate Order says that the wall is now leaning 18" towards the North.

From what I understand, the DOB has been inspecting all of the buildings in the area -- in preparation for "controlled blasting" that is planned for the southern portion of the Launch Box work site. The blasting is needed to remove bedrock so that the Launch Box can be excavated to it's full depth.

So its not clear at the moment whether or not the construction work in the Launch Box area led to the evacuation of this building. But it does seem to me that the MTA now has a bit of a PR problem to deal with -- with 2 residential apartment buildings, next to their construction site, evacuated within just this past month.

The vacate order (shown below) says:
"This order is issued because there is imminent danger to life or public safety or the safety of the occupants or property, in that Exposure 2 brick wall exhibit leaning 18" towards north causing unstable load bearing wall and in danger of collapse."
(Exposure 2 is the north side of the building.)

Orders and notices posted on the entrance door at
301 East 92nd Street.

Here contractors are at work late in the evening, in front of The Big Easy at 1768 Second Avenue, erecting a protective shed over the sidewalk.

And by Tuesday morning the new sidewalk shed is up, and all of the store fronts are closed - with the exception of Blondies, one of the 2 bars in this block. What I don't understand is why the sidewalk is still open, when the DOB says that the building is in danger of collapse.

Clearly the 92nd Street Deli & Grocery at 1766 Second Avenue will not be re-opening any time soon.

Here's a selection of news stories on this topic:

"2nd Avenue Subway, Second Avenue Evacuation"
NY Post, 6/30/09

"Building Evacuated Along Subway Construction Stretch"
NY1, 6/30/09

"2nd Ave. Tenants RIP 'Train Wreck' "
NY Post, 7/1/09


R.J. said...

I called Tony C. Laundromat & Dry Cleaners, they are allowing just pickups today until 5PM, 6/30. They do not know how long they will be allowed to beyond today.

jmp said...

There's a bit of a chicken and egg effect. Whether or not the construction of the Second Avenue Subway is actually contributing to the structural problems with the buildings, there is no question that the construction has led to much more aggressive inspections by the Department of Buildings than they might otherwise have had.

Of course, the media loves correlation, usually leaving out the bit about correlation not being equal to causality...

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for your blog - it is quite informative.

Anonymous said...

Please see the 1884 Viele Sanitary and Topographical map of Manhattan. The two buildings in danger of collapse border an underground stream that terminates in filled wetlands beneath the collapsing buildings. The map in this link is zoomable: "" I suspect that the unusually heavy rain in June compounded any instability caused by the construction. On the next day of heavy rain you may note that the sewer across the street at the Northwest corner of 92nd and 2nd positively roars with water.

Ben said...

Thanks for the very interesting link.

I converted it into a hyperlink --
Sanitary & Topographical Map of the City and Island of New York - 1865
so it's easy for others to click on.

It's interesting that what is now Second Avenue, from 92nd north, was marsh and streams back in 1865 when this map was prepared. It's no wonder that some of the older buildings in this area have been found to be leaning.


Belakazu said...

I was a tenant in this building who was evacuated - the DOB used my apartment to cut into the drywall and measure the angle of the outer walls. When I moved in two years ago, the building was visibly leaning (the walls in my apt on the top floor were slanted) but I chalked this up to the wonky angles of any old building. During my time there, the problem seemed to increase: pre-existing cracks in the drywall got longer, and my front door began to stick, due to the frame shifting. Was this due to the MTA? I have no idea. But I do know that the vibrations from construction have been unrelenting and overwhelming. I would be surprised if that didn't have an impact on the structural integrity of brick and mortar construction.

Belakazu said...

... to add to the above, I think the 2nd Ave subway is great and am all for it. But even before the emergency evacuation, the construction made our lives hell in the low-rise apartments: month after month of jackhammers or boring machines from dawn till midnight, six days a week for years... My roommate who worked late into the night and needed to sleep during the day wanted to die. I cannot imagine anyone with small children could survive there. I wish the city had taken the old low-rise properties around the launch box by eminent domain - which would eliminate concerns about their structural integrity - or given some other assistance to residents who've been stuck with leases they can't get out of. It's really a bad situation (even if it was cool to have a bird's eye view of all the construction).