Essex Crossing Team Fields Questions About Pedestrian Safety, Rats, Jobs

Grand Street near Suffolk St.; Essex Crossing Site 5.

Grand Street near Suffolk St.; Essex Crossing Site 5.

These days on the Lower East Side, it’s tough to walk anywhere without confronting barricades, dump trucks and scaffolding. A big reason why is Essex Crossing, one of the largest construction projects in the city. Last night, the developers, Community Board 3, the LES Business Improvement District and Grand Street Settlement held a meeting to field community concerns and to offer information about construction jobs.

Several representatives were on hand from Delancey Street Associates, the consortium building the 1.87 million square foot mixed-use project on the former Seward Park urban renewal site. Katie Archer, director of community relations, encouraged locals to sign up for regular e-blasts via the Essex Crossing website. People can also bring problems to the developers’ attention by emailing: info@essexcrossingnyc.com. CB3’s Susan Stetzer asked residents to use the board’s online complaint form for problems with noise, rodents, construction vehicles, etc. Stetzer said she has received quite a few inquiries already about “impacts on the neighborhood.”

essex crossing overview

Construction managers overseeing each of the four sites in the first phase of construction offered brief updates. Here’s a synopsis:

Site 1: 242 Broome St.  — Excavation will continue for 2-3 more months before work on the foundation begins. Completion expected in February 2018.

Site 2: 80 Essex St./115 Delancey St. — Excavation will take another month or so. The loudest part of the project (pile driving) is almost done; they’ll need another 5 days to complete this part of the job. Foundation/concrete work will begin next month.

Site 5: 145 Clinton St. — Crews are working on the foundation, pouring concrete. This process will continue for about 2 months before the superstructure starts to go up. The building is expected to open in the second half of 2018.

Site 6: 175 Delancey St. — Foundation work was scheduled to begin today. Since the building here is smaller than the others, it will be finished first.

Grand Street near Suffolk Street.

Grand Street near Suffolk Street.

Broome Street at Suffolk Street.

Broome Street at Suffolk Street.

Broome Street at Clinton Street.

Broome Street at Clinton Street.

In general, it was a pretty tame evening. The meeting room at Grand Street Settlement’s Pitt Street headquarters was about two-thirds full. There were only a few complaints.

One resident said she heard noise late at night (between 11 p.m.-midnight) in her 20th floor apartment. Construction managers said there was limited late night drilling work some time ago, but that this phase of construction is now complete.

Harriet Cohen, a Seward Park Co-op resident, said she’s concerned about pedestrian safety near Essex Street and Broome Street, where a makeshift walkway has been set up alongside Site 2 and cars turn on their way to the Williamsburg Bridge. Another speaker expressed worry for pedestrians on Grand Street, alongside Site 5. Trucks are coming and going throughout the day. The woman said she’d like to see the “flag men” more attentive to people on foot.

It was explained that a barrier on the north side of Grand Street was put up on the orders of the city’s Department of Transportation. It’s a precaution in case the sidewalk buckles while the excavation work is happening. Construction managers said they hope to remove the barricades by the middle of the summer. The workers directing traffic have already been instructed to make pedestrian safety their top priority. Tim Laughlin of the LES BID mentioned that the community board’s transportation committee will be discussing traffic safety and congestion issues in the construction zone at its next meeting (Feb. 9).

Another resident, the mother of an asthmatic child, asked about precautions to protect air and water quality. Construction team members said the city has imposed strict environmental requirements. They have monitoring devices on all of the heavy equipment and weekly reports are filed by an independent observer. The sites are regularly watered down to eliminate loose dirt.

It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that there were questions about rodents. One speaker said rats are running wild on Suffolk Street at nighttime. A sub-contractor comes in every week to lay traps throughout all four sites. There’s been coordination with the management of the Seward Park Co-op, located directly across from Site 5. to deal with the problem. CB3’s Susan Stetzer encouraged people to call 311 or to file an online complaint when they see rodents in the area.

Also last night, Delancey Street Associates and staff from the Lower East Side Employment Network were on hand to discuss construction jobs. There are only about 10 locals working on the Essex Crossing project right now. This is because the excavation work requires a skilled labor force; there aren’t that many people in the neighborhood qualified. During the next six months, the development team explained, more positions will become available.

If you’re interested in applying for a construction job, fill out the form available through the city’s Workforce1 Program. The LES Employment Network can help you determine whether you’ve got the right skills. They can also help you find training programs. GOLES, for example, offers free OSHA training courses four times each year.  Around 25 new jobs will be available during the next few months. There will be a need for security personnel, but these jobs require multiple certifications.

In the first phase of construction, there will of 556 apartments, 311 of them affordable. Other highlights include a medical center from NYU, a new Essex Street Market, a bowling alley/entertainment complex and a 14-screen movie theater. The main development partners are BFC Partners, L+M Development Partners, and Taconic Investment Partners.