It wasn’t a pretty sight inside the Central Parking garage at 227 Cherry Street in the hours after Hurricane Sandy came ashore. More than 50 cars were swamped by flood waters that rushed across South Street and turned the facility, located below the Pathmark store, into a lake. Today the owners of those cars have still not been allowed inside to inspect the damage.
This morning we spoke with Melissa Nguyen, who has been helping to organize more than two dozen of the owners to get some answers from Central Parking about events that led up to the flood. According to Nguyen, the company ordered the garage locked at 4 p.m. Sunday. Some people, herself included, were at work or unable to remove their cars in the afternoon for other reasons. She said Central Parking was incredibly unsympathetic and inflexible about their predicament. In the aftermath of the storm, car owners have not been granted access to the facility for the purpose of filing insurance claims. The group is now exploring legal options.
Meanwhile the Pathmark store, slated for closure by the end of the year, is still operating on a limited basis. Only a few people are being allowed inside at a time. Over the weekend, there was no refrigerated food available — only dry items like pasta and rice. Some shoppers fear the store will be closed earlier than planned.
The parking garage and Pathmark store are adjacent to a 20-story residential building, 82 Rutgers Street, which is operated by the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council. In the immediate aftermath of the storm, the organization mobilized (with the help of many volunteers) to aid elderly and disabled residents in 82 Rutgers, as well as a neighboring senior building it also runs. The senior housing building was essentially unscathed by Sandy. But it’s a different story at 82 Rutgers, which experienced heavy flooding. This afternoon, Two Bridges President Victor Papa indicated the elevators are not functioning and might very well be out of service for quite some time. He said residents are being surveyed to find out what their needs are likely to be in the weeks ahead.
There’s already a lot of conversation citywide about the wisdom of building apartment buildings along the waterfront. As you might recall, Extell Development is believed to be planning a large residential complex on the Pathmark site. Hurricane Sandy has certainly focused city leaders on the perils of rising sea waters around Manhattan. We’ll be watching to see what impact, if any, this renewed conversation will have on development plans on Cherry Street.
We’re trying to get in touch with Central Parking. We’ll let you know what we hear.