In this era of rampant real estate development, locals are becoming a lot more aware of the comings and goings of construction crews. When a few guys showed up yesterday morning to begin geotechnical tests at the Grand Street Guild apartments, tenant leaders were on the case. In fact, they called the police — and a short time later the team from Craig Drilling (a New Jersey-based firm) picked up and went home.
As we reported back in February, members of the tenant association strongly suspect that the property owner, the Archdiocese of New York, has big plans for their Section 8 complex. While the owners’ management company has insisted that no decisions have been made about future development, the tenants are convinced that at least one new residential tower is is in-the-works. Geotechnical testing is often one of the first signs that a big new project is on the way.
After a notice about the drilling went up over the weekend in building lobbies, tenant activist Dashia Imperiale fired off an email to other tenant leaders and local elected officials. She renewed calls made months ago for more transparency from the Archdiocese about its plans.
Imperiale and newly elected District Leader Daisy Paez (until recently tenant president) were on the scene yesterday morning, asking workers to see Buildings Department permits. We showed up a few minutes later to talk with Imperiale, Paez and tenant association president Sandra Strother. The police officers were gone, and the crew from Craig Drilling had stopped their work.
Last night, we spoke with Mark Benoit of Geto & de Milly, a PR and lobbying firm working for the property owner. He said no work permit was required for the testing that was being undertaken. Benoit added, however, that the owners were committed to communicating more effectively with residents about what’s happening. He said there’s nothing new to report regarding the owners’ plans for possible future development at Grand Street Guild. The testing, Benoit explained, would be rescheduled for a later date.
Paez plans to speak today with Benoit and Samuel Ortiz, community and social services manager of Catholic Charities/Grand Street Guild. Staff members in the offices of State Assembly member Yuh-Line Niou and City Council member Margaret Chin tell us they are continuing to press local and federal agencies for details about any possible Grand Street Guild plans.