Another Neighborhood Building Damaged and Vacated Due to Construction Next Door: DEMAND ACTION FROM THE CITY

Planned new 24-story development at 644 East 14th Street that caused the damage, and 642 through 626 East 14th Street (l. to r.).

Last week, residents of 642 East 14th Street (Avenues B/C) were forced to evacuate their homes due to damage to their building from construction next door at 644 East 14th Street (Avenue C). Dozens of residents had to flee their homes, which have still not been deemed safe for their return. Residents had complained for months about the impacts they were feeling from construction next door, and worried about the impacts the 24-story development would have on their homes (the development was originally only supposed to be 15 stories tall, but due to special approvals the developer lobbied for and received from the City, the size of the development was substantially increased). The developer is Madison Realty Capital — the same developer of 14 Fifth Avenue, where special approvals were also granted by the City (to demolish landmarked structures and build a tall condo tower), and where the development also led to serious damage to and evacuation of neighboring residential buildings.

Sadly, this is far from the first time we have seen developments that received special approvals from the City result in devastating damage to neighboring structures, or work that violates safety requirements taking place on the City’s watch. We have demanded reforms to the system to protect neighboring structures from construction work, and to ensure proper oversight takes place, especially for projects that are likely to carry risks to neighboring buildings and/or those involving actors with track records that include problems at construction sites like Madison Realty Capital. We have been joined in many of these demands by elected officials, fellow preservation organizations, and engineering experts. But the City has thus far refused to change its practices, instead issuing a vaguely worded announcement of an “Action Plan to Strengthen Protections for Vulnerable Historic Buildings,” which was long on lofty language and short on specifics or concrete commitments. Unsurprisingly the “plan” does not appear to have helped the residents of 642 East 14th Street (see more info HERE).

(l.) 10, 12, and 14 Fifth Avenue, where construction work damaged two adjacent buildings (Andy Baum); 14-18 Christopher Street, where dangerous work led to the demolition of No. 14 (Michel Young).

We must demand better from the City. Mayor Adams had made clear his priority is to “Get Stuff Built” and make New York a “City of Yes” for developers. He and his agencies in charge of protecting our homes and historic buildings need to hear that we won’t accept the safety of our homes and neighborhood buildings being sacrificed on that altar.


December 6, 2023