Astoria Cove contractors are doing work without permits, construction group says
The organization, made up of construction workers advocating for safer work conditions, has “been out there policing the Astoria Cove project and just seeing what they’re doing,” according to member Bernard Calgary.
Astoria Cove, a 1,723-unit project spanning 2.2 million square feet, was approved by City Council in 2014. More than 460 units are slated to be affordable housing.
Queens Borough President Melinda Katz voted against the project, arguing that there were not enough affordable housing units and that the project would add to the traffic and public transportation congestion in the area.
The project, which is expected to take 10 years to complete, will consist of five buildings, three on the waterfront ranging from 26 to 32 stories and two on the upland portion of the site, including a six-story residential building.
According to Calgary, contractors working on the project at 8-01 26th Ave. shut the street down without permits. They were also denied permits to put up scaffolding but did so anyway.
Andrew Rudnasky, spokesperson for the Department of Buildings (DOB), said the city issued a violation on Nov. 3, 2016, when inspectors found that a sidewalk shed was installed without a permit. Inspectors will re-visit the site now that Calgary has officially reported a complaint.
DOB records show that since 2014, there have been more than a dozen complaints filed with the DOB about this specific property. In March 2016, an employee called DOB to voice his concern about how petroleum tanks underground and lead paint on the walls would affect the air quality once he demolished the building.
“Basically, they just ignore [the violations],” Calgary said. “They do whatever they want.”
Alma Realty and 2030 Astoria Developers are responsible for the project and one of their contractors include Vera Construction.
“Vera Construction doesn’t even have workers’ compensation insurance,” he said. “This is not OK. I don’t know what else to say. We can’t let contractors and developers like Alma do whatever they feel like doing.”
Jason Fink, spokesperson for Alma Realty, said Build Up NYC’s claims “are completely untrue.”
“The building is under a demolition order by the City of New York,” he said. “Our permits are accurately filed for this site and all are fully in order. All state and city regulations pertaining to safety, environmental and pre-demo requirements, including permits and approvals by all applicable agencies, have been complied with and adhered to.”
The future of the project is unclear. In July, 2030 Astoria Developers said that without the 421-a tax break program, it would be difficult to finance. But an investigation by Politico found that the project never really made financial sense since the beginning.
A report released on Jan. 18 by the New York Committee for Occupational Safety & Health found that construction fatalities have increased in the last few years. In the city, construction-related fatalities rose from 17 in 2011 to 25 in 2015.
Statewide, safety inspections by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration fell from 2,722 in 2011 to 1,966 in 2015. In November, two construction workers on a site in Briarwood were killed after a 6,500 pound beam slipped from a crane and hit the crane’s cab.