Sixth Ave. buildings evacuated after new project causes shift

Photo by Lincoln Anderson Officers let residents of 188 Sixth Ave. back across the police line so they could listen to city officials tell them if they could re-enter their homes.

Photo by Lincoln Anderson
Officers let residents of 188 Sixth Ave. back across the police line so they could listen to city officials tell them if they could re-enter their homes.

BY LINCOLN ANDERSON  |  Responding to concerns by nervous residents, the Department of Buildings and firefighters evacuated 188 and 190 Sixth Ave. of their residents on Thursday afternoon. Also evacuated was the ground-level Ciccio restaurant, which had more than 90 reservations for that evening.

Residents of No. 188 had complained that construction next door was destabilizing the building. One woman, in particular, the occupant of the rear first-floor apartment abutting the construction site, said she couldn’t get in or out of her apartment on Monday because the door jam had shifted, and had to call a locksmith to first get her in — and then, later, back out again. There were also new cracks in the plaster on the hallway walls and arches.

Workers next door are excavating the site for One Vandam, a new 14-story luxury condo project. (Vandam St. actually ends on the west side of Sixth Ave., but apparently the developers thought the name sounded classy.)

Because the foundation for the new building is deeper than that for the old six-story building, the workers are doing underpinning under the foundation edge of the older building — basically, pouring cement under it to shore it up, so they can build next to it. Apparently, it was the underpinning that caused the old building to shift perceptibly.

While the situation was being checked out for safety by engineers with the project and D.O.B. representatives, some residents were allowed back in just quickly to get their pets.

Assemblymember Deborah Glick was on the scene talking to police, officials and residents. There need to be special protocols for construction in historic districts and next to old buildings like this, she said.

After about four hours, residents of 190 Sixth Ave. were finally allowed back into their homes, and then an hour after that, the 188 Sixth Ave. residents were allowed to return to their apartments.

Timothy Lynch, a D.O.B. forensic specialist, told reporters, “Little bit of movement in there, but nothing of substance.” He explained that old buildings like this are “ductile,” in that they are unreinforced masonry and so get “a little creaky as they age.”

The building that is currently under construction got the benefit of added bulk by buying air rights from God’s Love Deliver We Deliver’s site just to the south on Spring St.

At the project on Tuesday, workers said a D.O.B. stop-work order had been lifted that day. But they said the stop-work order was still in effect for a 5-foot-wide strip just south of 188 Sixth Ave.

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