Two weeks ago, a worried construction manager hurried a reporter and a frustrated building superintendant out of a vacated fifth-floor apartment because of newly formed cracks threatening the structural integrity of the structure’s facade.
While 19 tenants still don’t know when they can return to their residences, work has begun to shore up the fracture-laden apartment building at 94-01 64 Road in Rego Park damaged by excavation work at the next-door lot.
Emergency external shoring work was approved by the Department of Buildings last Thursday for the cracking structure, temporarily easing the worries over whether at least part of the building could collapse in the coming weeks.
“The bottom line is that work has started,” Mike Santoro, Samson Management’s director of construction management, said. “But we have to continue monitoring what they are doing.”
Booth Holdings LLC, the owner of the excavation site in question, has been tasked with installing the external bracing and shoring on the neighboring building.
While Santoro is pleased that work has begun to save the cracking structure, he has his suspicions over Booth Holdings’ ability to properly secure the building.
“They just show up and start working. Did I get a call? No,” he said. “But our engineer says something is better than nothing. I’m going out there once or twice a day to see what’s going on.”
On Feb. 11, cracks began appearing in the building’s basement, inside six apartments, five of which were occupied, and across the side of the structure facing the neighboring plot, which was being excavated in preparation for the construction of a six-story residential building.
By Feb. 26, the cracks were getting to be so bad that a resident called 911. After the FDNY and the DOB surveyed the building, it was determined that six apartments, including that of the building’s superintendent, were unsafe to occupy.
Since the partial vacate order was issued, the cracks have seemingly gotten worse, spreading to the roof of the building and getting large enough for daylight to stream through the concrete in the basement.
But over the last week, a concrete block has been installed and steel has been delivered to the site as shoring methods are underway, both Santoro and the DOB said.
Despite the positive steps being taken to protect the building, its residents and the surrounding neighborhood, including PS 139’s playground, located directly adjacent to the cracked structure, the building superintendant is skeptical of the work.
“[Badge Bicic, the building superintendant] calls me every day and says ‘Mike, They’re doing work. What are they doing?’” Santoro said. “But I haven’t heard any complaints yet.”
When contacted by the Chronicle, Booth Holdings declined to comment and referred all questions to the DOB.
The anticipated completion date of the six-story building is December 2015, but it was unclear if that date might be in jeopardy as a result of the shoring work.