Friday, January 18, 2008

340 Court Street #2: Collateral Damage Edition

Building Damage

Remember that digging that upset some of the neighbors of the 340 Court Street Clarett Group development back in December? A contractor brought in an excavating machine to dig some holes and the neighbors started complaining bitterly. One neighbor on Union Street that we spoke with this week told us that his house shook so violently that it caused some hairline cracks in the wall. Not too long after the digging, a cornice on the building started to fall off. He went inside to get "before" and "after" photos for us to see. Coincidence? Perhaps. But there is more likely a causal relationship between what a number of neighbors say was violent pounding that caused buildings to vibrate and the damage to the structure. (A big hole was being dug next to his home by an excavating machine.)

When we ran into the elderly couple to whom this happened they didn't seem angry, but appeared very concerned that their home, which dates to 1850, will be seriously damaged by construction next door, no matter how many precautions are taken. The 340 Court development has been an issue in Carroll Gardens since fears developed that a 21-story building would be built there by the Clarett Group. The structure will actually be 6-7 stories, but more traditional neighborhood-developer tensions have developed.

As for the digging that happened and caused the damage, "I felt like I was in San Francisco during an earthquake," the neighbor said.

The cornice is now attached to the building at an uncomfortable angle. When the neighbor tried to have it repaired, he got a visit from a Department of Buildings inspector threatening a violation. In fact, the resident alleges the inspector "practically had his hand out." The neighbor said he stopped the repair work.

The couple says they are worried their building will be damaged and that there will be nowhere to turn because the Department of Buildings won't respond in time to prevent damage. They are active in the new Union-Sackett Block Association that is trying to establish communications with the developer. "This was our retirement home," he says. "We don't want to see it destroyed."

Building Damage Two



Blogger Unknown said...

You don't think anything can shake these brownstones until a backhoe starts banging away in the next lot, then it does seem like London in the Blitz.

We live about 100 yards due west of this house and our block shook like this when they were sinking a new elevator shaft for the library's new handicapped entrance. We had some interior wall crack; we also had to fix water damage to our side wall foundation walls when their excavation exposed it to the elements.

As one builder explained, a lot has to do with the composition of the ground underneath; that will determine how far force will reverberate.

Another would be to use an auger/drill system rather than a pile driver. Doing it this way supposedly would minimize damage, and I'm sure that that item will be on agenda when residents meet with Clarett.

2:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sorry, my comment #5 was designated for the 340 Court St. #2 post about colateral damage

7:43 PM  

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