BY LINCOLN ANDERSON | Following Saturday’s latest construction-caused crisis in Greenwich Village — this time at Eighth Street and Fifth Avenue — word is that the Department of Buildings has not ordered the evacuation of a second historic building — despite the fact that the structure alarmingly showed “signs of movement.”
As of early Monday afternoon, the online D.O.B. Buildings Information System did not show any updates for 12 Fifth Ave., still only saying that the 10-story property is “under structural monitoring.”
On the other hand, D.O.B. on Saturday issued an emergency vacate order for the neighboring five-story building at 10 Fifth Ave. after, earlier that morning, large cracks opened on its facade and some of its window lintels shockingly spread apart several inches in their middle. The order warns that entering the building is “imminently perilous to life.”
Local resident Marguerite Martin went by the construction-rattled site early Monday morning and said workers at the scene told her that No. 12 “was safe” but that No. 10 still has a vacate order in effect.
In addition to the corner building’s 14 residential apartments, its commercial storefronts are also subject to the emergency vacate order. Unfortunately, for local croissant cravers, that includes the popular Le Pain Quotidien bakery.
Andrew Berman, executive director of Village Preservation, reported that the latest he is hearing from D.O.B. is that emergency shoring up is required at the site to brace at-risk support walls.
“No. 10 Fifth Ave. requires shoring,” he said. “Nos. 10 and 12 share a party wall, and their party wall will be shored, as well. A stop-work order remains in effect for 14-16 Fifth Ave. As of right now, an evacuation order is in effect only for No. 10.”
Ever since the scheme was first proposed several years ago, Berman and Village Preservation had vehemently opposed the plan for a new, high-rise, sliver tower at 14-16 Fifth Ave., which is within the Greenwich Village Historic District. Madison Capital Realty’s project required demolition of two landmarked, low-rise apartment buildings that had been combined into one, whose former residents included some of New York’s most elite names.
Nevertheless, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission O.K.’d the high-end condo project. The historic buildings have since been demolished and work on the foundation for the new luxury tower has been underway for some months now.
The site sits right atop a bend in the legendary, long-since-buried Minetta Creek. (One theory of the name is that “Minetta” means “devil’s water” in the native Lenape tongue.) To provide a firmer foundation, the developers are using two giant foundation drills to dig shafts into the ground for support piles. A backhoe-like excavator machine is also being used at the site, which sits one block north of Washington Square Park on the exclusive stretch of Lower Fifth Avenue.