Crane collapses at One57, as hurricane winds pick up speed

By Leigh Kamping-Carder | October 29, 2012 03:00PM

[Updated 4:04 p.m.] As Hurricane Sandy barrels down on New York City, a construction crane has collapsed at One57, the ultra-luxury Midtown condominium, The Real Deal has learned. While it was not immediately clear what caused the break, wind gusts had reached up to 90 miles per hour in the neighborhood, according to news reports.

A Town Residential executive, who has a direct view of the site from his home, heard a “snap” and saw the crane dangling, according to Town manager Wendy Maitland. He called the police, who arrived on the scene within 15 minutes, but he continues to hear creaking and “very disturbing” noises, she said.

When called for comment, One57 developer Gary Barnett said, “Can’t talk now.” Earlier, he told the New York Observer that “We don’t know anything yet. We’re doing everything we can, and hopefully no one is going to get hurt.”

A spokesman for the New York Police Department said there were no known injuries. He was unable to provide additional details of what is happening at the site, saying only that the process is “ongoing.”

A city alert said that occupants of Buildings On West 57th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues – the same block as One57 – “must immediately move” to lower floors. Buildings on that stretch include the Metropolitan Tower condos and Carnegie Hall.

“Citizens are advised to avoid this area,” the alert continued. “Follow instructions of emergency personnel.”

This is not the first high-profile crane accident on record in Manhattan, but it is significant because of the close attention being paid to One57, which has become something of a “billionaire’s club” for buyers interested in ultra-luxury apartments. The building is set to be the tallest residential tower in the city when construction is complete.

Maitland, who has sold several units there, including one for more than $45 million, said the collapse at One57 was evidence of Hurricane Sandy’s power – and not shoddy construction.

“It means that the hurricane does not discriminate,” she said. “It doesn’t give VIP or special treatment to anyone.”

In 2008, a crane collapsed at a planned condo development at 303 East 51st Street in Turtle Bay, killing two people and injuring several others. That site has since traded hands to HFZ Capital, with an investment from CIM Group, but construction has yet to resume.

That same year, a crane collapsed at the Azure at 333 East 91st Street, which delayed sales. The building is now mostly sold.

However, Maitland stressed that the situations are markedly different, given the severe weather affecting New York City and surrounding areas.

“It’s impossible to say if or how it’s going to affect the project,” Maitland said. “But what I can tell you I see is [that] this is more a reflection of the severity of the storm than a problem in the construction.”

Dan Tubb, One57’s director of sales, was not immediately available for comment, nor was a representative for the Department of Buildings.