Union reps, contractors, accuse DOB of bending rules for Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards project

January 23, 2013 09:30AM

Union representatives and contractors accused the city’s Department of Buildings of bending the rules on modular housing for Forest City Ratner’s Atlantic Yards megaproject at a city council hearing Tuesday, according to the watchdog blog Atlantic Yards Report.

The DOB allowed the developer to prefabricate housing off-site without the supervision of licensed plumbers, electricians and steamfitters, the union representatives said, in a clear violation of city regulations. Some said that the developer actively sought the relaxed permissions.

In response to a question from Council Member Letitia James, Stewart O’Brien, executive director of the Plumbing Foundation, said he believed that the project’s safety had been compromised by the prospect of greater profits.

Committee Chair Erik Martin Dilan, who noted that the hearing was conducted in an unusually low-key manner, said that “what I do see occur is clear noncompliance with the code. We will ask the Buildings Department and the Mayor’s Office why they think this has occurred, because I think it should be corrected.” Dilan declined to speak to the representatives claims’ that Forest City had influenced the DOB.

Representatives from the DOB and Forest City were not present at the hearing, having testified previously. The developer had previously emphasized to the council the perks of high-rise modular construction, the Report said. The 32-story tower with 363 units is expected to be the world’s tallest modular taller upon completion in 2014. Forest City had promised during the approval process that half of the units would be affordable, as The Real Deal previously reported. [Atlantic Yards Report] –Hiten Samtani