The Real Deal New York

Public advocate urges JDS, PMG to use union labor

Developers deny any unsafe work conditions for workers at 111 West 57th St.
February 05, 2015 08:35AM

Public Advocate Letitia James approached developers JDS Development and Property Market Group, tacitly urging them to reconsider their plan to build their super skinny, 80-story tower on “Billionaire’s Row” sans union labor.

James, a known ally of the unions, wrote the letter to JDS’ Michael Stern and PMG’s Kevin Maloney on Jan. 28, according to the New York Daily News, but didn’t explicitly mention the words “union” or “non-union.”

“Given the immense height of the structure, its proportions, the challenging nature of the site and the densely populated nature of the surrounding blocks, I am concerned that any incident at the site could potentially cause outsized harm,” she wrote in the letter, cited by the newspaper. “I would urge you to consider an organized workforce that is adequately trained and fairly compensated.”

The Department of Buildings approved the permits to build the structure last month. The SHoP-designed residential tower will house just one apartment per floor, for a total of 55 units. Those units are expected to sell for more than $6,000 per square foot. Stern and Maloney plan to incorporate the historic Steinway Hall at the base of the building into the new design.

Stern and Maloney, who are also the developers behind the Walker Tower at 212 West 18th Street, are planning the 80-story spire at 111 West 57th Street. It would be New York’s largest nonunion construction project ever.

“We respect the Public Advocate’s thoughts and comments on workplace safety, and we echo her belief that safety is of the utmost importance,” a JDS spokesperson told the newspaper. “The ownership of this building has an established track record when it comes to successfully completing complex structures safely, and we will continue to strive to maintain that level of success.” [NYDN] — Claire Moses