General contractor faces $25,000 fine for crane accident

The general contractor, crane owner and operator at Columbus Square face fines of up to $25,000 after a piece of a crane crushed a sidewalk covering this afternoon.

There were no injuries as a result of the incident, which occurred at 775 Columbus Avenue, as The Real Deal first reported this afternoon. The 13-story rental building is under construction as part of the new five-building Columbus Square complex.

The accident occurred while workers at the site were dismantling a mobile crane, said a spokesman for the Department of Buildings. One of the crane’s counterweights — used to balance the load the crane is lifting — struck a sidewalk shed, causing part of the structure to collapse.

The buildings department determined that the partially completed building is structurally stable, but placed a full stop work order on the crane. An Environmental Control Board violation was issued to the crane’s owner, U.S. Crane and Rigging, the crane’s operator, and the general contractor. The buildings department identified the contractor as PWV Acquisitions, a subsidiary of the developers, the Chetrit Group and Stellar Management, but said the crane’s operator had not yet been determined.

ECB violations carry a maximum penalty of $25,000.

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The cause of the accident is still under investigation, the buildings department said.

By this afternoon, workers were in the process of removing the crane from the site, and the sidewalk shed was being repaired.

Spokespeople for U.S. Crane and Rigging were not immediately available for comment.

Columbus Square
is a complex of five new glass rental buildings going up around Columbus Avenue between 97th and 100th streets, as well as retail, including a Whole Foods. Replacing Park West Village, a massive rental complex constructed in the 1950s by Robert Moses, the new development faced years of opposition from neighbors before construction began.

A spokesperson for Columbus Square confirmed that no one was hurt and that leasing has not yet started at 775 Columbus Avenue.

Two other buildings in the complex have started renting out units: 808 Columbus Avenue and 801 Amsterdam Avenue.

Cranes in New York City have come under greater scrutiny since the deadly crane collapse on the Upper East Side in March 2008.

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