Buddha is back: Statue’s curse looms as HAP project is hit with partial stop-work order

Neighbors claim construction at 329 Pleasant Avenue is damaging their property

From left: 329 Pleasant Avenue in East Harlem and Eran Polack
From left: 329 Pleasant Avenue in East Harlem and Eran Polack

The Buddha curse appears to have reared its head once again in the form of a partial stop-work order at HAP Investment Developers’ 329 Pleasant Avenue site in East Harlem.

Eugene Rodriguez, a neighbor who lives behind the site, said in October he cast a dark spell when the construction crew beheaded his Buddha statue, which he claimed was protecting his garden.

An eight-story, 200-unit apartment building is being constructed at the site.

“The curse is getting stronger,” Rodriguez told DNAinfo.

Neighbors have complained that equipment and debris — such as nails, concrete and even grappling hook — have found their way into their properties.

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“Our general contractor on 329 Pleasant is in full compliance with all DOB rules and regulations, and HAP Investments is fully aware of the current situation,” said Alan Segan, spokesperson for the developer. “We have called for a re-inspection today to have the partial stop work order lifted. We are confident that upon re-inspection the partial stop work order will be lifted.”

The development has had its share of controversies. At one time, the Eran Polack-led firm planned green and purple balconies for the building. The developer later changed the colors to white with magenta rim after a public vote.

In August, East Harlem Assemblyman Robert Rodriguez urged the DOB to keep a close eye on 329 Pleasant Avenue and other properties HAP is developing in the neighborhood, Such As 2338 Second Avenue, where a nine-story building is under construction. Rodrigiuez said the stop work orders were not preventing shoddy practices at the sites.

HAP broke ground on another project in July for a 10-story project at 2211 Third Avenue. The developer spent $100 million last year on six properties in East Harlem. It also recently snapped up a fourth property along West 28th Street in Chelsea, paying $13 million for 17-unit rental building at 213 West 28th Street[DNAinfo]Dusica Sue Malesevic