After worker death, construction at 161 Maiden Lane faces hurdles

DOB has issued 2 partial stop-work orders since December

Rendering of 161 Maiden Lane (Credit: Goldstein Hill & West Architects)
Rendering of 161 Maiden Lane (Credit: Goldstein Hill & West Architects)

Roughly four months after a construction worker fell to his death from an under-construction Lower Manhattan tower, the Department of Buildings issued partial stop-work orders for improperly installed safety netting on the project.

Twice this month, the DOB halted work at Fortis Property Group’s 161 Maiden Lane for netting that wasn’t close enough to floors where work was being done, records show. Work commenced in December on the 80-unit condominium tower planned for the site, several weeks after worker Juan Chonillo fell from the building’s 29th floor. Chonillo was wearing a harness, officials said, but it wasn’t hooked onto anything.

On Jan. 8, netting was on the 24th floor while work was being done on the 30th. The DOB issued a partial stop-work order that lasted for eight days, according to agency representatives. The site was hit with another on January 23, due to work on the 32nd floor while netting was only in place on the 26th and the 27th floors. The order was lifted two days later.

Projects that rise at or above six stories or that are taller than 75 feet require horizontal netting, according to the city’s building code. The netting must be placed within two stories or 30 feet of work being done.

Representatives for Pizzarotti, the general contractor on the project, didn’t respond to requests seeking comment.

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Pizzarotti, a subsidiary of an international construction firm based in Italy, is fairly new to the New York City luxury high-rise tower game. Fortis’ project is the company’s first residential tower of this size in the United States, though the company is also a partner on Madison Equities45 Broad Street, which broke ground in April.

The company is also doing work for LCRE Group on 151 Maiden Lane, the hotel next to the condo building, and for Fortis on the Polhemus Townhouses on Amity Street in Cobble Hill. Pizzarotti is also the general contractor on an eight-story condo building at 75 First Avenue, which is being developed by the Colonnade Group. A full stop-work order was issued on Jan. 12 at 75 First Ave. for inadequate protection for pedestrians.

Since fully reopening the site in December, only a few floors have been poured at 161 Maiden Lane. At the time of the fatality, the project was up to the 29th floor. On Friday morning, trucks were delivering concrete for what appeared to be the 33rd floor. Five workers at a time helped attach the concrete buckets to a crane that hoisted the material up to the top of the structure. The project is expected to rise 57 floors.

That pace may not bode well for the project’s timeline. The condo offering plan, filed with the New York Attorney General’s office, states that if the first closing doesn’t occur by June 2018, Fortis has to update the project’s budget. If the budget exceeds 25 percent or more of the original, buyers who went into contract on units can back out. Meanwhile. the developer is also looking to raise another $185 million for the project, which has a projected $273 million sellout.

Representatives from Fortis didn’t respond to requests seeking comment.