Stop all construction in NYC now: Menchaca

City Council member urges suspension during coronavirus outbreak; mayor freezes Ulurp

Carlos Menchaca (Credit: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Carlos Menchaca (Credit: Erik McGregor/LightRocket via Getty Images)

Build, baby, build — but not in a pandemic.

Brooklyn City Council member Carlos Menchaca is calling for a moratorium on construction work citywide, in what would be one of the most significant industry-related disruptions since the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak.

“I’m calling on the moratorium of all construction site work in NYC,” tweeted Menchaca, who represents District 38 including neighborhoods such as Sunset Park and Red Hook. “Again, we are putting workers in danger.”

His calls for suspension of all construction were echoed by Council member Brad Lander, who represents District 39 and is the Council’s deputy leader for policy.

“It is essential right now to build new hospital capacity,” Lander tweeted. “It is NOT essential right now to build new condos.”

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The calls follow Boston’s announcement Monday that all construction projects there would be halted, the first move of its kind in a major American city in response to the rapidly spreading virus.

New York’s Department of Buildings notified active construction sites this weekend to follow the latest guidance from the city’s Department of Health and Mental Hygiene on the coronavirus, but as of Monday afternoon had not shut down the industry.

“We will continue to closely monitor the situation,” agency spokesperson Andrew Rudansky said in a statement, “and will issue further guidance to the industry as needed.”

Mayor Bill de Blasio on Monday did suspend the city’s land-use review process, known as Ulurp, because it involves public meetings at which the novel coronavirus could spread. All applications going through the seven-month process will be frozen until de Blasio’s executive order is lifted. The action pushes back the resolution of the Industry City rezoning, which the owners of the industrial campus are seeking to expand retail and other uses at the Sunset Park site. Menchaca, as the local Council member, will ultimately decide the application’s fate.

The City Planning Commission said Monday it will not meet until further notice.