Bad vibes threaten Rybak’s Upper East Side project
Developer plans 20-story resi building, if only neighbor will allow vibration meter in basement
Rybak Development and Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun got off to a shaky start, no matter how you measure it.
In 2020, the Brooklyn-based developer spent $26 million for 126 East 86th Street on the Upper East Side. It soon demolished the building and scored city approval to replace it with a 20-story development with ground-floor retail and apartments above.
But as Rybak prepared for excavation work, it hit an unlikely snag that threatened to derail its project entirely: the local synagogue.
The building code requires Rybak to install vibration monitors in the buildings surrounding its project to make sure the excavation work doesn’t damage them. The synagogue, which abuts the development site, in March agreed in principle to let Rybak install the monitor — but never signed a final agreement.
As the two sides negotiated the wording, the synagogue allowed Rybak to install a temporary monitor in October. But after experiencing significant flood damage, the synagogue later that month demanded Rybak remove the monitor and cover $900,000 in repairs in return for signing the agreement, according to the court complaint.
Rybak’s lawyer might just save the project thanks to an obscure provision: Section 881 of New York Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law. Under the statute, the court can grant a developer entry to a neighboring property, typically for just the sort of temporary construction access Rybak needs.
All the other neighboring buildings have allowed Rybak to install monitors, according to the complaint. It’s asking the court for a day to install the device, a day to remove it and occasional access for the year or so it anticipates excavation work will take.
Neither the synagogue nor the day school that shares the building responded to requests for comment.