Construction resumes at site of crane collapse

Leaking hydraulic fluid caused fire during construction at Gotham’s Far West Side project

550 10th Avenue; Gotham Organization's Joel Picket (Getty, Gotham Organization)
550 10th Avenue; Gotham Organization's Joel Picket (Getty, Gotham Organization)

A construction accident cast a dramatic backdrop over Manhattan’s Far West Side this week when a crane caught fire and partially plummeted from the top of to Gotham Organization’s 550 10th Avenue to the street below. 

Construction is being allowed to continue on the lower floors of the Far West Side project, the New York Daily News reported. A partial stop work order is still in place as of Friday morning and the stability of the upper floors still needs to be established.

A spokesperson for the Department of Buildings did not immediately respond to a request for comment from The Real Deal.

The fire was caused by hydraulic fluid that leaked onto a hot plate, sources tol the outlet. 

The investigation into the incident remains ongoing. Officials have determined that crane inspections were up to date. The cause of the fire that seemingly led to the crane collapse is unclear.

Monadnock Construction, the project contractor, brought in a mobile crane to haul away the damaged equipment from the site. The original boom will be broken into pieces before being removed from the site, set to be replaced by another crane.

Despite the fire damage, the original crane is stable and doesn’t pose an immediate hazard to public safety, according to officials.

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The crane collapse’s damage goes beyond the construction site. When it collapsed, the crane’s boom smashed into the windows of 555 10th Avenue. The extent of the damage at the property hasn’t been publicized; it’s a​​ luxury rental developed by Extell Development, which sold a 42 percent ownership stake to RXR in 2021.

The crane hook also smashed a window at 561 10th Avenue, damaging flooring and rendering an apartment inhabitable. Empire State Realty Trust recently purchased the 417-unit apartment building, the real estate investment trust’s first big leap into multifamily.

When the fire erupted, the crane operator tried to extinguish the blaze, but was unable to do so before exiting unhurt. The fire eventually reached a five-alarm level.

Two years ago, Gotham landed $250 million in financing for its planned 430,000-square-foot, 47-story tower. Plans call for 453 apartments — 137 affordable — 9,000 square feet of retail space and 27,000 square feet for an office condo for homeless youth organization Covenant House.

Crane accidents are serious risks that come with construction sites. Crane safety improvement efforts accelerated following two fatal accidents in 2008, including one that killed six construction workers and a civilian in her apartment building.

Holden Walter-Warner

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