Construction in New York Limps Forward Despite Shutdown Order

The Four Percent


At Rose Hill, a 123-unit condo from Rockefeller Group in Manhattan’s NoMad neighborhood, contractors continued to mill behind dark-green fences this week, tackling a punch-list of tasks before walking away, including the dismantling of a tower crane, a previously scheduled task that had taken on new urgency.

“Aside from folks working to oversee the safe shutdown of the site, we’ve followed orders and ceased construction,” said Meg Brod, a Rockefeller senior vice president. The $300 million project, at 30 East 29th Street, is supposed to open this fall.

At the XI, a two-towered condo complex with 236 apartments near the High Line, where 800 construction workers are employed, work continued last week despite the order from Albany. Questions remain about whether construction should stop at the full-block site, even though it contains a 137-room hotel. Hotels have been deemed an essential construction type because they can serve as housing for medical workers.

“We are in dialogue with agencies about what work can continue past this week,” said Ziel Feldman, chairman of HFZ Capital Group, the XI’S developer. “It’s all about the health of the individual worker. If the powers that be think it’s unsafe for people to continue working, then of course, that’s everybody’s priority.”

Regular patrols of construction sites, to prevent fires and other safety hazards, are also permitted, lawyers say. But if developers of nonessential projects are caught, for example, hoisting I-beams into place, they face fines and a stop-work order that police could enforce.

Under state order, construction sites are urged to enforce social distancing in elevators and during lunch breaks. One developer who spoke anonymously to discuss a sensitive issue, said he was uncomfortable requiring construction workers to leave their homes and come to sites that can be crowded and unsanitary. Others are trying to strike a balance between business interests, housing needs and public health.


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