Tuesday, April 5, 2011


I sat in on a meeting on the roof the other day. In attendance were the CM (construction manager), one of the development company partners (did I mention that a developer is putting up a new building in the place of our old one?) and some "demolition experts". Turns out they must demolish the building "by hand" is the inconguously quaint term. Apparently, things have changed in the demo-permitting dept., especially in such tight an urban condition as lower Manhattan. That coupled with the fact of our adjacency with our 'sister' building to the south, with which we only share a wall and a name anymore, Germania Flats. We are the Flats part, fyi, the dirty half.

We've been through this before. In the back and to the north we used to share bricks with a huge old complex called CUANDO, at 9 2nd Ave. We are now 9, as CUANDO is now gone. CUANDO was a giant community center complete with a Y-size swimming pool in the basement, 2 theatres, a chapel, an auditorium and a caged-in basketball court on the roof. By it's end ten years ago the whole place, which took up about a third of the block behind our building, was riddled with rats and squatters, the former visiting us in droves when the site was disturbed during CUANDO's demo (see befores-and-afters below taken from our roof and the back of our block taken from Bowery), the latter taking up residence in our basement for a time.

The rats not only infiltrated our ground floor, but climbed the stairs, at night presumably because no-one can claim to have seen them during their ascent, eventually summitting the top floor, though thankfully not in my apartment. That was fun, a rat infestation, but the human squatter infestation was much worse. They were somewhat more discreet than their 4-legged former roommates, and their residency in our basement went unnoticed for the better part of a year. The squatters split as soon as we discovered them, but they left our formerly empty basement looking like an abandoned refugee camp for needle junkies, crackheads, meth freaks and drunks. They used a far corner for the loo. I couldnt even pay a hazmat company to come in and take a look, much less clean it up. More on that later.

Back to our demolition. There can be no bulldozers, no dust, no nothing falling from the sky or thrown from the roof, no sensational collapse. All lead and asbestos must be abated beforehand, as it is 'everywhere' inside evidently, (great!... didn't know that...!) a kind of interior pre-demo to the demo, so as to not release 'harmful particles' into the atmosphere and pose a 'serious health threat' to demo workers within or to the surrounding inhabitants without. The building will be dissassembled brick by brick, rather than knocked down. Elaborate demo plans will be drawn up, as layered and extensive as those required to put up the new building. I inquired after a set of such plans, to own, once they exist, for posterity...

"Sure, after all the lawsuits are settled.....", the developer joked.

heh heh. Real Estate Developer Humor I suppose.

I'm already thinking how many bricks to save along with my wire....and maybe a stone lintel or two?

Thanks for reading!

More later.

1 comment:

  1. I can't help but think a Legge-penned history of this building would make a good book.