Is it a ladder? A petite Eiffel tower? Have Upper West Siders finally discovered vast reserves of fossil fuel flowing by the Hudson?
An odd contraption, Curious George-yellow and several stories high, raised some eyebrows when it appeared last week outside 200 Amsterdam Avenue, the former site of the Lincoln Square Synagogue. Since the synagogue moved a few hundred feet South, its old site has sat empty — and has increasingly become an eyesore — as locals await an expected development.
The machine, accompanied by a trough of dirty water, is the first evidence that construction is not far away. Contractors have told our tipsters that they are drilling to determine the bedrock’s depth, though they said they don’t know who is paying for the tests. Offices of the developer, the architects, and the zoning consultants have all either not yet responded, declined to comment, or said they “do not disclose” construction information. Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal’s office also hasn’t responded to our inquiries. There are no active work permits for 200 Amsterdam Avenue – and any activity appearing to be construction-related must be reported to the Department for inspection, according to a communications rep at the Department of Buildings.
As such, details about the new building’s due date, its height (last we heard it could be 600 feet tall) and whether plans will be subject to public scrutiny, remain obscure.
However, what we do know is that if construction involves at least bedrock exploration, it’s likely the blueprint will not outline intentions for a two-story boutique or bodega. Bedrock drilling is typically reserved for skyscraper architecture, as a steel skeleton bored deeper in the earth ensures security for an otherwise wobbling height.
Bottom photo by Steve Harmon. Top photo by Denton Taylor.