Sidewalk and Driveway Closed After Wood Fell From Fast-Rising Tower


Photo by Carol Tannenhauser.

By Carol Tannenhauser

The Lincoln Towers building complex has closed access at one entrance of the property after a board fell from the controversial construction project at 200 Amsterdam Avenue.

On Tuesday, April 16th, a wooden board, reported to be two feet by nine feet in size, fell from the 26th floor of the building under construction at 69th Street and Amsterdam Avenue, landing in the driveway of an adjacent building at 170 West End Avenue, part of the Lincoln Towers complex.

No one was injured.


Photo by Carol Tannenhauser.

The Department of Buildings (DOB) sent inspectors to the scene, who “issued a violation for failure to safeguard the site, and a partial stop work order preventing any work on the outside of the under construction building,” according to a DOB spokesperson.

In order to lift the partial stop work order, the developer, SJP Properties, had to provide the DOB with a safety plan, outlining “the means and methods they will use to continue the safe construction of the permitted building project,” the spokesperson emailed.


Photo from a tipster.

By Friday, April 19th, that was apparently accomplished and the partial stop work order was fully rescinded, with a notation stating, “complied with code.” A stop work order was also issued for the building in October.

Opponents of the building would probably find the determination of compliance ironic, as they are fighting the planned height of the building — 51 stories, 668 feet — on the grounds that its zoning lot violates the zoning code. Their position was affirmed last month by a state Supreme Court justice, who stopped short of halting construction. Their motion for a preliminary injunction will be heard on April 30th.

For now, construction has resumed at 200 Amsterdam Avenue, and so, the Board of Directors of Lincoln Towers has determined, has the threat of falling debris. They decided to close the driveway and sidewalk leading to the Amsterdam-side entrance to 170 WEA. We tried multiple times and routes to reach them, but were rebuffed. Even the security guards stationed at the barricades to the driveway and sidewalk declined to talk.

Elizabeth Belson, a resident of 170 WEA, shared the following insights:

With the entrance of 69th and Amsterdam closed off, those with walkers, canes, in need of Access-A-Ride, being dropped off in cabs (with or without luggage, groceries, etc.) are at a real disadvantage. They have to go all the way around to the entrance on West 66th Street or enter at West End Avenue, but there is not a direct path one can take by car, only walk.

I, for instance, got dropped off on Sunday carrying a suitcase, backpack and two small carry-ons and had to walk to the building. I happen to be able-bodied, but if not and a driver wasn’t willing to assist, it would’ve been a problem.

I do not blame Management for blocking the entrance as several very dangerous items fell in the driveway, but I cannot imagine how there was not a sidewalk safety bridge installed to begin with. That is the fault of DOB I assume. I’ve been vehemently opposed to this building going up from the beginning (and how they managed to get away with it) and now I’m even angrier.

SJP Properties sent the following statement:

Construction is continuing; the project is not under a stop work order. The board of 170 West End Avenue chose to shut down their driveway. They were not directed to do so by the Department of Buildings (DOB).

We are diligent in our approach to safety both within and surrounding the entire project site, and remain dedicated to regularly updating the community on the progress of our work. In many instances, our in-place safety-related procedures and precautions go above and beyond what is required by DOB.”

As of this Tuesday morning, they have reached the 27th floor.

NEWS | 36 comments | permalink
    1. John P. Reiner says:

      It is beyond comprehension that the developer, without taking any meaningful remedial action, is continuing construction although a court decision forbids it and although such construction has caused life threatening debris to fall from high up on the building under contruction. Regardless of what the Department of Buildings has said, I, together with thousands of my neighbors at Lincoln Towers, am being deprived of my right to use sidewalks owned by and within Lincoln Towers to access Amsterdam Avenue. Had the building’s board not closed the sidewalk, it would be subject to suit. The fault lies squarely with the City, its mayor and the courts for failing to enforce the law.

    2. Pedestrian says:

      Sadly devoelopers know that no matter what they do they won’t suffer. It’s infuriating.

    3. John says:

      I thought the Mayor just said (Monday) he is going to outlaw glass and steel buildings. He needs to make an example of SJP.

      • Sherman says:

        DeBlasio simply proposed banning glass buildings. It’s not law and there’s zero chance it will become law.

        In any case even if it was to become a law it can’t be retroactively enforced.

      • ScooterStan says:

        Yes, Hiz Horror…oopsie, Hiz Honor (cough, cough) made an Earth Day proclamation about banning glass-and-steel construction, telling Crain’s that these are environmentally-unsound and “…have no place in our city or on our Earth anymore.”

        He didn’t specify what should REPLACE glass-and-steel, however. Perhaps he’d prefer red-brick, as used in most public schools and NYCHA houses.

        AND to keep up his Progressive image he specifically called out the buildings at Hudson Yards, which, besides being architecturally-stunning, have become the bete-noir of the Librul set because they represent the (GASP!!) 1-percent…at least according to The New York Times.

        OH,YES and when Crain’s asked him about his using a gas-guzzling/air-polluting SUV accompanied by several NYPD vehicles for his daily excursions to a gym in Brooklyn, BeeDeeBee said “It’s just part of my daily routine”.

        Hmmm…is that a pic of His Horror in the dictionary…next to Hypocrisy?

    4. Stef Lev says:

      Now maybe the Building’s Department will do their job and rethink the permits for this site!

    5. Lincoln Towers neighbor says:

      This may project has been an accident waiting to happen. From the beginning, when the pedestrian walkway was not covered and the cranes were in place, until a red flag was raised, safety for the public and surrounding area has been lax!

    6. Just another example of a corrupt New York and corrupt America made worse by and corrupt President. Move to Switzerland…where civility still counts

      • Mr. Krankee says:

        Re: “Move to Switzerland…where civility still counts”

        NAH!! Switzerland too…errr…too…CHEESY, AND full of cuckoos.
        Sì?, Oui?, Ja?

    7. Annmarie Joyce says:

      Maybe the construction company can rent a small shuttle that runs on a schedule to address the situation fot residents who need it.

    8. Lincoln10023 says:

      As I understand it, a number of the Lincoln Towers buildings, especially 170 West End Ave, received payment from the developer for various reasons. In hindsight, they should have included safety protection for the 69th street entrance and sidewalk, while they still had leverage over the developer. Based on the developer’s statement in the article, it doesn’t appear that it cares what happens to its neighbors and the public that uses that entrance.

    9. Outraged says:

      This is totally nuts! A stop-work order was lifted after the developer informed DOB of “the means and methods they WILL use to continue the safe construction of the permitted building project.” All that is is a plan. The stop work order should not have been lifted until the plan has been PUT INTO PLACE. Until that has happened the hazard remains and thousands of people are disrupted by the closure. Meanwhile, the developer does about its business.

      • Woody says:

        Save your outrage for a valid issue.You’re attempting to dismantle an approach that has been in use for years at the DOB. The DOB doesn’t write safety plans; it approves plans that are written in accordance with its guidelines.

        Zeroing in on the word “will” is pedantic in the sense that it doesn’t necessarily mean to be done in the future. It could also be done in the present and going forward. It’s pretty safe to assume that the stop work order was lifted because the plan was put in place.

        • Ben says:

          Except that we know it wasn’t. And still isn’t. West Side Rag should bring their story — our story, with comments — to a major newspaper,
          a la The Boston Globe’s Spotlight….giving WSR credit for exposing/reporting on this outrageous, illegal situation …but reaching a wider voting audience in the city. Where is our politically ambitious mayor? He hasn’t visited this ongoing and bizarre imprisonment of LT owners and renters. Photo Op, Hizzoner.

    10. AC57 says:

      I’ve passed by the construction site so many times in the past several months (because who can turn down a quick rendezvous to Rite Aid for a Sparkling Ice). The number of stop work orders (and the rescind orders that follow) has exceeded two dozen since October, and this to cap it all off. I would like to note that this latest incident definitely could’ve happened regardless of the height of the building.

      Look, I like the building’s design, and I’m a lover of tall buildings, and I’ve defended the building. But if I were a developer (which I want to be potentially) that just won a BSA case after two years of battles and delays, I would be a little more graceful, and more willing to cooperate with neighbors. It seems like they’ve cut so many corners, made so many violations, and given such poor responses to everything that’s happened, its almost like they want a fight and they want that restraining order.

      • Bruce E. Bernstein says:

        @AC57, it’s connected to the height of the building because they’re rushing to get those extra stories up before a final decision comes down that says they can’t.

        • AC57 says:

          What I’m about to say next is gonna sound like I’m arguing over semantics, but I’m really not. I’m trying to be as polite as possible and open up a conversation, as I always do

          This accident could’ve happened at any height. I will agree that it’s connected to the illegality of the project, rushing the project will lead to inevitable avoidable accidents, but to say that the project’s height is the cause of this, I believe, is misleading

          Bottom line: they’re cutting corners, and doing exactly the opposite of what a developer should do after just winning a BSA case after such long ”hardships”. I never understood why they never installed a shed over that driveway.

          I will still sustain that the height if the building is not a problem for me but what’s going in, just like with Snohetta and Extell’s project.

    11. AC says:

      Replace the fallen plank; show how you’ve taken measures to prevent this from happening again; get DOB’s approval to continue; and resume construction.

      This will not be the last time such an incident occurs, whether at this location or, any another in New York City. Get over it neighbors.

      I use to fret over these massive buildings getting constructed in the West 70s, 80s, and 90’s. Then I pondered. Did we, back in the lates 1890’s/early 1900’s, complain when the Ansonia, Beresford, and current buildings we live in get built? Don’t forget, B’way was lined with 2 and 3 story houses until the 5 story walk-up came along (and eventually those got replaced as well). Change is inevitable with each passing generation.

    12. Whether the interruption of work on this humongous, immoral and illegal (see gerrymandering hearings) behemoth at the crossroads of the upper west side was “voluntary” or ordered, SJP construction was
      extraordinarily lucky that this time no pedestrian was killed or maimed. I, too, had to find help to get home when I was turned away at the entrance to not just 170, but to the entire Lincoln Tower complex. SJP is rushing this job, knowing a valid DOB and judge could concede the illegal basis for the building height requires that it be stopped fir gerrymandering reasons.

    13. I agree with Elizabeth Belson’s comments. I am a resident of 170 WEA who walks with a walker and is inconvenienced by the closure of the sidewalk and the need to take a hike to get out of Lincoln Towers. How about all of us elderly with walkers, wheelchairs and canes picketing the construction site on Amsterdam Avenue? We would welcome able-bodied residents as well.

      • Woody says:

        This is an issue you should take up with Lincoln Towers management since that’s the body that decided to close the sidewalks. There is no other governing body that forced the closure.

      • Elyse says:

        Ruth, I will join you in picketing. What should we do to organize? I’m walking over to Linda Rosenthal’s Office at 10am. You are right!!

    14. Linda Schleider says:

      I witnessed an incident just prior to this posting. A senior citizen woman was treated aggressively by the security guard on the left in the photo. The guard would not identify himself to me when I asked his name. His tattoo identifies him as Bella Stella. Furthermore his superior intimated that since the woman was not a resident of Lincoln Towets she was trespassing on private property. Does this mean that Lincoln Towers residents no longer get visitors? Or perhaps the reckless bicycle delivery people are trespassers as well.
      The disputed building is more than an eyesore. The lack of prior notification to LT residents is a questionable practice and the behavior of the guards bears examination. Are the guards authorized to physically restrain citizens? And can anyone in the employee of the complex legitimately refuse to identify themself?

      • Woody says:

        Employees of any establishment are not obligated to identify themselves by name to anyone. Why should they?

        Unless you’re an invitee or licensee, you are technically a trespasser since you have no legitimate purpose that will benefit the possessor of the land. Do you think most buildings in NY are violating the law if they won’t let you get past the front desk if you’re a non-invited visitor?

    15. Sonny Jim says:

      Thanks for your coverage of this important neighborhood information; our board hasn’t bothered to make any in-bldg. notification or explanation. And where was Lincoln Towers when the deal on the bldg. was closed? Not looking out for the safety of its residents and visitors; not checking on protections from a monstrously high structure that abuts our main pathway in from Amsterdam Avenue. We can’t “cross the street” to avoid the potential dangers of walking under this work in progress site. We have to walk three blocks south and a long crosstown block to access our own homes, and then walk back up the three blocks if we need to get to 69th
      Street again. No wonder they’re building fast; they’re trying to outrace any legal challenge, such as the current gerrymandering issue, which is the basis for claiming legitimacy for this sky-blinding structure. Its location is at a major crossroads of the
      upper west side: Amsterdam crosses Broadway, here, buses take left turns here to continue west and then up beyond the GW bridge; crosstown busses between the East and West sides pass through here. And the express stop of the 7th Avenue subway is here. How could such a deal be made with no consideration whatsoever for the safety of the adjacent
      residents and the clogging of traffic at a critical point.

      • Bill Ditt says:

        Re: “Its location is at a major crossroads of the upper west side:…Amsterdam crosses Broadway, here, buses take left turns here to continue west….” yadda yadda”

        PLEASE CHECK YOUR GEOGRAPHY!! Amsterdam at W.69th is NOT a major crossroads! You are thinking of Amsterdam/Broadway at W. 72nd, Three blocks further uptown!

        As many a debater has learned, best way to LOSE is by citing blatantly incorrect information, thus giving your opponents an opportunity to question your entire argument!

      • Woody says:

        Why wasn’t any of this a problem when Lincoln Towers was built? Oh right…the problems started just after that tipping point.

    16. Jay says:

      This post is nothing but clickbait.

    17. Richard Katz says:

      This is an outrage. I understand that they have said they will cover the roadway and sidewalk with protective barriers to protect us from any future materials falling, but just when will that be done? The stop work order should not be lifted until they comply with this safety requirement.

      Do we have to have a death occur before this builder is heal accountable?

    18. Miriam Kaye says:

      Why did the builder have to provide only a plan to have the stop work order lifted? They were already late with one, and they’re proceeding with “business as usual.” Is there a completion date? Residents of the buildings inside the Lincoln Towers campus are still walking long distances out of their way and back again, while the danger still remains and the walkways remain unprotected.
      i guess a picture is worth a thousand words: this proposed plan seems to have muzzled the DOB, whereas actual results from such a plan would have quieted the outraged,frightened and unprotected Lincoln Towers residents. PS: Is there a completion penalty from the DOB? 4/24/2019

    19. Elyse says:

      I live at 180 West End Ave. for over 25 years.
      170’s action of closing down egress and ingress to our beautiful compolex is totally illegal. They are not the police!! We still have a democratic society where that BOD needs to go to the police, the construction company, the Department of Buildings, federal safety agencies and other authorities, before they can willy nilly remove access to the thousands of people. Comments above have already addressed those whose lives are shattered because they are elderly, infirm, injured, have small children and cannot leave there homes as a result. They can’t even take taxis and be dropped off a short distance from their homes, (170, 160, 180) on Amsterdam. Several of my neighbors told me of stories that they took a yellow cab home for 2 blocks, and it cost 12 dollars to go around the complex. I would appreciate an update. One more thing, the “body politic” tells me there were more than one incident of falling items. Is this true? I only heard, and only informally except for your publication that 1 board fell. I am not minimizing the need for safety. I have several stories of highly unsafe and unsavory things with that project. First, they swing there crains out over Amsterdam, endangering all who drive or walk there. Then, they often close the walkway through to 70th, forcing people to walk in the street with cars and trucks. The workers were incredibly rude and disrespectful to me when I inquired why we weren’t informed or how to be safe to walk the length of the closure. Please, fellow citizens, let’s band together and stop this. If this company is so sloppy that people feel our lives are endangered, they should LEGALLY, be stopped from continuing. Thank you. PS Outside of your stellar reporting, LT residents were told nothing. No signs directing people, no emails, nothing.

    20. Not That Serious says:

      The guard that was there stated that if you wanted to drive, you could drive down W 66th street where there is a security booth that will lead you to 170 West End Ave. You do not necessarily have to get dropped off away from the building if you are in a car, just have the car drive down W 66th street onto the property. There are real problems in the world and I don’t think that this qualifies.

    21. Merrill says:

      Add this incident to the long list of missteps the construction at 200 Amsterdam has let happen!

      Regardless if you support this specific building or the right to construct similar luxury buildings across the city, this specific construction crew and the safety guidelines they “follow” is a harm to everyone who walks by it!

      There is another alarming thing that regularly occurs whenever the workers are laying concrete for a new floor. Their concrete trucks will spill out water that rolls from Amsterdam to around the corner of 70th street (in the direction of West End) to lower ground and sewers. A worker for the site will typically be stationed at the corner with a broom to make sure the water doesn’t pool there.

      In the winter when snow would collect around curbs, you could see the true color of the water – it was Gatorade-green. At one point, they even had bales of hay to collect this water in front of Rite Aid.

      I have no idea if this is typical of concrete trucks or if this is another construction violation that hasn’t been been addressed by the city.

    22. Bill Raudenbush says:

      20 people died from construction safety failures in NYC in 2017 (the most current year the bureau of labor statistics has numbers for.)

      This is not a joke, this is not some nuanced policy “agree to disagree” debate. This is life, and this is death. Those who advocate for building to continue despite the repeated demonstrable risks of serious injury and/or death do so knowing it imperils the lives of workers and residents.

      A judge has made plain that this building is illegal, yet the Department of Buildings has gone out of its way to allow building to continue.

      This project’s LLC is called “Amsterdam Avenue Redevelopment Associates LLC” and they have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars lobbying the likes of the Department of Buildings and the Board of Standards and Appeals to make sure our city agencies protect the interests of private capital rather than interests of the actual citizens of NYC.

      Helen Rosenthal has been very strong in doing everything she can to get the Department of Buildings to do its job, but we as citizens need to advocate for ourselves as well.

      Please email DOB commissioner Tom Fariello at tfariello@buildings.nyc.gov if you would like to communicate with him about how you feel about what is happening here.