January 15th, 2008
ANDREW BERMAN ON THE TRAGEDY AT TRUMP SOHO.by You the Reader
A letter from Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation:
By now you have no doubt heard the tragic news of the fatal accident yesterday at the construction site for the Trump SoHo ‘Condo-Hotel’ at 246 Spring Street at Varick Street (see the links here, here, here and here. We were very very saddened to hear that one worker lost his life and others were seriously injured, and our thoughts go out to the victims and their families and loved ones.
This is a tragedy that never needed to happen. GVSHP and a long list of community and business groups from across the city contended from the beginning that this project illegally violated zoning laws, and should never have been granted building permits by the City. The City continually stood behind this project and allowed it to proceed, even after it was revealed that the developers openly advertised the project as containing illegal residential uses, after 150-year old bones from the graveyard of an abolitionist church were found on the site, after a key member of the development team was found to have a hidden criminal record, after numerous demonstrations by hundreds of neighbors, and after numerous complaints by neighbors about the speed and sloppiness and construction at the site.
The most recent complaints about hasty work came as a legal challenge against the City’s approval had been filed by our partners in fighting this project, the SoHo Alliance. The challenge must first be heard by the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA), a legal body appointed by the Mayor to review appeals of decisions by City agencies. While work on the Trump project has moved at a lightning pace, months after the filing of the appeal the BSA has stonewalled and still not set a date for the hearing. Before this, the city’s Department of Buildings similarly stonewalled and refused to release the required paperwork to allow a legal challenge to move ahead.
We are working with the SoHo Alliance to get a hearing sate set as soon as possible, and we will alert the public as to how they can participate as soon as possible. While we are grateful that following this tragedy construction on the site has temporarily been put on hold, we will continue to fight to see the permits for this project overturned.
Andrew Berman, Executive Director
Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation