By David Brand
Queens’ new “Boulevard of Death” became the Boulevard of Depth on Friday afternoon when a large chunk of East Elmhurst street and sidewalk caved in — a danger that Councilmember Francisco Moya predicted in a letter to the Borough Commissioner of the Department of Buildings (DOB).
In the letter, addressed to DOB Borough Commissioner Derek Lee, Moya stated his “deep concerns about the unsafe working conditions at the 112- 21 Northern Blvd. construction site,” which, by that time, had already racked up at least eight violations related to unsafe working conditions. The letter was dated May 3, 2018 but postmarked June 14, 2018.
“These violations indicate not only a continual flouting of safety regulations but also raise the question of whether the property owner is permitting construction in flagrant disregard of the stop work order at the site,” Moya wrote. “I hope you will join me in continuing to support safe work conditions and to ensure this site — and all the others across my district and the city — is abiding by the safety regulations promulgated by your agency, and the laws that the City of New York.”
Those concerns proved prescient Friday when a chunk of street and sidewalk at the site, located at Northern Boulevard and 114th Street — collapsed into a 40-foot-wide crater. There were no reported injuries.
The DOB responded to Moya’s letter and said it continued to inspect the site on several occasions.
“We thank Councilmember Moya for relaying his concerns regarding this site. DOB has inspected this site regularly since construction permits were issued in 2017, and have taken multiple enforcement actions, including in April 2017, when we issued the first of several stop work orders at the site,” a DOB spokesperson told the Eagle.
DOB said its investigation into the cause of the cave-in is ongoing. The agency had issued multiple enforcement actions at the site over the past few years, including a stop-work order on Nov. 29.*
The DOB issued the stop-work order after it received a complaint that the work was causing cracks on the sidewalk and the road. The site also lacked the required construction plans, inspectors said. The stop-work order was still in effect at the time of the collapse.
Manhattan-based Perini Group Inc., the project developer, said they were still investigating the cause of the cave-in at the site where they are building a 12-story mixed-use building.
“We’re still investigating the reasons for that, we had a stop work order so no one was hurt,” assistant project manager Angela Li told the Eagle Monday.
Li said the building will feature mostly commercial tenants.
The retaining wall of the construction site developed a large hole, which allowed dirt to pour in and caused the street to give way, the FDNY said. The collapsed area filled with water.
Additional reporting by the Associated Press
*A previous version of this article include an incorrect date of the stop-work order.