Volume 2, Number 18 | The Weekly Newspaper of Chelsea | February 1 - 7, 2008
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The Buzz

EYE ON SITE SAFETY: The City Council will hold a special hearing to discuss building-site safety next month after a partial collapse at the Trump Soho condo-hotel two weeks ago caused the death of a construction worker, and after a worker fell from a Fort Greene, Brooklyn, condo construction site on Wednesday because of high winds. The Feb. 4 hearing, announced by Speaker Christine Quinn and Council Housing and Buildings Committee Chairperson Erik Martin Dilan, seeks to examine “if we need to enhance worker training, whether city regulations around high-rises are sufficient, if we have a large enough workforce to keep pace with development demands and whether the timeframe for the development of high-rises is appropriate.” Borough President Scott Stringer also jumped into the fray last week, calling for the Mayor’s Office of Special Enforcement (OSE), which is staffed by police, fire and building inspectors, to now oversee construction-site safety. The OSE already provides enforcement across the city agencies to address quality-of-life issues, including illegal building conversions. “Right now, if no one complains, there’s no inspection, which is obviously too little too late,” Stringer said in a statement. “With the flood of mega-development going on in New York City, instead of asking the community to be the eyes and ears of construction safety, we need independent inspection teams whose only job is to go out and actively monitor these sites.”

WHISPERS AROUND THE YARDS: As the MTA’s March target date for choosing a developer at Hudson Yards approaches, the hills are alive with the sound of gossip. The MTA fed the chat by sending all five developers a 60-page request for leasing information, just in case they want to lease the 26-acre site instead of buying it outright. “I think they have gotten feedback that this (the Hudson Yards) isn’t an asset they should sell,” a source told Crain’s New York Business, who also said the MTA was “caving in to public pressure.” We giggled, since we first heard of the leasing idea awhile back from Community Board 4’s Anna Hayes Levin, co-chair of the Hudson Yards Community Advisory Committee. “I think that the committee may have influenced the MTA to consider the idea,” said Colin Casey, aide to State Senator Thomas Duane. “But in the end it’s all up to the accountants, who are looking at the MTA’s short- and long-term needs.” Meanwhile, the real estate blog Curbed reports that Tishman/Speyer and Morgan Stanley have begun to solicit architects’ sketches, not waiting for their bid to be chosen. Maybe that’s why the invaluable Rail Yards Blog, brainchild of Katie Lorah of Friends of the High Line, was at press time displaying images from Tishman’s bid in their new “Better Know a Developer” series.

SPINNING TO A STOP: When presidential candidate John Edwards announced Wednesday that he was dropping out of the race, Chelsea Now was almost as surprised as his campaign aides, who reportedly found out mid-flight from one campaign stop to another. We were still busy checking out the local campaign’s “Event Schedule” for coverage this week, provided to us by Katharine Wolpe, director of the Village Independent Democrats, who ran Edward’s campaign in New York City. We were looking forward to the daily, unpublicized phone banks we found out about through volunteer Paul Prudhomme, and to Saturday’s scheduled Union Square event with John Edwards bullet points, quotes, Website info and other goodies projected on the wall above Virgin Mega Store. According to projectionist Paul Layton, who has done similar events at other venues. “People really stop and watch this show, and we know we’ll all be excited to see John’s message.” Now we know why Prudhomme never got back to us on the phonebanks; perhaps Layton’s show will now be relegated to YouTube.

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