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As B2 modular tower reaches 18th floor, a lingering question about response to mold concerns

At the Community Update meeting Wednesday night, Forest City Ratner executive Ashley Cotton reported that 461 Dean Street, the modular tower also known as B2, has reached the 18th floor (of 32), with construction continuing steadily.

Resident Peter Krashes then posed a question to state officials, referring to my 8/31/15 article in City Limits, Documents Reveal Woes at Pioneering Atlantic Yards Building, which was based on state documents through September 2014 that were provided in response to a Freedom of Information Law request.

"One of the things that jumped out at me," said Krashes, his earnestness seemingly tempered by years of jousting over transparency, "is that the owner's representative [for the state] asked Forest City, the project manager for Forest City, three times for air monitoring to demonstrate that the mold hasn't extended beyond [updated and clarified] what is visible. And there isn't a response."

To be clear, the owner's rep, a contractor from the firm STV, asked Forest City Ratner about a report initially prepared by the developer's then-partner Skanska, and the two firms were jointly responsible. The first request was on 6/19/14, the second 7/16/14, the third 8/13/14. 

I did not get a document that disclosed the official response to that 8/13/14 request because the documents delivered to me via FOIL ended the next month. 

However, Empire State Development (ESD), the state agency overseeing/shepherding Atlantic Yards/Pacific Park, stated for my article that Forest City "took appropriate actions to remedy the situation." That was, of course, a non-specific answer.

An exchange with ESD

Last night, in response to Krashes's question, Sam Filler, Director, Atlantic Yards Project, ESD, stated, "The response we gave is what Norman published, and that's the official response... We're satisfied with the response that the developer took."

Krashes said the public was concerned about the building's safety, and likened the query to requesting air monitoring data "for the day when there was a big cloud of dust." 

(That's not quite the same, since ongoing mold, if any, would likely threaten residents more than anyone else, but the public surely has an interest in effective government oversight.)

"When I read an owner's rep asking for data," Krashes said, "and... it appears not to be a proper response, that concerns me. As someone living and breathing the construction of the project since 2005, I want to know that, when the state asks for something, they're given it."

Filler remained stoic, unbending: "So our official response is what Norman published."

"But the internal documents show something different," Krashes said. 

(We don't know if the state got an STV report months later that said all was fine, but ESD could--but didn't--cite such specifics.)

Krashes referenced ESD's failure to confirm monitoring in response to the April 2007 incident when the Ward Bakery parapet fell.

"So, what are we to think here?" he continued. "Was the monitoring taking place? Were you not given it when you asked for it? This is the state's job. You guys have to be able to look us in the eye and tell us that--"

Filler: "Our answer is what Norman published."

Krashes: "To me, that's insufficient because what that tells me--

Filler: "Well, I'm sorry it's insufficient for you. That's the answer."

Krashes: "I don't think you would be satisfied if this were your family living next to this project."

Filler: "So we've noted your concerns, and that's our answer."


  1. Anonymous12:30 AM

    It's a legitimate question, and concern, given the amount of water intrusion into the modules, which has resulted in FCR workers shaving drywall to caulk joints, tearing out and replacing water-damaged drywall on site and delivering modules without drywall.


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