Crane blocking Lower Manhattan hotel, no big deal


BY Aline Reynolds

Bovis Lend Lease, a construction management company, closed off part of Washington Street, between Albany and Cedar Streets, last week to operate a mobile crane to remove the steel from the former Deutsche Bank building at 130 Liberty, which is being dismantled floor by floor.

The crane, which will be stationed on Washington Street until October 17, is blocking the entrance of the World Center Hotel. W.C.H. is making up for the inconvenience by offering guests coupons and a complimentary drink at the hotel bar, according to Cheryl Palmer, corporate vice president of the World Center Hotel.

“We have not seen any change in customer interest in the hotel due to the current construction,” Palmer noted.

The street closure is inconveniencing for guests arriving to the hotel by car or taxi.

“The street is blocked off here, and it’s very confusing for cab drivers,” said a concierge who was perched on the corner of Washington and Albany Streets.

He said he was hired as a part-time temp to assist guests in accessing the hotel lobby until the construction is complete.

“It’s a little annoying,” said hotel guest Matthew McCasland, who drove in from Cincinnati for the weekend and had trouble unloading his luggage. “The access is very limited.”

The hotel has carved out a walkway to access the lobby from the corner of Washington and Albany. And though several signs plastered onto the north side of the hotel building are meant to help, “some don’t know how to get in,” the concierge said.

Other pedestrians entering and exiting the hotel said they were not bothered by the construction.

“The crane doesn’t bother me,” said Italian tourist Gaia Parasecoli, who is staying at the hotel for one month. Finding her way to the hotel was “okay,” she said.

“I saw the signs,” Parasecoli said.

“I can’t even hear it or see it [from] my room,” said Ryan Wynne, another hotel guest. As for accessing the hotel’s entrance, “it hasn’t been an issue at all,” Wynne said.

“It’s definitely not beautiful,” Wynne said of the crane, “but it doesn’t bother me that much.”

LeRoy Wright, visiting with his wife from Palmdale, California, said he was dropped off right in front of the hotel by an airport shuttle bus.

“It pulled up there, we unloaded, and we went in,” without a problem, he said. “As far as traveling, I see all around there’s construction.”

Some guests have even become acquainted with the construction workers.

“The guys here are really friendly in the morning – they’re kind of like our friends now,” said Sandra Gasca-Gonzalez, visiting for a week from Omaha, Nebraska. “Plus, I understand the symbolism behind [the construction.]”

Getting to and from the hotel lobby, she added, “has not been a problem.”

The construction work will continue through mid-November, according to the Lower Manhattan Construction Command Center. The project is being coordinated with the Port Authority’s creation of the W.T.C. South Bathtub, the future location of the Vehicle Security Center.