Locals to DOB: Decrease Alchemy’s After Hours Construction

Photo by Sam Spokony Neighbors say Alchemy’s after hours construction on its 35 W. 15th St. luxury building is bad mojo.
Photo by Sam Spokony
Neighbors say Alchemy’s after hours construction on its 35 W. 15th St. luxury building is bad mojo.

BY SAM SPOKONY  |  Longtime residents of West 15th and 16th Streets who live just feet away from a constantly noisy construction site have a message for the city’s Department of Buildings: “DOB, let us have some peace and quiet!”

Since 2011, developer Alchemy Properties has been constructing “35XV” — a 24-story, 55-unit, luxury residence at 35 West 15th Street, between Fifth and Sixth Avenues. Units in the building range in price from around $2 million to nearly $13 million.

But for Alchemy’s neighbors, next year’s planned opening can’t come too soon — since it will finally mean an end to the many after hours permits granted by the DOB, which allow work crews to continue hacking away during nights and weekends.

“They need to remember that other people live on this street, and we have a right to a reasonable quality of life,” said Sherrie Levy, a resident of West 16th Street since 1972, and a member of the Lower Chelsea Alliance. Also known as LoCal, the group (which includes other homeowners and tenants of West 15th and 16th, between Fifth and Sixth) is “committed to protecting the residential blocks of Chelsea from overscale development.”

Levy said that construction on 35XV generally takes place six days a week, including night hours, and that Alchemy has been granted afterhours work permits constantly since January 5.

Along with the disruptive noise that residents say comes from screeching hoists and rumbling construction elevators, many 311 complaints have been logged about frustrating dust and debris that rains down from the site onto adjacent properties.

In fact, DOB hit the developer with several violations on September 25 — after it was revealed that Alchemy failed to report a blowout that splattered concrete onto several neighboring buildings, while construction was also taking place without adequate safety netting to prevent debris from falling outside the site.

Since work on the site began, Alchemy has racked up more than a dozen other violations, according to DOB databases, several of which also cited a failure to maintain proper safety netting.

Levy said that she and her neighbors have been trying to communicate their problems to DOB ever since 2011, but explained that any correspondence with a representative of the city agency has only ended with “nice talk,” rather than action. On behalf of the Lower Chelsea Alliance, Levy sent a letter to DOB on October 1, outlining the need to decrease the number of afterhours work permits granted for the 35XV site. As a final push to get some recognition, she also sent copies of the letter to local elected officials, and to the chairpersons of Community Boards 4 and 5.

A DOB spokesperson said that the department is currently reviewing the letter and its entailed request.

When asked whether she is any more hopeful about the success of this letter, Levy seemed ready to be disappointed yet again.

“No, I don’t feel any more optimistic this time,” she said, “but of course I’d love to be proven wrong.”