Rains and winds slow down Deutsche’s takedown

Demolition at the Deutsche Bank building is finally underway again, but safety improvements and bad weather are slowing it down.

Before the August 2007 fire in the building that killed two firefighters, workers were taking down one floor a week. Now, it looks like each floor could take two to three weeks.

“It’s certainly a more meticulous process,” said Errol Cockfield, spokesperson for the Lower Manhattan Development Corp., which owns the building.

Since demolition of the former Deutsche Bank building began last month, workers have removed the rest of the 26th floor, which was already partly taken down, and they are now removing the 25th floor. Two-thirds of the concrete and one-third of the steel on the 25th floor have been removed since work started there last week, and Cockfield expects the floor to be entirely gone by Christmas Eve.

Contractor Bovis Lend Lease lost three days of work because of bad weather and high winds, so other floors could come down more quickly, Cockfield said.

Cockfield, who spoke at Community Board 1’s World Trade Center Redevelopment Committee Monday night, also explained safety changes at the project. Before the fire, workers did not cut the building’s steel beams all the way through, but would cut them just until they started to bend, and then they would allow the beams to fall to the floor. The workers also stood on the beams as they were cutting them.

Now, workers will stand in a scissor lift alongside the beams they are cutting, Cockfield said. Miniature cranes will hold the beams in place, and when the workers have cut all the way through the beams, the cranes will lower the beams to the floor.

Also, instead of workers riding in the bobcats that hammer the concrete apart, workers will use remote-controlled bobcats, which will keep workers at a greater distance from the hammering.

Despite all these safety improvements, the project received yet another violation from the city on Monday, for overloading containers of debris. According to the Dept. of Buildings, debris was stacked one foot above the top of the containers. Community members have been concerned about overloaded containers in the past because debris that is unsecured could fall out.

Cockfield said in a statement that the L.M.D.C. told Bovis that the violation is unacceptable, and Bovis assured the L.M.D.C. that corrective measures are in place.

The L.M.D.C. has not given an estimate for when the Deutsche Bank building will be down, but Cockfield promised at the community board meeting to have one soon. At a rate of two weeks per floor, the building would take almost a year to be entirely demolished.

— Julie Shapiro