July Demolition Set for 51 Astor

New 51 Astor Place BuildingCourtesy Sciame Construction Corp.An artists conception of how 51 Astor Place will look once development is completed. Demolition of the current site, below, will begin in July.
51 Astor PlaceMeghan Keneally

Construction officials announced tonight that they will begin demolishing the former Cooper Union Engineering Building July 1.

Representatives from Sciame Construction Corp. hosted a public hearing about the demolition of the building at 51 Astor Place, located between Eighth and Ninth Streets. They expect the entire construction process to take 17 months, finishing by December 2012.

Because the building was constructed in the 1950’s, there will be an initial 40-day abatement period where specialists will secure any hazardous materials, like asbestos which covers some pipes in the building. Then, following city demolition procedures, there will be a two week period before any actual demolition of the existing building occurs, meaning that the existing structure will not begin to be taken down until approximately the third week of August.

About 50 people who live near the site attended the meeting, and their biggest complaint was about the city-designated hours of construction which begin at 7 a.m.

Steven Colletta, vice president of Sciame, said that because of the city regulations and workers union hours, construction will generally occur between 7 a.m. and 3:30 p.m. and, as of right now, there are no plans to build on weekends, though permits for weekend work may be applied for if needed on a week to week basis.

The plan for the new building, which includes retail space, commercial offices, and a portion dedicated to education use, was completed and approved in 2002, leaving the design of a public outdoor area as the only issue up for debate.

Sciame repMeghan Keneally Construction officials at tonight’s meeting.

The new building, designed by Japanese architect Fumihiko Maki, will be multi-tiered with the highest point reaching 12 stories, and the lowest being dedicated to retail space and standing 4 stories. The plan for the outdoor space includes benches and area for flower arrangements. The plan will be finalized at an as-yet-undetermined Community Board 3 Land Use meeting in mid-July.