New York City building inspectors issued a full stop-work order Feb. 18 at a mid-block Manhattan construction site, 14-16 Fifth Avenue, which is sandwiched by buildings on either side, after residents of nearby 10 Fifth Avenue reported debris falling from their building. The next day, after vertical cracks appeared on its facade, the city Dept. of Buildings ordered the 30 residents of the corner row building to vacate over concerns about its structural condition.

An investigation into the cause of the damage is ongoing, according to the department. Officials also ordered the building’s owners, as well as the owners of the neighboring row house, 12 Fifth Avenue, which sits between the vacated building and the construction site, to immediately hire engineers to conduct a structural assessment of the buildings.

Crews installed a sidewalk shed in front of the damaged building to protect pedestrians in case of falling debris.

The residents at 10 Fifth Avenue in Greenwich Village reported debris falling from their building Feb. 18. Two properties over, at 14-16 Fifth Avenue, contractors had been doing site preparation and foundation work for a planned 18-story residential condominium.

Inspectors found signs of movement with cracks and separation on the facade of 10 Fifth Avenue, records show. 

David Maggiotto, a Dept. of Buildings spokesperson, says via email that several large cracks were visible between the first and fifth floors, and there was an approximately 3-in. separation between the corner 10 Fifth Avenue and its abutting 12 Fifth Avenue immediately to the north at the fifth floor. The 12 Fifth Avenue building abuts the construction site.

Fifth_Ave_Facade_ENRweb.jpgVertical cracks are visible in the facade of 10 Fifth Avenue (left).
Photo by Nadine Post/ENR

The property under construction is owned by Fifth Avenue Owners Group LLC, which is tied to real estate investment firm Madison Realty Capital. Madison and another company, City Urban Realty, jointly announced that they bought the property for $27.5 million in 2015. 

A spokesperson for Madison said in a statement that the company “committed to getting the residents of 10 Fifth Avenue back into their apartments as soon as it is safe to do so.” Construction at the site “has been conducted in full compliance” with city agency requirements and supervised by licensed professional engineers and contractors, added the spokesperson.

The owners plan to construct a 241-ft-tall building with limestone and brick cladding designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects with Hill West Architects and Acheson Doyle Partners Architects, city records show. 

16_Fifth_Ave_render.jpgCity officials approved the owner's plan last year.
Rendering courtesy of NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission


The site previously contained a five-story apartment building that had originally been constructed as two Gothic Revival townhouses from 1848-1849. Last year, the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the owner’s proposal to demolish the historic building and replace it with an 18-story tower.

Newark, N.J.-based general contractor CM & Associates obtained a work permit to begin earthwork and foundation construction last fall. The contractor’s project manager did not immediately respond to inquiries.

City engineers also inspected 20 Fifth Avenue, which sits to the north of the site, and found no structural concerns, Maggiotto says.