Construction Permits Issued for New Developer


[Photo by mrgenko, via Curbed Photo Pool]

Construction is expected to resume in the summer of 2011 at 303 East 51st Street in New York. The building is the site of a 2008 crane collapse that killed seven people and injured many more. The developer, HFZ Capitol Group, purchased the building in November of 2010 at a foreclosure auction.

Residents in the area are excited at the signs of progress, and are eager for the project completion. Bruce Silberblatt, a long time resident and member of the Turtle Bay Association, spoke about the accident:

From his window down the street, Silberblatt recalled worriedly watching the construction of the original building. He filed complaints with the Department of Buildings, including one raising questions about the crane’s bracing just 12 days before the fatal accident. [Source]

The disaster affected hundreds of residents who were displaced from their homes, employees of businesses in the areas, and most importantly the families of the victims, including the family of Santino Gallone:

Mr. Gallone, 37, who went by the nickname “Santy,” had been an accomplished baseball player who set records while playing at Fordham University, including being hit by more pitches than any other batter. He also played in the minor leagues before becoming a construction worker, a university spokesman said.

Mr. Gallone’s wife, Jessica, had been anxiously waiting for word about her husband on Monday morning in the Starbucks at East 50th Street and Second Avenue, which had become a command center of sorts for reporters, rescue workers and family members. Shortly before 11 a.m., after she got the news, a group of construction workers formed a human chain from the Starbucks front door to a waiting van, shielding Ms. Gallone as she walked to the vehicle, head bowed. She and her husband lived on Long Island with their firstborn, an 18-month-old girl. [Source]

It took emergency crews several days to recover the bodies of the victims.

Numerous criminal trials and personal injury lawsuits have resulted from the tragedy, including criminal cases against the crane rigger, William Rapetti, and the crane company owner, James Lomma. Both were acquitted of charges. The building site inspector, Edward J. Marquette, was charged with filing false inspection reports for the site of the accident, as well as two other building sites. OSHA issued almost 36 charges against three companies involved in the accident, resulting in over $300,000 in fines.

For further reading:

William Rapetti Not Guilty in Deadly Midtown Crane Collapse

Massive Crane Collapse at 303 East 51st

Crane Topples in Manhattan, Killing at Least 4 People

Fall of Six Ton Support Caused Crane to Topple

OSHA Issues Violations in Collapse of Crane