Major Oil Spill at Lux Condo Site Draws Crane Stop Order, Fine

Diesel spill near Central Park on West 66th St. is the latest controversy for Extell’s 1.2 million sq ft project that has drawn community ire in past

| 29 Dec 2022 | 04:33

A 70 gallon diesel oil spill on December 27 at a controversial luxury condo tower construction project overlooking Central Park has drawn a temporary stop order for the crane operator and a potential $25,000 fine for the general contractor.

The FDNY sent a hazmat unit around 7:30 p.m. on the night of the mishap at 36 West 66th Street and kept the busy cross street closed through the following day. In their initial report on the incident, the FDNY had reported a 700 gallon spill. But a spokesman for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection on Dec. 29th said it was a 70 gallon spill.

The mishap sent oil spilling down from a crane onto the street.

”They were ordered to immediately clean up the sidewalk and street and have all drums of diesel removed via a regisstered nvironmental contractor,” said a spokesman for the NYC Department of Environmental Protection.

The project is across the street from ABC studios where Live with Kelly and Ryan, among other shows, are filmed.

The Department of Environmental Protection and the NY Building Department huddled with the developer and construction officials on Wednesday morning after the mishap. A spokesman for the DOB said a violation was issued to the general contractor.

The DOB said the fine could be up to $25,000.

“That’s a nominal amount,” Sean Khorsandi, executive director of Landmark West!, the nonprofit preservationist group that has long opposed the luxury condos, said of the pending fine. “It’s the cost of doing business in NYC. What is the appropriate fine for the largest oil spill in history on the Upper West Side?” he asked.

Landlease, the general contractor, had not returned a call seeking comment nor did officials from the international real estate developer Extell Development. The crane operator, Pinnacle Industries, based in Harrison, NY, declined to comment.

Housing for billionaires

“I’m not against development,” said Khorsandi. “We need housing in New York City” he said. “We just don’t need housing for billionaires.”

The 1.2 million sq. ft. project that is eventually planned to reach 775 feet high--which would be more than twice the height of the statue of Liberty from base of pedestal to torch--has been the subject of community ire in the past.

Landmark West! had objected to a massive 16 story “void” for mechanical equipment inside that the builder was using in order to get around zoning regulations to place living units at loftier heights. Landmark West! argued that there were safety concerns about the huge unused space which could effectively act as a chimney in the event of a fire. In May, the board of standards and appeals deadlocked in a 2-2 vote --which effectively allowed the development to proceed.

The long delayed project started back in 2014 when Extell partnered with Magalith Capital in a project that eventually involved knocking down five buildings on the block between Central Park West and Columbus Ave. Part of the site was owned by the the Hobonim Synagogue, which received an estimated $75 million to sell to the developer and which will also be housed in the new project once it is completed. Also on the block was the Jewish Guild for the Blind and three townhouses which were being used to store props for ABC soap operas which filmed in studios across the street.

Tallest building in northern Manhattan

Once the project is completed, the 40 story luxury condo tower will be the tallest building in Manhattan north of Central Park South, commanding sweeping views of Central Park and beyond. City Realty reported earlier this year that two units in the luxury condo building have already sold to a single buyer for $45.5 million.

What is an appropriate fine for the biggest oil spill in history on the Upper West Side?--Sean Khorsandi, executive director, Landmark West!