A strong wind gust fed by Hurricane Sandy likely was a major factor in the collapse of a construction crane boom at a 74-story luxury skyscraper, forcing evacuations in the thick of the storm, a city official said Tuesday.
The city Buildings Department was just starting to investigate what made the crane's arm swoop backward and dangle precariously, but engineers believe wind gusts estimated at 80 to 100 mph played a big role, chief spokesman Tony Sclafani said. The engineers also will look at how the crane was positioned and other issues.
Engineers scaled 74 stories during the storm to inspect the rig and concluded it wasn't in danger of falling.
"The crane is currently stable," though workers couldn't secure the arm to the building until the still-gusty weather eased, Mayor Michael Bloomberg said. Neighboring buildings, including a hotel housing 900 guests, remained evacuated in the meantime.
Before all outdoor construction work citywide was halted Saturday for the storm, the crane was helping to build a high-rise that The New York Times recently called a "global billionaires' club." Nine full-floor apartments near the top have been sold to billionaires; two duplexes are under contract for more than $90 million each in the building, called One57. It's near Carnegie Hall, Columbus Circle and Central Park.
All cranes around the city were inspected Friday and found to be ready for the weather, officials said. The crane at One57 had been the subject of some complaints in recent months, over issues ranging from leaking oil to a mishap involving the heavy ball at its tip, but all had been resolved to the Buildings Department's satisfaction, records show.
Phones rang unanswered Tuesday at the company that owns the crane, Pinnacle Industries II LLC. Representatives for the rig's manufacturer, Favelle Favco Group, didn't immediately respond to an email message.
The project's construction manager, Lend Lease, has said it was working with city officials to secure the structure.
Two cranes collapsed within two months of each other in Manhattan in 2008, killing a total of nine people and spurring new safety measures. Another crane fell and killed a worker this April at a construction site for a new subway line, which was exempt from most city construction safety rules.