Impacted businesses advised to file claims with Con Edison or insurance

Office of Emergency Management Commissioner Joe Esposito speaks to building owners at a meeting held on Monday. (Photo by Maria Rocha-Buschel)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Flatiron businesses owners impacted by last week’s steam blast were told on Monday night that they may have some recourse for their losses in the form of insurance claims or claims with Con Edison.

Representatives from the utility, the Office of Emergency Management, the Department of Health, Small Business Services and the Department of Environmental Protection offered updates on the ongoing investigation and clean-up effort during a meeting at the Clinton School in Union Square on Monday night.

Joseph Esposito, the commissioner for the Office of Emergency Management, said that as of Monday night, 17 buildings had been cleared for reoccupancy and the OEM announced that 16 additional buildings had been cleared by Wednesday morning, with 12 still needing to be cleaned and checked before they can be reoccupied.

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City putting Flatiron evacuees in hotels

Fifth Ave looking south on Monday

Con Ed crew at work at the explosion site (Photo by Sabina Mollot)

By Sabina Mollot

As of Tuesday afternoon, the city said it is working with the Hotel Trade Council and Hotel Association of New York City to help displaced Flatiron residents, and that 10 families and one dog had so far been assisted.

Residents seeking a temporary room were advised to visit the reception center at the Clinton School at 10 East 15th Street, which has remained open. It’s open from 8 a.m.-8 p.m. each day and according to the city, has seen 362 visitors since Thursday.

Hotel 17 in Stuyvesant Square, which now has an extended stay model and offers emergency housing, is one of the hotels housing evacuees, an employee there said. However, he said he couldn’t reveal how many individuals were staying there as a result of the blast.

Out of the 49 buildings evacuated for asbestos testing, 27 have been cleared for residents to return. Twelve contained some sort of debris that must be cleaned before they can be reoccupied.

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Air asbestos free, city says, but evacuated buildings still off limits

July26 Con Ed cleanup

A Con Ed crew cleaning up the street on Friday (Photo courtesy of Con Ed)

By Sabina Mollot

The air is asbestos-free, the city said, after testing samples following the steam pipe explosion, on Friday evening. While some debris samples contained asbestos, it’s unlikely people exposed will become ill since “asbestos-related illnesses usually develop after many years of exposure,” according to an update provided by the mayor’s office and the Office of Emergency Management. The city also said irritation to the eyes, nose and throat from debris is possible, and recommends anyone with those symptoms contact doctor.

Meanwhile, the city is still keeping people out of the “hot zone” in Flatiron.

While the area continues to be cleaned up, the hot zone boundaries include:

  • Fifth Avenue from 19th Street to 22nd Street (midway down the block on 19th Street and most of 20th and 21st streets on the west side).
  • The entire block on East 20th and 21st Streets and midway down the block on East 19th Street.

Neighborhood residents whose building have been evacuated (49 buildings in total) are still displaced. Forty-four buildings had their facades visually expected. However, none were cleared for residents to return home as of Friday at 5 p.m. as testing for asbestos continues. At this time, the city doesn’t have a number as to how many buildings have been contaminated. Once a determination is made, the buildings’ facades will be washed. Con Ed has appointed outside vendors for this project.

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After asbestos confirmed, investigation continues in Flatiron

July19 Expolsion info at 22nd Con Ed

Con Ed employees accepting bagged clothing at 22nd Street and Broadway (Photo courtesy of Con Ed)

By Sabina Mollot

In the wake of Thursday’s steam-pipe explosion, the city has confirmed the presence of asbestos. Sixteen inspectors from the Department of Environmental Protection have been tasked with investigating the presence of any asbestos in nearby buildings while the site of the explosion is also being monitored.

On Friday, the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation issued an air quality health advisory for the whole city through 11 p.m. The agency’s warning noted that active children and adults as well as anyone with respiratory problems reduce “prolonged or heavy exertion” outdoors.

The public is still being warned to stay away from the immediate area, where there are still emergency crews at work.

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Steam explosion in Flatiron shuts down nearby streets

By Sabina Mollot

Emergency responders are still trying to find out the cause behind an early morning explosion in the heart of the Flatiron District. The blast occurred at 6:40 a.m. on Fifth Avenue and 21st Street, sending a massive gray cloud shooting dozens of feet into the air and causing traffic shutdowns from 19th to 23rd Streets from Broadway to Sixth Avenue.

Eleven buildings were evacuated and surrounding streets were off limits to residents and workers until police began opening some streets at around 8:40 a.m., and office buildings began letting employees back inside. Town & Village’s block on West 22nd Street was one of those affected.

Town & Village driver Ray Pimentel was in his truck with stacks of this newspaper on his way to the office when he heard the massive “Boom!” nearby. Pimentel said had he not been caught at a red light on Sixth Avenue, “I would have been right in the hole in front of Chase Bank (on Fifth Avenue). I’m alive because of five seconds.”

He stopped his truck in the middle of Fifth Avenue and waited there for the Fire Department, which he said arrived in about seven minutes. Oddly, the blast didn’t smell too strong at that time.

“It was like cooking gas, you know like when you’re doing a barbecue, clean, not too bad,” he recalled.

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Flatiron, Kips Bay subway stations to close for 5 months

May10 station closure 23rd st rendering

Rendering of entrance at the 23rd Street F/M station (Renderings courtesy of MTA)

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

The MTA confirmed with little fanfare at the end of April that two stations in the Flatiron and Kips Bay neighborhoods would be closing this summer until the end of the year as part of the Enhanced Station Initiative program. The 28th Street station on the 6 will be closed starting on July 16 and the 23rd Street station on the F/M will be closed beginning on July 23, with both expected to reopen sometime in December.

The agency presented the plan to Community Board 5 on April 23 but specific information about the closures is not available on the MTA’s website. Photos included in the presentation to the community board show significant rusting and water damage in both stations and one of the MTA’s stated goals for the project is to “address structural and cosmetic deficiencies,” as well as improve wayfinding services, navigation and communication to customers.

Renderings of the entrances at 23rd and 28th Streets show inconspicuous improvements, with the most noticeable changes being the addition of new electronic signs announcing service changes and updates, as well as maps to help with navigation.

The interior of the stations will be getting upgrades as well, with renderings showing improvements in lighting, new turnstile areas and wayfinding screens on the platforms.

In addition to the two local stations getting the improvements, 57th Street on the F will also be closed for about six months from July to December for similar cosmetic upgrades and both the 1/2/3 and A/C/E areas in Penn Station will be renovated as well, but work there will be phased and the station will not be fully closed.

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Police Watch: Man wanted for gunpoint robbery, John Doe arrested for menacing

Robbery suspect

MAN WANTED FOR GUNPOINT ROBBERY
Police are looking for a man suspected in a gunpoint robbery that took place in a video store at 725 Sixth Avenue on Sunday, April 22 at 2:50 a.m. Police said that the suspect approached a 50-year-old store employee behind the counter, turned a gun on him and demanded all the cash from the register. The employee gave him $900 and the suspect ran north on Sixth Avenue. No injuries were reported as a result of the incident.
The suspect is described as a black man in his 20s, approximately 5’5” and 145 lbs. He was last seen wearing a dark cap, a dark hooded sweat jacket and light-colored pants.
Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782) or visit nypdcrimestoppers.com. Tipc can also be texted to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

JOHN DOE ARRESTED FOR MENACING IN UNION SQUARE
Police arrested a 41-year-old John Doe man for allegedly menacing someone in front of 39 Union Square West on Thursday, April 26 at 12:23 p.m. Police said that the man punched a victim in his waist. When the suspect fled the scene, officers saw him throwing an ice pick into a garbage can inside Union Square Park. When police attempted to place him under arrest, he allegedly flailed his arms to prevent himself from being handcuffed. Cops referred to him as John Doe because he had no ID.

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Robber pulls away cane from man, helps him back up, then steals his cash

Apr5 Robbery elder suspect

Robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are hunting a man who violently robbed a 70-year-old man on Park Avenue South on Tuesday by pulling his cane away from him as he walked along the sidewalk. After the victim fell to the ground, the suspect took his wallet. Then, upon seeing that there were people approaching them, the robber helped the victim get back to his feet. However, before fleeing west on East 24th Street, he snatched $15 in cash from the victim’s wallet.

The suspect is described as unshaven and light-skinned and was last seen wearing a black knit cap, a gray hooded sweater with red lining, a black jacket and camouflage shoes.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime Stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Man mugged at 23rd Street N/R subway stop

Mar15 mugging

Robbery suspect

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for a mugger who told a victim he had a gun before demanding his money at the 23rd Street N/R subway station.

On Wednesday, February 28 at 10 p.m., the suspect approached a 32-year-old man while keeping his hand inside his jacket pocket. After telling him he had a gun, he robbed the victim, getting $10 in cash before fleeing the station. Police didn’t have the exact language of the man’s threat but noted that it was “expletive” laced.

The suspect is described as black, in his 20s, 5’8″ to 5’10” tall and 220 lbs. He was last seen wearing a black knit cap, eyeglasses, a black hooded jacket, black pants and white sneakers.

Anyone with information in regards to this incident is asked to call the NYPD’s Crime Stoppers Hotline at 1-800-577-TIPS (8477) or for Spanish, 1-888-57-PISTA (74782). The public can also submit their tips by logging onto the Crime stoppers website at nypdcrimestoppers.com or by texting their tips to 274637 (CRIMES) then enter TIP577. All calls are strictly confidential.

Women wanted for stealing bag full of cash and jewelry at Flatiron club

Bag theft suspects three, four and five

By Sabina Mollot

Cops are trying to find five women who allegedly stole a bag containing $40,000 in cash and $115,000-worth of jewelry from a man partying at Jay-Z’s 40/40 nightclub in Flatiron.

Police said that on Sunday, March 4 at about 3 a.m. inside the club at 6 West 25th Street and Fifth Avenue, a 27-year-old man, later identified by The Post as boxer Jermall Charlo, got into an argument with another man that turned physical. However, once the fight was over and Charlo went back to his seat, he realized his bag was gone.

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Men stealing handbags from Flatiron Michael Kors

Suspects

By Sabina Mollot

Police are looking for two men they say have been swiping handbags from the Michael Kors store in Flatiron.

Police were able to get a fuzzy photo of two suspects, though it isn’t clear if they were involved in all recently reported incidents of theft at the store. Police are aware of eight thefts of handbags at the location at 133 Fifth Avenue since January 10.

On January 10, three handbags were taken. On January 13, another three bags were stolen. On January 16, two bags were stolen with another four, along with a keychain, stolen on January 20. On January 31, three handbags were stolen. On February 6, five Mercer bags, which range in price from $250-$500, were taken. Another three Mercers were stolen on February 10, which is the most recent known incident.

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Men steal 11 purses from Flatiron Coach store

Suspects

By Sabina Mollot

Police are on the lookout for two thieves with expensive taste who stole 11 bags from the Flatiron Coach store.

On January 23 at around 12:30 p.m., one of the men strolled into the shop at 79 Fifth Avenue and 16th Street and took the purses, which together were valued at $3,000, from a display. He then fled the store and handed the goods to another man who’d been waiting outside.

Police didn’t have descriptions of the suspects but three fuzzy surveillance photos show men of slim build who were wearing dark hats and dark jackets.

The men may have been involved in other incidents, as a tweet from the 13th Precinct pointed out that they are wanted for larcenies at high-end stores where one man does the swiping while the other holds the door open.

Police Watch: Man arrested for firing gun, Broomstick assault at W. 28th

SUSPECT ARRESTED FOR FIRING GUN IN FRONT OF STRAUS HOUSES
Police arrested 38-year-old Jamah Joseph for assault, weapons possession and reckless endangerment last Monday at 10 p.m. inside the 13th precinct. Police said that Joseph fired multiple shots at a group of people who were standing in front of 224 East 28th Street on January 18 at 10:25 p.m. with intent to cause serious injuries.

MAN CHARGED WITH ASSAULT WITH BROOMSTICK AT W. 28TH ST. STATION
Police arrested 22-year-old Adan Alverez for assault in front of 145 West 28th Street last Saturday at 7:18 a.m. Alverez and the victim got into an argument, during which Alverez allegedly pulled out a knife in a menacing way. The victim told police that he then chased Alverez to West 28th Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues when Alverez allegedly picked up a broomstick and hit the victim on the left side of his head, causing bruising.
The victim was taken to Bellevue Hospital and told police that Alverez threw the knife, which he described as a silver blade approximately three inches in length with a white handle, into the tracks of the 28th Street station. Police searched the area but the knife was not recovered. Alverez was also charged with weapons possession, menacing and possession of marijuana. Police said that the two men did not know each other and did not have further information about what started the argument.

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Four teens charged with beating and robbing cab driver in Flatiron

By Maria Rocha-Buschel

Police arrested four teenagers last Tuesday for allegedly robbing and assaulting a cab driver in Flatiron, requiring the victim, who’s in his 60s, to get seven stitches and 15 staples.

The victim was driving on West 21st Street between Sixth and Seventh Avenues last Tuesday night when he got out of his cab to remove a construction cone that one of the teens had allegedly thrown into the street.

When he got out of the car, 18-year-old Cervantez Viera, 19-year-old Dumar Kindle, 19-year-old Danziell Taylor and a 17-year-old approached him, the District Attorney’s office said. He and the teens got into an argument and Taylor allegedly smacked the driver in the face, knocking his glasses into the street. The 17-year-old, whose name is being withheld due to his age, told police that the driver got back into his car to park it, then got out again to look for his glasses when he and Kindle got into an argument.

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Police Watch: Parks officers assaulted, Man arrested for ‘drugs’

OFFICERS ASSAULTED AT ASSER LEVY CENTER
Police arrested a 45-year-old man after he allegedly assaulted two Parks Department officers inside the Asser Levy Recreation Center on East 23rd Street last Monday at 7:35 a.m. Police said that the Parks officers were attempting to get Robert Robinson to leave the rec center when he reportedly hit one of them in the head with a 2×4, causing bruising. Robinson was charged for the assault at the 13th precinct last Tuesday at 1:10 p.m. but he was originally stopped for allegedly smoking K2 at the corner of Park Avenue South and East 29th Street on Tuesday at 11:12 a.m.

MAN ARRESTED FOR ‘DRUGS’, FAKE CREDIT CARDS AND SKIMMING DEVICE
Police arrested 33-year-old Justin Aiello for alleged possession of a controlled substance inside Bellevue Hospital at 462 First Avenue last Saturday afternoon. Police responded to a call from the London NYC hotel at 151 West 54th Street for a wellness check, possibly an emotionally disturbed person. When they arrived, police were unable to get into the room. Emergency Services responded and was able to get in, secure the suspect and take him to Bellevue Hospital.
While hotel staff were gathering Aiello’s belongings, they allegedly found a fraudulent ID, credit cards, drug paraphernalia, skimming devices, alleged methamphetamines, blank credit cards and cash. Hotel staff notified police about the items and Aiello was arrested at the hospital.

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