Plywood fence plummets into beleaguered Carroll Gardens construction site

A plywood fence fell into the construction site at the corner of Smith and Douglass streets.
Photo by Kevin Duggan

They’re fenced in!

City building inspectors shut down construction of a Carroll Gardens fitness center in the wake of a construction fence collapse, citing “unsafe conditions.”

The collapse — which was first spotted on Feb. 6 by local blogger Katia Kelly — sent plywood debris plummeting into a large pit at Smith and Douglass streets, where Brooklyn Heights-based developer Louis Greco of Second Development Services had been planning to build a Crunch gym since late 2016, Patch reported at the time, but the exercise emporium backed out of the project in late 2018, according to a spokeswoman.

Officials slapped contractors with a violation for failing to safeguard workers during an inspection on Jan. 17, which came in response to complaints that a “pretty large structure” had fallen into the construction site. 

The construction site has been a headache for nearby residents for years.Photo by Kevin Duggan

The builders can resume construction once they prove to the Department of Buildings that it is safe to do so, according to agency spokesman Andrew Rudansky. 

The fence’s collapse represents the latest in a long list of blunders to delay the Smith Street development, which has racked up nearly $9,000 in construction code violations, including 10 infractions that remain open, according to Buildings Department records.

The fines started rolling in shortly after workers began excavating the site, leading inspectors to issue violations for failing to notify the city before starting construction, and for damaging a neighboring property at 57 Douglass St., forcing residents to vacate. 

The shoddy building work has already forced residents of the adjacent building at 57 Douglass St. to vacate the premises because of cracks showing up on the facade.Photo by Kevin Duggan

The builder’s reputation for mishaps has grown so notorious, Kelly expressed concern that continued work could end up damaging the G and F subway lines located below. 

“At this point, perhaps we should all be concerned about the site’s proximity to the F/G subway line, which runs parallel to the site,” Kelly wrote on her blog. “If the construction team is so inept, who is to say that the subway tunnel will not be compromised?”

Second Development Services did not return a request for comment.

Renderings of the planned gym.Photo by Kevin Duggan

A construction fence has surrounded the lot for about 12 years since a row of single-story buildings, including popular Argentine restaurant Sur, were demolished, according to Kelly.

Greco bought the property for $6.3 million in 2015 and told Commercial Observer that he planned to build a 15,000 square foot three-floor retail building on the site.

And despite the ruckus that workers have raised since construction started, locals remain amazed by the project’s glacial pace, and can’t believe that contractors have done little more than dig a hole. 

“It looks like a bomb hit that place,” said a former neighbor, who gave his name as Mex. “They’re driving in here late at night, banging away and s–t hasn’t been done. There’s only a ditch in there!”

This story has been updated because an earlier version falsely stated that a shed fell into the construction pit. A spokesman for the Department of Buildings clarified that it was in fact a plywood construction fence.