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N.Y.C. Hotel Sues Over Construction Noise at New World Trade Center Project Site

Fri August 12, 2011 - Northeast Edition
Jennifer Peltz - ASSOCIATED PRESS



NEW YORK (AP) The din of rebuilding the World Trade Center is driving guests away from a prominent hotel overlooking ground zero, and the agency in charge hasn’t listened to requests to quell the noise, the hotel’s owner said in a lawsuit filed Aug. 5.

The Millennium Hilton has lost $8 million since 2006 as companies canceled bookings and guests shortened stays because of rock-blasting, truck beeping, debris clattering into trash containers and other clamor that has sometimes extended late into the night as construction ran 16 to 20 hours a day, the lawsuit said.

The “defendants’ failure to take any steps to mitigate the construction noise is not simply unneighborly, but also violates their obligations” to abide by an environmental study that called for avoiding late-night noise and taking steps to muffle it, hotel owner CDL New York LLC said in the suit.

The World Trade Center site’s owner, the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, declined to comment on the lawsuit. Silverstein Properties, a developer that is working on part of the site and named in the suit, said its work is done during regular business hours, not at night.

“Silverstein Properties is committed to being a good neighbor in the downtown community. Everything we do adheres to applicable codes,” spokesman Bud Perrone said.

Silverstein currently is building an office tower and the bases of two others along the Trade Center site’s east side, nearest the hotel. Meanwhile, the project’s centerpiece 1,776-ft.-tall tower, the National September 11 Memorial & Museum, a transit hub and other features also are in progress at the site.

“CDL understands and appreciates the importance of rebuilding the WTC site,” the suit said. The company said it doesn’t want to stop the work, just to recoup its losses and be awarded unspecified damages.

The 55-story, 569-room Millennium Hilton was badly damaged in the Sept. 11 terror attacks, reopening in 2003. Construction on the eastern part of the Trade Center site began three years later.

At points, the noise and vibrations have been so bothersome that guests have gone elsewhere after enduring a single night of it, the lawsuit said.

The hotel repeatedly asked the Port Authority to do something to address the noise and vibrations, and the agency considered — but rejected — outfitting the hotel with thicker windows, sound-dampening curtains or other measures to keep things quieter, the suit says.

The Millennium Hilton has bought about 200 white-noise machines and given guests earplugs at check-in, but that hasn’t helped enough to bring back business, according to the suit.