High-rise con­struc­tion zone pre­pares for Irma

Palm Beach Daily News - - OPINION - By TONY DORIS

De­vel­oper Al Adel­son fig­ures Hur­ri­cane Irma will save him 50K.

Adel­son, who’s build­ing the 25-story Bris­tol tower condo on the city water­front, was go­ing to pay that much for a hur­ri­cane glass test. In­stead, “we’ll get a real test,” he said Wed­nes­day. “I’m look­ing at it as a positive.”

With a $2 bil­lion build­ing boom in West Palm alone, Palm Beach County hori­zons are lined with tower cranes, poised like fish­ing rods baited for wind. So with the windi­est At­lantic hur­ri­cane in his­tory angling to­ward South Florida, con­struc­tion crews raced to bat­ten down sites and city build­ing de­part­ment staffers fanned out to check on them.

At The Bris­tol, an ul­tra-lux­ury pro­ject on South Fla­gler Drive, crews low­ered their two cranes 22 feet, from the 17th floor to near the 14th and bolted the ver­ti­cal part to the build­ing. “It’s the part that runs hor­i­zon­tal and spins around, that’s the risk we have,” Adel­son said.

“The ex­perts tell us it’s good to 150 miles per hour. We think we have done ev­ery­thing hu­manly pos­si­ble, ev­ery­thing the ex­perts told us to do.”

Adel­son and his con­struc­tion man­ager plan to ride out the storm in a ho­tel near the site. “This is our baby, so we’re try­ing to watch it as closely as we can,” he said.

The build­ing is sched­uled for com­ple­tion in De­cem­ber 2018, and at this point stands 17 sto­ries tall. Its glass skin has been in­stalled up to the ninth or 10th floor, Adel­son said.

“What you do is, you tie ev­ery­thing down that’s in the build­ing al­ready — all the sup­plies and ev­ery­thing, so there’s noth­ing that can blow away. Then we have some floors that are open and we hope the wind goes through them, with no prob­lem. Then we have the floors that have hur­ri­cane glass.”

Though they look pre­car­i­ous, cranes can han­dle a storm, said Robert Brown, West Palm Beach build­ing of­fi­cial.

The ex­posed area of a crane is lim­ited be­cause it has a skinny frame­work, he said. As long as the crane is not broadside to the wind, the wind load on it is re­duced. Op­er­a­tors un­lock the boom so that it can swivel like a weather vane, ro­tat­ing to the di­rec­tion of least re­sis­tance, he said. That’s how the cranes gen­er­ally are left when not in oper­a­tion, and par­tic­u­larly dur­ing high winds.

City Ad­min­is­tra­tor Jeff Green said he typ­i­cally fields a lot of calls from wor­ried res­i­dents who see cranes mov­ing in the wind. Cranes are sup­posed to move in the wind, he said.

In The Bris­tol’s case, low­er­ing the cranes was a good idea be­cause the water­front build­ing has no other tow­ers to buf­fer it from the hur­ri­cane, Brown said.

At West Palm Beach’s old City Hall site, the storm posed a dif­fer­ent set of risks. There, a crew is part way though de­mol­ish­ing the as­bestos-laden build­ing, to make way for a ho­tel and apart­ment de­vel­op­ment.

With word of the storm chang­ing course, so did the crew from Al­liedBean De­mo­li­tion.

As the Cat­e­gory 5 storm’s tra­jec­tory shifted to­ward the city, de­mo­li­tion su­per­vi­sors Billy Min­ton and Rus­sell Rogers or­dered up 12 trucks to the site in the heart of down­town Wed­nes­day to haul away mounds of con­struc­tion de­tri­tus. Mean­while, the men walked each floor of the five-story build­ing to make sure any­thing haz­ardous was cleared away.

That’s what the city build­ing of­fi­cial wants at all con­struc­tion sites. “We tell them that they need to make sure their sites are bat­tened down so any spoil heaps, they have to break those down or re­move them, any loose ma­te­ri­als, they have to take them down and store them away,” Brown said.

Screens put on site fences to block views should be re­moved, lest they act like sails and push over the fences, he said. That’s what the crew at the old City Hall is do­ing. Any ex­tra de­bris in­side the build­ing is be­ing tossed down the el­e­va­tor shaft.

Sand that blows off the sites and whips around down­town streets is just a fact of life in a hur­ri­cane, Brown added. The rain will put an end to it, he said.

“It’s an ag­gra­va­tion more than a real risk of break­ing any­thing.”

Lan­nis Wa­ters / Daily News

Con­struc­tion cranes tower over The Bris­tol along the West Palm Beach water­front, Crews have low­ered and bolted the ver­ti­cal part of the cranes to the build­ing to se­cure them.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.