Nearly a Decade Later, 1 Seaport is Still Leaning
A non-union nightmare that left dozens of elite real estate investors high-and-dry offers a lesson for NYC homebuyers big and small: ask “who built this building”
The tower at One Seaport still stands as an unfinished husk, amid a collection of gleaming new buildings. There is no date set for construction to resume.
Fredrik Ecklund is no slouch when it comes to real estate. The colorful cofounder of brokerage firm Eckland | Gomez — often referred to as the “Brokers to the Stars”— is one of the most influential names in the business. His reputation even earned him a starring role on “Million Dollar Listing,” an Emmy-nominated, Bravo TV show that chronicled the lives of elite real estate agents in New York City. He’s closed billions of dollars in deals throughout his career.
But there’s one deal he probably wishes he never made.
In 2015, Eckland, along with dozens of other well-heeled investors pre-purchased units in a 58 story development project known as 1 Seaport, which were priced between $1.4M and upwards of $20M. The real estate star snapped up his own $4.6M duplex on the 46th floor, promoting his involvement in the project on social media. Along with its elite list of soon-to-be residents, the development was hyped for its glamorous amenities, which included a luxury yacht service. At the time, the condos were supposed to be move-in ready within a year.
That was nearly a decade ago. Today, One Seaport is not even close to being finished, and it’s unclear whether it ever will be. The reason is alarming: the fifty-eight story building is leaning to the North. As previous Union Built Matters reporting confirmed, buildings aren’t supposed to lean.
Today, One Seaport is not even close to being finished, and it’s unclear whether it ever will be.
One Seaport was supposed to be a pinnacle of luxury. This render by the architects shows a glistening tower on the water. This image is not the reality of One Seaport today.
While the building’s issues are exceptional, the root cause is all too common. A developer (Fortis Property Group) hired a non-union contractor (Pizzarotti IBC, LLC), corners were cut, and the project turned into a deadly money pit. The building was plagued with accidents and stop work orders from day one, including the death of a worker who plunged 28 stories and resulted in a manslaughter charge, a multi-ton concrete bucket falling from a crane, and a July 2020 walk off of construction workers who weren’t being paid, which stopped construction indefinitely.
The building’s lean, it turns out, was the result of corner-cutting in the construction of the foundation. The non-union developer opted for a cheaper “soil improvement” method, instead of the more reliable method of driving piles down into the bedrock. Like many non-union construction decisions, this turned out to be far more costly in the long-run.
Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering, Saeed Janbaz, recently weighed in on the issues facing the building for construction publication The B1M. “If the lean was caused by a force that came from the wind, it was acting on a skeleton, empty, and it was able to push it that way," Janbaz said. "You put glass on that? You have a ship sail. More force from that wind, and it will move further. And if you have something broken, especially in the case of concrete, it's done." A truly unsettling thought.
Today, the fate of the leaning tower is in limbo after a lengthy, Bravo TV-worthy legal drama between Fortis Property group and Pizzarotti remains unresolved. Meanwhile, the leaning tower grows more infamous by the day, as New Yorker’s fear its collapse.
Most of the investors who pre-purchased units have since backed out. It’s unclear how much the ordeal ended up costing them. But while deep-pocketed buyers like Ecklund can likely afford to gamble and lose on non-union real estate projects, everyday New Yorkers don’t have that luxury. If you’re shopping for New York City real estate, ask the one question that could keep you out of a tilting money pit: “who built this building.”
Mark Colangelo is a writer and blogger.
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