Residents Say FedEx Is Delivering a Bad Addition to 20 Pine St.

Nassau Street, on the west side of 20 Pine Street, will be the site of a controversial ramp outside the FedEx center. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jul. 13, 2015

A new Federal Express hub is coming to the ground floor of a 408-unit condo tower in the Financial District and it has drawn the ire of some of its upstairs neighbors.

The 5,733-square-foot facility, which would have its entrance on the Nassau Street side of 20 Pine St., will serve as a base for couriers who make deliveries on foot throughout the Financial District, including the World Trade Center complex and the adjacent 28 Liberty St. (formerly One Chase Manhattan Plaza).

Residents of the 35-story building said they were shocked to learn that the facility would be more than a small FedEx retail space.

“We knew that FedEx was coming,” Rupali Dixit, said in a phone interview. “It was never brought our attention that it was going to be a FedEx hub.”

“It hit us like a ton of bricks,” said Bradley Solomon, another resident.

Solomon and Dixit joined dozens of their fellow residents at a Community Board 1 Financial District Committee meeting earlier this month to voice their opposition to one feature of the new facility—a 74-foot-long, 5-foot wide ramp under construction along the building’s Nassau Street side. Stacey Haefele, who spoke on behalf of her neighbors, called the structure “massive,” an “eyesore” and a safety hazard that would block the sidewalk.

“Mothers with strollers, handicapped individuals, anybody with more than one bag has to go single-file,” Haefele said. “We’ve got no place else to go. If this were an industrial warehouse or purely manufacturing district, that’d be one thing. But countless families walk to and from school on this sidewalk.”

Haefele also pointed out that the work on the ramp was halted by the Department of Buildings on June 29 because it was not being installed according to filed plans.

In a phone interview, Jacob Klein, the president of the Klein Group, owners of the commercial space,  said that “we are addressing the issue [and] we hope to get it resolved shortly.”

Haefele also maintained that no one informed the residents before the Department of Buildings signed off on the structure, nor before the Department of Transportation installed street signs on Nassau St. reading “truck loading/unloading only,” nor before construction of the ramp began.

“We’re here in force this evening to tell you that this is not just a business district or a business decision,” Haefele said. “It should involve the community. It impacts us significantly.”

Robert Abrams, a lawyer representing the Klein Group, insisted that the condo board had been informed but city agencies nevertheless supported the plan.

“The residential manager, a representative of the board, actually attended the meetings with the DOB and the DOT and all the concerns that are being raised here were raised there,” said Abrams, who noted that the ramp is also required for handicap access.

The committee passed a resolution, drafted by Haefele and other condo owners, supporting several of the residents’ concerns.

But Haefele and some other residents said that objections to facility go beyond the ramp. Truck traffic and noise could be significant problems on Nassau Street once the hub opens, they note.

“Just now, without any extra trucks, it’s a very difficult area to [navigate] on any given day,” resident Phyllis Evans said in a phone interview. “I have a feeling that there will be trucks there much earlier in the morning than they’re indicating and much later.”

Klein said there will be no extra trucks, and that the number of FedEx delivery vehicles in the Financial District will be reduced by more than half, from 18 to eight. Because the foot couriers will now be based in the Financial District, he explained, there will be less of a need for vehicles to make deliveries to buildings in the area.

“FedEx proactively works with city officials to minimize congestion while still delivering the vital shipments to our customers in a timely manner,” a FedEx spokeswoman said in an email. “Deliveries will arrive at this station via vans each morning. The vans will park on Nassau St. adjacent to the access ramp, and will depart after the shipments have been unloaded.”

Construction of the facility, which is returning to the Financial District three years after Hurricane Sandy displaced it from its former location on Wall Street, is largely complete. The hub will be able to open once the ramp is ready, according to Klein.

“If they're going to come, they’re going to come, but hopefully it can be done in a manner respective to the neighborhood,” Rupali Dixit said. “I do believe there is a way that it can be done where both sides can be happy.”