Department of Buildings issues stop work order after man falls to his death in ‘tragic’ accident at Ridgewood Towers construction site

Rendering courtesy of AB Capstone

A man fell to his death in an elevator shaft on Wednesday afternoon at the Myrtle Point/Ridgewood Towers development while working at the construction site, which had received multiple safety violations in the months leading up to the tragedy.

Police said that at approximately 3 p.m. on April 6, Holger Molino-Pinos, 45, fell down an elevator shaft after slipping on a beam while moving a plywood board. Molino-Pinos fell down an approximately 20-foot hole into the basement below. He was immediately transported to Wyckoff Hospital where he was pronounced dead shortly after. 

According to NYC Department of Buildings (DOB) spokesperson Ana Alcantara, the day after the fall, DOB inspectors issued a full stop work order with an impending investigation. 

The Myrtle Point development, also known as Ridgewood Towers, located at 3-50 St. Nicholas Ave., will be 17 stories — making it the tallest building in the area once completed. The mixed-use building will be used for retail and residential spaces.

According to the DOB, the first four floors will be dedicated to commercial use.

In the months leading up to this fatal incident, DOB issued a total of eight violations regarding safety conditions at the construction site. These violations could total thousands of dollars in fines pending an Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings investigation.

One violation issued in March cited a “failure to institute/maintain safety measures resulting in worker injury due to inadequate housekeeping at time of inspection.”

Ted Renz, the executive director of the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District, said that this accident was a tragedy. 

“We are deeply saddened by this tragic accident and loss of life at this construction site,” Renz said. “This is a major development in the Myrtle Avenue Business Improvement District that will bring major retail and new housing opportunities to the community.”

On March 23, just a couple of weeks before the fatal fall, DOB issued safety violations after another worker was injured due to “poor safety conditions.”

The Ridgewood Towers project was originally met with much opposition from the local community and its leaders when it was proposed over five years ago.

The Ridgewood Tenants Union (RTU) also took issue with the fact the project was delayed for years.

In 2020, RTU organized an 11-car caravan to protest outside the home of Meir Babaev, the president of AB Capstone, in Jamaica Estates. 

According to RTU, the developers’ neglect of the property presented quality-of-life issues for the neighborhood.

“The project has been stalled since 2015 while scaffolding has taken up the community’s public space, created safety hazards for pedestrians and accumulated piles of garbage that make sidewalks unsanitary,” said a recent statement from RTU. “This was a disaster waiting to happen and the group demands the project come to a complete halt until the developers meet with the community and be held accountable for the harm they have caused thus far. “

QNS reached out to the developer AB Capstone for comment and is waiting for a response.