Does NYC Need to Beef Up Local Law 10 Enforcement?

David Goldsmith

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Less than a year ago a woman was killed by a piece of facade falling.
Today a big chunk of the rear facade of 111 4th Avenue apparently fell off during the storm (I can't get the video to play so it's hard to tell exactly how bad it is).
I remember a few years ago walking down 3rd Avenue and seeing it closed off by fire trucks after similar issues at 115 East 9th Street.
What has to happen for Department of Buildings to actually stop these type of events from happening?

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Collapses raise questions about safety-law exemption
Facade inspections not required for properties shorter than 7 stories

Weeks before what would have been her younger sister’s 59th birthday, Lori E. Gold was unsettled by reports of crumbling buildings in New York City. Such news is disquieting for most, but for Gold, the reports have a personal sting: Her sister Grace, then 17, was killed in 1979 by a chunk of masonry that fell from an 12-story building on Broadway and West 115th Street.
“It is unnerving. It’s mind-blowing,” she said.
Last month, at least four partial or full building collapses occurred in the city. In a fifth incident, suspended scaffolding fell from a 12-story Midtown building and killed a construction worker who was fixing the building’s facade, which had been declared unsafe the previous year. This month two buildings on Bedford Avenue in Brooklyn partially crumbled, and wind ripped synthetic stucco cladding from a property in the East Village.
The causes of most of these incidents are still under investigation, but six of the buildings involved were not required to undergo periodic facade inspections. A 1980 city law prompted by Grace Gold’s death mandates buildings taller than six stories be inspected every five years. Shorter properties remain exempt.

“The discussion ever since 1980 has been, the buildings you excluded tend to be the oldest buildings in the city,” said Stephen Varone, president and founder of Rand Engineering and Architecture. “With every collapse, it becomes more obvious that some sort of increased vigilance has to be done.”

After architect Erica Tishman was killed last year by a piece of terra cotta that fell from 729 Seventh Avenue in Midtown, the city ramped up rules around facade inspections. Among other changes, the Department of Buildings hiked penalties, mandated additional close-up inspections of exterior walls and increased the required qualifications and responsibilities of inspectors.

This heightened enforcement, however, only applied to properties that fall under the city’s Facade Inspection and Safety Program, or FISP — in other words, taller than six stories.
The Department of Buildings says that does not let others off the hook.

“Our message to building owners is clear: It doesn’t matter how tall your building is, if it is located in the five boroughs we expect you to properly maintain it in a safe condition,” Andrew Rudansky, an agency spokesperson, said in a statement. “For building owners who don’t take that responsibility seriously, they can expect stern legal repercussions.”

But the string of recent incidents highlights the regulatory gaps in ensuring that shorter buildings — which number close to 1 million — are properly maintained. While owners of all buildings can be penalized for neglecting them, some public officials and industry experts feel the city needs to be more proactive in going after bad actors.

“When Grace died, the word around the city was that instead of looking down when you walked, for the first time everyone was looking up,” Gold said. “After Erica Tishman died, and I imagine right now as well, people are saying they are looking up. People are scared. And there are so many things to be scared about right now.”

Reading the signs
For several years, Norman Weiss warily kept an eye on a crack that spanned several stories of a building next to his home.
“I didn’t like to walk on that side of the street, because I know a little too much about these things,” said Weiss, a professor at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture and specialist in building science and preservation technologies. Eventually, the owner erected a sidewalk shed, which stood for three years before repairs were complete, Weiss said.

A building’s deterioration is progressive, but when signs of decline are ignored, the results can be calamitous.

On July 1 at 348 Court Street in Brooklyn, a three-story gym — closed for the pandemic — collapsed, and a worker inside miraculously escaped with minor injuries. Multiple violations had been issued over the past few years against owner Union & Court Realty Corp., an entity tied to Kihyo Park, by the Department of Buildings. In June the agency issued a partial stop-work order after inspectors found three construction workers removing a large section of cement stucco from the exterior side wall without permits, according to officials. At the time, a violation issued by the agency noted that a brick wall was “dangerously bulging” over the sidewalk.

In fact, the agency had received complaints dating back to 2006 that the property looked unstable.
Several factors can contribute to a property’s decline, including age, location, building material and the installation of that material. Daniel Allen of CTA Architects said New York has the “perfect climate for making buildings deteriorate.” It is surrounded by saltwater and sees dramatic fluctuations in temperature, which can cause materials to weaken over time, he said. Faulty construction can also play a part. In a few of the cases last month, the DOB is investigating whether unsafe construction contributed to collapses.

But sometimes, owners are faulted. Such was the case at 205 East 38th Street, where a five-story, century-old parking garage partially collapsed July 8. According to the Department of Buildings, owner Antarctica Infrastructure Partners failed to properly maintain the brick facade. The agency ordered the owner to install a sidewalk shed and hire an engineer to study the property’s stability.

Owners of buildings taller than six stories face monthly fees for failing to file facade inspection reports and fines for failing to correct unsafe conditions. Owners of shorter buildings aren’t subject to late-filing penalties, but can be fined $1,000 to $25,000 for failing to maintain their properties in a “code-compliant manner.” Antarctica Infrastructure Partners was hit with a $6,250 fine for that reason, according to the Department of Buildings.

But Varone said without the framework of the city’s facade program — and regularly scheduled inspections by licensed experts — the “code-compliant” mandate can seem amorphous to owners of smaller buildings. It can also be easier to ignore, until something goes wrong.

“Sometimes owners need a little bit of prodding or a little bit of structure for what it means to keep your building in good condition,” Varone said. “It’s like saying, ‘Keep your roof in good condition.’ OK, but what does that mean?”
“If you give a laundry list of what to do to keep your roof in good condition, that goes a long way,’” he said.

Possible fixes
The city oversees more than 14,500 buildings as part of its facade safety program. Though the agency doubled its facade inspectors last year, it still has just 22, and adding shorter buildings to the program would require a dramatic increase. An estimated 980,000 properties fall into that height category.

“To me, the Buildings Department is too hopelessly understaffed to deal with what happens in the city,” Weiss said. “The paperwork that is submitted by every building that is greater than six stories is so enormous, you ask yourself, is it really reviewed by people?”

Rudansky, the agency spokesperson, said every filing is audited and the department has the resources to hold bad actors accountable.
Midtown Council member Ben Kallos said the agency has “conflicting mandates,” as it is charged with both enabling and policing construction in the city.

“Their primary mandate is to build. It’s in their name,” Kallos said. “We get far more complaints [about the agency’s red tape] from people trying to open up a new school, trying to open up a new commercial space. That’s where they feel the most pressure.”

Rudansky said his agency has streamlined the development process but noted, “We do not make policy decisions that diminish safety in favor of expedience.”
Kallos favors shifting enforcement to the Department of Housing Preservation and Development. He said requiring inspections for shorter buildings would be a step in the right direction, but he suspects this hasn’t been done out of fear of “overburdening landlords.” Such a change would require legislation, which in New York City does not require a cost-benefit analysis.

Safety enhancements can be expensive for owners, who would be on the hook for paying licensed experts to perform inspections and install sidewalk sheds if the property is deemed unsafe. The Real Estate Board of New York indicated that it would be open to expanding facade regulations if analysis justifies it.
“REBNY supports policy responses that use data and take advantage of new technology to keep the public safe,” said James Whelan, president of the trade group, which has supported the use of drone technology for facade inspections.
Acknowledging that such a rule would likely benefit his own business, Varone said the city could mandate that owners of shorter buildings get professional inspections every few years — without requiring their reports to be sent in. Rather, owners would keep them on hand and produce them upon request or be heavily fined. This would enhance safety without overwhelming the city with paperwork.
“If something falls from the fourth story of a seven-story building, it’ll kill you. If it falls from the fourth floor [of a smaller building], it hurts just as much,” he said. “At some point something’s got to happen.”

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Husband of falling-facade victim files wrongful-death suit
Erica Tishman was killed in December when a piece of a Midtown building fell

The widower of the woman killed last winter by terra-cotta falling in Midtown has filed a wrongful-death lawsuit against the building owner and the city.
Steven Tishman, whose wife, Erica Tishman, was killed Dec. 17, argues that the city had eight months’ notice of dangerous conditions at 729 Seventh Avenue and did nothing, according to a lawsuit he filed in Manhattan Supreme Court Monday.

The lawsuit claimed the city and building owner Himmel + Meringoff Properties “robbed Erica Tishman of her life, they robbed Steven Tishman of his wife, they robbed three children of their mother and a grandchild of his grandmother,” the New York Post reported.
A spokesperson for Himmel + Meringoff said the lawsuit “is not unexpected.”
“The loss of Erica Tishman is a profound tragedy,” the spokesperson told the Post. “We have been working diligently with the New York City Department of Buildings since the incident to obtain the necessary plans and approvals required to perform the facade repairs.”

Erica Tishman, 60, was killed when a chunk of the facade fell and struck her as she happened to be walking past the century-old edifice.
The city had issued a violation to the building in April, and in September the owners were ordered to pay a $1,250 fine, but didn’t repair the building, the lawsuit claims.

After the fatal accident, the owners put up a sidewalk shed to protect pedestrians.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
London Terrace Coop project estimate goes from $3 million to $15 million. Paid for with an $80 million underlying cash out refi interest only @2.3%. Imagine what payments could be like if mortgage rates go up?

London Terrace Towers Co-op Board Gets a Pleasant Surprise​

Surprises are not uncommon when it comes to maintaining buildings in New York City. What is uncommon is how some co-op and condo boards manage to get residents on board with the need and the means to pay for unexpected – and unexpectedly expensive – repairs.
Consider the seven-member board at London Terrace Towers, a 700-unit co-op in four ornate brick buildings that opened in Chelsea in 1930. An original architect’s report estimated that it would cost $3 million to complete repairs in the current cycle of the city’s mandatory Facade Inspection and Safety Program, formerly known as Local Law 11. But when the co-op brought in the veteran property manager Brendan Keany, he instantly saw that the original estimate was way off target.
“Based on his familiarity with Local Law 11, Brendan felt that, for a building of our size and complexity, there were things that were not taken into account by the architect,” says board president Matthew Klein. “The biggest was the terra cotta.”
The board then brought in Howard L. Zimmerman Architects & Engineers, which did a thorough survey of the four towers and concurred with Keany’s opinion – and, for good measure, discovered that the concrete slabs on the terraces were also compromised. That discovery meant that the parapet walls would have to be removed while the slabs are repaired. The estimated cost mushroomed to $15 million. How to break the news?

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“We needed to get the shareholders on board,” Klein says. “The first thing we did was get all the details from Howard Zimmerman, then we had a shareholder town hall meeting with him and his team, who showed many photographs and gave a PowerPoint presentation. The engineers were there to answer questions. We videotaped the meeting and sent it to shareholders who couldn’t attend. We made a pledge that we would not change the appearance of these iconic buildings, and the shareholders realized we were spending money to shore up the structure.”
It didn’t hurt that the town hall meeting was held last summer, when the condominium collapse in Surfside, Fla., was bringing heightened awareness of the importance of structural integrity.
“When a board has to tell shareholders or unit-owners they have to spend more money, I tell them to let us be the bearer of bad news,” says Howard Zimmerman, founder and principal at his eponymous firm. “They can’t explain why the cost went up as well as we can.”
A large part of the explanation was that the city’s Department of Buildings has tightened its regulations on the maintenance of terra cotta. Old methods of patching are no longer acceptable. The high cost of replacements – and the scarcity of terra cotta suppliers – led Zimmerman to recommend that the board use pre-cast stone, which is lighter, cheaper and more durable. An even bigger consideration, according to Zimmerman, is that its availability won’t slow down the job and add to the cost. After the town hall meeting, he says, “Nobody was happy, but at least they saw that there were real problems that have to be addressed.”
Now came the hardest question: how to pay the $15 million tab? After exploring numerous options, the board decided to refinance its underlying amortizing mortgage with an interest-only mortgage from Bank of America. The $80 million loan carries a tantalizing 2.3% interest rate, which will allow the board to pull out $25 million for capital repairs – without raising maintenance or levying an assessment. The loan will also feed the reserve fund.
“The most important thing for our board,” Klein says, “was making sure that this building was safe and that it kept its iconic look. Then came not putting a financial burden on shareholders. I think we got all three.”
In a city known for unpleasant surprises, that qualifies as an uncommonly pleasant one.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Drones’ role in facade inspections up in air​

City Council calls on Department of Buildings to launch pilot program​

On Friday it will be exactly two years since Erica Tishman was killed by falling terra-cotta as she walked past 729 Seventh Avenue.
Within a month of the architect’s death, lawmakers were debating a bill to require the Department of Buildings to study whether building façades could be inspected with drones. Now, the agency is cautiously optimistic that the technology can be part of the process — with an emphasis on cautious.

The department recently released a report saying drones might enhance a façade inspector’s ability to detect dangerous conditions, and that images from the aircraft could complement in-person, close-up examinations. The report, however, concluded that more data must be collected on the potential benefits, and that drones still cannot replace physical examinations.
Put another way, the robots are not yet coming for these jobs.
“We see the potential use of drones as collecting more visuals,” Jill Hrubecky, an engineer with the Department of Buildings and one of the report’s authors, said in an interview. “We don’t really see that it will have a significant impact on whose expertise is required.”
The city requires façade inspections every five years for buildings taller than six stories. The law was enacted following the death of 17-year-old Grace Gold, who was struck by falling masonry at a 12-story building on Broadway and West 115th Street. Four decades later, following Tishman’s death, the city stepped up enforcement and mandated additional close-up inspections of exterior walls.
Hands-on inspections from scaffolding must be performed along every 60-foot interval of street- and public-facing façade. Qualified exterior wall inspectors, or QEWIs, also must probe cavity walls, checking on spacing between masonry and the wall tie systems. The rules, which kicked in last year, specifically noted that drones could not supplant the inspections.
Carolyn Caste, director of façade compliance at Howard L. Zimmerman Architects & Engineers, noted that drones cannot be used for cavity probes, nor can they “sound” a material, meaning strike it with a hammer to test its stability. But a drone could detect a crack in terra-cotta, and perhaps provide earlier insight into what repairs are needed.
“The scope of work could be more robust and understood in advance,” Caste said. “Buildings would have a better idea of the cost and overall timeline.”
Following the July collapse of a condo building in South Florida that killed 98 people, some cities rushed to ramp up building inspections. Jersey City passed an ordinance in August that requires owners to hire a licensed expert every 10 years to inspect their building’s structure and every five years to conduct a visual façade inspection.
Stephen Varone, president of RAND Engineering & Architecture, said he advises clients in Jersey City to employ drones as part of their visual inspections, because physical examinations are not required, and rules in New Jersey are more welcoming of the technology than across the Hudson River.
New York bars aircraft from taking off from or landing except at airports and heliports, which severely limits drones’ range. The regulation would need to be altered to allow for widespread use of unmanned aircraft.
City Council members Ben Kallos and Robert Cornegy introduced a bill this week that calls on the Department of Buildings to launch a pilot program by Dec. 31, 2022, to better study the usefulness of drones for inspections.
The bill would give the agency until June 30, 2024, to examine the cost-effectiveness of drone inspections, along with their potential use in emergency situations, their ability to monitor changes in buildings’ exterior walls and other qualities. The measure specifies that drone inspections would be conducted alongside physical and up-close examinations.
A representative for the agency said it is reviewing the measure.
Varone said drones could help save building owners time and money and cut back on scaffolding for building upgrades and repairs. In the very distant future, he speculated, the city could relax some of its up-close inspection requirements in favor of drones. But the city is still a long way from that.
“There are really some things you can’t tell unless you have your hands on that façade,” he said. “They would be very loath to say, ‘Now that you use drones, you can do fewer [scaffold] drops.’”

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Owner faces criminal charges in fatal Midtown façade incident​

Erica Tishman was killed while walking by 729 Seventh Avenue​

Two years after Erica Tishman was struck and killed by a piece of terra cotta that fell from 729 Seventh Avenue, the building’s owner faces criminal charges for allegedly ignoring its hazardous conditions.
After learning of “deteriorating façade conditions that posed an immediate danger to the public,” the owner, an entity tied to Himmel + Meringoff Properties, failed to install a sidewalk shed and make repairs, the Department of Buildings said Thursday.

On Dec. 17, 2019, Tishman, 60, was walking by the Midtown building when she was struck in the head by falling debris from the building. Eight months earlier, the DOB had issued the owner a violation for failing to maintain the exterior of the property, noting “damaged terra cotta” in several locations, “which poses a falling hazard for pedestrians.”

“Owning a building in our city comes with a straightforward legal responsibility to keep the property in a safe condition, and make repairs when needed,” DOB Commissioner Melanie La Rocca said in a statement. “Ignoring this responsibility is completely unacceptable and will not be tolerated. Landlords should know that delaying required building maintenance will lead to consequences.”

The owner has been issued a criminal court summons for violating the city’s Administrative Code, the DOB said. A representative for the owner did not immediately comment on the charges.
The city requires owners of buildings taller than six stories to have the property’s exterior walls inspected every five years by a licensed professional and file a report detailing the conditions. At the time of the fatal incident on Seventh Avenue, the owners had last filed a report in 2013.

Last year, months after the incident, a report was filed with DOB detailing “widespread defective masonry,” “severely corroded structural steel” and “cracked” and “dislocated” terra cotta.
Officials have been exploring the possibility of incorporating drones in the façade inspection process. The DOB recently released a report underscoring the importance of preserving in-person inspections even if the technology is permitted in the city. Agency officials and inspectors point to sounding tests on terra cotta, which require hitting the material with a hammer to determine its stability, as one of the key reasons that hands-on assessments are still necessary.

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

New York's Cooperative and Condominium Community​

JANUARY 27, 2022
For Co-ops and Condos, Garages Are the New Facades

By Bill Morris​

The clock has begun ticking on the latest unfunded mandate for co-op and condo boards: periodic garage inspections and repairs. The first two-year cycle for completing an inspection and filing a required report without penalty began on Jan. 1, 2022 and will run through Dec. 31, 2023. It affects garages located in Community Districts 1 through 7 in Manhattan, which covers the Upper West Side and everything below Central Park. The filing dates for other Community Districts have not yet been set, and details of the law are still being hammered out.

“The first cycle is open,” says Kathleen Needham Inocco, a principal at Midtown Preservation Architecture & Engineering. “People in districts 1 through 7 may be doing preliminary inspections, but it’s premature to start filing any reports. Boards need to start thinking about their garages the same way they think about their buildings’ facades.” (cont. below)​

The city law, an offshoot of a 2018 state law, will require garage inspections and repairs on six-year cycles. Like the Facade Inspection and Safety Program, formerly known as Local Law 11, it will require qualified inspectors to classify conditions as “safe,” “safe with repair and/or engineering monitoring” or “unsafe.”

That report, according to Article 323 of the city Administrative Code, “shall include a record of all potentially unsafe conditions of the structure and the condition of structural framing members, any visible reinforcement, connections, and conditions of slabs and slab joints. The report must also contain the annual observation checklist to be used for subsequent annual parking structure observations. Such reports must be signed and sealed by a professional engineer, who must file the report.”

Once an unsafe condition is reported to the DOB, the owner must immediately remove the condition or safeguard the area. The condition must be corrected within 90 days.​
Christopher Alker, the vice president of building operations at the management company AKAM, offers a prediction: “This law will add expenses to the running of buildings — but only if the garage has been neglected. But this is the beginning of a new era of additional costs for co-op and condo boards.”

Both Alker and Inocco predict that boards that lease their garages to garage operators will soon face a new wrinkle. “A lot of garages have leases that make the leasee responsible for maintenance,” Inocco says. “What’s maintenance and what’s a structural repair? In my opinion, that’s going to be a big issue for residential buildings that lease their garages, because garage repairs can be very expensive.”

Alker adds: “When boards renegotiate their garage leases, they’re going to try to bake in the cost of maintenance as the leasee’s responsibility. That makes sense. The garage operator is creating the wear and tear on the structure and making a profit. But the city will hold the building owner responsible.”

Inocco offers another prediction: “Certificates of occupancy are going to be a big issue. The C of O will list the number of cars allowed to legally occupy the space. Many New York garages are now packed like sardine cans. That’s going to become an issue once regular inspections start.”

Exempt from mandatory inspections are unenclosed outdoor parking lots, garages that hold fewer than three cars, and private garages serving one- and two-family homes.

The regulations are not yet final. The DOB will hold a virtual public hearing on the rules at 11 a.m. on Feb. 25. DOB rules are contained in Title 1 of the Rules of New York. To attend the public hearing, click this link. When prompted, enter the password 10007. To attend the meeting by telephone, call 646-992-2010 (the access code is 2305 692 2597).


David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
London Terrace Towers facade estimate went from $3 million to $15 million. It appears they are doubling the Coop underlying mortgage to $80 million.


David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member
Pizzeria panic: W. 14th St. buildings evacuated after partial basement wall collapse
A partial collapse of a pizzeria’s shared basement wall Friday afternoon caused the building, on the border of Chelsea and Greenwich Village, to shake and vibrate, resulting in the emergency evacuation of it and neighboring buildings.
Early Saturday evening, workers could be seen erecting a plywood construction fence around the northwest corner of 14th Street and Seventh Avenue. The emerging fence was laid out to take up around half the sidewalk’s width and was also going to close off the subway entrance/exit at that corner for the Nos. 1, 2 and 3 trains.
A bystander who was watching the scene and said he worked in a buildling two blocks north said the problem happened around 4 p.m. Friday. He said some of the older upstairs residential tenants had been evacuated to a Brooklyn Red Cross shelter, which he noted disapprovingly is “far” for them.
One of the workers putting up the fence explained, as he gestured toward the pizza place, that a basement wall on the site’s western side had collapsed. But he stated the buildings would not have to be demolished. Asked how long the repairs would take, he shrugged his shoulders and said he didn’t know.
The site is comprised of a number of small buildings, including 201 and 203 W. 14th St. and 64, 66A and 66 Seventh Ave. Affected stores, which have also been vacated by the emergency, include the Donut Pub, PizzaNY, MomenTea / Pokemoment and a nail salon and spa. By Friday evening, a full scaffolding and fence had already been erected in front of the Donut Pub building, at 203 W. 14th St.

The Buildings Department’s Web site records a “complaint” for 201 W. 14th St. on Friday at 4:39 p.m. related to the wall collapse, noting, though, that it had subsequently been “resolved.” The site says the “structural stability” of a party wall — meaning a wall shared by two buildings — was “compromised.”
“Building shaking/vibrating/stuct [sic] stability affected,” the D.O.B. site says of the original complaint. “Partial collapse of shared rubble foundation wall rendering premises unsafe to occupy.”
The owner of 201 W. 14th St. is listed as Mardan Realty Co., LLC.
The D.O.B. site also contains an “open” violation for the same property from Sept. 30, with an agency inspector noting, “Failure to maintain building in code… . I observed in the basement in the Pizza NY store having an open sewer line. Repair and/or replace.” The balance due on the violation fine is listed as $625.

David Goldsmith

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Staff member
Another building collapse:

There will be the usual finger pointing, blame shifting, etc. But it's another case of New Yorkers being let down by municipal government.

I have been complaining for quite some time about the physical issues at my prior Coop and the dangerous conditions at 19-23 West 9th Street. 20 years ago repeatedly complaining to Fire Department Commissioner got the action of an inspector regarding the lack of any Public Assembly Permit for the restaurant space. However after examination of the premises he admitted "I understand what you were talking about but if I issued a violation now it would be saying that everybody who's been here before me lied" and refuse to issue a violation. AFAIK there is still no valid PA.

Back in the 1990s there were a series a violations with "dangerous places and things" across the top. Wherefore items such as illegal extensions and lack of fire doors on fusible links. Again AFAIK these violations have never been corrected.

So if something bad happens after decades of the city being on notice, who's fault is it?? There even a lawsuit involving an arbitration where judge

David Goldsmith

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Staff member
How many do we need before we recognize there is a problem in municipal government oversight?

Crews respond to floor collapse in East Side building​

- Crews responded to a floor collapse in a building on the East Side of Manhattan.
It happened just after 2 p.m. Sunday at the building on 310 E. 50th Street between 1st and 2nd Ave.
When inspectors arrived at the scene, they say that sections of the interior floors had collapsed into the footprint of the building.
Inspectors also found that there was no waterproofing installed on the roof and the interior floors were filled with water.

The DOB says the building is vacant and is currently undergoing a permitted full demolition.
No injuries were reported.
This comes as a cleanup process continues in Lower Manhattan after a deadly garage collapse.
The century-old garage pancaked without warning earlier this week, not only crushing vehicles but injuring garage workers and killing the manager, Willis Moore.


David Goldsmith

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Staff member

Dozens of NYC parking garage sites have “hazardous” violations​

DoB says inspections coming after deadly FiDi collapse
New York City has identified a slew of parking structures with violations classified as “immediately hazardous” and needing swift repairs.
There are at least 61 addresses in the city with a parking garage that have open Class 1 violations, the Department of Buildings told the New York Post. The dozens of structures, which comprise a small portion of approximately 4,000 garages in the city, will be subject to inspection starting in the coming months.

Additionally, it’s not clear if those violations are tied to parking structures or other aspects of the building; the structures only need to take up part of a property to be counted towards the total. The DOB is sending inspectors to evaluate the sites, though there haven’t been any reports of them being structurally unstable.
The disclosure from the department comes after a Financial District parking garage collapsed, killing the garage manager and injuring several others. The cause of the collapse at the four-story building at 57 Ann Street remains under investigation, but the FDNY put the leading theory as the weight of the cars on the roof caused the structure to crumble.

The building, owned by Western Carpet and Linoleum, had four open violations when the partial collapse occurred. So far, none have been directly tied to the collapse.



David Goldsmith

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Surprise! Co-op Board Discovers Corroded Support Columns
Bill Morris in Bricks & Bucks on May 17, 2023

Upper East Side, Manhattan

Support beam repair, structural integrity, co-op board, Florida condo collapse, capital projects.
When uncovered, some of the steel support columns looked like Swiss cheese (left); new steel and waterproofing were installed (right) (photos courtesy New Amsterdam Restoration).

May 17, 2023 — Routine laundry room renovation morphs into a major capital project.

The co-op board at a century-old building on the Upper East Side recently embarked on a routine renovation of the laundry room in the basement. But when the old washers and dryers were pulled away from the walls, the board was in for a chilling surprise. The room’s three load-bearing columns — steel I-beams encased in brick — were badly compromised.

“The cracks in the brick were worse than expected,” says Sarah Hewitt, a lawyer who serves as board president in the 82-unit building, which was designed in the 1920s by the legendary architect Emery Roth as part of the block’s six-building Eastgate development. “Workers did probes and opened up enough areas of the columns to judge their condition. Moisture had accumulated over the years, and the steel had oxidized and flaked off. Two of the steel I-beams looked like Swiss cheese.”

With the Florida condominium collapse still fresh in everyone’s minds, the co-op board and its manager, Desi Ndreu of Bota Property Management, immediately went into crisis mode. They assembled a team consisting of the building’s engineer, an outside consultant, and a structural engineer with the contractor who was already doing repairs to the building’s rear courtyard.

“This board wanted to understand the scope of all necessary repairs before making a decision,” Ndreu says.

“The consultant helped us understand the nature of the problem and the possible solutions,” Hewitt adds. “The board didn’t move ahead until we had a consensus from all of the team — the consultant, the contractor and our engineer.”

Discovering the nature of the problem took some sleuthing. Originally, it was thought that the brick columns were cracked by relentless underground blasting during construction of the nearby Second Avenue subway. But the crew renovating the rear courtyard had learned that it contained just one drain, and the engineer concluded that inadequate drainage had allowed moisture to infiltrate the basement and compromise the steel columns. These things can happen in century-old buildings.

The board members discussed the findings and their options during Zoom calls. Several board members met in the basement with the engineers and consultants. Finally everyone agreed on a strategy of welding new steel plates to the existing I-beams, waterproofing them, then encasing them with new brick and mortar.

The board had already levied a small assessment to replenish its reserve fund, and now it took out a second mortgage to pay for this project, which will cost about $500,000, as well as looming repairs mandated by the Facade Inspection and Safety Program. Board members with financial backgrounds urged their colleagues to invest the unspent portion of the loan in short-term Treasury bills, which will almost cover the interest payments on the second mortgage.

With the laundry room columns finished and work proceeding on a dozen others, Hewitt can reflect on the ordeal’s lessons.

“The Florida condominium collapse taught us how important it is to maintain the structural integrity of the building,” she says. “That’s paramount.” The lesson was underscored by the recent fatal collapse of a parking garage in Lower Manhattan — and the ensuing spate of garage inspections and closings ordered by the Department of Buildings.

“We learned a couple of other things,” Hewitt continues. “First, we’re grateful to Desi and her team. She has 30 years of experience, and she knows how to run a building. The second thing is that boards should not delay when they know there’s a structural problem. You need to hop on it and fix it — after you get the best advice from your team. It was important to us that our solution was built to last.”

David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Council passes crackdown on landlords who lie about violations​

“Worst Landlord Law” aims to shame owners who falsely certify fixing infractions

Misbehaving property owners may soon find it harder to escape the city’s “Worst Landlords Watchlist,” thanks to the creation of another, even more ignominious list.

The City Council on Thursday approved the “Worst Landlord Law,” a measure that hikes financial penalties for various housing violations and creates a new watchlist for properties whose landlords self-certify that hazardous violations have been resolved, but lie about it.
Starting in 2025, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development will compile a list each year of up to 100 multifamily buildings whose owners certified that more than 20 violations were corrected in the previous year, at least four of them falsely.

The list would be separate from the existing “Worst Landlords” list released each year by the public advocate’s office. It aims to stop landlords from falsely claiming that the violations that landed them on that list have been addressed.
“Our list is designed in part to shame the worst landlords in the city — but for owners who are shameless in their negligence, this law will hold them to account and deliver relief to countless tenants facing unlivable conditions,” Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement.
An earlier version of the measure had additional criteria for inclusion on the list, including landlords involved in HPD’s alternative enforcement program and those who falsely certified violation corrections within the past five years. Landlord groups criticized that measure for, among other things, being “overly broad,” as the Rent Stabilization Association testified late last year.

The measure’s latest iteration requires HPD to attempt at least two re-inspections before deeming violations corrected. It also allows HPD to exclude certain hazardous violations from counting toward inclusion on the list if a landlord has made attempts to correct them. The earlier bill would have mandated a stricter re-inspection regimen.

The measure also increases various penalties, though not as much as that initial bill. The law calls for up to $1,000 for each violation falsely certified as resolved, in addition to daily fines per violation.
The bill is part of a pair of measures pushed by Williams, the second of which would require HPD to respond more quickly to hazardous and immediately hazardous complaints. That one has not yet made it to a vote.
On Thursday, the Council approved a separate measure that bars landlords and businesses from discriminating against individuals based on their weight or height. It also passed a bill that would require HPD to monitor buildings with heat complaints and ramp up inspections at those properties.
Separately, Council member Sandy Nurse introduced several bills intended to address illegal evictions. Among them is a measure to increase penalties for landlords who improperly evict tenants.
However, The City reported that the problem is not a lack of penalties on the books but rather a lack of enforcement. “Landlords who evict tenants by harassment or changing the locks can be arrested, issued a summons, and go to jail for up to a year,” the publication noted.


David Goldsmith

All Powerful Moderator
Staff member

Structural issues, violations abound in NYC parking garages​

Inspectors probe garages across city after deadly FiDi collapse last month

In New York City’s aging parking garages, structural issues are widespread and corrective action is scant.
An analysis by the New York Times found garages across the city with open violations related to structural decay or overcapacity, two factors suspected to have played a role in the collapse of a Financial District structure that killed one and injured several others last month.

The deadly incident, which the FDNY theorized occurred after the weight of the cars on the roof caused the structure to crumble, prompted the Department of Buildings to look into structures with open Class 1 violations.
The city said as of late April it had identified a slew of parking structures with violations classified as “immediately hazardous” and needing prompt repairs, but has released little other information about its findings.

The Times’ analysis of building inspections and public records and interviews with engineers and former city officials shed light on the city’s apparent failures to inspect parking garages and follow-up on or enforce code violations. Owners and garage operators brushed off the Times’ probe, minimizing hazards logged by inspectors or suggesting that city records are wrong.
New York City had 300 multi-story parking garages operating as of last week, according to the Times. Since the April collapse, inspectors visited 187 of them, shutting down three and partially closing 12 others for repairs.

Forty multi-story parking structures across the city are the same age or older as the nearly 100-year-old garage that collapsed last month. Apart from their age, many of these structures pose a specific concern because they were built with cinder concrete, which is more porous and vulnerable to water damage, according to the Times.
But violations have proliferated across the city’s garages, regardless of their age. More than 175 recorded at least one building code violation in the last 20 years and about 130 had been cited twice or more for unsafe conditions or exceeded capacity.

The outlet found an additional two dozen garages with yearslong open enforcement cases that were inspected again only after the collapse.
Unstable structures can pose a danger to adjoining properties too: Two of the four garages that DOB officials ordered partially or fully evacuated last month were beneath apartment buildings.