15 years of ‘completely obscene’ NYC scaffolding angers tenants

New York News

NEW YORK (PIX11) — A group of residents in Manhattan’s Upper West Side is fighting mad and they don’t want to take it anymore. They’ve been in the dark for 15 years about when the scaffolding in front of their building will come down.

Now, they are demanding answers. “I hate the scaffolding,” said one longtime tenant who didn’t want to share her name. “The scaffolding has been up for 15 years, which is completely obscene.”     

When the pedestrian shed was first erected in 2006, tenants at 51 West 86th Street thought that was just life in the big city, a temporary but necessary annoyance while construction work was underway. But the shed is still there, and scaffolding and netting have been extended all the way up to the top of the 16-story building.

The tenants are fed up with little apparent work taking place all this time. “Tenants should be notified as to what the status is and what the plans are with the façade,” said David Rosen, the Vice President of the Tenants Association. “And when they’re going to get completed.” 

For some longtime residents who live in the front of the building, the scaffolding and netting are more than just a headache. “It blocks sunlight and blocks our view of the sidewalk,” said Roberta Maxwell. ”There’s a pigeon parade, and you know what that means. So it’s a health issue and a safety issue as well.”

Another tenant called for change. “The politicians and the landlords need to step it up, because the city is being buried in crumbling scaffolding with no laws that actually protect the rest of us,” said Lianne Ritchie.

Landlord Jake Weinreb did not return repeated calls and emails.

The New York City Department of Buildings is aware of the problem. Spokesman Andrew Rudansky sent a statement to NEWS10’s sister station in New York City:

“Sidewalk sheds are a necessity in our city to protect pedestrians from buildings that have been allowed to fall into disrepair. The landlords at 51 West 86th Street have a legal responsibility to keep their buildings in a safe condition and make needed repairs to the façade. We will continue to take aggressive actions against these landlords, to compel them to make the needed repairs at the building.”         

The DOB spokesman also said:

  • “The owners of 51 West 86th Street previously had permits to repair the façade, however that work was never completed and the property owners allowed those permits to expire in October 2019. The owners have also recently failed to file required façade reports to the Department.”
  • “As a result of the owners failure to make repairs to the façade to make it safe, DOB has issued multiple violations to the property owners. Due to their continued non-compliance with DOB façade regulations, the owners will owe an estimated $108,000 in DOB ​civil penalties. These penalties will continue to climb if the owners continue to fail to take steps to fix their building façade.”
  • “We are currently reviewing this case to determine whether enhanced enforcement strategies, beyond additional fines, may be necessary to compel the owners to make the necessary façade repairs, which will allow them to safely remove the sidewalk shed without endangering the public.”

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