When we published an exclusive interview last year with Rick Chandler, commissioner of the city’s Department of Buildings (DOB), he admitted that he was juggling one very hot potato. New DOB regulations required owners of apartments with enclosed balconies – which include thousands of co-op and condo apartments across the city – to prove that the enclosures were both legal and safe, otherwise the owners would have to remove them. Since many of the enclosures were installed years ago, sometimes by previous owners, the regulation promised to create a bureaucratic and financial nightmare.
“We’re in a little bit of a challenged space,” Chandler admitted in the interview. Shortly after it was published, the DOB announced that existing enclosures would be allowed to remain, provided an engineer deemed them safe, while future enclosures would require permits. One architect said the announcement inspired a “sigh of relief” among co-op and condo residents.
And now, a few months after deftly handling that hot potato, Chandler has announced that he will step down as DOB commissioner at the end of this month, the Real Deal reports.
Chandler, 58, says he had a long-time plan to retire between the ages of 55 and 60, adding that he is leaving the “door open” to future opportunities. Thomas Fariello, the DOB’s first deputy commissioner, will take over as acting commissioner until the Mayor Bill de Blasio appoints a permanent replacement.
“It’s been an agonizing decision for me,” Chandler told the Real Deal. “I’m pulling the trigger on my life plan – after 31 years of public service, I might add. And my body shows it.”
De Blasio named Chandler DOB commissioner in 2014. Chandler previously served as DOB borough commissioner in Queens, the Bronx, and Brooklyn. He later worked for the city’s Department of Homeless Services and at Hunter College. As DOB commissioner, Chandler oversaw the department’s modernization efforts, which included digitizing construction filings and inspection records – while juggling a bushel full of political hot potatoes.
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