Today we offer a reminder that all building owners, including co-op and condo boards, must ensure the safety of their buildings — even if they don't fall under the mandatory five-year inspection and repair cycle of the Facade Inspection and Safety Program (FISP), formerly known as Local Law 11.
This reminder unfolded in Chinatown. A resident looked down from her window in the 22-unit, six-story building at 111 Mott St. and noticed a pronounced bulge in the building's brick facade, Crain's reports. Correctly assuming the building was not pregnant, the alert resident notified the fire department, which, after seeing the bulge and determining that the facade was in danger of collapsing onto the sidewalk, asked the Department of Buildings to conduct a structural stability inspection.
Inspectors found two hazards: the bulging facade and a fire escape that was corroded and had partially detached steps. The DOB promptly ordered a full evacuation of the building and a partial evacuation of the retail space on the ground floor. The displaced tenants were offered temporary housing through the American Red Cross.
The building is owned by Conway Capital — a real estate investment firm with a number of buildings in Chinatown, the Lower East Side and Brooklyn. The firm bought the Mott Street property in 2019 for $9 million.
Conway was ordered to hire contractors and an engineer to install a fence around the property and secure the damaged sections of the facade with emergency materials that will hold it until the brickwork can be properly removed and repaired. Work began two days later.
Since the incident, the DOB has issued two violations to Conway for failure to maintain the building and its exterior walls. The maximum penalty for each of these violations is $25,000. The amount paid will be determined by an Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings judge at a hearing May 11.
Those numbers should catch the attention of all co-op and condo boards that do not fall under the requirements of FISP — which mandates that all buildings taller than six stories must have their facades examined every five years by a Qualified Exterior Wall Inspector, then embark on a program of making needed repairs. Under city law, all building owners are required to keep their buildings in a safe condition at all times, regardless of their height.
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