As the city’s construction frenzy continues to defy expectations and all logic, the access agreement has become an ever-more-vital document for co-ops and condos. As the New York Times reports, developers and occupants of neighboring buildings must do a delicate dance. And sometimes they trip.
When a developer requests access to your building, savvy co-op and condo boards turn immediately to their professionals. Usually, the two sides hammer out a deal where the developer pays the affected property what is called a licensing fee, often around $2,000 a month, in exchange for access. The fee usually covers costs for building experts and it can sometimes appease disgruntled shareholders and unit-owners.
Not Jeffrey and Suzanne Stewart, whose duplex penthouse on Great Jones Street in Noho has been shrouded in scaffolding since a project next door began around 2008 as a hotel, but languished unfinished for years. It will eventually emerge as an 11-story condo called 22 Bond, which since 2013 been under development by Second Development Services and Richport Group. For good measure, falling objects from the construction site have damaged the Stewarts’ skylight on three separate occasions.
Last November, after the licensing agreement expired, the condo board sued the developers for damages, demanding that they remove the scaffolding and pay for repairs. In a separate suit, the Stewarts sued for damages and for about $40,000 in unpaid licensing fees. The condo has denied the developers access to the site until a new agreement is reached, a move that has further delayed the project. But at the same time, the Department of Buildings will not permit the scaffolding to be removed, because doing so would pose a safety hazard.
It’s a Catch-22 from hell: a construction project that has dragged on for nearly a decade in a booming market, but cannot be completed until a new licensing agreement is reached.
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