NYC Buildings Department: 86 Percent of City's Facades OK

The department's new report summarizes the inspection reports filed during the most recent five-year period by building owners. More than 7,700 buildings in the city have a sidewalk shed in front of them, DOB reported.

The New York City Department of Buildings has posted a new report mapping the façade conditions of more than 14,000 buildings citywide whose owners are required to submit Façade Inspection Safety Program results to the department in five-year cycles. The report summarizes the reports of Cycle 7, the most recently full cycle completed, in 2014. (Cycle 8 began in 2015 and is currently under way.)

The report is part of DOB's effort to modernize the agency and increase transparency through the use of advanced data analytics and mapping. It indicates 86 percent of the façade inspection reports in Cycle 7 were either in good condition (Safe) or were categorized as Safe With a Repair and Maintenance Program (SWARMP). There were 975 categorized as unsafe and another 874 as No Report, which means no report was submitted for them. Facades designated as SWARMP must be repaired within one to five years to prevent a potentially unsafe condition.

Local Law 11 of 1998 requires inspections of building exterior walls and appurtenances of buildings taller than six stories. Because 60 percent of the city's buildings taller than six stories are in Manhattan, that's where most of the façade inspections and reports are made – and also where 51.3 percent of façade violations occurred during 2010-2016. Property owners must install a sidewalk shed to protect the public when there is an unsafe façade or when there is façade maintenance work or an ongoing construction project. In all, more than 7,700 buildings in the city have a sidewalk shed in front of them, according to the report.

The inspections are conducted by private, qualified, registered design professionals who are not DOB employees. They assign these categories:

  • Safe: No problems and in good condition
  • Safe With a Repair and Maintenance Program
  • Unsafe: Problems/defects threaten public safety

"Sidewalk sheds are a necessary evil: They're ugly, but they're required by law to keep pedestrians safe. Our report will help New Yorkers understand why these structures went up on their block and how long they've been there. DOB's façade-safety report represents not only a step forward in our ability to monitor at-risk buildings, but also a new level of transparency and accountability for building owners who are required to do their part to keep every New Yorker safe," said Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler, P.E.

Beginning in September 2016, building owners, managers, and design professionals had to use an online portal to submit their reports, pay filing fees, and report unsafe façade conditions. Violations are issued to owners who are not in compliance. Some of the violations issued by the FISP unit include:

  • Failure to File a Façade Technical Report
  • Failure to File and Amended Façade Technical Report
  • Failure to Maintain Building Walls
  • Failure to Protect the Public

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