NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – New York City’s Department of Buildings promised to hold landlords accountable for safety violations.
This comes after the owner of the Midtown building where facade fell and killed a woman on the sidewalk below was ordered to make repairs, but never did.
CBS2’s Andrea Grymes went demanding answers.
The DOB swept some 1,300 buildings since Tuesday that needed immediate facade work to make sure that additional safety measures will be implemented if needed, but why did it take a tragedy for one building to act?
“It’s like a day late, you know? It’s so stupid. Just stupid,” John Gizze, who works nearby said.
The owner of 729 Seventh Avenue finally put up a sidewalk shed around their building at the corner of West 49th Street.
It came hours after pedestrian Erica Tishman was killed by a piece of falling facade.
“It’s pretty scary for us. We walk by here every day… You kind of trust that New York City is taking care of its buildings, that people are following the rules but you find out I guess the supervision’s not there,” local worker Chris Yu added.
That building was warned months ago and on Wednesday CBS2 demanded answers about how this deadly accident could’ve happened.
On April 29, the DOB says it issued a violation to the owner because of defects in the building’s facade.
DOB says the owner paid a $1,250 fine and they were ordered to make repairs, plus implement safety measures to protect the public like installing a sidewalk shed or removing potentially dangerous masonry.
On July 24, DOB reported it issued a follow up violation for failure to resolve the April violation. DOB says the owner delayed court action, challenged the violations, and refused to make repairs.
On Tuesday, Tishman was innocently walking by when she was killed.
“A lot of building owners simply don’t care. They don’t care about the law. They don’t care about the codes. They don’t care about the tenants and they don’t care about pedestrians who are walking under their building,” attorney Sara Director said.
Director is with personal injury law firm Barasch and McGarry. She believes this problem is more widespread than the public knows and, in this case, the city is at fault too.
“Why didn’t DOB go back in a week and see that nothing was done? Why didn’t DOB build a sidewalk shed and invoice the building?” Director added.
CBS2’s Andrea Grymes asked DOB if they could’ve built a shed.
A spokesperson reiterated that the owner was ordered to take action but didn’t and challenged the violations.
CBS2 also asked building owner Himmel and Meringoff why the facade was never fixed and why they didn’t install a sidewalk shed sooner to protect pedestrians.
A spokesperson did not answer the questions, only saying they are saddened by the tragedy and will cooperate fully with the city.
Several lawmakers are calling for full investigations, including the local state senator and city council speaker Corey Johnson.