Buildings Department Deems Nearly 7,500 Structures Uninhabitable or Partially Uninhabitable

NY Daily News - November 30, 2012

by Barbara Ross

Staten Island hardest hit with 5,880 structures on the list

New York City is making slow but steady progress in getting people back into their offices and homes damaged by Hurricane Sandy, the Buildings department reported Thursday morning. There are now 757 buildings that have red tags -- meaning they are unsafe because of structural problems and cannot be entered. That's down from about 900 earlier this month, according to department spokesman Tony Sclafani.

Sclafani said another 6,719 buildings have yellow tags, which means portions of the building are uninhabitable. He said that number also is down from earlier this month, but didn't have details.

The tags were posted right after the storm as inspectors from the Department of Buildings examined 80,000 buildings.

As a result of those inspections, DOB officials said they expected they would have to bulldoze at least 200 structures, mostly one- and two-family homes. That was in addition to 200 homes demolished by storm waters. They said another 500 could be at risk.

Sclafani said buildings lose their red or yellow tags after owners make repairs and then notify DOB that they're ready for re-occupation. He said an inspector examines the building to make sure it's safe, then adjusts the designation if it's warranted.

Of the 757 buildings that still have red tags, 10 are in Manhattan, 10 in The Bronx, 51 in Brooklyn, 452 in Queens and 234 on Staten Island.

Sclafani said there are 278 buildings with yellow tags in Manhattan, 58 in The Bronx, 315 in Brooklyn, 422 in Queens and 5,646 on Staten Island.

Of the 10 buildings in Manhattan that have red tags, nine are in lower Manhattan, but none of them are the high rise office or residential buildings that remain shuttered by storm damage.

For example, two high rise office buildings that have been temporarily closed since the hurricane - 55 Water Street and 4 New York Plaza, where the Daily News is headquartered - are not on the list of red tagged buildings in Manhattan.

Since the Buildings Department has not yet released the full list of yellow- and red-tagged buildings, it's unclear if these buildings are on the yellow list.

Two residential towers that are still empty -- a luxury rental building 2 Gold St. and condos at 88 Greenwich St. -- are also not red-tagged. Residents in each of these buildings have sued the landlord or condo board, accusing them of mismanagement before, during and after the storm.

Sclafani said the Buildings Department is not the only agency involved in assessing the safety of buildings. He noted that city and state environmental officials and the city Health Department also play roles in evaluating the safety of homes and offices.

Meanwhile, he said, DOB is expediting permit requests for repairs to hurricane related storm damage.

"The onus is on the owners" to get the work done and notify the city that it has been completed, said Sclafani.