NYC ups building facade inspections after deadly debris fall

December 30, 2019 GMT

NEW YORK (AP) — New York City plans to double its roster of building facade inspectors and take other steps after debris fell from a high-rise and killed an architect in midtown Manhattan this month.

Buildings Commissioner Melanie La Rocca said Monday the new measures will hold building owners’ “feet to the fire, so they get repair work done as quickly as possible while still protecting the public.”

A major landlords’ group, the Real Estate Board of New York, said it supported the actions in a statement released by the city.

The plan includes hiring 11 more inspectors to join the 11 already dedicated to examining facades; doing more follow-up inspections to insure pedestrian safety structures are properly installed and maintained at buildings where problems have been found; conducting additional random safety reviews at tall buildings, and other measures.

Architect Erica Tishman was a few blocks from her office when a piece of facade fell from a 17-story office building and hit her a few blocks from Times Square on Dec. 17. She was 60.

In an inspection sweep afterward, the city visited over 1,300 buildings where facades had been flagged as unsafe or needing repairs and found 220 of them didn’t have proper protection for pedestrians, the Buildings Department said.

Hers was the latest in a number of deaths, going back decades, caused by pieces of buildings tumbling to the pavement in the nation’s largest city.