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Buildings Dept.: Greenwich Village Building With Buckled Facade Has Past Violations

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Residents living in a landmarked building in Greenwich Village are unsure of when they'll be able to return to their homes, and it appears the property owner could have prevented the issue from occurring in the first place.

On Wednesday, an evacuation order was issued for 20 apartments and two commercial spaces at 85 Christopher St.

The Department of Buildings had been called in to investigate after it appeared the facade of the building, which was built around 1900, was buckling.

Following an initial investigation, officials said on Thursday that the supports between the roof level and sixth floor failed, causing the wall of the building to buckle outward.

Department of Buildings officials added that cracking was observed throughout the exterior of the building.

Christopher St. evacuation
85 Christopher St. was evacuated after the wall of the building buckled outward on May 14, 2014 (Credit: Roger Stern/1010 WINS)

The incident should not have come as a surprise to the property owner, who was issued an Environmental Control Board violation in March, 2013 regarding the failure to maintain the building's facade. The property owner owes a $1,000 fine on the violation, the buildings department said.

In January the Department of Buildings issued a DOB violation with a $1,500 civil penalty to the property owner for failure to correct the previous violation relating to the building's facade. The penalty has yet to be paid, officials said.

Damian, who lives in the building, told 1010 WINS the landlord doesn't take good care of the building.

"He doesn't fix anything right. It's always done on the cheap. And that's the way he runs everything. I've only lived here for 6 years, but I think it's been a build up," he said.

Damian added that he now feels homeless since he's been unable to return to his apartment.

The buildings department said the property owner has now retained a professional engineer to shore the building and make the site safe. Officials said the work had already begun.

A representative for the owner told 1010 WINS he had no comment, except that they are "trying to work out this problem, and get everybody back in as soon as we can."

The vacate order remained in place Thursday, though officials allowed most of the residents to access their apartments Wednesday night so that they could retrieve personal items. Those living in the front of the building on the fifth and sixth floor were not allowed to return due to safety concerns.

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