Watch CBS News

After Deadly Midtown Facade Collapse, Thousands Of NYC Buildings Found With Open Violations Still Not Repaired

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – There are new questions about New York City's enforcement of building violations following the deadly tragedy near Times Square.

Sixty-year-old Erica Tishman was killed after being struck by a piece of falling debris at a building previously warned about the condition of its facade.

CBS2 has learned new details about what happened in the months before the accident.

Workers are putting up pipe scaffolding on the side of 729 Seventh Avenue. Soon, that will come with netting and platforms outside each floor for city workers to inspect the facade inch by inch.

Erica Tishman
Erica Tishman (credit:

Last Tuesday Tishman was killed by a piece of falling façade while walking on the street below. A sidewalk shed went up almost immediately after, but the building owner - Himmel and Meringoff - still has an open violation for problems dating back to April 29.

That's when the city Department of Buildings says it issued a violation to the owner because of defects in the building's facade.

The DOB says the owner paid a $1,250 fine, but never took required safety measures to protect the public, such installing a sidewalk shed or removing potentially dangerous masonry.

Now CBS2 has learned in September the company appealed to a city judge, getting the violation downgraded from a Class 1 - which is considered immediately hazardous - to a Class 2 which does not require "immediate corrective action."

A source close to the company says it made that request because an engineer's inspection found no cause for alarm and that nothing was imminent or dangerous.

One expert who did not want to be named told CBS2's Lisa Rozner that often when landlords are required to put up scaffolding they'll avoid it and instead pay a fine because usually that shed means they have to lower the rent for the ground floor tenant.

CBS2 also spoke with another expert who is not involved with the tragedy. Allen Azarkian owns Building Violation Services. He says it's common for the DOB to issue fines.

"They'll just issue more and more violations, unless it gets severe they'll come and shut you down," Azarkian said.

Looking at the DOB's database, CBS2 found more than 11,000 open violations at buildings across all five boroughs.

CBS2 asked DOB what is it doing about violators who pay the fines but don't fix the problem.

No one would go on camera but a spokesperson said since last week there was a city wide sweep of nearly 1,500 facades that require immediate work.

Azarkian, the expert Rozner interviewed, says more building owners are calling his company for consultations after last week's tragedy.

City law requires buildings more than six stories to be inspected every five years.

View CBS News In
CBS News App Open
Chrome Safari Continue
Be the first to know
Get browser notifications for breaking news, live events, and exclusive reporting.