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NYC DOB Pressured To Take Action Regarding 15-Year-Old Sidewalk Shed On Upper West Side

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- Earlier this week, we told you about a sidewalk shed on the Upper West Side that's been up for 15 years, and tenants of the building say the situation is getting out of control.

A local representative is now putting pressure on the city's Department of Buildings to do something.

Expired permits tell the story of façade work that was supposed to be done at the landmarked 51 West 86 Street. Tenants say the only thing that Weinreb Management has touched up, though, is the sidewalk shed, in place for the last 15 years.

Scaffolding up the side with netting were added in 2020 without explanation, blocking light and attracting pests.

"The pigeons come in, so she really can't even open her windows," tenant Melanie Whiteway said.

"Somebody needs to take responsibility," said Lianne Ritche, president of the Tenants Association.

The city says the façade there and at another Weinreb property, 350 Central Park West, is unsafe.

Now, tenants at that building near West 94th Street tell CBS2's Lisa Rozner they've also long hosted a sidewalk shed.

"This has been up, I don't know, five years?" one woman said.

"Do you ever see them do any work?" Rozner asked.

"No," the woman said.

Since Monday, the owner, Jacob Weinreb, has not returned our calls or e-mails, so Thursday, we tried to speak with him at his office on Riverside Drive and 100th Street.

"Do you know why the scaffolding has been up for so long?" Rozner asked.

We were told Weinreb is out of the country.

But the city says he's on the hook for more than $100,000 for not making fixes at 86th Street and almost $60,000 in fines for the building on Central Park West.

Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer sent a letter to the Department of Buildings commissioner demanding the agency compel the property owner to make repairs, saying, "Current DOB enforcement measures are not sufficient" and asking "how DOB tracks sidewalk sheds that are in excessive, continuous use and how the agency handles these situations."

"We already have enough problems with scaffolding that's up for a short period of time that gathers garbage," Brewer said.

Over the last five years, one councilman has introduced multiple pieces of legislation addressing the issue, but he believes lobbyists from the real estate industry have prevented the city from enacting them.

"I have legislation that says that when the sidewalk sheds go up, work has to start. If it doesn't, the city would step in, do the work and make bad landlords pay," Councilman Ben Kallos said.

All under a 90-day deadline.

The DOB says one-third of all sidewalk sheds are related to its façade inspection program, which ramped up in 2020.

But a rep did not address how the city will compel landlords to actually do the work instead of putting up a shed as a temporary bandage.

In response to the borough president's letter to the commissioner, the DOB would only say until the landlord makes necessary repairs, the sidewalk shed must stay in place to protect pedestrians.

Editor's note: This story was originally published on Friday, July 9.

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