Chelsea neighbors battle for years over fire escape

Now one party is suing the Department of Buildings

TRD New York /
Oct.October 25, 2015 10:45 AM

It’s not usually considered an amenity worth fighting over, but neighbors in Chelsea are battling it out over their fire escape.

Jeweler Judy Geib wants direct access to the fire escape outside her West 22nd Street building and she is willing to to carve a hallway off her neighbor’s apartment to get it, according to court papers cited by the New York Post. But her neighbors, Robert Topol and Michael Trotta, aren’t so keen on the idea, which would remove 200 square feet from their apartment.

City building and fire codes require apartments to offer two means of escape in case of an emergency, and a 1979 blueprint of Geib’s apartment shows a corridor that leads to the fire escape. But today, that corridor leads to the adjacent apartment.

Both Geib and building owner, Top of the Lofts, sued Robert Topol and Michael Trotta two years ago, only to be counter-sued. Since then, the Department of Buildings approved the current arrangement, according to the Post.

Now, Geib is suing the Department of Buildings.

“Requiring tenants to pass through someone else’s apartment to exit is a recipe for disaster,” Geib’s legal filing says. “Even a momentary lapse by the tenants of Apartment 8B — a moved chair, dropped shoe or placement of a sculpture — could spell disaster for the tenants of Apartment 8A in an emergency.” [NYP]Christopher Cameron

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