Residents at Fifth Avenue condo want up to $450K to allow library renovation

Apartment owners at 445 Fifth Avenue demanding licensing fee

Aug.August 30, 2017 10:45 AM

Condominium owners at a building on Fifth Avenue are holding the New York Public Library hostage, demanding a six-figure licensing fee before allowing construction work to begin next door at the Mid-Manhattan Public Library branch.

The condo owners at 445 Fifth Avenue won’t allow the library to place scaffolding and other equipment until the fee, which could total as much as $450,000, is paid, according to a suit filed by the public library, the New York Post reported. The renovations, slated to last 30 months, are due to start next month. The Library Branch Is Across The Street from the system’s flagship building.

It’s a tactic property owners have increasingly resorted to in an effort extract money from developers and other property owners who can ill-afford delays.

A court ruling rendered in April 2016 entitles neighbors to things like money to hire architects and or engineers to look over building plans, lawyers to work on agreements and a general licensing fee simply for the inconvenience of construction.

Lawyers for the library argue that the “imposition of a license fee is unjustified” and will considerably impact the library, its patrons and taxpayers. The residents are also trying restrict work to work days between 9:00 a.m. and 5:00 p.m., according to the Post.

The 33-story building at 445 Fifth Avenue, built in 1986, has 174 units. A one-bedroom apartment there is in contract, last asking $865,000, according to StreetEasy.

In 2014, the library bought eight commercial condos at 445 Fifth for $34.5 million. A year later, Harbor Group International bought a retail condo in the building for $68 million from Thor Equities. [NYP]Miriam Hall

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