The developer responsible for a 2015 facade collapse that killed a two-year-old girl and injured her grandmother has pleaded guilty to a pair of misdemeanor charges and will pay $50,000 to the city over the incident.
Esplanade Venture Partnership pleaded guilty to criminally violating the city’s administrative code by failing to maintain the exterior wall at 305 West End Avenue on the Upper West Side, according to the Department of Buildings. Two-year-old Greta Greene was sitting on a bench outside the residential building with her grandmother in May 2015 when bricks and terracotta fell from it, killing her and hurting her grandmother.
The DOB had filed criminal charges against Esplanade in 2016 for failing to maintain the building despite receiving multiple warnings about problems with its facade. The firm was fined $25,000 for both of the charges, and its managing agent Alexander Scharf, who was also charged, has agreed to pay the city $5,000 in restitution.
The guilty plea does not include jail time for anyone at Esplanade, according to the DOB.
Acting Buildings Commissioner Thomas Fariello said in a statement that the guilty plea “is a message to property owners throughout New York City that the Department will hold accountable anyone that puts the public in danger by refusing to properly maintain their building.”
Representatives for Esplanade could not be reached for comment.
The city has required owners of buildings taller than six stories to have qualified licensed professionals examine their facades and report their conditions to the DOB since 1980. Esplanade received recommendations to repair cracks in the exterior walls at 305 West End Avenue following one of the inspections, but the firm did not make any repairs, and the facade deteriorated further, according to the DOB.
The luxury senior housing building stands 14 stories tall and spans 185,000 square feet. Esplanade sold it for $145 million in 2016 to a joint venture of Northwind Group, Harrison Street Real Estate Capital and the Engel Burman Group.
Engineer Maqsood Faruqi was indicted in 2016 for filing false inspection reports with the DOB saying that the facade was safe before the fatal accident. He pleaded guilty to the charge of offering a false instrument for filing and surrendered his filing privileges with the DOB, according to the city.
The DOB implemented multiple reforms following the fatal facade accident. These included inspecting all buildings that do not file compliance reports by the required deadline and requiring all building owners to immediately install public protections if reports indicate dangerous conditions at their building.