Lawyer argued façade was safe 3 months before fatal accident

New York /
Jan.January 03, 2020 11:20 AM
729 Seventh Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)

729 Seventh Avenue (Credit: Google Maps)

Three months before architect Erica Tishman was struck and killed by a chunk of debris from a midtown building, a lawyer representing the building’s owner argued the façade was safe.

Jonathan Weiss, an attorney at the real estate consulting firm Jack Jaffa & Associates, made the argument at the Office of Administrative Trials and Hearings on September 12, according to the Wall Street Journal, which obtained a recording of the hearing.

“The photos and the allegations, even taken together, do not substantiate the claim that there’s any kind of a falling hazard,” said Weiss, who had been hired by the owner of the 729 Seventh Avenue property, Himmel + Meringoff.

The hearing came after the Department of Buildings issued a violation against Himmel + Meringoff for failing to maintain the building’s façade. Earlier last year, the owner paid a $1,250 fine, however there was no record the damaged terra-cotta identified by inspectors was repaired.

A DOB official presented photographs at the September hearing showing the terra-cotta, according to the Journal. But Weiss disputed the suggestion that the façade posed a risk.

Cracks in the structure, Weiss said, couldn’t be seen “with anything other than binoculars”.

Following reports of the death, a representative for the company said they were “saddened by this tragedy and our hearts go out to the family,” adding that “the company will fully cooperate with the City in the ongoing matter.”

Two weeks after the incident, the building owner filed a lawsuit against a neighboring landlord, claiming they had held up the repairs by refusing to grant access to their property, Crain’s reported.

The incident raised wider questions about the safety of structures across the city, and an analysis by The Real Deal found that many landlords routinely defied requirements to inspect and repair their buildings’ façades.

According to the analysis, there were 4,790 Environmental Control Board violations related to façades issued over the past nearly six years, and more than half remained active. [WSJ] — Sylvia Varnham O’Regan


Related Articles

arrow_forward_ios
The New York Life Sciences and Biotechnology Center at First Avenue and 41st Street (NY Life Sciences)
Life sciences leasing breaks annual record in five months
Life sciences leasing breaks annual record in five months
The commercial market was hit hard by the pandemic, and property tax revenue is expected to fall 5 percent. (iStock)
Tax bills show how much Covid devalued NYC real estate
Tax bills show how much Covid devalued NYC real estate
Richard Segal of Seavest Investment Group, David Marx of Marx Development Group and 902 Quentin Road in Brooklyn (Photos via Seavest Investment Group, Marx Development Group and VRMNY)
Westchester firm buys $54M Brooklyn medical building
Westchester firm buys $54M Brooklyn medical building
Real Estate EFTs See Investment Amid Pandemic Recovery
Why investors are rushing into real estate ETFs
Why investors are rushing into real estate ETFs
Manhattan sublease surge shows signs of slowing
Manhattan sublease scourge finally abates
Manhattan sublease scourge finally abates
Blooma founder Shayne Skaff (LinkedIn, iStock)
CRE fintech startup Blooma nabs $15M in funding
CRE fintech startup Blooma nabs $15M in funding
Distressed real estate investors are digging through commercial mortgage-backed securities to seize, fix and flip troubled properties. (iStock)
Distressed investors tap throwback strategy, target CMBS
Distressed investors tap throwback strategy, target CMBS
President Joe Biden (Getty, iStock)
What Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan holds for real estate
What Joe Biden’s infrastructure plan holds for real estate
arrow_forward_ios

The Deal's newsletters give you the latest scoops, fresh headlines, marketing data, and things to know within the industry.

Loading...