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
No Joke: Pete Davidson (left) and Colin Jost just purchased a Staten Island Ferry boat. (Getty)
Floating real estate: Colin Jost, Pete Davidson buy Staten Island Ferry boat
Floating real estate: Colin Jost, Pete Davidson buy Staten Island Ferry boat
Vicky Ward (CNN)
Vicky Ward breaks down New York State’s Trump investigation
Vicky Ward breaks down New York State’s Trump investigation
Lloyd's of London headquarters at Lime Street (Lloyd's of London/CC BY 2.5 - via Wikimedia Commons, iStock)
Lloyd’s of London may exit “Inside Out” home after three decades
Lloyd’s of London may exit “Inside Out” home after three decades
(iStock/Illustration by Kevin Rebong for The Real Deal)
NYC investment sales hit multi-year peak to end 2021
NYC investment sales hit multi-year peak to end 2021
Tax assessments rise 9%, signaling higher bills for landlords
Tax assessments rise 9%, signaling higher bills for landlords
Tax assessments rise 9%, signaling higher bills for landlords
From left: Ryan Johnson and Jeff Berens, co-founders of Culdesac, in front of a rendering of Culdesac Tempe (Culdesac, iStock)
Startup that wants to build car-free cities raises $30M Series A
Startup that wants to build car-free cities raises $30M Series A
From left: Stephen Schwarzman, chairman, Blackstone; Barry Sternlicht, chief executive officer, Starwood Capital Group (Getty Images, Brookfield Asset Management/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
Blackstone, Starwood to pay $1.5B for WoodSpring Suites properties
Blackstone, Starwood to pay $1.5B for WoodSpring Suites properties
Keith Powers, Democratic District 4 representative on the New York City Council, in front of 45 East 45th Street (Getty Images, The Roosevelt Hotel, iStock/Illustration by Steven Dilakian for The Real Deal)
Local lawmakers aim to landmark shuttered Roosevelt Hotel
Local lawmakers aim to landmark shuttered Roosevelt Hotel
arrow_forward_ios

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

Loading...