Esplanade Venture charged in facade collapse that killed child

Two-year-old died in 2015 accident at 305 West End Avenue

The Esplanade 305 West End Avenue
The Esplanade at 305 West End Avenue

The owners of an Upper West Side senior housing facility are facing up to a year in prison over a facade collapse that killed a young child.

Esplanade Venture Partnership and Alexander Scharf, the building’s owner and its principal, have been charged with violating provisions of the New York City Administrative Code that require all parts of a building to be maintained in a safe condition.

In May 2015, two-year-old Greta Greene was sitting on a bench with her grandmother outside the Esplanade senior housing property at 305 West End Avenue when bricks and terracotta fell from the building. Greene died and her grandmother was hurt.

New York City law requires owners of buildings greater than six stories to retain qualified licensed professionals to examine facades and exterior walls, and to report the conditions to the Department of Buildings. The city says that, following a recommendation to immediately repair cracks in the exterior walls, the owners made only minor repairs and allowed the facade to further deteriorate.

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The penalty for the violation is up to a year in prison, a $25,000 fine, or both.

The engineer involved was charged over the incident last year. The Department of Buildings has made changes to its own procedures for facade enforcement in the wake of the toddler’s death.

“When you own a building, you have a responsibility to maintain it – you don’t just get to cash the rent checks and call it a day,” said Department of Buildings Commissioner Rick Chandler. “I hope these criminal charges will send a message that building owners can’t turn a blind eye to maintenance. They have a legal responsibility to their tenants, and to the public, to keep their properties safe.”

Esplanade Venture Partnership is a family-run company that owns three senior living residences in New York City. A representative from the company could not be reached for comment. — Miriam Hall

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