City is waging a campaign against office buildings with outdoor space

DOB now claiming rooftops and setbacks can only be used for plants and trees

Terraces at 1133 Avenue of the Americas (Credit: The Durst Organization)
Terraces at 1133 Avenue of the Americas (Credit: The Durst Organization)

The city’s Department of Buildings is clamping down on proposed office buildings that feature outdoor space, in a campaign that has already delayed dozens of projects.

The DOB examiners are claiming that rooftops and setback can only be used for plants, and often challenge whether or not a roof can support a certain weight, sources told the New York Post.

First Deputy Commissioner Thomas Fariello is spearheading the campaign, and the Real Estate Board of New York has contacted the Department of City Planning asking it to “convince the DOB that what we’re asking is well within scope of what zoning allows,” REBNY’s Michael Slattery told the newspaper.

According to Slattery, some property owners who have already had their terrace plans approved by the DOB have now been told the approval could be withdrawn.

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“They take forever to approve anything, cranes collapse on their watch — but their priority now is to make up reasons not to allow terraces in office buildings,” an unidentified real estate executive said of the DOB, according to the Post.

One of the buildings that may be affected is Durst Organization’s 1155 Sixth Avenue, which is set to get new terraces as part of a $110 million renovation.

A spokesperson for Durst would not discuss the specifics but said, “this is a problem. Access to outdoor space is a critical component of a healthy work environment and a vital part of sustainable development as well as a major recruitment tool for New York’s businesses.”

The DOB and DCP said in a joint statement that they are “aware of the questions that have been raised regarding roof terraces” and will be “working together to arrive at a solution that supports both safety and clarity.”

In its May issue, The Real Deal looked at the bureaucracy and red tape that afflicts the DOB and other public agencies. [NYP]Miriam Hall