City stops some projects after audit finds cheating

Hudson Yards site among those pulled off “essential” list

Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Melanie La Rocca (Credit: Cuomo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images, 50 Hudson Yards)
Gov. Andrew Cuomo and Melanie La Rocca, the city's buildings commissioner (Credit: Cuomo by Bennett Raglin/Getty Images, La Rocca by NYC Buildings,  50 Hudson Yards)

After greenlighting thousands of construction projects as essential, the city’s Department of Buildings has revoked approvals for some.

In an email to owners viewed by The Real Deal, the agency indicated that it audited work that purportedly supported essential businesses or involved a single person. At some sites auditors found more than what was permitted by state rules enacted to curb coronavirus cases.

“A number exceeded what was allowed for in the guidance,” the agency wrote, “and as a result, emails were sent to applicants informing them that their approval is no longer valid.”

Applicants can ask for a second chance but in the meantime must stop working.

A spokesperson for the agency said in a statement that it has “implemented several layers of review and auditing to ensure that only essential construction projects and necessary emergency work can proceed.”

If an audit finds an approval was granted erroneously, it will be revoked and the project shut down, the representative said.

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The Related Companies’ 50 Hudson Yards was one of the sites to have its approval yanked. The developer didn’t return requests seeking comment. The Department of Buildings declined to say how many sites had approvals revoked.

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The action comes as Gov. Andrew Cuomo gears up to lift his shutdown order in some parts of the state — starting with construction and manufacturing — on May 15. It’s not clear when halted projects will be able to resume in the city, though the governor has indicated that a plan will be announced this week.

Work that is more important and less likely to spread the coronavirus will be allowed to proceed first, he has said.

As of Wednesday, work was permitted at more than 6,000 sites across the city, according to the Department of Buildings. Under the state’s order, work on affordable housing, infrastructure and healthcare facilities, as well as emergency work and work performed for essential businesses, is allowed.

Write to Kathryn Brenzel at