May 25th - June 1st, 2007
Department of Building Overhauls City Building Code
For the first time in nearly 50 years, the New York City Department of Buildings has completed a comprehensive redesign of its building code. According to Engineering News Record online, more than 400 representatives from the construction industry met to make adjustments to the new code in an effort to adapt to evolving domestic and international standards. The new code will include five out of eight code standards set by the International Code Council, including standards for fuel and gas, mechanical work, plumbing, electrical work, and building.
The New York City construction codes will now include provisions for "progressive collapse resistance" for buildings over 300 feet tall, according to the ENR's report. The code also will implement a set of fire safety provisions, including requiring a second water supply, emergency generators for lights and alarms, and impact-resistant stairwells.
If the City Council adopts the plan next month, the code will go into effect on July 1, 2008. Officials intend for the new code to boost building safety and reduce the city's carbon-dioxide footprint.
Battery Park City Library Approved for Construction
According to a report in the Downtown Express, Battery Park City is awaiting budget approval before construction can begin on a much anticipated and long awaited library. Paul Nagel, spokesperson for City Councilperson Alan Gerson, told the Express that things appear to be on track for the library to open next year, but that more will be known after July 1st, when the city's budget is expected to be approved. A final price tag has not yet been set for the project.
The library is planned for the Riverhouse condo building, currently under construction at 1 River Terrace. Battery Park City Authority officials told the Express that the library portion of the site will be ready for construction to begin by the end of the year, but that it will be up to the New York Public Library start building once it gets control of the space. Library officials have not confirmed a projected construction start date.
WTC Memorial Goes Green
The World Trade Center Memorial (WTCM ) is going green, according to a plan presented to Community Board 1's World Trade Center committee this week by WTCM senior planner Suany Chough, Real Estate Weekly reported. The hope with the new plan is to achieve "no less than a gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED)" rating for the memorial. The U.S. Green Building Council is responsible for the site, including the memorial fountains, museums, and plaza area.
In hopes of achieving a gold rating, Chough told the committee, the plan includes design elements such as water recirculation in the fountains, energy conservation, and air quality -- all of which would help the memorial meet sustainability requirements. In addition, the plan also recommends the use of ultra low-sulfur fuel and dust and noise control.
Demolition Proposed for 50 West Street
The proposed development plans for 50 West Street are receiving mixed reviews from developers, community members, and city officials. On June 6th, Time Equities, the site's developer, will make a full presentation to Community Board 1's Financial District, Battery Park City, and Quality of Life committees, according to a report in the Downtown Express. The meeting will be one of two opportunities for community members to voice their opinions on the proposed demolition of the current 13-story building.
City Councilmember Alan Gerson and various community representatives are in talks with Time Equities to discuss offering the community benefits in return for the large-scale developments that will soon be underway. According to reports, these types of community benefit negotiations are common for such large projects and have worked in the past. Prior negotiations have in three new schools, two community centers, and additional funding for youth programs.
City Gets Tough on Landlords
The New York Times reported this week that the City Council has passed the Safe Housing Act -- a bill that will increase the council's authority in targeting landlords with histories of previous code violations.
The new bill calls for the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (DHRP) to identify the 200 buildings each year with the worst histories of code violations and emergency repairs and then require the landlords of those buildings to make necessary repairs.
City Council Speaker Christine Quinn called the bill a "full-out, governmental full-court press against slumlords in the city of New York," according to the Times. Quinn went on to explain that under the new bill, uncooperative landlords who refuse to pay for repairs can be taken to court or have liens placed on their property. Many hope that the bill will not only improve the safety and habitability of the city's buildings for residents but also help to preserve the low- to mid-income housing that is rapidly disappearing.
Lower Manhattan Cultural Council President Resigns
Crain's Insider reported that Lower Manhattan Cultural Council President Tom Healy has announced his plans to resign. He is reported to be leaving on good terms. No information has been announced regarding a replacement.
9/11 Dust Medically Linked to Death
The ruling by Medical Examiner Charles Hirsch that the death of downtown civil rights attorney Felicia Dunn-Jones was caused in part by exposure to World Trade Center dust on September 11, 2001, was widely reported this week. Dunn-Jones has now officially been declared the 2,750th victim of the attacks.
Some believe that the decision, which conflicts with the city's previous position that the dust had not been medically linked to a singe death, could have far-reaching implications. Given this most recent ruling, city officials will have to determine how to move forward in light of several pending negligence lawsuits filed prior to Dunn-Jones's death.
Mayor Michael Bloomberg maintains that the circumstances that caused Dunn-Jones's death are different from those of the workers and volunteers involved with the WTC recovery effort and therefore will have no effect on pending lawsuits.