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CODE BREAKERS: Worker hurt at luxury Nolita condo

The New York City Department of Buildings released its January 2020 enforcement bulletin, which provides highlights of the agency’s actions to sanction and deter bad actors in the construction industry through the enforcement of safety laws and codes of conduct for construction professionals.

The bulletin includes summaries of DOB-imposed disciplinary actions, including penalties and license suspensions and revocations.

The actions below represent a portion of DOB’s overall work to enforce the City’s building codes and safety laws, in addition to the thousands of inspections conducted and violations issued by the agency each month for illegal building and construction conditions.

DOB took a number of major enforcement actions in January, including:

·         54 violations and $1,917,150 in penalties, including daily penalties, issued for illegal building alterations at 10 separate locations.

·         23 violations and $147,750 in penalties, including daily penalties, issued for illegal transient use of buildings at five different locations.

·         56 violations and $620,030 in penalties issued for failure to safeguard construction sites on 47 separate occasions.

·         35 violations and $350,000 in penalties issued to 34 different individuals for failure to carry out duties of construction superintendents.

Below are individual enforcement highlights for January 2020:

Bronx 

·         $482,500 in total penalties issued to Lowell Management Inc., the owners of 1094 Longfellow Avenue, Bronx, for the illegal conversion of a legal four-family apartment building into an illegal 12-family building with the addition of eight illegal Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units, and for construction work performed without proper permits.

·         $180,000 in total penalties issued to Hegrol G. Johnson, the owner of 3350 Fenton Avenue, Bronx, for the illegal conversion of a legal two-family house into an illegal five-family building with the addition of three illegal Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units.

·         $66,250 in penalties issued to Kenia Grullon, the owner of 3108 Mickle Avenue, Bronx, for the illegal conversion of a legal two-family house into an illegal seven-family building, and continued noncompliance with DOB orders to restore the building back to its prior legal condition.

·         $20,000 in penalties issued to Grant Avenue Owners Corp., the owners of 1259 and 1272 Grant Avenue, Bronx, for failure to provide sidewalk pedestrian protection measures after filing façade inspection reports indicating that the façades were unsafe.

·         $12,500 in penalties issued to ZM Force LLC, the owners of 1560 and 1580 Pelham Parkway, Bronx, for failure to file required façade inspection reports to the Department for multiple cycles.

·         The owner of 2271 Southern Avenue, Bronx, was cited for using the property for illegal dead-vehicle and junk storage. After a default hearing, an Order of Closure was issued by the Department. The illegal use of the property was discontinued prior to the Department needing to padlock the property. The location will continue to be monitored for compliance.

Brooklyn

·         $150,000 in total penalties issued to Min Ru Zheng, the owner of 370 50th Street, Brooklyn, for the illegal conversion of a legal two-family house into an illegal 12-family building with the addition of ten illegal Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units.

·         $10,000 in penalties issued to General Contractor Empire Management and Con. for failure to safeguard a construction site at 1056 Manhattan Avenue, Brooklyn. DOB inspectors found that the entry leading into the work site was open and unlocked at a time when construction was not ongoing and no workers were at the site.

·         $8,750 in penalties issued to General Contractor Reliant Builders Corp. for multiple violating conditions at a work site located at 1845 58th Street, Brooklyn, including failing to provide a technical report for the special inspections of steel erected up to the third floor of the site, missing guardrails, missing roof protection for adjacent properties, and work observed that was contrary to the approved plans.

Manhattan

·         $37,250 in total penalties issued to General Contractor Grand Builder Contracting after DOB inspectors found multiple violating conditions at a job site at 335 Grand Street, Manhattan, including failure to properly secure the construction site, unguarded holes found on one of the floors, missing guard rails, inadequate egress, missing window protection, missing rebar caps, and inadequate housekeeping.

·         $32,000 in total violations issued to Safety Registrant Sciame Construction LLC for multiple violating conditions observed at a construction site at 11 Jane Street, Manhattan, including unsafe storage of a generator on the sidewalk, Yodock barriers around the site not properly weighted down, failure to provide a sidewalk shed, missing guard rails around an elevator shaft, inadequate housekeeping, and failure to keep approved design drawings on site.

Minskoff Equities is developing 11 Jane Street as a luxury condo.

·         $25,000 in penalties issued to Safety Registrant Ranger Builders LLC after an excavator on a construction site at 199 Chrystie Street, Manhattan, struck the back wall of an adjacent building, creating a hole in the structure.

·         $10,000 in penalties issued to Construction Superintendent Goran Medak for failing to perform his duties and properly maintain accurate safety logs at a construction site located at 51 MacDougal Street, Manhattan. DOB inspectors found that the safety log book had entries already filled out for future dates.

·         $5,000 in penalties issued to Anthony T. Rinaldi for failure to file a report with the Department about an injury at a work site at 75 Kenmare Street, Manhattan. A worker at the location was injured when mortar fell into his eyes, requiring the worker to be taken to the hospital.

Singer Lenny Kravitz is doing the interiors for the DHA Capital developed 75 Kenmare.

·         $10,000 in penalties issued to LLC EQR-East 27 Street Apartment LLC, the owner of 240 East 27TH Street, Manhattan, for improperly preventing public access to a Privately Owned Public Space (POPS), by padlocking the gates to the plaza.

Queens

·         $108,500 in penalties issued to Edward J. Erhard IV, the owner of 121-08 84th Avenue, Queens, for the illegal conversion of a legal two-family house into an illegal six-family building with the addition of four illegal Single Room Occupancy (SRO) units, illegal construction work performed without permits, and failure to properly maintain the building.

·         $60,000 in penalties issued to Southridge Cooperative Sec. 1, the owners of 3325 92nd Street, 3305 92nd Street. 3345 92nd Street, 3324 93rd Street, 3304 93rd Street, and 3344 93rd Street, Queens, for failure to provide sidewalk pedestrian protection measures after filing façade inspection reports indicating that the façades were unsafe.

·         $23,750 in penalties issued to General Contractor Sunny Builders NY Corp. after DOB inspectors found multiple violating conditions at a job site located at 23-15 39th Avenue, Queens, including inadequate safety measures during hoisting operations, failure to provide flagmen for the site, failure to provide overhead protection measures for workers, providing a pedestrian walkway contrary to DOT specifications, and failure to install proper safety netting.  

·         $10,000 in penalties issued to General Contractor First Class Management Co. for failure to safeguard a construction site located at 35-20 146th Street, Queens. DOB inspectors found that the contractor failed to properly protect the roof level of the new 6-story building project, and allowed water to permeate behind a stucco facade, which caused pieces of stucco to fall off the building.

·         $10,000 in penalties issued to General Contractor Bobcat Construction Corp. for failure to safeguard a construction site at 30-17 31st Street, Queens, after DOB inspectors found multiple safety issues at the site, including egress stairs at the site that were too narrow, failure to provide a pedestrian walkway outside of the site, and an excavator that was improperly parked near a leading edge at the site, posing a potential danger to the public.

·         $10,000 in penalties issued to Construction Superintendent Farhad Nabatkhorian for failing to perform his duties at a construction site at 30-17 31st Street, Queens, including failure to keep proper construction documents on site, closing off a sidewalk without a DOT permit, and not providing a control access zone for an excavator at the site.

·         Following the issuance of a criminal court summons to Doris Robertson, the owner of 87-03 32nd Avenue, Queens, for the illegal conversion of a legal two-family home into an illegal four-family building by creating two illegal apartments in the cellar, the defendant removed the apartments, and restored the cellar back to its prior legal condition.    

Staten Island

·         The owner of 154 Elvin Street, Staten Island, was cited for using the property for illegal dead-vehicle and junk storage. After a default hearing was conducted an Order of Closure was issued by the Department. The premises will be padlocked if the illegal use is not discontinued.  

Construction and Design Professionals

·         Following an audit of 11 professionally certified applications submitted by Professional Engineer Oswin M. Fairweather, the Department found major code non-compliance issues, including improperly proposing changes in use, egress and/or occupancy that would require Alteration Type 1 applications for a new or amended Certificate of Occupancy under Alteration Type 2 applications, inadequate egress issues, inadequate fire separation, inadequate accessibility for persons with disabilities, and various other violations of code and rules. Fairweather agreed to a voluntary surrender of Professional Certification and Directive 14 privileges, effective January 1, 2020.

·         Following an audit of 12 professionally certified applications submitted by Registered Architect Asher Hershkowitz, the Department found major code non-compliance issues, including improperly proposing changes in use, egress and/or occupancy that would require Alteration Type 1 applications for a new or amended Certificate of Occupancy under Alteration Type 2 applications, proposing additional floor area that exceeds the maximum allowable under the Zoning Resolution, inadequate egress issues, inadequate fire separation, inadequate light and air, and various other violations of code and rules. Hershkowitz agreed to a voluntary surrender of Professional Certification and Directive 14 privileges, effective January 1, 2020.

·         Following an audit of five professionally certified applications submitted by Registered Architect Samuel A. Mather, the Department found major code non-compliance issues, including improperly proposing changes in use, egress and/or occupancy that would require Alteration Type 1 applications for a new or amended Certificate of Occupancy under Alteration Type 2 applications, proposing additional floor area that exceeds the maximum allowable under the Zoning Resolution, inadequate egress issues, inadequate accessibility for persons with disabilities, and various other violations of code and rules. Mather agreed to a voluntary surrender of Professional Certification and Directive 14 privileges, effective January 16, 2020.

·         Licensed Master Plumber Ira Rudnitsky was disciplined by the Department for performing work with another plumber as a joint venture at two locations without notifying the Department, for using workers who were not on his company’s payroll to perform work under permits issued to him, and for not being properly established. Rudnitsky agreed to pay a fine of $5,000 and agreed to come into compliance with city regulations within 60 days. 

For previously issued Enforcement Action Bulletins, visit the DOB website

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