UPPER WEST SIDE, Manhattan (PIX11) — They are the bane of apartment dwellers’ existence. We’re talking about the scaffolding, netting and sheds that appear on practically every block where there’s a high rise.
They are there to protect pedestrians, but make life miserable for the tenants.
“It’s depressing,” said Lianne Ritchie, a tenant at 51 West 86th Street. ”It’s dark. It’s relentless.”
Another longtime tenant, Roberta Maxwell, has been living with a parade of pigeons nesting on several layers of scaffolding outside her apartment windows for more than 16 years now.
“As a former pigeon lover, I have turned on a dime,” Maxwell said. “It’s really intimately disgusting to watch them perform intimate acts of whatever it is to sustain their lives. It’s constant. It’s dirty. It’s unhealthy.”
Since 2006, as seen in previous coverage on PIX11 News, the tenants of 51 West 86th Street have been battling landlord Jacob Weinreb for putting up scaffolding, a pedestrian shed and netting, but never doing any facade work that would lead to them being taken down.
The city fined the landlord hundreds of thousands of dollars for violations at 11 buildings, including the 86th Street one. In February, the city even sued him.
“We’ve got the Department of Buildings on it, the Law Department on it, you on it, the tenants on it, me on it,” said Gale Brewer, the Upper West Side city council member. “It’s been a horrible 16 years.”
“New York City is a place where you want to open up the light and I am just appalled,” said Janet Levoff, another resident. “It’s possible to take this down, so it just doesn’t make sense.”
New York City’s law department told PIX11 News: “As a result of our lawsuit, much-needed public safety repairs are ongoing at 11 of Mr. Weinreb’s worst buildings. We are closely monitoring the owner’s progress and expect work on the façade at 51 West 86th Street to begin in short order. “
But tenants will believe it when they see it. “It would be a miracle, but there are miracles on 34th Street and even on 86th Street,” said David Rosen, a building tenant.
On Aug. 17, the city issued a permit to a contractor to start facade repairs on West 86th Street. Jack Weinreb, the landlord, did not return calls from PIX11 News.