Sidewalks + Plazas

CANY’s work is mostly about looking up, ensuring the buildings that make New Yorkers proud and attract so many visitors are safe, well restored and preserved to benefit future generations. But sometimes, it’s about looking down. CANY also works to ensure sidewalk and plazas are safe, well maintained and strong enough to support modern day life. This includes the vaults, the spaces beneath a building that encroaches into the public right of way.

 

New York City is serious about safety, making property owners potentially liable for injuries caused by unsafe public access areas. Poorly maintained with slip, trip or fall hazards, which can include defective or dislodged sidewalk flags, improper slopes, or non-compliant repairs, can evoke a violation order from the Department of Transportation (DOT). The DOT could further impose a lien on the property, preventing it from beings old, as well as undertaking the corrective work themselves, adding such costs plus administration fees to the debt burden. And, of course, in the event of injury, an expensive liability claim could be triggered.

 

A building owner undertaking an upgrade of a building’s commercial space also has a legal obligation to improve all public rights of way to and from the building, which could also necessitate adherence to the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) Accessibility specifications, which must also comply with its own rules and guidelines.

 

CANY understands how buildings must safely interact with the public, and the physical issues that can compromise that relationship. Often, they arise from water infiltration potentially caused by failure of waterproofing, poor drainage or leaking utilities, leading to corrosion of supporting steel structures, damage to walls, vault space, sidewalk or all the above. Older vaults often feature terracotta and brick arches which can crumble and weaken, becoming inadequate to withstand the weight of modern living above. Road signage, cranes hoisting equipment up a building, and emergency vehicles can all impact on the stability of the vault space.

 

We will work with the owners, contractors, utility companies that service the building, the DOT and the transportation networks to determine the source of the problem and how to resolve it. We can also help clients navigate and fulfil any additional approvals required from the Landmark Preservation Committee, for distinctive and historic districts, and the Public Design Commission for non-standard materials.

 

Because we know and love New York’s buildings, especially the more idiosyncratic ones the city is renowned for, we can spot a potential issue before it becomes a problem.

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