Built-up complaints come pouring out


On Dec. 4 the City Council Task Force on Operations and Improvement of the Department of Buildings held a town hall meeting — “Improving the Department of Buildings” — at New York University’s University Hall on E. 14th St. About 200 residents and activists attended and 50 registered to speak. The top two complaints voiced were self-certification and “phony demolitions,” also known as demolition evictions. Under self-certification, Buildings allows most of the building plans submitted to the department each year to be certified by the architects making the submissions. Under demolition eviction, a landlord can empty a building of tenants if he or she applies to do a major gut renovation. Other issues included gentrification and landlords doing major construction work with tenants in place. Getting some of the evening’s biggest applause, Andrew Berman, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation executive director, warned that the planned 45-story Trump Soho condo-hotel at Spring and Varick Sts. will violate the area’s manufacturing zoning and set a bad precedent by essentially operating as a residential building, not a real hotel. Marc Ameruso of Community Board 1 said more quiet methods than pile-driving should be used at the Zinc Building construction site at Greenwich and Canal Sts. Wearing a hand-painted antidevelopment shirt, Suzannah B. Troy of the East Village, below, declared, “Gentrification has become supersizification!” and also complained about dangerous scaffolding. “Read my protest shirt — that’s why I painted it,” Troy told James Oddo, the committee’s chairperson and Council minority leader. “I did. I like it,” Oddo replied.