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New York City’s Plan to “Get Sheds Down.”

New York City’s Plan to “Get Sheds Down.”

New York City, known for its iconic skyline, vibrant culture and bustling streets, has long been grappling with a common urban sight- scaffolding sheds. These temporary structures, often erected for construction and maintenance purposes, have become a ubiquitous part of the city’s landscape, eliciting mixed reactions from residents and visitors alike. Scaffolding sheds have become synonymous with the City’s perpetual state of construction. Currently, there are approximately 9,000 active, permitted construction sheds set up across the City, spanning nearly 400 miles and taking up around 3% of the City’s sidewalk space. The scaffolding sheds are necessary for ensuring public safety during renovations and repairs but others argue these structures often linger long after the work is completed, dampening the overall ambiance of the City streets. The challenge lies in striking a balance between safety and aesthetics.

In a bid to enhance the City’s aesthetic appeal, improve pedestrian experience and revitalize its neighborhoods, Mayor Eric Adams has unveiled an ambitious plan to remove scaffolding sheds from the streets of New York. “Get Sheds Down” purports to be a comprehensive overhaul of the City’s scaffolding policies that aim to remove longstanding sidewalk sheds and redesign them to be less intrusive using alternatives like safety netting. The plan intends to incentivize property owners to expedite building façade repairs to remove sidewalk sheds more quickly.

Some notable procedures targeted at expediting repairs include reducing the validity period of shed permits from 12 months to 90 days, additional penalties to encourage property owners to complete repair work and expedite shed removals (which penalties are higher in select business districts), and an expansion of the Longstanding Sheds Program, which consists of additional DOB scrutiny, ranging from regular site visits from enforcement inspectors to criminal court actions or litigation, targeting buildings with sheds that have been in place longer than three years.

As for designing alternatives to the unsightly sidewalk sheds, the plan includes developing alternative designs to the “ubiquitous pipe-and-plywood shed design” and adopting such alternative designs for future sheds by the end of 2024. In addition, the City plans to allow certain interim “aesthetic enhancements” to the traditional design, “requir[ing] increased lighting under existing sheds, allow[ing] art to be installed on shed panels, and unlock[ing] more color choices for sheds beyond the hunter green color currently mandated under the city’s Construction Code.”

In addition, the City also announced that “DOB will conduct a study to review the frequency of inspections under Local Law 11 and the Façade Inspection and Safety Program, and determine whether New York City can employ less frequent and/or less onerous inspections without jeopardizing pedestrian safety.” This could have a significant effect on the real estate and construction industries.

Mayor Adams’ plan to remove scaffolding sheds represents a bold step toward reimagining the urban landscape of New York City. As his plan unfolds, stay tuned to Ingram’s Newsroom for the latest developments.

By Maurizio Anglani

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