DOB slams Crown Heights landlord with lawsuit for decade-old sidewalk shed

sidewalk shed outside crown heights building
The city’s Department of Buildings is taking a Crown Heights property owner to court over a decade-old sidewalk shed.
Photo by Ximena Del Cerro

The Department of Building is taking the property owners of a Crown Heights apartment complex to court after they allegedly failed to fix a 10-year-old, dilapidated sidewalk shed. 

After years of neglected repairs, DOB filed a nuisance abatement case on Aug. 11 against the owners of 867 St. Marks Ave.: Colleen Carter-Neblett, Saint Marks Funding LLC, and the other alleged occupants  — in King’s County Supreme Court. 

The building first appeared on DOB’s radar in 2013, when inspectors noticed cracks on the facade. The team issued a partial vacate order for the building that fall, noting the limestone walls on the third and fourth floors were cracked and bulging out. DOB inspectors then ordered the building owner to install overhead protection, hire an engineer and make the necessary repairs. 

The owners soon installed the sidewalk shed, and obtained permits for façade repairs and the installation of a supported scaffold in front of the location in 2015 and 2017; however, they allegedly never made the required repairs.

sidewalk shed in crown heights
The sidewalk shed has been in place for 10 years yet none of the required repairs have been made. Photo by Ximena Del Cerro

The owners did not respond to Brooklyn Paper’s request for comment. 

“Sidewalk sheds perform an important public safety function, but when allowed to remain in place for year after year, they create an unsightly blight for the entire neighborhood,” a spokesperson with DOB said. 

Despite the department telling the owners of the necessary repairs, the decaying sidewalk shed has stayed in place for a decade. Now, both the building and the sidewalk shed are in need of construction as the delayed restoration has posed more safety concerns, according to DOB. 

“The protective construction shed at 867 St. Marks Ave. has languished in place for almost 10 years, and during this time the property owners have done little to make the needed repairs at their building,” the spokesperson said in a statement. “Not only have the owners allowed their building’s facade to further deteriorate during this time, but their failure to maintain the shed and scaffolding has now created new safety issues for both tenants and neighbors.”

Inspectors have issued multiple recent violations to the owners which have resulted thousands of dollars in civil penalties. A partial vacate order is still active, as is a stop work order. Per DOB records, one resident complained that the scaffolding “is destroying my building. When it rains or snows the water falls down on [my] steps due to their scaffolding.”Due to the continued noncompliance, DOB decided to take legal action against the owners. 

The case comes as DOB is cracking down on sidewalk sheds through a Long Standing Shed Program. The initiative, which started in 2019, targets older sheds in the city and enforces owners to make vital repairs. 

The team has filed 50 criminal and nuisance abatement court cases since the program started.

mayor eric adams get sheds down program
Adams’ “Get Sheds Down” program expanded the DOB’s “Long Standing Sheds” project while taking new aim at some building owners. Photo courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

Mayor Eric Adam’s new Get Sheds Down plan to reduce the number of sheds in New York City includs expanding the Long Standing Shed Program while cracking down on building owners who have the financial means to make repairs but can’t. 

Roughly 9,000 sidewalk sheds currently stand in New York City  — in part because of Local Law 11, the Façade Inspection Safety Program, which requires owners of properties higher than six stories to have their exterior walls and appurtenances inspected every five years. Because sheds need to be erected around buildings with structural issues, some building owners choose to leave the sheds up, rather than constantly taking them down and putting them back up after inspections.  

“New Yorkers should expect more enhanced enforcement actions like this against the worst shed offenders in the City, compelling them to make repairs and finally remove these sheds,” the DOB spokesperson said.