Reader Troy wrote in with this suggestion/rant about “Permascaffolding”….

“I think there’s a story in the unchanging scaffolds of some buildings in Tribeca. This one in the photo has had the same scaffold for nearly a decade (perhaps longer, I’ve only lived near it for that long). The building on Broadway and Leonard [346 Broadway/108 Leonard, above] is a once-lovely municipal court building of the very old school, but that said, it has a hideously butchered entrance. Does it need a major repair that the city can’t afford? Are bits falling off of it and threatening to hit pedestrians? If so, it’s odd that I’ve never seen any work going on here. None. [Sounds about right for a city building.—Ed.] They haven’t even bothered to change the expired permit for the scaffolding as it rusts in place and fuses into the sidewalk and the lovely Beaux Arts facade. Shame. But this scaffold isn’t alone! There are perhaps a half dozen in Tribeca. The one in front of Five Franklin Place is a particular eyesore. Will this ever get built? [See below.] There is work going on at this college building and it’s a cast iron masterpiece (just to the south at Broadway and Franklin) but the scaffold is  old enough to start preschool. I can understand an old building needs some serious work—but why does that new building on West Street (housing the Palm Restaurant and the Downtown Community Center) have a scaffold on it when they wash the windows every few months? [See below.] Or the one at Franklin Tower on Church Street is another mystery. Do the residents like it this way? If I lived there the past 10 years and seven of them were sheathed in black mesh plastic—making it easier for criminals (and rats, or so I’ve heard) to climb in my million-dollar unit—I’d be pretty upset. Scaffold permit expired? No problem! The city renews it every year.”

I love an passionate letter, but I withered at the thought of looking into the permits for any of these buildings. (I told Troy that the scaffolding at 200 Chambers was recently removed, and that Five Franklin appears to be unstalled—an Israeli company bought it—but the cool old design probably won’t survive.) It would take hours and hours and hours, and even if I discovered that not one person in the building at Broadway and Leonard had any idea why there was still scaffolding, I thought it unlikely that anything would happen as a result. You can fight city hall, but you probably won’t win, and certainly not anytime soon.

Then my partner remembered that I tried once: The permascaffolding at 258 Broadway (southwest corner of Warren) was driving me crazy because the permits were expired and there was no work. (This was before I got a dog that doesn’t like to go out in the rain or snow, at which point the protection comes in very handy.) I called 311, and perhaps coincidentally, the permits were renewed. The scaffolding stayed for quite a while longer, of course.

Still, we can vent. Which building’s longstanding scaffolding bothers you the most? I vote for 256 Broadway, if only because the scaffolding extends around 253 Broadway, onto Murray, and it has become one dark, often stinky corridor (and not just because of my dog!).

If you really feel energized, you can download the 311 app and report it to the city; I believe you can even submit a photo. As with most matters 311-related, I wouldn’t expect a lot to get done, but at least you can get it off your chest.

UPDATE: Another reader emailed to remind us all that chunks of 346 Broadway have been known to fall off from time to time; see this October 2010 DNAinfo article (“The city plans to complete the work within six weeks, said Mark Daly, spokesman for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services, which is in charge of the building”).



  1. another one is 58-60 reade. They intend to add to this eyesore- where most of the block is already encased in these sky sidewalks. No work has been done there in 2 years but not they want to add to the width. I wish I owned a scaffold company at this point. They seem to be the only ones able to make money in this town

  2. I saw some men working on the north façade of the Clocktower building (346 Bway) in 2000 or 2001, when one end of their scaffold slipped. The men survived but I haven’t seen any work on the building since.