In the News: Keeping the sidewalk clear is law

I’ve been saving this one for a while for a deeper dive because it is relevant to the Canal Street counterfeit bazaar: Gothamist reports that “the NYPD and other city agencies must enforce parking laws and keep sidewalks clear of obstructions or risk violating federal law, federal prosecutors wrote this week in an ongoing suit brought by disabled residents of a Bronx neighborhood…Prosecutors wrote that the Americans with Disabilities Act has clearly established that ‘ensuring access to public transportation and public rights of way’ is a principle focus of the law.”

Architectural Digest features the Tribeca loft of design dealer Hugues Magen whose gallery, Magen H, is on East 11th. “It’s sort of a communion,” he tells AD when discussing his living room, which includes the largest existing dining table (nearly 12 feet long) by French designer Charlotte Perriand, an original Kangourou armchair by Jean Prouvé, a carved-wood Punu mask, a garbage drawing by American artist Mike Kelley, a Jenny Holzer painting. “In order to communicate with each other, they have to have a certain degree of what I call a vibrational aesthetic.”

I need to follow up on this myself — especially since a reader is (rightfully) concerned about the crane that’s been up there for years: YIMBY sets its photog on 45 Park Place, the 43-story residential skyscraper developed by Sharif el-Gamal of Soho Properties. The 667-foot-tall tower has been stalled since sometime in late 2019.

Real Estate Weekly has an analysis of the “no brainer” idea of converting office buildings to residential: “With the availability rate in Manhattan approaching 20%, there is roughly 100 million-square-feet (sf) of office space currently available. Most of this space is in class B and C buildings, of which many are outdated and in need of renovation. Unlike post 9/11 when there was a common mission of building back, the dynamics of today’s office culture have shifted, some would say permanently as Manhattan’s return to office (RTO) is at 56% compared to pre-Covid.* We are dealing with the aftermath of fundamental changes in how we all work.”



  1. In 2020 I communicated with Brad Hoylman about converting office to residential. At that time he said that there were discussions in the State Assembly about changing zoning laws to allow for this. It would be interesting to explore whether or not these discussions have developed any further.

  2. Thank you for that article link about sidewalk clearance laws. Unfortunately, it mentions nothing about the vendors. But maybe the powers that be need to be regularly reminded of this law.

  3. Unfortunately many of these office buildings are not suitable for conversion, they have wide floor plates and all bedrooms need to have windows. Many will have to be torn down entirely and rebuilt, a very expensive and long-term process to say the least.

    • True, but a lot are also ripe. There was 2M SF/~2,400 units announced this year in FiDi alone—25 Water, 160 Water, and 55 Broad. Silverstein just announced raising a $2B fund for office to resi conversions as well. I’m sure we’ll see legislation to grease the skids a bit too. Everyone is in agreement that the city needs housing. Aside from redevelopment duration, the waiting game will be however long it takes for tenants to start rolling at these older buildings (or defaulting on leases if the economy heads south), then foreclosures will ramp up (especially if interest rates stay high and landlords can’t refi) and smart money will swoop in. LL97 is also going to hit these older buildings hard.

  4. It’s definitely an evolving story. The Africans were ‘mostly’ gone all weekend but the Chinese vendors have multiplied with the laminated pictures from Broadway to Howard, Hester and Chinatown. Some Africans are hanging around waiting to return.

  5. The city needs affordable housing, not multi-million dollar apartments. You will all be screaming bloody murder if they try and put affordable housing into your cherished “gated” community.

  6. I have mixed feelings about affordable housing within luxury buildings. I know there are affordable units in my building. I remember we had two tenants who were complete NIGHTMARES! One had all types of folks coming in and out of their unit, loud music and weed. Come to find out the woman who the lease was under allowed her children to stay there and they just were bring all types of riff raffs. They started to steal packages, peeing in the stairwell and oh lord scratching up the elevators. The other tenants was caught stealing peoples belongings from the laundry room. If I am paying premium price for apartments I feel I shouldn’t have to live in those conditions. Sorry not sorry and don’t come at me for having an opionion.

    • Interesting because tenants aren’t supposed to know who is who in 20/80 agreement. You are implying that people who have adjusted income rent are criminal and dirty. Wow! How medieval. If I did not know better I would think you were a bot.

      • @TG, sorry boo not a Bot but it seems like YOU are implying that “people who have adjusted income rent are criminal and dirty.” Your words not mine, its something that you may have been thinking and had a opportunity to say it aloud when someone had an opinion about affordable housing units. I said they were nightmares. YOU equated that to dirty and criminals. Maybe you are a BOT hence not reading my post and having a clear understanding of it. And no… we kind of know who’s affordable housing and not. But thanks for sharing what you really have been feeling. so TG don’t try me boo, I’m not the one. Kudos!

  7. Affordable housing in some other countries seems to be just that. Affordable units within luxury building always comes across as a real estate developer scheme to get around regulations when they break the laws.( zoning, height etc.). City government and politicians gladly collude. But again, during the early months of Covid as many fled the city, some lofts were taken over by youngsters that had blowout parties multiple times a week, 311, 911, police, precinct, no response ever materialized.
    Every building needs to enforce quality of life rules, because people are not as civil as one would expect, rich or not.

    • Affordable units need market rate units to get built. Any affordable unit needs to be subsidized. I dont think its breaking the law if there is a program that allows for more density, or height in exchange for increasing the affordability percentage in units. You may also be surprised (seeing some of the other comments above) that the problems in buildings with residents are not usually the affordable paying tenants. People who qualify to rent those places usually are teachers, med workers, support staff, workforce or just people who make below 120k a year. The ranges for what is “affordable” is broad

  8. Sorry to report that like a bad penny, all of the vendors were back in full force yesterday. Ironically, there was an empty police car in front of Starbucks but no officers in sight (I will not stoop so low as to imply that they were inside getting a pumpkin spice latte). But I had to walk in the street with husband and dog to get South of Canal. Not sure what I would have done if I were disabled. I guess we have to wait another 6 months for a follow-up article from the NY Post

    • Shameful. Please do keep reporting it to 311, as I do when I see this. Supposedly the enforcements that happened were the result of complaints by local residents and businesses.