Mayor Bill de Blasio committed Wednesday to spending more than $100 million on fixing façades of public housing buildings in order to bring down unsightly sidewalk sheds that have long blighted complexes.
The $111 million in city funds will be used to renovate the frontages of 45 buildings in 15 NYCHA developments, the mayor announced. Of the tranche, $16 million will be allocated toward public housing facilities in Manhattan.
“I think it bothers NYCHA residents when you have those big sidewalk sheds, those big scaffolds that just seem to sit there for a long time, and affect the quality of life, they affect the whole feeling of life in a development,” he said during a morning virtual press briefing, calling the structures a “persistent issue” that has bothered him throughout his tenure.
The eyesores have been left standing for up to five years due to lack of “sufficient resources” to mend the buildings’ faces, according to the mayor.
“We’re putting the resources in, the repairs get made, the sheds come down, the development’s safer, it looks better, it’s better for everyone,” said de Blasio.
Councilwoman Carlina Rivera (D-Manhattan), who represents the Lower East Side, said she was “grateful” for City Hall’s new investments. Meltzer Towers, a public housing complex for seniors, will be among the buildings the funding will be used to fix, the lawmaker noted.
“These sheds are not just a matter of aesthetic improvements,” she said. “They are safety issues, and constant reminders of systemic disinvestment in public housing, and they can make buildings look and feel forgotten.”
The announcement comes as many of the Big Apple blocks have been blighted by the eyesores for years. Some sidewalk sheds in the five boroughs have been up for 13 years, The Post reported in 2019. After Manhattan architect Erica Tishman was killed by a chunk of falling façade in Midtown, City Hall ordered dozens of property owners to erect sidewalk sheds as a safety measure.
But often, the sidewalk sheds and scaffolding can present their own dangers. For example, three construction workers were injured in February 2020 when strong winds caused scaffolding to collapse in Brooklyn. In July last year, one person died and three others were hurt when scaffolding collapsed in Midtown.
New York City’s heavy use of sidewalk sheds is required by Local Law 11, which was enacted after falling masonry killed a Barnard student in 1979. The measure requires façade inspections every five years for structures six stories or taller.