The laws of physics say what comes up must come down. But the even more powerful law of sidewalk sheds says these ugly steel and plywood structures can come up and stay in place for years.
Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine has become the latest public official to find ways to bring down the sheds that have become permanently temporary features of city streets. On Monday, Levine unveiled a plan that would offer financial assistance and other measures to discourage sheds from swallowing up sidewalk space.
Sidewalk sheds cover up dozens or hundreds of feet of pedestrian space and pop up anytime a building needs renovation. There are more than 9,000 sheds across the city, including 4,000 in Manhattan, covering 2 million linear feet. The sheds protect pedestrians from bricks and other falling debris while building facades are fixed. But after rising up, they can’t come down until the city determines facade work is complete. That means sheds linger for years when landlords can’t or won’t pay for repairs.
Under Levine’s plan, low-interest loans would be extended to buildings that can’t afford extensive facade repairs under a new city program that would require state legislative approval. Permitting would be streamlined and fines increased for buildings that fail to complete renovation work. Drones would be used to inspect facades, and buildings that undergo major renovations wouldn’t be subject to a new inspection for seven years instead of the normal five.
Since topping out at more than 11,000 in 2020, the number of sheds has fallen by 20%, thanks in part to the city's hiring of more inspectors and its follow-up with building owners, the Buildings Department said. You can read more here.
As New Yorkers, we would love to see these sheds come down. They can be eye sores. We will continue to update you on all local NYC news!