SOHO — An architect pushing to remove fire escapes from two SoHo buildings has received permission from the city to move forward with one of the projects, city records show.
Lombardi, a preservation specialist, wants to remove the fire escapes from 69 and 71 Greene St. as part of a renovation of the two buildings. He has said that the fire escapes are not old enough to be considered historic, and insists that they are unsafe.
But residents are concerned that removing them would affect their ability to evacuate in the event of a fire — their only other egress is an internal staircase made of wood — and an FDNY engineer has submitted written testimony to the city expressing misgivings about the fire escapes' removal.
That same FDNY engineer, John Yacovone, sent an email Wednesday to the building's management company, Esquire Management, "respectfully request[ing] that you cease and desist" with any alterations to the building geared toward the fire escape removal, after worried tenants reported construction workers nailing the door to the second floor fire escape shut last Monday.
The tenants also wrote the management company a letter on Wednesday regarding the door being nailed shut, as well as concerns over "certain fire sprinklers in the hallway on the third floor of both buildings [that] were covered and walled over when the ceiling was dropped."
"It is not clear from the applications on file with the Department of Buildings that these modifications were covered by the permits issued at the time," the tenants wrote in the letter.
"The foregoing is in addition to other earlier incidents such as those involving the dust contaminated with lead. These events taken together and combined with a lack of communication from the management company to the residents may be viewed as potential harassment."
Esquire Management did not respond to the tenants, nor to inquiries by DNAinfo New York.
Cris Cruz, an employee of Lombardi's, said the architect has a meeting this week with a city "plan examiner" regarding 71 Greene St.
Cruz said that they still need to "file an amendment" and "a work permit should not be processed until the changes are approved," but did not respond to requests for clarification.
Lombardi insisted that "nothing changed" in his application, and that the DOB was just waiting for him to obtain approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. But the LPC approved his plan in March, and his application with the DOB remained disapproved as of Friday.
The DOB did not provide information when asked about the decision to approve Lombardi's application.