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Arrested Development: Breathing New Life Into Stalled Construction Sites

Arrested Development: Breathing New Life Into Stalled Construction Sites

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Published by Scott M. Stringer
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life Into Stalled Construction Sites, a report by the Office of Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, September 2011
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life Into Stalled Construction Sites, a report by the Office of Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, September 2011

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September 2011
Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
About the Borough President
During his nearly three decades of public service, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer,
a native New Yorker, has achieved tangible results by forging diverse coalitions to address the
City’s most enduring challenges, including balanced development, transportation and infrastruc-
ture, small business preservation and community empowerment. A cornerstone of his time in
oIfce is the reinvigoration oI Manhattan`s 12 Community Boards to strengthen the role oI partici-
patory democracy in City government. He introduced a merit-based selection process, enhanced
the boards` resources and capacity, and diversifed their membership. This inclusive approach
has created jobs and increased affordable housing while maintaining the unique characteristics of
Manhattan’s neighborhoods. As Borough President, he has also released the following reports:
* Reforming Member Items in New York City (July 2011)
* Tenants and Toxins: Converting Dirty Boilers in New York City`s AIIordable Housing Stock (June 2011)
* Red Tape, Green Vegetables: A Plan to Improve New York City’s Regulations for Community-Based Farmers
Markets (April 2011)
* Columbus Avenue Street Redesign: Recommendations Ior Mitigating Unintended Impacts (February 2011)
* Your School, Your Voice: A Virtual Town Hall (January 2011)
* Recommendations to the New York City Charter Revision Committee (May 2010)
* Catalogue of Individual Schools Reporting Problems Relating to Physical Facilities in the Borough of Man-
hattan (April 2010)
* FoodNYC: A Blueprint Ior a Sustainable Food System (February 2010)
* Falling Apart at the Seams: A Critical Analysis of New York City’s Failure to Enforce its Building Code & A
Roadmap to ReIorm (January 2010)
* School Daze: Funny Numbers Mean Overcrowded Schools (September 2009)
* A New Day for Parental Engagement: Reforming and Empowering Community Education Councils (March
* Uncalculated Risk: A report on how plans to drill for gas in Upstate New York could threaten New York City’s
water system (February 2009)
* Food in the Public Interest: A report on how New York City’s food policy holds the key to hunger, health, jobs
and the environment (February 2009)
* Saving the Mom and Pops: A report on ten ways to support small independent retail stores and keep Manhattan
vibrant (January 2009)
* Dangerous Neglect: Elevator SaIety in New York City Housing Authority Buildings (September 2008)
* Still Crowded Out: An updated analysis of the failure of school construction to keep up with the Manhattan
building boom (September 2008)
* Senseless Subsidies: A Report on Tax Benefts Under the Industrial and Commercial Incentive Program (May
* Crowded Out: School Construction Fails to Keep Up With Manhattan Building Boom (April 2008)
* A Working Balance: Supporting New York City`s Families through Paid Family Leave (January 2008)
* We Want You(th)!: Confronting Unregulated Military Recruitment in New York City Public Schools (September
* Hidden in Plain Sight: Sexual Harassment and Assault in the New York City Subway System (July 2007)
* No Vacancy: The Role oI Underutilized Properties in Meeting Manhattan`s AIIordable Housing Needs (April
* No Way Out: An Analysis oI The New York State Department oI Health`s Role in Preparing Nursing Homes Ior
Emergencies (December 2006)
* Breaking Parole: An Analysis oI The New York State Division oI Parole`s Caseload Management Guidelines
(December 2006)
* The State of Repairs: An Examination oI Elevator and Escalator Maintenance and Repairs in New York City`s
Subway System (August 2006)
* Thinking Outside the Box: An Analysis oI Manhattan Gridlock and Spillback EnIorcement (July 2006)
Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer thanks his dedicated staff who helped to develop
and publish this report.
In particular Borough President Stringer thanks Brian Cook, Director of Land Use, Planning
and Development; Jennifer Hong, Deputy Director of Land Use Planning and Development; and
Urban Planners Karolina Grebowiec-Hall, Erika Lindsey, and Lin Zeng Ior their work as the
primary writers and researchers of this report.
Borough President Stringer also thanks Caesar-Robert AlIano, Stephen Corson, Josh Getlin,
Alaina Gilligo, Shaan Khan, Charles Kim, Rosemonde Pierre-Louis, Sascha Puritz, ShaniIah
Rieara, David Saltonstall, Jessica Silver, Sara Valenzuela and Jimmy Yan Ior their insights and
contributions to this report.
Additionally, Borough President Stringer thanks the staff members who participated in survey-
ing to collect data Ior this report including Tyrone Bowman, Marc Brumer, Sandy Myers, Juan
Rosa, and Ingrid Sotelo as well as interns Christina Burrows, Sun Jung Kim, Angelina Liang,
and Simon Vance.

Table of Contents
I. Executive Summary..............................................................................................................1
II. Introduction...........................................................................................................................3
III. Stalled Construction: A City Overview.................................................................................5
IV. Stalled Construction in Manhattan: A Case Study..............................................................11
V. Stalled Construction Project Case Studies..........................................................................18
VI. Summary oI Analysis..........................................................................................................23
VII. Recommendations...............................................................................................................24
Appendix A. Department oI Building`s Complaint Categories.....................................................27
Appendix B. Complaint Types at Stalled Construction Sites........................................................30
Appendix C. Site Survey Tool......................................................................................................31
Appendix D. Total Complaints by Community District................................................................33
Appendix E. Total Complaints by Type........................................................................................35
I. Executive Summary
The 2008 recession had a crippling impact on New York City`s economy, particularly its con-
struction industry. Construction spending Iell 23° in 2010 Irom peak years, with the number oI
construction jobs dropping 15°. This decline has stalled hundreds oI private projects across the
City—a reality that millions of New Yorkers can see every day.
Although there are signs the business climate is improving, many of these sites may remain vacant
for a long period of time. Even if our economy starts to rebound today, the stalled projects could
be with us for years to come.
As oI July 31, 2011, there were 646 stalled construction sites in New York, according to the De-
partment oI Buildings (DOB). These sites pose saIety, economic and quality oI liIe concerns Ior
residents and property owners alike. When unfnished structures are exposed or scaIIolding and
sidewalk sheds are shoddy, they are not only eyesores but also targets for vandals and squatters.
They create unsaIe conditions Ior pedestrians, particularly the elderly, disabled and those with
strollers. Ultimately, they detract from the vitality of our neighborhoods, making them less invit-
ing places to live, visit and do business. Concern over the sites has resulted in complaints to DOB
received through the City`s 311 system.
On another level, these sites also represent a lost opportunity. New York, like other cities, could
turn its stalled sites into a dazzling display oI new and imaginative land uses that, iI only temporar-
ily, could revitalize neighborhoods throughout the fve boroughs. In place oI rubble-strewn lots,
there could be farmers markets, gardens and cafes, to name just a few possibilities. Beyond the
vitality this would bring to a community, these temporary solutions would address the complaints
that DOB has been receiving about stalled construction sites, including those regarding the poor
condition of fencing and scaffolding as well as concerns about public safety.
In June, the OIfce oI Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer (MBPO) conducted a frst-
of-its-kind survey of Manhattan’s stalled construction sites to help classify stalled projects by site
conditions. “Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites” summa-
rizes its fndings. OI 129 sites visited, 37° were identifed as having at least some litter, 60° had
Iencing that was in disrepair or vandalized, and halI had sidewalk obstructions that leIt eight Ieet
or less oI sidewalk space. Thirty-two sites were identifed as vacant and had not been excavated,
all oI which were identifed as ideal sites Ior temporary uses as listed in the preceding paragraph.

'Arrested Development¨ identifes the challenges and opportunities posed by stalled sites, beyond
their immediate threat to saIety. The report Iound that:
· Publicly available data regarding stalled sites is not exhaustive, centrally accessible or
easy to manage.
· Current City programs to ameliorate stalled construction sitessuch as the urbancanvas
sidewalk, a Ience beautifcation program are not widely used.
· Many site conditions in Manhattan are poor and detract Irom surrounding neighbor-
· Developers and property owners have not taken advantage oI short-term beautifcation
initiatives, design competitions nor site safety programs.
1 Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
In order to improve the condition of New York’s stalled sites, at least until construction resumes,
this report makes several recommendations, including:

1. Expand public access to sites through public and private uses. The City should pass
legislation allowing stalled construction sites to become publicly accessible on a tempo-
rary basis through initiatives such as the Greenthumb community gardening program of
the Department of Parks and Recreation. Additionally, and when appropriate, the City
should streamline approvals for interim uses such as food vending, parking, public art,
performance space, recreation or spaces for private gatherings.
2. Where interim uses are not possible, the City should launch art programs to beau-
tify sidewalk sheds through small grants provided to community groups, Business
Improvement Districts and not-for-proüt organizations. Any site not used as part of
an arts project should be immediately included in the City`s anti-graIfti programs.
3. Where possible, the City should work with property owners to expand narrowed
sidewalks created by construction fences and scaffolding. If fences and scaffolding
do not need to obstruct the sidewalk, the City should require that they be moved back to
the property line.
Such actions could begin to integrate stalled construction sites back into the surrounding commu-
nities and ensure that they once again contribute to the City’s economic and physical health. New
York already has many examples within its own neighborhoods to draw upon. A stalled lot in the
East Village was rented out for temporary uses, such as “timeshare back yard” with grills, wading
pools and live bands. Another site, the Dekalb Market in Downtown Brooklyn, uses repurposed
shipping containers Ior a marketplace oI independent retailers, eateries, and six incubator Iarms.
These are just a Iew oI the opportunities that could help New York unleash a wave oI creative land
use and combat the blight from stalled construction sites that degrades too many of our neighbor-
I. Executive Summary
II. Introduction
The 2008 global recession had an undeniable impact on New York City`s economy, particularly
its construction industry. Construction spending Iell 23° in 2010 Irom peak years, with construc-
tion jobs dropping 15°.
Hundreds of private construction sites have stalled across the city and,
for the last three years, over half of the industry’s remaining employment has been the result of
public-sector spending. New York City’s construction industry employs hundreds of thousands of
workers and new construction projects add billions of dollars to the local economy even during the
recession. The health oI this industry is essential to the economy in New York City.
There are positive signs that the economy is improving. The New York State Department oI Labor
has released data showing that in recent months, New York City is gaining jobs in many sectors
and overall job loss in New York State is less than originally predicted. Additionally, recent re-
ports show that oIfce vacancy rates are declining in Manhattan and many oI New York`s housing
markets remain strong.
Ultimately, a positive economic turnaround will result in a reinvigorated and reconstituted con-
struction industry. The City and State have proposed ways to help the construction industry, pri-
marily Iocused on fnancing issues. For example:
· In July 2009, the New York City Council passed the Housing Asset Renewal Program
(HARP) which oIIered fnancial incentives to turn portions oI stalled construction sites
into affordable housing for moderate and middle-income families. Since its inception,
only two sites have participated.
· Former Governor David Paterson signed legislation in August 2010 allowing the State
oI New York Mortgage Authority (SONYMA) to insure refnanced loans oI up to $150
million Ior stalled or vacant condominiums in exchange Ior an aIIordable housing com-
mitment as part of Project Reclaim.

· This year, the New York City Department oI Housing Preservation and Development
(HPD) oIIered to extend 421-A benefts Ior stalled construction sites beyond their nor-
mal three-year term. The 421-A program provides tax rebates when certain require-
ments are met. Many developers were awarded tax rebates prior to the state`s reIorm oI
the program and with the extension by HPD, developers will be able to retain the fnan-
cial incentives already awarded to them without the need to refnance. This extension is
intended to ensure quick construction once the market rebounds.

· In 2009, DOB created a Stalled Sites Unit to maintain records of stalled construction
sites around the city. In October of that year, the agency implemented the Stalled Sites
Program, which gave developers the option to create detailed site safety maintenance
plans in exchange Ior the renewal oI active permits Ior up to Iour years. According to
recent articles, only 20 sites are currently in the program.

1 Norris, Floyd. 'Usual Growth Leaders Absent From Recovery.¨ The New York Times, 29 July 2011. Web. 29 July 2011. http://www.
2 Fung, Amanda. '2nd Stalled Project Revived under City Program.¨ Crain`s New York Business. Crain`s New York, 18 July 2011. Web. 18 July
2011. http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20110718/REAL¸ESTATE/110719917
3 New York State Assembly. Assemblyman Hakeem JeIIries. Governor Signs Bill Sponsored by Assemblyman Hakeem JeIIries and Senator Val-
manette Montgomery That Encourages NYS to Help TransIorm Failed Luxury Condos into AIIordable Housing. Assemblyman Hakeem JeIIries.
2 Aug. 2010. Web. 12 July 2011. http://hakeemjeIIries.com/
4 Buckley, Cara. 'City Weighs Extending a Tax-Break Deadline.¨ The New York Times, 2 Feb. 2011. Web. 12 July 2011. http://www.nytimes.
5 Fung, Amanda. 'Stalled Construction litter the City.¨, Crain`s New York Business. Crain`s New York, 31 July 2011. Web. 31 July 2011. http://
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
In addition to those listed above, there are many other programs that can be used to help fnance
development. Most government programs require some Iorm oI public beneft to be provided in
exchange Ior a monetary beneft. These programs represent a commitment by the City and State
to continue to develop long-term programs to help the construction industry. As a general policy,
the City and State should continue to reevaluate the existing programs to determine iI and when
more can be done to help the construction industry in the long term.
While supporting the re-growth oI the construction industry through fnancial incentives and pro-
grams is important during this recession, we cannot ignore the reality that many stalled construc-
tion sites may remain vacant Ior a signifcant period oI time. Even iI the economy starts to rebound
today, sites may remain vacant for several years to come. As such, the City must consider the im-
mediate and near-term impacts oI stalled construction sites, examine their existing conditions, and
look to mitigate any negative consequences.
This report consists oI Iour sections. The frst section oI this report provides an overview oI
DOB’s citywide stalled construction data and discusses the impacts of stalled sites on surrounding
communities. The second section reviews the results and fndings oI the comprehensive survey
oI stalled construction sites in Manhattan undertaken by this oIfce. The third section explores
programs that New York City and other cities have implemented or plan to implement in order
to mitigate the negative Iallout Irom stalled construction sites. InIormed by survey fndings and
case studies, the fnal section oI the report includes a detailed list oI this oIfce`s recommendations
for interim solutions, some of which are fairly easy to implement with the appropriate public and
private wherewithal.
II. Introduction
III. Stalled Construction: a City Overview
Stalled construction sites present several immediate challenges. Visually, many stalled construc-
tion sites appear unfnished or vacant. Stalled construction sites that are not in use oIten lack the
security that would usually come from active human presence. Many of these sites fail to ensure
litter removal or organize disused building materials regularly. Without regular visitation or pres-
ence at these sites, vandalism and squatting are diIfcult to prevent. While some sites are well
maintained, badly maintained sites eventually become eyesores and have a blighting effect on the
neighborhood in the long term.
However, all vacant sites, including well-maintained ones, do not contribute to an ideal urban set-
ting. Large Iences exude the same eIIect as blank street walls and create dead, liIeless streetscapes.
These dead zones give the impression oI unmonitored and thereIore potentially unsaIe areas. Such
conditions discourage pedestrian traIfc Irom passing by the site and can negatively impact adja-
cent businesses and surrounding property values.
Furthermore, unlike a traditional vacant site, the borders of a stalled construction site are often
determined with the anticipation of accommodating construction equipment. As such, sidewalk
sheds, scaIIolding, and Iences occupy considerable sidewalk space. This presents a real impact
on individuals with disabilities who may fnd it diIfcult to traverse the sidewalk space as well as
individuals requiring additional room for strollers, luggage or carts.
Finally, while the effects of stalled construction sites impact the surrounding community, they
also represent a burden to the property owner. The day-to-day costs oI stalled construction are
signifcant; many oI these are a Iactor oI addressing the saIety and urban design problems already
discussed. While a building site remains in limbo, the property owner is responsible for continued
tax payments, loan payments, building permit renewal Iees, any violation costs, insurance pay-
ments, Iencing and scaIIolding maintenance, security and/or site saIety costs, and any expenses
associated with seeking new fnancing sources.
These issues and concerns support the need to Iurther examine the diIIerent Iacets oI stalled con-
struction sites in New York City.
Capturing the number oI stalled construction sites is a natural frst step in understanding the scope
oI the challenge. In addition to DOB, several organizations and individuals have attempted to
count the number oI aIIected properties. The American Institute oI Architects (AIA) is prepar-
ing to launch a database of stalled projects nationwide to encourage opportunities for collabora-
tion and help identiIy fnancing options. On a local level, New York City Council Member Brad
Lander has posted an interactive map on his website for constituents to provide locations, images
and condition details of stalled construction sites in western Brooklyn. Council Member Lander’s
initiative is similar to the effort undertaken by The Brian Lehrer Show on WNYC, which asked its
listeners to share any stalled construction sites they encountered.
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
This report uses the oIfcial data released by DOB to provide a conservative estimate oI the number
oI stalled construction sites. DOB frst began to report on stalled construction sites in July 2009.
Since then, DOB has issued weekly statistics of sites “where construction activity has come to an
abrupt halt.” DOB’s data is compiled from site inspections made by staff and complaints received
by the agency. The result is not likely to be a complete list, because iI a site is neither reported nor
inspected, then it would not be included in the list.
While DOB may not have a comprehensive list of all stalled construction sites in the city, the
agency’s efforts represent the most complete compilation of projects that have started and stopped
in the last two years. DOB`s existing data provides a sound base Ior understanding the impacts oI
stalled construction on the immediate sites and neighboring properties and helps to discern condi-
tions and phases of construction projects.

There has been a general increase in stalled construction projects since DOB frst started collect-
ing data in 2009. The agency`s frst stalled construction report, issued in July 2009, captured 395
stalled construction sites throughout the fve boroughs. In March 2011, there were 675 sites re-
ported, a 41° increase Irom the frst report.
These fgures show a slight decline Irom the peak
oI 709 stalled sites in November 2010.

A further breakdown by borough consistently shows Brooklyn with the most stalled construction
sites. In almost every DOB report, Brooklyn contains nearly half of the total stalled construction
sites in the city.
Additionally, Iour oI the top fve Community Districts with the most stalled
6 Analysis oI data in this report reIers to DOB`s March 20, 2011 stalled construction report, unless stated otherwise.
7 While this study does not include DOB data beyond the March 20, 2011 date, DOB`s data shows the total number oI stalled construction sites
continue to decrease. The July 3, 2011 report listed 645 stalled sites.
8 Brooklyn has had between 44° to 48° oI total stalled construction sites in New York City since July 2009.
DOB Stalled Construction Sites 7/89&:;;<&('&*+.$)&:;==


Dates of Record



Staten Island
III. Stalled Construction: A City Overview
projects are in Brooklyn. Brooklyn`s Community District 1, which includes the Williamsburg and
Greenpoint neighborhoods, has 92 stalled construction sites, the most oI any district in the city.
Queens has the second most stalled projects, Iollowed by Manhattan, Staten Island and the Bronx.
This data demonstrates that there are areas that require specifc and dedicated attention, since the
cumulative eIIects oI so many concentrated stalled construction sites will result in a signifcant
impact. However, the data also shows that the construction sites are spread across many different
districts with varying socioeconomic conditions in all fve boroughs. Several oI the sites in less de-
sirable markets will likely lag behind stalled construction sites in stronger real estate markets, even
aIter initial economic correction. ThereIore, it is important to consider the potential long-term
impact of these sites and work towards creating policies to counter any negative consequences.

Total Stalled Construction Sites in Community District
Source: NYC Department of Buildings, March 20, 2011 Stalled Construction Report; NYC Department of City
Planning, August 2010 Communitv Districts shapehle.
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites

It is diIfcult to assess the potential impact oI stalled construction sites on the immediate communi-
ty without studying each individual site. However, a good metric for understanding how such sites
affect the community is the number and type of complaints logged with the City. Many complaints
are dismissed by City agencies as not refecting existing conditions. For example, a complaint
may raise concerns about hazardous conditions that the agency cannot confrm. However, these
complaints represent a tangible record of community concerns regarding stalled construction sites
that neighbors considered serious enough to report to a City agency.
DOB compiles monthly reports of building complaints received from the public. Currently, there
are 91 complaint categories (reIer to Appendix A). Only complaints regarding the 675 stalled
construction sites recorded between January 2009 and March 2011 were used in this report. This
selected time period captures the months when stalled construction data was frst collected and
aligns with the economic downturn in New York City. The highest number oI complaints about
stalled construction sites occurred in 2009, with 1,936 made citywide. The number oI complaints
dropped in 2010 by almost 40° to 1,164. Complaints continued to drop in 2011, with 147 com-
plaints at the end oI February 2011 and 882 projected by the end oI the year.

The total number oI stalled construction sites has been increasing, while the total number oI com-
plaints has declined. Given this trend, one oI two scenarios is likely: 1) stalled construction sites
are better maintained than in previous years, or 2) neighboring residents have resigned themselves
to the state of these sites and have given up attempting to complain to the City.
Unfortunately, the City does not regularly survey the sites, making it virtually impossible to deter-
mine whether conditions are improving. However, examining the complaints by their type does
outline the priorities and concerns of individual neighborhoods.
The types oI complaints represent a broad spectrum, Irom zoning compliance to structural con-
cerns. For the purpose of this report, only complaints relevant to the conditions of stalled con-
struction sites were used ('identifed complaints¨). Complaints about a building`s interior Iunc-
tions, which include elevators, plumbing and sprinkler systems, as well as non-compliance with
regulations governed by zoning and landmark designations, were not included in this portion oI
the analysis.
Complaints deemed more applicable to stalled construction sites were categorized as concerns re-
lated to saIety, site maintenance, or Ience and scaIIolding (reIer to Appendix B). SaIety complaints
include issues with the building’s structural stability and other dangerous conditions presented by
damaged or inadequate saIeguards around the sites. The site maintenance category consists oI
complaints about excessive debris and the overall lack oI care at the construction sites. Finally,
Ience and scaIIolding concerns represent those complaints particular to inadequate or non-existent
fences and scaffolding that are meant to cover or support construction activities.
Stalled construction (DOB Complaint Code 1G) is one oI the complaint categories and has been
assigned to all oI the identifed sites with the exception oI 12 buildings. The Stalled Construction
9 147 complaints were made on the stalled construction sites by the beginning oI March. At that rate, the number oI complaints would reach 882
by the end of the year.
III. Stalled Construction: A City Overview
complaint captures individuals who have reached out to DOB to inform the agency a site is stalled.
The overwhelming number oI buildings with stalled construction complaints suggests much oI
DOB’s stalled construction sites data derives from reports entered by residents and neighbors
affected by the sites. Not surprisingly, stalled construction is the greatest complaint made about
the stalled sites, with 704 total complaints. The second most recorded complaint is inadequate or
illegal Iencing (Code 15) observed at the sites, with 623 complaints, Iollowed by 592 complaints
on other saIety issues. Site maintenance had the least number oI complaints with a total oI 389

While stalled construction is a prominent complaint throughout the fve boroughs, it is most promi-
nent in Brooklyn and Staten Island, accounting Ior approximately 32° and 44° oI the total iden-
tifed complaints in the respective boroughs. The largest proportion oI complaints in Manhattan
(30°) and Queens (34°) were related to the condition oI Iences and scaIIolding. In the Bronx,
complaints about saIety at stalled sites received the most complaints (29°), but are only slightly
higher than concerns about Iences and scaIIolding (27°). SaIety is also a Irequently reported
complaint in Manhattan (28°) and Brooklyn (29°).
The highest number oI recorded complaints regards the condition oI Iences and scaIIolding. Such
constructed barriers represent the most immediate point of contact between the majority of resi-
dents and stalled construction sites. Most fences and scaffolding are designed to be temporary
structures and as such are likely to be susceptible to degradation over time. Additionally, as these
structures are exposed to the public with little oversight, they are susceptible to vandalism and
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
Safety Complaints
Site Maintenance Complaints
Fence and Scaffold Complaints
Stalled Construction Site Complaints
After fencing and scaffolding concerns, the data demonstrates that, as with all construction sites,
safety remains a prominent concern. Stalled construction sites present unique safety concerns.
Sites that are excavated, vacant or have exposed structures will eventually deteriorate as they are
not designed to remain in a partially constructed state over long periods. While overall complaints
are down for the stalled sites, safety must remain a priority particularly if the sites remain vacant
over substantial periods of time.
Finally, while site maintenance remains a concern, it is the lowest concern for the majority of the
boroughs. This suggests that in many cases, the part oI the construction site that the public is least
likely to interact with and the part that the land owner has the most control over is being main-
tained. While poor conditions may not be rampant, several sites do have multiple maintenance
complaints. Such complaints may be an indication of dumping or littering on those sites.
To understand the Iull condition oI a site, more detailed analysis is warranted. While the City only
keeps a record of the number of sites and the number of complaints, it does not perform regular
surveys to assess the conditions of these sites. By not keeping a detailed inventory of these stalled
construction sites, the City misses an opportunity to potentially utilize these spaces or develop eI-
fective programs to further these projects along.
III. Stalled Construction: A City Overview
IV. Stalled Construction in Manhattan: a Case Study
Since no City agency surveys the existing conditions oI stalled construction sites, the OIfce oI
Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer undertook an initiative to survey the 129 stalled
construction sites in Manhattan.
This survey was designed to capture the built conditions oI the
development project, the fences and sidewalk sheds surrounding the sites, and the sidewalk paths
adjacent to the sites.
The goal oI this survey was to gather data about stalled construction sites
that was not otherwise available and assess their potential immediate impacts. This section oI the
report will describe the survey methodology as well as discuss results and fndings.
The 129 sites are distributed throughout the Borough oI Manhattan, with all 129 sites surveyed
in a period oI three days. Community Districts 1 (which includes Tribeca and Lower Manhattan)
and 3 (which includes the Lower East Side, East Village and Chinatown) had the highest number
oI stalled sites with 20 and 19 respectively. Community Districts 7 (the Upper West Side) and 9
(which includes West Harlem, Morningside Heights and Sugar Hill) had the Iewest stalled sites,
with four and three stalled sites recorded respectively.
The frst section oI the survey captured site conditions at stalled construction site locations (as
reported by DOB), and classifed the site`s current stage oI construction. In almost all cases, con-
struction was stalled, showing no construction activities or workers on the site.
Various stages of stalled construction were observed including vacant buildings, partially built
structures, Ienced-oII lots and excavated lots. FiIty-seven percent oI the stalled sites did not have
10 DOB`s list oI stalled construction is updated weekly, but the survey was limited to addresses Iound on the March 20, 2011 list.
11 ReIer to Appendix C Ior survey used.
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
Surveyed Stalled Construction Sites in Manhattan

Total Stalled Construction Sites
existing buildings. OI the 74 sites without existing buildings, 40 had the ground excavated and
25 oI the excavated sites had Ioundations poured. Nearly 30° oI the sites did not have existing
structures and were vacant. These vacant sites were spread throughout all Community Districts.

Those sites without existing buildings represent unique opportunities Ior alternative temporary
uses. In particular, the 38 sites that are vacant and not excavated could be repurposed Ior activa-
tion with minimal investment.
Additionally, deeper analysis shows that seven oI these non-excavated sites are located in Iood
deserts areas where it is diIfcult to obtain healthy, aIIordable Ioods which are already targeted
by the City’s Food Retail Expansion to Support Health (FRESH) program. FRESH oIIers incen-
tives Ior the creation oI Iull-service grocery stores by providing a zoning bonus and certain fnan-
cial benefts. Given the need Ior grocery stores in areas like Northern Manhattan, these seven sites
should be targeted to meet the City’s fresh food needs which could include uses such as short-term
farmers markets.
The types oI materials used to protect a given stalled site Irom the sidewalk were examined, and
plywood was the most commonly used fencing. Permanent fences (chain link, aluminum, hard-
wood, etc.) were the second most common type oI Iencing, with most permanent Iences Iound in
Community District 11 (which includes East Harlem and El Barrio). Twenty-three sites utilized
some combination of plywood, permanent fencing and sidewalk sheds for fencing.
Additional information was collected to determine the condition of the fences, including whether
or not the Iences had secured openings and iI the sites had been vandalized or had commissioned
12 Sites where individuals could not see into the property were assumed to be excavated.
IV. Stalled Construction in Manhattan: ACase Study
artwork. Seventy-one (61°) oI the sites surveyed were identifed as being vandalized or showing
signs oI disrepair. OI these sites, 25 (35°) sites had leaning Iences, eight (11°) had unsecured
doors or openings, and 16 (23°) were described as being in an overall state oI disrepair. Commu-
nity District 3 had the highest number oI sites with Iencing issues, with 17 sites reported as either
vandalized or in a state oI disrepair.
Sites were evaluated Ior vandalism using indicators oI graIfti, posters, advertising or holes caused
Irom physical Iorce. Two-thirds oI the stalled construction sites with reported Iencing issues were
identifed as vandalized, with the highest number oI vandalized sites Iound in Community District
3 (15). FiIty-seven percent oI vandalized sites were described as having graIfti. Stalled construc-
tion sites with posters and advertisements (30°) were the second most common type oI vandalism.
Only seven stalled construction sites had art, and fve oI these were at projects on Houston Street or
below. These included painted advertisements which were commissioned Ior nearby restaurants.

Vandalized sites and stalled construction Iences in substantial disrepair are oI signifcant concern.
While many sites were well maintained, demonstrating an active interest by the property owner,
over half the sites showed some level of disrepair. A fence’s condition is often not the result of
specifc actions by the landlord, as landlords do not regularly choose to deIace their own property.
Further proof that owners are by and large taking care of their properties is discussed in the “Clean-
liness¨ section below. Additionally, graIfti tags are placed by only a Iew individuals; however, the
impacts are felt by the entire neighborhood. Poorly maintained construction sites create a visual
impression that the sites are not only stalled but are not being maintained. The eIIect is one oI
disinvestment in the neighborhood`s existing conditions.
The maintenance oI stalled construction sites was measured by the level oI cleanliness at each site.
Cleanliness was rated on a scale oI one to fve, with one being a very poorly maintained site where
there were signs oI dumping, and fve being a well maintained site with no debris. OI the sites ob-
served, 82 (63°) were identifed as clean or very clean, suggesting the developers were attempting
to maintain their sites while their projects were delayed. Twenty-Iour (18°) stalled construction
sites were identifed as extremely dirty where surveyors observed abandoned construction equip-
ment, canisters of cooking oil, tires and trash bags.
5&/30#(67(2&%#(*$(8#1%#0(2%9(&$(.(1%.%#(*:("&10#,.&0 5&/30#(;7(2&%#(*$(<9(<&/=%=(2%9(&$(.(1%.%#(*:("&10#,.&0
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites

Community District 1 (which includes Tribeca and Lower Manhattan) had the highest number
oI sites noted as clean or very clean with 16 sites, while Community Districts 3 (which includes
the Lower East Side, East Village and Chinatown) and 12 (Washington Heights and Inwood) had
the highest number oI sites identifed as dirty or extremely dirty. While the majority oI the sites
were well maintained, the conditions of the few dirty sites could have wide-reaching effects on the
overall health oI the neighborhood and should be discouraged whenever possible. Garbage-strewn
sites not only diminish the general quality of life for neighboring residents but also encourage rats
and other pests.
5&/30#(>7(?&0%@(2&%#(*$(8#1%#0(2%9 5&/30#(A7()-#.$(2&%#(*$()=304=(2%9
Site Cleanliness
IV. Stalled Construction in Manhattan: A Case Study
Another important concern stemming from stalled construction sites is the obstruction created by
fences and sheds. As the fences were originally laid out to allow construction equipment to move
around the sites, several oI the Iences observed in this study were Iound to extend Iar past the lot
boundaries. Additionally, scaffolding placed on narrowed sidewalks created further obstructions
with poles placed between walking paths. Under normal circumstances where construction has
not stalled, these conditions would be temporary. However, in the current climate these conditions
could persist Ior extended periods oI time and thereIore warrant careIul review and analysis.
Narrowed sidewalks slow pedestrian traIfc and make it extremely diIfcult Ior wheelchairs or
strollers to pass. At each site, the sidewalk was measured from the curb to the construction fence
to determine how much sidewalk space was remaining when the fencing or scaffolding protruded
into the public street. Sites with fencing built to the property line were not measured. Eighty-eight
oI the sites (70°) had narrowed sidewalks. According to ADA street standards, Iour Ieet is the
minimum width required for an ambulatory person to pass a non-ambulatory or semi-ambulatory
person. Six stalled construction sites were Iound to have leIt only Iour Ieet or less oI available
Of the sites with narrowed sidewalks, over half of the observed stalled construction sites left only
eight feet remaining on the sidewalk, which is important when considering two-way pedestrian
traIfc. Other objects Iurther exacerbated sidewalk obstruction by taking up additional sidewalk
space. The survey noted whether sites had additional obstructions including signs, light poles,
parking meters, mailboxes, bikes, subway ventilation grates and fre hydrants. OI the sidewalks
narrowed to eight Ieet, 75° were Iurther obstructed by one oI the above mentioned objects, Iurther
narrowing their useable space. In addition, 66° oI the sites narrowed to Iour Ieet or less had an
obstruction. (See chart below).

5&/30#(B7(C.00*D#"(1&"#D.-E(*$(F#1%(2%9 5&/30#(G7(C.00*D#"(1&"#D.-E(*$(H3"-*D(2%9
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
Feet of Remaining Sidewalk with
Feet of Remaining Sidewalk without
Less Than 4' 4'-7.99' 8'¹ Less Than 4' 4'-7.99' 8'¹
M1 0 6 6 0 1 0
M2 0 4 1 0 1 0
M3 0 2 3 0 2 1
M4 1 2 3 0 0 0
M5 0 5 5 0 0 2
M6 0 6 0 0 5 0
M7 0 0 2 0 0 1
M8 0 3 1 0 0 0
M9 0 1 1 0 0 0
M10 1 4 1 0 1 0
M11 2 5 1 1 1 0
M12 0 1 2 1 2 0
Grand Total 4 39 26 2 13 4
The survey data was compared to the DOB complaint data to identiIy correlations between com-
plaints and observed site conditions. As stated previously, Manhattan had 551 reported complaints
Irom January 1999 to March 2011.
These included 155 saIety complaints, 165 Ience and scaIIolding complaints, and 126 stalled con-
struction complaints. These major complaint categories were compared against the survey data to
identify any patterns. Overall, stalled site complaints were most common in Community Districts
1 and 3. Community District 3 had the highest number oI saIety complaints, while Community
District 10 had the highest number oI Ience and scaIIolding complaints.
IV. Stalled Construction in Manhattan: A Case Study
Many oI the complaints were multiple complaints fled Ior a single stalled construction site. FiIty-
one stalled construction sites in Manhattan received at least one complaint regarding Iences. The
survey showed that in Manhattan, 71 sites were observed as being vandalized or exhibiting signs
of disrepair. As the chart above demonstrates, the survey corroborated that the complaint data
is accurately capturing issues with the sites in many districts. However, notably, Community
Districts 2 and 3 had a substantially greater number oI sites with Ience issues observed than sites
with at least one Ience complaint recorded. The survey, thereIore, was necessary to capture issues
where the surrounding community was less inclined to complain.
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
V. Stalled Construction Project Case Studies
The issues oI how to make the most oI these stalled construction sites in the long term and how to
manage immediate risks have to be considered. In New York City, across the country and around
the world, cities affected by weakened real estate markets have tried to address these issues in
several ways.
Government agencies and private organizations in New York City have made eIIorts to deal with
the immediate challenges of vacant, abandoned or suspended construction sites, such as site safety.
In 2009, DOB implemented the Stalled Sites Program, which gave developers the option to create
detailed site saIety maintenance plans in exchange Ior the renewal oI active permits Ior up to Iour

Additionally, many organizations have sought solutions to the impact oI stalled construction sites
on the streetscape and visual coherence oI a neighborhood. Guided by the principle that tempo-
rary abandonment should not mean a poor urban environment, government agencies, not-Ior-proft
organizations and private design frms have collaborated to enliven otherwise damaging spaces.
However, in many cases, these programs are being implemented on a site-by-site basis and not as
part of a comprehensive plan.
Although not oIfcially listed as a stalled construction site, in 2009 the Lower Manhattan Cultural
Council and Trinity Real Estate made available a halI-acre site on Canal Street between Sixth Av-
enue and Varick Street, which is slated Ior construction beginning as early as 2012. Known as
LentSpace the site Ieatures exhibits oI various artists` work among movable tree planters, Iences
and benches. When construction begins, the trees will be planted by the Department of Parks and
Recreation and the New York Restoration Project in downtown Manhattan.

13 'SaIety, Stalled Construction.¨ New York City Department oI Buildings. Web. 12 July 2011. ·http://www.nyc.gov/html/dob/html/saIety/
14 'LentSpace.¨ Lower Manhattan Cultural Council. Web. 12 July 2011. ·http://www.lmcc.net/cultural¸programs/lentspace~.

An aerial view of LentSpace at Canal and Varick Streets
V. Stalled Construction Project Case Studies
Re:Construction is a program oI the Downtown Alliance that started in 2007. The program spon-
sors artists to use scaffolding, sidewalk sheds and various construction barriers as canvases for
public art. The installations are the product oI collaboration with public and private developers.

The program has more than 20 projects completed to date and as such is likely the most successIul
beautifcation project in the city.
Similarly, City agencies have taken eIIorts to promote site beautifcation. In June 2010, DOB and
the Department of Cultural Affairs launched the urbancanvas Design Competition. Four profes-
sional designers were selected to create designs, which can be placed voluntarily by property
owners to beautiIy construction Iences. The program continues on a voluntary basis and all instal-
lations of the designs are privately funded. So far only a few sites have chosen to participate in the
program. Public art pieces have been installed on Second Avenue between 96th and 97th Streets
as part of the Second Avenue Subway project, at a City University of New York building being
constructed on Third Avenue between 118th and 119th Streets, and along a construction Ience at
Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn.

Private frms are recognizing the problems stalled construction sites represent and are proposing
new solutions and economic generators. One exciting new venture is the Lot at 30th Street. The
Lot at 30th Street is a new plaza operated by the High Line during the 2011 summer. The 20,000
square foot lot at the northern end of the recently-opened second section of the park is on loan
15 'Re:Construction.¨ Downtown Alliance. Web. 12 July 2011. ·http://www.downtownny.com/programs/reconstruction, accessed July 12,
16 'Urbancanvas.¨ NYC.gov. NYC. Web. 12 July 2011. ·http://www.nyc.gov/html/urbancanvas/html/home/home.shtml~.
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
by Related Companies and Abington Properties, who plan to begin construction of a residential
tower in the Iall. With an investment oI $200,000 by the High Line, the space is now the host to a
plethora oI organized activities, events and Iood venues. Among them, an exhibition oI infatable
sculptures paid Ior by AOL, a skate rink sponsored by the clothing company UNIQLO, and The
Lot on Tap, a 350-seat bar operated by Colicchio & Sons. Several Iood trucks are also alternating
occupancy oI the space. The Lot represents the benefts oI strong collaborative eIIorts by not-Ior-
proft organizations, property owners and businesses that see the potential in maximizing available
Additionally, frms have proposed new unique uses Ior stalled construction sites, such as the 'Time-
share Backyard.¨ The 'Timeshare Backyard¨ was a venture by the Participation Agency at a stalled
construction site located on 145 Ludlow Street in the Lower East Side. The space was programmed
as a rentable back yard with amenities such as grills, sprinklers, wading pools and live bands.
Another unique example oI revitalizing a stalled construction site is The Dekalb Market. The
market is a venture of Urban Space and Youngwoo and Associates, which activates a dormant con-
struction site in Downtown Brooklyn. The market consists oI shops made oI repurposed salvaged
shipping containers that house independent retailers, eateries and work-sell spaces. The new vi-
brant market includes six incubator Iarms, an events and perIormance venue and a beer garden.
The impacts oI the sluggish economy on the building industry are not limited to New York City.
Several U.S. and Ioreign cities have taken an array oI approaches to revitalizing stalled sites.
Many cities are attempting to increase interest in revitalizing stalled construction sites by introduc-
ing design competitions. For example, in 2009, the Boston Globe called on the creative communi-
ty in its city to suggest conceptual interim uses for prominent construction sites. After the designs
were proposed, readers had the opportunity to vote on their favorites.
While these programs
generate interest, they are not often associated with implemented projects. In many cases these
competitions produce interesting theories and renderings without implementation.
17 Ross, Casey. 'Designers Suggest Ways to Spruce up Stalled Building Projects around Boston.¨ Boston.com. Boston Globe, 20 Sept. 2009.
Web. 12 July 2011. ·http://www.boston.com/business/articles/2009/09/20/designers¸suggest¸ways¸to¸spruce¸up¸stalled¸building¸projects¸
V. Stalled Construction Project Case Studies
Internationally, however, another publication took the helm in galvanizing public responses to va-
cant, stalled sites, and the competition, known as Site Life, is an inspiring initiative. Property Week
in Britain asked readers to send in creative examples oI temporary reuse in February 2010. The
Site Life campaign has been endorsed by high-ranking elected oIfcials and has generated partner-
ships that are seeking activation oI sites. The campaign spurred two design competitions Ior large,
prominent sites in Manchester and London. Winners of the London competition were announced
in March and are set to be on-site soon. Winners will be granted use of the sites for one-year terms.
Site Life has also encouraged grass-roots efforts: major developers are working with local govern-
ments to engage communities in invigorating identifed properties.
18, 19, 20
Other municipalities are working to remove impediments and reclaiming stalled construction sites
temporarily. San Francisco considered the potential ramifcations oI handing over a temporarily
stalled construction site to public use – it can pose a political quagmire to reclaim when the de-
veloper is prepared to proceed with construction. In February 2010, the San Francisco OIfce oI
Economic and Workforce Development proposed legislation to fast-track the approval process for
interim uses on vacant lots that have previously obtained necessary approvals to build. While the
program was never implemented, the proposal provides a useful framework for such initiatives.
18 'BPF - Westfeld and Land Securities Back Campaign to Let Communities Use Mothballed Development Sites.¨ BPF. British Property Federa-
tion, 15 Mar. 2010. Web. 12 July 2011. http://www.bpI.org.uk/en/newsroom/press¸release/PR100315¸Site¸LiIe¸launch¸-¸Westfeld¸and¸Land¸
19 Garrett, Jonny. 'Cameron Backs Property Week`s Site LiIe Campaign.¨ Property Week.com. Property Week, 11 Mar. 2011. Web. 12 July 2011.
20 Hatcher, David. 'MIPIM 2011 - Boris Unveils Meanwhile London Winners.¨ Property Week.com. Property Week, 8 Mar. 2011. Web. 12 July
2011. http://www.propertyweek.com/mipim-2011/home/mipim-2011-boris-unveils-meanwhile-london-winners/5014502.article.
A proposal by Christopher Golden and Terry Kinsler for Downtown Crossing as part of the Boston Globe’s competition
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
The legislation proposed a 'Green Development Agreement.¨ This agreement would be a contract
between the municipality and the developer that would ensure that existing permits and approvals
would be honored when the project was ready to proceed. In exchange, the property owner would
temporarily convert the site to a use that satisfed public-beneft objectives: productive landscapes,
social yield, cultural yield and economic opportunity. The legislation was designed to give devel-
opers the assurance that the proposed project would not be subject to additional regulations or ap-
provals when work resumed. The City oI San Francisco also considered incorporating incentives
for developers who put property to public use.

Seattle’s government implemented a two-pronged approach, both adopting new land use policy
written into Seattle’s Land Use Code and generating public interest around spirited design solu-
tions. The city`s mayor prompted the Department oI Planning and Development to introduce a
three-year pilot project permitting a maximum oI 20 stalled construction sites, in commercial and
mixed-use areas, to have active uses such as Iood vendors and retail kiosks. Additionally, the pro-
gram would allow short-term parking with site treatments that encouraged pedestrian activity in
areas that do not permit accessory parking.
In a complementary effort, the Seattle Design Commission launched Holding Patterns, a 2010
competition to design temporary uses Ior stalled sites. The contest yielded scores oI submissions
and 13 fnalists. While the agency works with developers and local groups to implement the de-
signs, one fnalist, Sail Away, is slated to occupy a site in downtown Seattle for three years. Sail
Away is a moveable public art project inspired by the maritime history oI Seattle. The Seattle De-
partment of Neighborhoods helped identify a site, locate city funding sources, and coordinate with
the developer to adopt the project.


21 OIfce oI Economic WorkIorce and Development. 'InIormational Presentation on DraIt Green Development Agreement Legislation.¨ Letter to
San Francisco Planning Commission. 17 Feb. 2010. San Francisco Planning Department. Web. ·http://sI-planning.org/ ~.
22 'Holding Patterns.¨ Seattle.gov. Seattle Design Commission. Web. 12 July 2011. ·http://www.seattle.gov/dpd/Planning/Design¸Commission/
23 'Turn a Construction Site into an Art Installation.¨ Great City. Great City, 23 Mar. 2011. Web. 12 July 2011. ·http://www.greatcity.
V. Stalled Construction Project Case Studies
VI. Summary of Analysis
The analysis oI available data, completion oI a survey in Manhattan, and review oI case studies has
highlighted challenges in identifying and dealing with stalled sites.
Publicly available data is not exhaustive. There is no single source that captures a complete
list of stalled construction sites. With the vast numbers of properties affected, DOB relies heavily
on voluntary reporting by the public or its own scheduled inspections to count stalled sites. The
voluntary reporting mechanism has lead to discrepancies between the reported problems and those
observed by the survey. Further, complaint data does not provide a detailed impartial set of data
that is as reliable as an independent proactive survey.
Available data also captures scant qualitative information about sites, such as the information
included in this oIfce`s Manhattan survey. More detailed descriptions are crucial in determining
how to best approach a site whether it is an immediate hazard or there is potential Ior interim use.
Currently, there is no public interactive tool for tracking and receiving information.
Many existing site conditions are poor and risk having a negative effect on surrounding
neighborhoods. The public does not like stalled construction sites as seen in the more than 2,300
complaints logged Ior the 675 sites DOB identifed citywide in March oI this year.
The Manhat-
tan stalled sites survey conducted by this oIfce revealed the degree to which these construction
sites were neglected. Thirty-seven percent oI the sites surveyed were identifed as having at least
some litter. Over halI oI the sites surveyed had Iencing that was in disrepair or vandalized, and halI
of the sites had sidewalk obstructions that left eight feet or less of sidewalk space.
Developers and property owners have been disinclined to take advantage of the abundance
of short-term beautiücation initiatives, design competitions and site safety programs. Many
real estate professionals have attributed limited participation in these site activation and safety
programs to the expense, laborious approvals processes, web oI agencies involved, long delays
in implementation, lack oI fnancial incentives, and Iear oI upsetting community members once
construction is set to resume.
Leaving sites vacant, even those that are well maintained, is a lost opportunity. As has been
discussed, a stalled construction site aIficts the surrounding neighborhood and drains fnancial
resources from the property owner and project investors. Interim uses add a level of dynamism
and have the potential to generate income.
24 The complaints cited are only those identifed in this report as relevant to conditions oI stalled construction sites, i.e. saIety, site maintenance,
fence and scaffolding and stalled construction.
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
VII. Recommendations
Based on the above analysis, the City should begin implementing programs to revitalize and acti-
vate stalled construction sites.
1. New York City should create programs that will enable the City to partner with land
owners to use selected stalled construction sites for temporary public use. Similar
to programs explored in San Francisco and Seattle, the City should introduce legisla-
tion that would allow the City to partner with developers to convert appropriate stalled
construction sites to become temporarily accessible to the public. For such a program
to be successIul, property owners must be assured through clear and specifc legislation
that the new public use is only temporary until construction can begin again. To create
a successful public-access program, the City cannot rely simply on the goodwill of the
real estate community. The program should cover the costs oI insurance and mainte-
nance; indemnify developers from liability; and consider additional incentives for public
use. Financial incentives could include tax abatements or providing greater fexibility
to combine public uses with revenue generators such as advertising signage, markets, or
caIes where appropriate and as allowed under zoning. Further, any such program should
come with binding agreements guaranteeing property owners that such public use would
be temporary.
2. New York City should streamline approvals for interim for-proüt temporary uses
where appropriate such as: space for food vendors, parking, performing arts, and
farmers/ñea markets. In areas where commercial uses are currently allowed under the
zoning resolution, the City should look to encourage the activation oI stalled construc-
tion sites. Activation of these sites would not only provide a new revenue source for
property owners, but also remove 'dead zones¨ and create active vibrant street environ-
ments. Further, stalled construction sites located in food deserts should be targeted as
temporary sites for greenmarkets. As part of this program, the City should streamline
the approvals necessary from relevant City agencies by creating a temporary use permit.
Such a permit should be available through a single City agency. Additionally, as part
of the permit, property owners should be assured that they will continue to retain all ap-
provals and permits previously received.
3. New York City should create a campaign to generate ideas for interim uses and
designs of speciüc sites. As with other cities, one of the best ways to generate interest
for interim uses is with design competitions or other campaigns. While the City could
begin a design competition immediately, any such competition must contain demonstra-
tion projectsIeasible projects that can be completed quickly. The City could achieve
this by working with the development community to identify sites prime for interim uses
and issue requests Ior proposals (RFPs) to draw interested partners and innovative ideas
Ior the temporary activation oI sites. Additionally, the City should explore the Ieasibil-
ity of issuing RFPs where developers compete for money to improve temporary stalled
construction sites. Winners should be chosen based on their ability to meet a community
or public need.
VII. Recommendations
4. New York City needs to reclaim the narrowed sidewalks created by stalled construc-
tion fences and scaffolding where possible. When construction sites have been allowed
to take over public sidewalks, it was assumed that the condition would be temporary,
just Ior the length oI construction. These conditions, however, may persist Ior years. As
many Iences/scaIIolding obstruct the sidewalks to less than the eight Ieet necessary Ior
two-way passage under ADA regulations, DOB and DOT should reevaluate whether it
is necessary Ior them to continue to exist. While some continued obstruction may be
necessary due to construction conditions, each site can and should be evaluated on an
individual basis. II it is Iound that the scaIIolding/Ience no longer needs to obstruct the
sidewalk, then the construction fencing should be moved back to the property line.

5. New York City should develop more comprehensive art programs to encourage the
beautiücation of sidewalk sheds. Construction fences are the most direct connection
pedestrians and neighbors have with stalled construction sites. Unfortunately, many of
the City`s beautifcation programs are not widely used. New York City needs a new pro-
gram that partners the local neighborhood with the development community to improve
the visual aspects oI stalled construction sites. The City should develop a program that
provides small grants to community groups, business improvement districts, and non-
proft organizations that are interested in creating public art projects on construction
6. New York City should create a comprehensive program to address the maintenance
and condition of sidewalk fencing on stalled construction sites. While many sites
were well maintained, over 60° oI the stalled construction sites exhibited at least one
sign oI disrepair. The City needs to come up with a comprehensive program to monitor
the condition of sidewalk fences to ensure that they remain well maintained. Further,
the City should explore permitting a greater range oI Iencing material options, which
are more durable then the plywood fence, but remain temporary such as wood fencing.
Additionally, all stalled construction sites not participating in a public art project should
be enrolled in Grafhti Free NYC, which allows program oIfcers to remove graIfti Irom
registered properties.
7. New York City needs to keep a comprehensive record of the state of stalled con-
struction sites, not just the number. The data demonstrates that the traditional metrics
of recording complaints and total number of sites do not truly assess the full impact of
the stalled sites. The City should conduct an annual stalled construction survey, similar
to the endeavor undertaken by this oIfce, to assess the sites` conditions and ensure any
unsaIe or blighted conditions are addressed. The inIormation should be available in a
publicly accessible database and the City should use this information to identify oppor-
tunities for public-private partnerships.
8. New York City needs to remove regulatory barriers to allow construction sites to
start immediately. Interim uses and beautifcation projects are important Ior managing
the sites until construction is ready to begin. However, the best way to bring back active
uses to the sites is through resuming construction. Once construction is ready to start,
it is important not to further delay the sites. Many sites that were previously approved
now have stop work orders, and construction cannot begin until the order is lifted and the
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
permits are reissued. The City should work towards streamlining its approvals Ior sites
that have already received work permits. By removing regulatory barriers and stream-
lining approvals, the City can ensure that it does not further delay otherwise shovel ready
projects and the related jobs and economic benefts.
While stalled construction sites will eventually restart, the timing will depend on many factors
outside of individual property owners’ control, including the overall health of the local, state and
national economies. Even when construction begins again, many sites in less desirable markets
may take additional time to restart. The unintended consequences oI leaving these stalled con-
struction sites vacant are clear: they block sidewalks, fall into inactivity, are susceptible to vandal-
ism and disrepair, and greatly affect the overall well-being of neighborhoods and their community
members. Actions, such as those outlined above, are necessary to begin to connect these sites back
to their communities and ensure that they can again contribute to the City’s overall economic and
physical health.
VII. Recommendations
APPENDIX A: Complaint Code Descriptions
01 Accident Construction/Plumbing
03 Adjacent Buildings – Not Protected
04 After Hours Work – Illegal
05 Permit None (Building/PA/Demo Etc.)
06 Construction Change Grade/Change Watercourse
09 Debris Excessive
10 Debris/Building Falling or in Danger oI Falling
12 Demolition UnsaIe/Illegal/Mechanical Demo
13 Elevator in (FDNY) Readiness None
14 Excavation Undermining Adjacent Building
15 Fence None/Inadequate/Illegal
16 Inadequate Support/Shoring
18 Material Storage – Unsafe
20 Landmark Building – Illegal Work
21 SaIety Net/Guard Rail Damaged/Inadequate/None (Over 6 STY/75 FT)
23 Sidewalk Sheds/Supported ScaIIold/Inadequate/DeIective/None/No PMT/
No Cert
29 Building – Vacant, Open and Unguarded
30 Building Shaking/Vibrating/Struct Stability AIIected
31 Certifcate oI Occupancy None/Illegal/Contrary to CO
35 Curb Cut/Driveway/Carport Illegal
37 Egress Locked/Blocked/Improper/No Secondary Means
45 Illegal Conversion
49 StoreIront or Business Sign/Awning/Marquee/Canopy Illegal
50 Sign Falling Danger/Sign Erection or Display in Progress Illegal
52 Sprinkler System – Inadequate
53 Vent/Exhaust Illegal/Improper
54 Wall/Retaining Wall Bulging/Cracked
55 Zoning Non-ConIorming
56 Boiler Fumes/Smoke/Carbon Monoxide
58 Boiler DeIective/Inoperative/No Permit
59 Electrical Wiring DeIective/Exposed, in Progress
62 Elevator Danger Condition/ShaIt Open/Unguarded
63 Elevator DeIective/Inoperative
65 Gas Hook Up/Piping Illegal or DeIective
66 Plumbing Work Illegal/No Permit (Also Sprinklers/Standpipe)
67 Crane No Permit/License/Cert/UnsaIe/Illegal
71 SRO Illegal Work/No Permit/Change in Occup-Use
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
73 Failure to Maintain
74 Illegal Commercial/ManuIacturing Use in Residential Zone
75 Adult Establishment
76 Plumbing Work Unlicensed/Illegal/Improper in Progress
77 Contrary to LL 58/87 (Handicap Access)
78 Privately Owned Public Space/Non-Compliance
79 Lights from Parking Lot Shining of Building
80 Elevator Not Inspected/Illegal/No Permit
81 Elevator – Accident
82 Boiler Accident/Explosion
83 Construction Contrary/Beyond Approved Plans/Permits
84 Façade DeIective/Cracking (LL 11/98)
85 Failure to Retain Water/Improper Drainage (LL 103/89)
86 Work Contrary to Stop Work Order
88 SaIety Net/Guard Rail Dam/Inadequate/None (6 FL 75 FT or Less)
89 Accident Cranes/Derricks/Suspension
90 Unlicensed/Illegal Activity
91 Site Conditions Endangering Workers
92 Illegal Conversion oI ManuIacturing/Industrial Space
93 Request for Retaining Wall Safety Inspection
94 Plumbing DeIective/Leaking/Not Maintained
1A Illegal Conversion Commercial BLDG/Space to Dwelling Units
1B Illegal Tree Removal/TOPO. Change in SNAD
1C Damage Assessment Request (Disaster)
1D Con Edison Referral
1E Suspended (Hanging) ScaIIolds No PMT/LIC/Dangerous/Accident
1F Failure to Comply with Annual Crane Inspection
1G Stalled Construction Site
1H Emergency Asbestos Response Inspection
1J Jewelry/Dentistry Torch: Gas Piping Removed w/o Permit
2A Posted Notice or Order Removed/Tampered with
2B Failure to Comply with Vacate Order
2C Smoking Ban – Smoking on Construction Site
2D Smoking Signs – ‘No Smoking Signs’ Not Observed on Construction Site
2E Demolition Notifcation Received
2F Building Under Structural Monitoring
2G Advertising Sign/Billboard/Posters/Flexible Fabric Illegal
2H Second Avenue Subway Construction
3A Electrical Work Unlicensed/Illegal/Improper in Progress
3B Routine Inspection
3C Plan Compliance Inspection
3D Bicycle Access Waiver Request – Elevator Safety
3E Bicycle Access Waiver Request – Alternate Parking
4A Illegal Hotel Rooms In Residential Buildings
4B SEP ProIessional Certifcation Compliance Audit
4C Excavation Tracking Complaint
4D Interior Demo Tracking Complaint
4E Stalled Sites Tracking Complaint
4F SST Tracking Complaint
5A Request Ior Joint FDNY/DOB Inspection
5B Non-Compliance w/Lightweight Materials
5C Structural Stability Impacted – New Building Under Construction
5D Non-Compliance w/TPPN 1/00 Vertical Enlargements
6A Vesting Inspection
Source: New York City Department of Buildings
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
APPENDIX B: Complaint Types at Stalled Construction Sites



S 15 Fence None/Inadequate/Illegal
23 Sidewalk Sheds/Supported ScaI-
PMT/No Cert

03 Adjacent Buildings – Not Protected
04 After Hours Work – Illegal
10 Debris/Building Falling or in Dan-
ger of Falling
14 Excavation Undermining Adjacent
16 Inadequate Support/Shoring
21 SaIety Net/Guard Rail Damaged/
Inadequate/None (Over 6 STY/75
30 Building Shaking/Vibrating/Struct
Stability Affected
54 Wall/Retaining Wall Bulging/
88 SaIety Net/Guard Rail Dam/Inad-
equate/None (6 FL 75 FT or Less)
91 Site Conditions Endangering Work-
1E Suspended (Hanging) ScaIIolds
No PMT/LIC/Dangerous/Accident
2F Building Under Structural Monitor-


09 Debris Excessive
29 Building – Vacant, Open and Un-
73 Failure to Maintain
2A Posted Notice or Order Removed/
Tampered with
Source: Complaints from New York City Department of Buildings; Relevant Complaints to
Stalled Construction Sites were Further Grouped into 3 Main Categories
APPENDIX C: Site Survey of Stalled Construction Sites
1) Is construction currently occurring on the site? (workers/activity/etc.) YES NO
2) Did construction oI a building start in the past? YES NO
a. Is there construction equipment on the site? YES NO
b. Can you see the building`s steel/cement structure? YES NO
c. Is the steel/cement structure enclosed? (i.e. walls/windows) YES NO
d. How many stories built (estimate iI necessary)? ¸¸¸¸¸
3) Can you see into the site? YES NO
(If NO skip to #4)
a. Has the ground been excavated? (Is there a hole in the ground?) YES NO
b. Has the Ioundation been poured? YES NO
c. Are there any existing/old buildings or structure on the site? YES NO
i. iI yes is the building active? YES NO
4) Is there added light fxtures around the construction site? YES NO
5) How clean is the site? (circle one)
Dumping on the site Signifcant litter Small amounts oI litter Mostly Clean Clean
1 2 3 4 5
II 1 or 2 is circled, please describe the type oI trash here: ¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸
6) Is there any existing programming or active use oI the site? YES NO
II yes, please describe the type oI use (i.e. art exhibit, tree nurseries, fea market):

7) Is the site currently surrounded by:
! a plywood fence
! a permanent Ience (i.e. chain link, aluminum, etc.)
! a sidewalk shed/scaIIolding (a Ience with rooI covering the sidewalk)
8) The Ience or shed: (MARK ALL THAT APPLY)
! has a door or a gate
! has art painted on it or is decorated (NOT advertisements or graIfti) please explain
! is leaning
! has holes broken into it (NOT a hole designed Ior viewing)
! has an unsecured opening/gate/door
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
! is vandalized please explain
! is covered in advertising please explain small or larger posters
! is otherwise broken or in disrepair
Please explain: ¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸
9) Is the site`s DOB Work Permit prominently displayed? YES NO
10) Have sidewalks been obstructed by stalled construction site? YES NO
If so, indicate side of obstruction and estimate the remaining width of sidewalk:
¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸ ST/AVE/BLVD/RD is obstructed/closed/narrowed to ¸¸¸¸¸¸ FT
¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸ ST/AVE/BLVD/RD is obstructed/closed/narrowed to ¸¸¸¸¸¸ FT
¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸ ST/AVE/BLVD/RD is obstructed/closed/narrowed to ¸¸¸¸¸¸ FT
¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸ ST/AVE/BLVD/RD is obstructed/closed/narrowed to ¸¸¸¸¸¸ FT
a. Please indicate the type oI sidewalk obstructions: (MARK ALL THAT APPLY)
! tree pit/tree ¸¸¸(number) ! sidewalk subway ventilation grate
! light pole¸¸¸(number) ! scaIIolding
! sign ¸¸¸(number) ! other
! parking meter ¸¸¸(number) ¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸(what type?)
! garbage/trash receptacle ¸¸¸(number) ¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸¸(number)
! newspaper box ¸¸¸(number)
APPENDIX D: Total Stalled Sites and Complaints in Community Districts
Total Stalled Sites Total Complaints at
Stalled Sites
Average of Complaints
at Sites
1 20 103 5.15
2 12 71 5.92
3 19 111 5.84
4 8 58 7.25
5 16 91 5.69
6 14 82 5.86
7 4 57 14.25
8 5 60 12.00
9 3 15 5.00
10 10 67 6.70
11 11 49 4.45
12 7 40 5.71
1 3 5 1.67
2 3 11 3.67
3 2 10 5.00
4 2 7 3.50
5 2 6 3.00
6 2 6 3.00
7 2 35 17.50
8 9 76 8.44
9 2 6 3.00
10 5 38 7.60
11 1 8 8.00
1 92 389 4.23
2 29 166 5.72
3 16 91 5.69
4 11 39 3.55
5 7 30 4.29
6 25 210 8.40
7 21 116 5.52
8 14 59 4.21
9 9 39 4.33
10 6 35 5.83
11 7 44 6.29
12 31 116 3.74
13 3 20 6.67
14 8 44 5.50
15 19 100 5.26
16 3 4 1.33
17 2 2 1.00
18 8 42 5.25
33 Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
Total Stalled Sites Total Complaints at
Stalled Sites
Average of Complaints
at Sites
1 14 79 5.64
2 14 55 3.93
3 9 51 5.67
4 4 15 3.75
5 6 36 6.00
6 4 26 6.50
7 18 66 3.67
8 9 40 4.44
9 5 13 2.60
10 2 10 5.00
11 4 26 6.50
12 24 101 4.21
13 12 61 5.08
14 17 47 2.76

1 28 102 3.64
2 14 38 2.71
3 15 43 2.87
Source: New York City Department of Buildings; Stalled Construction Sites Data Collected from
March 20, 2011 Report, Complaints Data is an Aggregate of Complaints Made at Identihed
Stalled Sites between January 2009 to March 2011
APPENDIX E: Identified Complaints at Stalled Construction Sites by Type
Community District Fence and Scaffold
Safety Complaints Site Maintenance
1 25 11 18
2 3 17 15
3 11 29 17
4 17 8 14
5 5 13 8
6 18 17 7
7 1 7 5
8 11 16 11
9 6 4
10 37 18 2
11 17 6 7
12 14 9 1
1 --- --- ---
2 1 --- 2
3 --- 4 ---
4 --- 1 3
5 --- --- 2
6 --- --- 2
7 1 13 1
8 23 8 10
9 2 --- ---
10 5 10 5
11 4 3 ---
1 37 64 38
2 14 54 18
3 14 34 7
4 4 4 2
5 3 2 4
6 41 42 34
7 26 18 12
8 15 10 5
9 3 11 3
10 8 5 8
11 5 17 7
12 18 21 6
13 5 6 3
14 14 9 6
15 22 8 12
16 --- --- 1
17 --- --- ---
18 4 6 10
Arrested Development: Breathing New Life into Stalled Construction Sites
Community District Fence and Scaffold
Safety Complaints Site Maintenance
1 17 17 3
2 7 2 6
3 5 9 4
4 --- --- 3
5 7 11 5
6 2 2 2
7 6 5 11
8 8 10 5
9 3 2 2
10 1 2 ---
11 9 2 5
12 41 4 11
13 18 7 3
14 19 --- 1

1 21 8 10
2 12 2 3
3 10 1 6
Source: New York City Department of Buildings; Stalled Sites from March 20, 2011 Report;
Complaints Data is an Aggregate of Complaints Made at Identihed Stalled Sites between Janu-
ary 2009 to March 2011; Refer to Complaints Type Key of the Appendix for Full List of Com-
plaints Under Each Category

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