NYC Developer Accused of Inaccessible Design & Construction

Federal officials recently filed suit against a major real estate developer based in New York City for allegedly developing rental apartment buildings that are inaccessible to persons with disabilities.

According to the complaint, the developer, along with its affiliates and architects, designed and constructed a 595-unit apartment building in Manhattan in violation of the design and construction provisions of federal fair housing law. Among other things, the inaccessible conditions allegedly include excessively high thresholds that interfere with accessible routes in the common areas and within individual units, kitchens that lack sufficient width for maneuvering by people in wheelchairs, electrical outlets and mailboxes that are not fully usable by people in wheelchairs, and bathrooms that lack sufficient clear floor space for people in wheelchairs to maneuver.

The lawsuit accused the developer of engaging in a pattern and practice of developing its rental properties without regard to their accessibility to people with disabilities. In addition to damages and penalties, the complaint asked for a court order to prevent similar inaccessible design features from being repeated at multifamily housing projects currently under development, including two rental complexes in Manhattan. The complaint also asked for a court order requiring the developer to retrofit the inaccessible conditions at all the rental properties it has developed to make them accessible.

“This is now the eighth lawsuit we have filed in recent years to address the failure of real estate developers in New York City to comply with the law. Today’s lawsuit demonstrates our continued commitment to ensuring that the long-established federal laws that protect the rights of people with disabilities to accessible housing are enforced. Developers and architects who show an unwillingness to design and construct housing that complies with the law can no longer seek to evade the consequences of their actions,” Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement.

Source: Office of U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York