Lawsuit intended to keep 19th century landmark from falling into a state of disrepair. In 2005, Landmarks designated the Windermere Apartments, three buildings located on West 57th Street and Ninth Avenue, in order to preserve its Queen Anne-style architecture and to recognize its storied history as a residence for young, self-supporting women entering the workforce in the mid-1800s. The owners claimed that the buildings were in an “unsafe condition” and did not warrant designation; preservation groups claimed that they could be restored despite their many years of neglect. Landmarks agreed with the preservationists and voted to designate the building.
Subsequent to designation, Landmarks sent a series of notices to Toa Construction, the owners of the Windermere, stating that it was required to ensure the buildings were kept in a state of good repair as per the Landmarks Law. Toa failed to provide Landmarks with a restoration plan in response to any of Landmarks’ notices.
In September 2007, Landmarks conducted a survey of the Windermere’s facade and found that the lack of ongoing maintenance threatened the buildings’ historical and structural integrity. That same month, the Fire Department evacuated the small group of Windermere tenants from the buildings because of structural instability.
In October 2007, Landmarks Chair Robert B. Tierney issued Toa an order to present a plan to take action to bring the Windermere to a state of good repair or risk daily fines, criminal penalties, and legal action. When Toa failed to provide Landmarks with a plan to make substantial repairs to the building, Landmarks filed suit seeking civil penalties, amounting to $5,000 a day, and an order to compel Toa to repair and restore the Windermere.
New York City v. Toa Construction Co., Index No. 400584/08 (N.Y.Cty.Sup.Ct. Mar. 19, 2008).