After Landmarks' blessing, two SoHo buildings will lose fire escapes

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The fire escapes outside two landmarked SoHo buildings will be removed, despite tenants' safety concerns, Curbed reports.

Residents were hoping that the Landmarks ruling would stop the landlord and architect's plan, but on Tuesday,  the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a plan to make exterior changes to the buildings --  located at 69 and 71-73 Greene Street -- part of the SoHo Cast-Iron Historic District.

The Department of Buildings code allows the removal of the fire escapes since the state's Multiple Dwelling Law doesn't require them in non-fireproof buildings like these when there's an interior staircase.  

But that doesn't mean it's a smart idea, says Michael Zenreich, of MZ Architects, who was at a Community Board meeting last week when the issue came up, and helped write the city's building code. "Just because it's technically permitted doesn't mean I'd do it," says Zenreich.

"Building codes are a bare minimum, not something to strive for," he adds. "I was very sympathetic with the tenants. I wouldn’t do it as an architect just because you could."

The architect, Joseph Pell Lombardi, argues that the building will actually be safer as a result as they're planning to install new sprinkler systems.


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