U.S. Attorney Sues Owner Over Inaccessible Apartments
Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara recently filed a lawsuit against an owner for allegedly violating the federal Fair Housing Act by not making its buildings accessible to residents with disabilities. The two buildings named in the suit are Tribeca Green in Battery Park City and East 96th Street’s One Carnegie Hill. The architects of the two buildings are also named.
According to Bharara, all 475 units in One Carnegie Hill and 278 units in Tribeca Green are in violation of federal law, with inaccessible features including: kitchens and bathrooms without sufficient clear floor space for people with wheelchairs to maneuver; bathroom fixtures that prevent the installation of grab bars; and electrical outlets and mailboxes that are not fully usable by people in wheelchairs; and in the building’s common areas, a lack of Braille lettering; excessively high thresholds; and steps that "interfere with accessible routes."
The U.S. Attorney’s Office sent letters to dozens of developers and architects in 2008, warning them to be mindful of accessibility concerns. AvalonBay, the first developer to be sued, settled in 2010, agreeing to pay more than $2.2 million in building improvements and penalties.