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U.S. Attorney Sues Related Over Inaccessible Apartments

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Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara has filed a lawsuit against Related Companies, accusing the developer of violating the U.S. 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, Robert A.M. Stern and Ismael Leyva, are also named.

According to Bharara, all 475 units in One Carnegie Hill and 278 units in Tribeca Green (both rental buildings) are in violation of federal law, with inaccessible features including, according to the Observer:

...kitchens and bathrooms without sufficient clear floor space for people with wheel chairs to maneuver, bathroom fixtures that prevent the installation of grab bars, as well as 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" in the building's common areas.

The U.S. Attorney's Office sent letters to dozens of developers and architects in 2008, warning them to get their acts together in terms of accessibility. AvalonBay was the first developer to have suit brought against it and settled in 2010, agreeing to pay more than $2.2 million in building improvements and penalties. A number of other developers have settled since then.

Through the lawsuit, Bharara is seeking to halt the progress of all future Related projects until the problems are fixed. The government is also seeking an unspecified amount of money for people harmed by the discriminatory practice and civil penalties.
· Manhattan luxury apartment developer accused of violating disabled-access laws [NYDN]
· U.S. Attorney Sues the Related Companies, Robert A.M. Stern and Ismael Leyva, Alleging Inaccessible Apartments [Observer]
· Related Companies coverage [Curbed]