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Contested Soho Fire Escape Removal Gets Halted, For Now

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Even after the Landmarks Preservation Commission and the DOB signed off on architect Joseph Pell Lombardi's plans to remove the iconic external fire escapes from two buildings in the Soho Cast Iron District, Pell's still running into trouble. Surprisingly it isn't just the adamant opposition of the building's tenants, neighbors, and FDNY, who argue that the renovations to 69 and 71-73 Greene Street would destroy the buildings' "sense of place" and also create some serious safety issues while at it, but it's the DOB that's stirring things up. The agency has issued a stop-work order at 69 Greene Street, DNAinfo reports. After a Monday site inspection, Lombardi was ordered to suspend work on the building for failing a code compliance. The stop-work order means that to move forward, Lombardi must prove that the building's tenants are safe in the middle of a construction site and have a point of egress. Tenants in the buildings have expressed concerns over the renovation, notably that removing the fire escapes would mean that the main point of egress in case of an emergency would be a "rickety" central wood staircase.
Lombardi was scheduled to meet with a DOB plan examiner this week to move forward with work at 71-73 Greene Street. In an interview with DNAinfo, Lombardi said, "We haven't yet seen the objections to the second examination. Once we have them, we will comply with the request."
· City Orders Architect To Stop Removal of Soho Fire Escapes [DNAinfo]
· Dear NYC Fire Escapes, You Are Iconic and We Would Miss You [Curbed]
· Soho Buildings To Lose Fire Escapes Despite Safety Concerns [Curbed]
· Soho Residents Not Thrilled About Losing Fire Escapes [Curbed]