Construction on the facade of the building has been ongoing, but the fire escape issue appears to have fallen through the cracks in the permitting process. The issue was discovered accidentally by a housing inspector. Once alerted to the potential danger, the fire department ordered the evacuation of all residents.
Recently, fire officials have allowed tenants on the lower floors to return. Other tenants do not know how long they will be out of a home.
Rumors have spread that the action was an attempt to force rent stabilized tenants out of their below-market rentals. However, the landlord has denied those allegations.
According to a news report, a housing court has ordered the landlord to restore the fire escape by month’s end, or face daily fines.
One tenant equated removal of the fire escapes to premeditated murder.
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