NYC DOB Pitches Program to Complete Major Developments Faster

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The New York City Department of Buildings (DOB) proposed a new, voluntary program for large construction projects in which, for a fee, agency staff would serve as advisers for an entire development to ease permitting, application filings and other administrative challenges. 

The rule change would provide developers with guidance to ensure that a building is completed easily and safely, according to DOB Commissioner Melissa La Rocca.

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“By expanding our consultation model and creating true wrap-around service in the development process for these large, complex projects, we can spur New York City’s recovering economy by helping turn lines on paper into shovels in the ground,” La Rocca said in a statement

If the program speeds up the building process, it would be a boon to developers, who can incur costs in the thousands of dollars for just one day of delays depending on a project’s size, Commercial Observer reported. The DOB came under fire in 2015 for delays due to an avalanche of permit applications for new construction

The new program is open to owners who propose new buildings of 500,000 square feet or more, alterations enlarging an existing structure by 100,000 square feet or more, or any other plan the department decides is eligible. It would cost developers $50,000 for most construction projects, but $25,000 for affordable housing developments. The DOB would choose participants on a first-come, first-served basis, according to the organization.

To advise owners on zoning and code compliance, construction operations and occupancy, the DOB would create a new branch within the agency, dubbed the Major Projects Development Unit.

“By increasing our footprint on these worksites, we can help construction operations on these large projects proceed as efficiently as possible, reducing both worksite incidents and negative quality of life impacts felt by neighbors in communities across the five boroughs,” La Rocca said.

The department is hosting a virtual public hearing for the program on Nov. 22, where anyone can comment on the proposed rule.

Several construction and landlord organizations came out in support of the program, including the Real Estate Board of New York, the New York Building Congress, and the Building Trades Employers Association. 

Celia Young can be reached at cyoung@commercialobserver.com.