The popular TV series, Gossip Girl, which ran from 2007 to 2012, did much for the profile of the Lotte New York Palace in Midtown Manhattan. In fact, the hotel’s main security officer, Maurice Legere, has spent the last 10 years giving guided tours of the building to the show’s fans. The hotel has recently garnered some less favorable attention however, with building inspectors raising concerns about public safety on the outside of the building.
Archdiocese Of New York Fined
The building on Madison Avenue is owned by the Archdiocese of New York, which was recently condemned for failing to put protective measures in place to safeguard the public against a facade flagged as dangerous. An engineering report in March 2019 found loose safety railings, broken roof tiles and unsafe chimneys, and the Archdiocese of New York was subsequently fined $10,000 for failing to protect public safety, and a further $3,750 for failing to maintain the hotel’s exterior. The Lotte New York Palace is not the only building in New York to have received fines for this: there are over 300 buildings across the city that have violated regulations for protecting the public from crumbling facades or collapses.
Public Safety Is A Priority
The general manager of the Lotte New York Palace, Becky Hubbard, issued a statement saying that “the safety of our guests and neighbors is of utmost importance.” Guest safety is paramount to all hotels, with many establishments going the extra mile to provide safety and peace of mind for guests, particularly those with babies and young children, to whom safety is particularly important. Most hotels have standard safety protocol and also encourage guests to call ahead to inform them if they have extra safety requirements for their family.
However, focus tends to be on internal issues, and engineering reports like the one done on the Lotte New York Palace last year are important in alerting hotel managers to external problems. Becky Hubbard said that all violation reports have been solved as a result of the report, and that the hotel is filing for permits for a sidewalk shed to protect passers by from the facade. An Environmental Control Board hearing with the Archdiocese is planned for March 26, 2020.
New York City’s Local Law 11
All buildings higher than six stories are required by local law to have a facade inspection every five years, following an incident in which falling debris killed a student from Barnard College 40 years ago. This is the reason for the number of sidewalk sheds seen around the city, as a third of all permits for them can be attributed to the facade law. Although a variety of premises are affected by New York City’s Local Law 11, hotels rank highly, due to the fact that many of them reach the height that requires regular inspections. The need for the law was highlighted recently, when Erica Tishman was killed by a piece of terracotta falling from a building near Times Square earlier this year. Following this tragedy, the Department of Buildings announced the inspection of 1,331 buildings that had been deemed unsafe during their routine five-year inspections.
The Lotte New York Palace is doing everything in its power to rectify the issues and ensure that public safety on the outside of the building is as good as it is within the hotel. Routine facade inspections will continue across the city to ensure that tragic events like the Tishman case are avoided in the future.