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For Immediate Release
March 11, 2013

BUILDINGS COMMISSIONER ROBERT LIMANDRI ANNOUNCES RENOVATIONS TO MANHATTAN PLAN EXAMINATION OFFICES TO INCREASE EFFICIENCY OF
CONSTRUCTION PROJECT APPROVAL PROCESS

Renovations will Provide More Space for Appointments with Design Professionals and Filing Representatives and Foster Collaborative Reviews

Expanded, Modernized Space Will Allow Use of New Technology to Review Construction Plans on Paper and in an Electronic Format

Buildings Commissioner Robert LiMandri today announced the renovation of the plan examination offices in the Department’s Manhattan office to increase the overall efficiency of the construction project approval process. Starting today, construction began on the 5,000 square-foot space at 280 Broadway in order to provide a new, modernized layout for these offices where hundreds of design professionals and filing representatives meet with the agency’s plan examiners on a daily basis. In 2012, plan examiners in the Manhattan office reviewed more than 35,000 sets of construction plans, which represent millions of dollars of potential economic activity across the borough. The third-floor renovations will provide dedicated meeting spaces for appointments with plan examiners, improve access to code and zoning specialists and foster more collaborative plan reviews so projects are approved in a more timely fashion. With the additional space, new computers will be installed to allow plan examiners to review plans in an electronic format – instead of only on paper – and provide design professionals with the option of submitting plans from their own offices. Today, the Department only accepts digital plans through the NYC Development Hub, the agency’s state-of-the-art project review center which opened in October 2011. 

“The NYC Development Hub has led to faster approvals for construction projects because we combined great customer service with the latest technology, and we want to replicate that experience in the Manhattan Borough Office,” said Commissioner LiMandri. “Starting any construction project can be complex at times, but this expanded space will encourage more collaboration among our plan examiners and the design community so issues can be resolved quicker, which is exactly what has made the Development Hub such a success. New technology also will be provided, introducing more industry members to the use of digital plans and how electronic filings can help more projects break ground faster than ever before.”

Coordinated by the City’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services (DCAS), the construction of the new office space is expected to be completed by June 2013. During the renovations, all plan examination operations for the Manhattan Borough Office will be moved to the sixth floor of 280 Broadway. As of today, pre-filing operations will permanently move to the third-floor application area where two new customer-service areas have been constructed to further accelerate the pre-filing process. Signs will be posted on all floors to direct customers to the appropriate areas, and customer service personnel will be on hand to answer questions and our online processes are available as well.

To facilitate safe construction, the Department has enabled more than 90% of all construction documents to be filed online through the Development Hub. This is the result of a new program called Hub Self-Service – under which licensed architects and engineers can professionally certify plans for small construction projects – including home alterations and office improvements, also known as Alteration 2 and Alteration 3 applications – without visiting a borough office. These online transactions can save industry members millions of dollars each year in labor costs. Through the Department’s website, applicants can create an online account, complete the necessary electronic forms and upload the proper documents in order to receive an approval and a construction permit. Alteration 2 and 3 applications are typically submitted when there is no change in use, occupancy or egress. Permits for all electrical work, minor plumbing work and renewals for after-hours variance permits also can be obtained online. All associated fees for these applications – as well as new buildings and major construction projects submitted at the Development Hub – can now be paid online.

Since 2008, the Department has implemented several initiatives to improve the transparency and efficiency of the construction process and expand the agency’s electronic plan review and permitting efforts. Since 2011, Quick Response (QR) codes have been placed on more than 297,000 construction permits to allow New Yorkers to obtain instant information on a construction project in their community. In 2009, the Department launched the Development Challenge Process, which enables the public to view online diagrams of proposed buildings before work begins. New York was the first city in the country to post such diagrams online. Last month, the Department unveiled a new smartphone app to allow New Yorkers to easily search the history of nearly 1 million properties throughout the City.

To download the new app, please visit the Apple App store or Google play. To find out more information about the NYC Development Hub and the Department’s electronic filing programs, please visit www.nyc.gov/buildings.

Contact:    Tony Sclafani/Gloria Chin                              (212) 566-3473
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