FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 29, 2009
MAYOR BLOOMBERG AND BUILDINGS COMMISSIONER LIMANDRI ANNOUNCE THAT THE NEW YORK CITY LOFT BOARD WILL BE HOUSED WITHIN THE DEPARTMENT OF BUILDINGS
Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg and Department of Buildings Commissioner Robert D. LiMandri today announced that the New York City Loft Board will be housed within the Department of Buildings instead of the Mayor’s Office. The Mayor effectuated the change via an Executive Order.
Created in 1982, the Loft Board oversees the legal conversion of certain commercial and manufacturing buildings throughout the City to safe residences without the displacement of existing tenants. The Loft Board’s prime charge is to work with the owners and tenants of those buildings to make the renovations necessary to comply with applicable code provisions and obtain residential certificates of occupancy. Once compliance is reached and certificates of occupancy are issued the buildings move out of the Loft Board’s jurisdiction. Since 2005, the Bloomberg Administration has increased staffing levels and the number of loft buildings in the process of being legalized under the Loft Board’s jurisdiction has been significantly reduced.
The Buildings Department will support the mission of the Loft Board, and the transfer will provide the Loft Board with additional resources. Further, the transfer will allow for the creation of closer relationships among the various code enforcement agencies, including the Fire Department and Department of Housing Preservation and Development. The more streamlined communication will improve public safety and facilitate full compliance with the law by the remaining 300 buildings under the Loft Board’s jurisdiction.
“Ensuring the safe and lawful conversion of loft buildings into legal residences is an issue that touches thousands of New Yorkers and touches our first-responders,” said Mayor Bloomberg. “By moving the Loft Board within the Buildings Department, this order provides the Board with more resources to ensure the remaining properties that do not meet code standards are renovated to meet those standards. I want to thank outgoing Board Chairman Marc Rauch for his diligent work in reshaping and refocusing the Loft Board during his six-year tenure. He significantly increased the number of lofts brought up to code and the City is a safer place because of his efforts.”
“Loft buildings are highly desirable living spaces in such a dense urban environment as New York City, but they must be legally converted so tenants are properly protected,” said Commissioner LiMandri. “I look forward to working with the members of the Board and continuing the success of their important mission.”
“Under the Mayor’s guidance, the Loft Board has taken tremendous strides toward its goal of ensuring safe and affordable housing for New York City loft residents,” said current Loft Board Chair Marc Rauch. “Providing a home for the Loft Board at the Buildings Department makes perfect sense because the missions of the two agencies are so closely aligned. This realignment creates a splendid opportunity for the Loft Board to complete its mission.”
The Executive Order also amends the Board’s composition. Since 1982, the Board’s membership consisted of a Chair, one member representing loft owners, one member representing loft residential tenants, one member representing loft manufacturing interests, a Department of Buildings representative and four members representing the public. Under the new structure, the Loft Board will continue to consist of nine members, with the Commissioner of the Department of Buildings now serving ex officio as the Board’s Chair and the Commissioner of the Fire Department now serving ex officio as a member of the Board. The Board will include one member representing loft manufacturing interests, one member representing the real estate industry and one member representing loft residential tenants, and four members of the Board will represent the public. The members of the Board are appointed by the Mayor and serve for a term of three years.
The Board’s members oversee rulemaking activities and general administration. Its staff is headed by Lanny Alexander, who serves as executive director. Loft Board staff, including 10 full and part-time personnel, will be transferred from the Mayor’s Office to the Buildings Department. The Department of Housing Preservation and Development will designate a liaison to attend Board meetings as necessary and advise the Board and its staff on all appropriate issues.
In 1982, the New York State Legislature enacted the Loft Law (Multiple Dwelling Law Article 7-C), which established a framework for the conversion of loft spaces into legal residences and created the Loft Board to supervise that effort. The lofts, which failed to meet fire safety and other health requirements for residential occupancy, would have been considered illegal residences if not for the Loft Law. This new classification encompassed formerly commercial and manufacturing buildings containing at least three loft spaces that were used as residences between April 1980 and December 1981. The law was later amended to include certain additional loft spaces occupied in May 1987.
Stu Loeser/ Marc La Vorgna (212) 788-2958
Tony Sclafani / Kate Lindquist (Buildings) (212) 566-3473