Historic Block of Buildings in NYC Scheduled for Asbestos Abatement and Demolition After Missing Out on Preservation by Landmark Preservation Commission

Posted on November 15, 2016

After an appeal from State Sen. Brad Hoylman and New York citizens to New York City’s Landmark Preservation Commission (LPC) and the mayor to preserve a row of historic buildings in East Village was lost, a NY contractor is poised to perform asbestos abatement on all the buildings before they are demolished. The buildings are being cleared away to make room for a hotel.

According to an Oct. 10 article in Patch.com, an emotional plea by a group of citizens and the senator to preserve five 19th-century brownstone buildings and place them on the historic registrar fell on deaf ears. The LPC listed the property as being eligible as a historic landmark designation in 2008, but when it was brought before the board this year, the LPC responded that the buildings did not meet all the necessary criteria to be protected.

Now, the buildings will be demolished to revitalize the area and house a hotel targeting “millenials.” It is not a matter of simply tearing down the buildings, however, since asbestos is present throughout them. First, all the asbestos must be removed, or abated, and properly disposed of. Asbestos can be found in many businesses, houses, schools and other structures built prior to the 1980s. Asbestos-containing products were used in construction materials including roofing materials, ceiling tiles and insulation, among other items.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency reports, “Asbestos is a human carcinogen with no safe level of exposure.” As a result, anyone exposed to asbestos is at a life-long risk of developing mesothelioma. The disease has an extended latency period and can strike up to 60 years after exposure. The risk of mesothelioma, lung cancer or other asbestos-related diseases is an issue when asbestos is damaged or disturbed and the fibers become airborne and are inhaled or ingested.

Any time renovations or demolitions are planned in buildings where asbestos-containing materials are present, it is important to ensure that asbestos fibers are not released into the air. City, state and federal laws and guidelines require certified, trained asbestos professionals to complete asbestos abatement by either encapsulating or removing the asbestos materials prior to the construction work.

Tenants in the building have had to move and find new housing. The work is already underway, and demolition is expected to begin within a month.