02 Sep Scaffolding Can Wrap Around Manhattan 6 Times
July 21, 2016 | by Marissa Pavone:
In 2004, a sidewalk shed was erected at the corner of West 123rd Street and Lenox Avenue in Harlem. Twelve years later, this “temporary” structure remains. According to the Department of Buildings, there are now nearly 9,000 sheds in the city streets. That’s 190 miles worth of sheds, equivalent to nearly one million linear feet, and enough scaffolding to wrap around Manhatttan six times.
Sidewalk sheds and the scaffolding that sits atop them are intended to protect pedestrians from falling bricks and debris resulting from local construction projects, but the sheds themselves can be safety hazards. Last year, Mayor Bill de Blasio described sheds as “great for criminals as a place to hide” and “great for folks who want to throw their trash on top”.
Even shed builders agree their work doesn’t exactly please the eye. “Basic sidewalk sheds are built for safety, economy and functionality, not beauty,” said Ken Buettner, CEO of York Scaffold Equipment Corp. in Long Island City. “Sheds are awful and everywhere,” lamented Dan Biederman, president of the 34th Street Partnership, a midtown business.
Unfortunately, the numbers don’t quite add up. The cost of a building renovation project is easily $250,000. To erect a 200-foot-long shed costs around $25,000. Thus, it’s cheaper to keep up a shed and pay fines for violations than it is to fix a building.