yes, this is the stone in my shoe.
This is the impediment to my renovation.
This is the source of the STOP WORK ORDER on my building permit.
This is the milieu of the bureaucrat who's voicemail says "I'm out of the office until January 12th, so if you need something for which I am responsible, &%$# you"
You see, C of O, or Certificate of Occupancy's weren't required in NYC until 1938. I learned that today, courtesy of google. In 1938, my building was an SRO.
that's one of those places where you get a bed in a room, but no kitchen, no bathroom. Those things were "down the hall." My building is no longer an SRO. In reality. But on paper?
So it seems that, in the 1980's or thereabouts, when Real Estate became more valuable than it had been in the SRO plagued 1970's, some unscrupulous landlords were tossing out SRO residents and combining those single rooms into big apartments:
1. Kick out loser tenant
2. Combine rooms into giant suite (sweet!)
My building tossed the losers in 1986 (when they went Co-op). However, we never got a new C of O. Too much scrutiny. Anyhow, back to the 1980's. Somehow, some supercompassionate wonderful person said, "We've got to protect these losers. No one else will. Let's make a new regulation: In order to combine rooms or remove kitchens or make the world a better place, first you've got to fill out a huge giant enormous application to certify 'no harassment' to these losers, and then we'll let you make the world a better place." In other words, you have to prove that you didn't harass anyone and kick them out (them being the losers living in an apartment with no bathroom and no kitchen) in order to make your giant huge apartment.
The DOB used to go with "self certification" by architects. It worked more or less like this: Architect made fabulous plans to renovate apartment. Dept of Building said, "go ahead, do your thing ... if you made a mistake, we'll make you tear down the walls after all that fancy tile is laid." But they never did. Until about a year and a half ago. Right about the time that I was having my architect apply for a building permit.
So now, architects, fearful of vengeful clients with tile debris in their hair, said, "FCUK THAT" and went for the full approval process i.e. the building department says "all is well" with your plans. That's what my spineless architect did. And the building guy said, "All is well" and issued the permit. However, his boss, the very day that I flew to London last September, said, "NO FCUKING WAY!" and issued a Stop Work Order. He said, "We've got to get confirmation from the SRO tenants [the ones that don't exist in my building] that no one kicked them out with harassment! Gotta protect the people!!!!"
Meanwhile, several other smart people in my building had bought apartments next to theirs and were keen on combining. These people are stalled just like me. My building applied for a waiver: "We don't have any SRO apartments any more, so we don't have any SRO tenants. There's no one to exploit!" Building Department said, "Not my problem. You've got to get these non existent potential victims to vouch for you that you're not a greedy a$$hole." Reminds me of the tale in "Life and Fate" where the Russian guy won't drop the provisions on palettes to his fellow countrymen behind enemy line, via airlift, because "there's no one to sign for receiving the stuff."
anyhow, who knows when the certificate will be issued. Meanwhile, I'm paying for an apartment I can't use, and have a balloon payment due 03JUN2011 ... anyone have a large pile of money that I can borrow?