Is Corruption an Issue in Co-Ops? Negligent Co-Op Board Does Billionaire's Bidding, Resulting in Ongoing Public Safety Risk and Calls for Mass Resignation

Resident Federico Pignatelli and shareholder Pignatelli Trust calls for entire co-op board’s resignation over their failure to protect a historic SoHo building from reckless billionaire Ray Dalio

NEW YORK, July 17, 2023 /PRNewswire/ — Local financier and SoHo resident Federico Pignatelli along with Pignatelli Trust today called for the resignation of the entire West Broadway Arches co-op board, led by chair Matthew Dicker, which failed to protect the 1880s New York City landmark building from a 200,000 pound, illegally newly built 7th floor Penthouse and deck addition constructed by billionaire Ray Dalio after he was sold the roof rights for one million dollars—as reported in May by the New York Times.

Pignatelli also called for Buchbinder & Warren, which manages the building, to appoint three non-Board shareholders from the building to an ad-hoc committee in charge of investigating how this grave failure, along with the full breach of the co-op rules and regulations, occurred.

As early as 2012, the co-op board was acutely aware of the structural risks associated with additional weight on top of the building. At that time, they solicited and received a report from local engineering firm Howard Zimmerman that concluded, “existing roof framing cannot support any additional load,” a finding that forced the co-op to abandon expansion plans for the building’s roof in just building a recreational roof garden.

“Frankly, if this board had any self-respect, they would have resigned months ago,” said Federico Pignatelli, a SoHo resident since 1991 whose home has been severely jeopardized by the overly heavy and dangerous new construction. “They have known for more than a decade that this was unsafe, but they let reckless Ray Dalio bully them into submission, after accepting a nice sum of money, and they should be ashamed for kowtowing to the whims of a billionaire that built whatever he liked. The board had a responsibility to preserve a historic landmark. They failed. The board had a responsibility to protect the residents in our building fairly and equally. They failed. They need to take full responsibility for the harm they have done and resign.”

Recently, Pignatelli and architect Richard Donald sounded the alarm on the dire safety risks posed by Dalio’s unsafe construction, including the possibility of the building collapsing under the pressure of the weight of the new Penthouse floor and harming local residents and passersby. Their presentation included a statement from New York City Council Member Christopher Marte and additional expert analysis from CUNY Professor of Civil Engineering Anil Agrawal.

“In my professional opinion, the construction built by Mr. Dalio and his team is structurally unsound,” shared Richard Donald, President, RSD Engineering. “After conducting a close examination, the structure is not compliant with multiple NYC Building Code and lacks adequate lateral stability. Furthermore, eight steel connectors over 140 years wood columns are holding up the suspended newly constructed penthouse and deck, resting on the antique timber columns, also within Mr. Pignatelli’s apartment, that cannot structurally bear that weight with the required margin of safety against events such as use of the floor by contemporaneous multiple people, or natural events such as high winds or even mild earthquakes” concluded Mr. Donald.

“This is a systemic enforcement problem, and we cannot let reckless construction projects lead to conditions that jeopardize people’s lives and livelihoods,” shared New York City Councilmember Christopher Marte. “Seeing what happened at the parking garage on Ann Street, our city needs to do better to enforce code and ensure that approved plans are followed at every site and every stage.”

“This 140-years-old building was designed and constructed without any consideration of seismic loading, even for a mild earthquake. Hence, the building was at risk of damage, even during a mild earthquake,” added Anil Agrawal, CUNY Professor of Civil Engineering. “Learning from the Virginia earthquake in 2011, the likelihood of occurrence of such earthquakes in the Northeastern United States is quite high. With the construction of the penthouse, the risk of severe damage to the entire building has increased drastically—there is now a serious risk that severe damage or even collapse to the entire building will occur if any mild earthquake or hurricane strikes New York City.”

To date, despite calls from Pignatelli, Councilman Marte, and three Engineers and the New York City Buildings Department having issued a stop construction order, a violation for failure to codes, and an intent to revoke the original permit, Mr. Dalio has yet to take the immediate action necessary—taking down the illegal and dangerous new construction—to remediate the damage done to the building and to end the ongoing safety risks facing the residents of the building and community members.


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SOURCE Federico Pignatelli

Is Corruption an Issue in Co-Ops? Negligent Co-Op Board Does Billionaire's Bidding, Resulting in Ongoing Public Safety Risk and Calls for Mass Resignation WeeklyReviewer

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