Timeline of Damage to Leibovitz Properties*
October 11, 2002 — work without a permit performed on behalf of Annie Leibovitz at her buildings at 755 and 757 Greenwich Street undermines a common wall with neighboring 311 West 11th Street. The wall shifts and a chimney collapses in 311 West 11th Street, filling the house with gas. The Department of Buildings declares the building unsafe for occupancy, and the family which lives there is evacuated by fire and rescue personnel, forced to leave their home and all their possessions inside.
Late October 2002 — floors in 311 West 11th Street sink several inches, floor to ceiling cracks appear in the walls. The Greenwich Street facade of the buildings visibly buckles, a diagonal crack appears across the facade, and bricks are seen to fall onto the street.
December 2002 — with the onset of winter, no shoring up of the buildings have been done to prevent further deterioration or collapse. GVSHP calls upon Leibovitz to provide shoring, and requests that the Department of Buildings either force Leibovitz to install shoring and do repairs or have the City do them directly and bill Leibovitz. By the end of the month, exterior shoring (still in place) is installed. However, with freezing temperatures approaching, GVSHP asks Leibovitz and the City to address unflushed pipes in 311 West 11th Street, which would freeze and burst. No action is taken.
December 2002 — Leibovitz is given and pays a $500 fine — the only penalty to date for her illegal work and lack of corrective action.
December 24, 2002 — a snowstorm brings water damage into the houses, ruining books and other property in 311 West 11th Street.
Winter, 2002-2003 — 755 and 757 Greenwich Street remain open to the elements for one of the coldest, snowiest winters in recent memory. Window openings have no covering whatsoever, and record snowfalls prompt GVSHP to call upon the City and Leibovitz to secure the building and commence repairs. No action is taken.
February 7, 2003 — the owners of 311 West 11th Street sue Leibovitz for $15 million in damages.
Spring 2003 — record rainfall continues to pour through the buildings without any action taken to secure the properties from the elements. GVSHP again reaches out to Leibovitz’s representatives and the City to push for repairs and restoration; none are undertaken. Bulging and cracks on facade of buildings appear to worsen.
August 2003 — GVSHP examines the file at the Landmarks Preservation Commission to review work proposed by Leibovitz for the buildings and the LPC’s response.
September 2003 — Leibovitz settles the lawsuit with the owner of 311 West 11th Street and purchases the properties.
September 10, 2003 — GVSHP writes to the Landmarks Preservation Commission pointing out the continuing deterioration of the buildings and several troubling issues regarding the file: several drawings are missing, and a Certificate of No Effect which was violated by the original, illegal work is still in effect. No response is offered.
September 19, 2003 — GVSHP is joined by State Senator Tom Duane, City Council Member Christine Quinn, and Assembly Member Deborah Glick in writing to the Department of Buildings and the Landmarks Preservation Commission and asks for a meeting to discuss the lack of restoration work at this site, and assurances that the LPC will not allow Leibovitz to demolish all or part of the buildings but will require they be restored using original materials from the building. No response is offered.
October 7, 2003 — Citing broken promises by Leibovitz and lack of response by the City, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and neighbors picket Leibovitz’s house one year after her illegal work did serious damage to three landmarked properties where no restoration has been done.
*Sources: GVSHP, NYC Department of Buildings, The Villager