TPAs: Not What They Used to Be

By Andrew J. Pisani

The Department of Buildings has always had a policy which allowed for a space that was normally a non-Public Assembly space  to act as a Public Assembly space for a special event. In the eyes of the DOB,  Public Assembly is considered a group of 75 people or more assembling in a space at one time. An example of a special event would be a grand opening, a building’s Topping Out party, runway events during fashion week, book signings and so forth.

These events are called TPA’s or Temporary Places of Assembly.   TPA’s are a real asset to the Real Estate Industry as well as building owners. They are also  unique to the fabric of New York City and give us the reputation as “The City that Never Sleeps.”

TPA’s are also a nice money maker for the Department of Buildings -at $250 a pop. If a vacant space became available and an event wanted to take place for 1 night, 1 week or 1 month, the Department of Buildings would grant you a TPA provided you adhere to certain safe guards, and pay the fee. The Safety Guidelines were well understood — plans by a licensed architect, the required 2 means of egress, fire guards, no live cooking during the event — and straight-forward regardless of the type of building, or for that matter, the state of construction in the building.  As long as the proposed TPA space was construction free and deemed safe by the licensed architect it was usually granted.

With the issuance of new guidelines, this is no longer the case in certain instances.

You will not get a TPA  if:

  1. A New Building under construction has no CO or no TCO.
  2. If the New Building’s TCO states “core and shell  only” — it must now say “retail.”
  3. If the property has a partial stop work order or a full stop work order.
  4. If there is an ECB violation for work without a permit on the floor you are seeking.  (For example, if there is an ECB for the 3rd floor from 2001 and your event is on the 3rd floor you will not get it no matter how old the violation is.)
  5. If there is an elevator violation on the building and the event is above the 1st floor.
  6. If there is an expired TCO on the building (this will be on a case by case study I am told.)
  7. If there is no C of O on the building, they will call the architect for verification of building occupancy.

As you can see the days of simply paying the required $250 filing fee, and filing the application 10 days prior to the event is now more complicated. As always, best to plan far ahead and make sure everything is in order.