NYC will tear down abandoned outdoor dining sheds under new program

August 19, 2022

The city has razed and removed two dozen abanonded dining sheds this week, under a new program announced by Mayor Eric Adams. The mayor on Thursday introduced a multi-agency initiative that will highlight open and active outdoor dining sheds in the city’s Open Restaurants program and remove neglected structures of shuttered restaurants. The city launched the Open Restaurants program in 2020 to keep businesses open during the pandemic, ultimately saving 100,000 jobs, according to Adams. While the majority of restaurants with outdoor dining follow the guidelines, the abandoned sheds have become eyesores.

Image courtesy of Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office on Flickr

To kick off the initiative, the city removed 24 abandoned sheds throughout the city and the task force is currently investigating an additional 37 sheds that have been identified.

“Outdoor dining has transformed New York City and saved 100,000 jobs during the pandemic, but we cannot allow abandoned dining sheds to litter our streets,” Adams said.

“These deserted dining sheds have become eyesores for neighbors and havens for rats, and we are going to tear them down. And, with this initiative, we are also taking the essential step towards a permanent Open Restaurants program that all New Yorkers can be proud of every day. I want to say it loud and clear: Outdoor dining is here to stay.”

The task force will also be identifying and reviewing sheds of open restaurants that may still violate the city’s Open Restaurants guidelines. The city will inspect the sheds three separate times, issuing a warning after each time and directing the business to fix the issues posed. After the third inspection, the task force will order the removal of the shed and give the business 48 hours to take action.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) will then remove the shed and store it for up to 90 days. If the owner doesn’t claim the structure within that period, DOT will discard it.

Maiden Korea, 316 5th Avenue; Image courtesy of Alfresco NYC

The Fifth Avenue abanonded shed Adams helped demolish on Thursday was one of several set-ups to receive an Alfresco Award for its innovative design in August 2021. The structure has sat empty since Maiden Korea, the restaurant it belonged to, closed last year.

Adams said he remains committed to the Open Restaurants program, which not only provided a lifeline to thousands of the city’s restaurants during Covid but also reimagined city streets for public use.

With these decrepit sheds now removed, the question is what will the new, empty space be used for? While it is expected the space will become parking again, some New Yorkers want it to remain as communal areas for the public. When Streetsblog asked Adams if the space would remain for people not vehicles, the mayor said he was “open” to that idea.

The city is asking New Yorkers to identify sheds that appear abandoned so the task force can take the necessary steps to remove them. New Yorkers can call 311 and say “Open Restaurants” or “outdoor dining,” and share the address with the agency. You can also submit photos to 311 through text, email, or the website.


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