Library Battles Condo Over 'Inconvenience Fee': Who's Right? Nearby Condo Requests Hefty Sum From NYPL Undergoing Renovation

New York Public Library's Mid-Manhattan branch (By Simeon87 (via Wikimedia Commons)

The New York Public Library is undertaking a substantial renovation at its Mid-Manhattan branch on Fifth Avenue, to the tune of some $200 million. As the New York Daily News reported, the library closed on August 1 for a project that will last three years, and involve scaffolding that occupies a small park separating the library from the ritzy Fifth Avenue Tower condominium.

It now appears that the Library's renovation project has led to a legal fight between it and the condo. The Fifth Avenue Tower condo board has reportedly impeded the library from beginning the renovations by attempting to legally require the library to pay a $15,000 'inconvenience fee' each month, as well as a “substantial” penalty should the project last longer than 27 months. The board also aims to “force the library to take out a $20 million insurance policy in the condo board's name.”

"No one is forcing the (NYPL) to undertake a $200 million renovation," said attorney Alan Marder said in a filing, as quoted in the Daily News. "The petitioner is hardly a not-for-profit barely scraping by."

Meanwhile, the library's attorney has asserted that the board's demands are unreasonable, as scaffolding and sidewalk bridges are all pretty standard city fare.

So what, if any of this, is reasonable? Does the library have the right to undergo its renovations unhindered? Or is the board in the right and deserving of compensation for any inconvenience – aesthetic, logistical or otherwise – that it will endure during this not-insignificant period of time?

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