A.G. Schneiderman Secures Agreement With Major Realty Corporation To Ensure Equal Access At Its New York Shopping Centers
Thirty-Four Kimco Realty Corp. Properties In NYS To Be Surveyed And Upgraded To Meet Accessibility Requirements Set Forth By Federal ADA And State Law
Schneiderman: We Will Remove Barriers To An Independent Life For People With Disabilities
NEW YORK - Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman today announced an agreement with Kimco Realty Corporation which ensures that people with disabilities have equal access to each of the company’s 34 New York shopping centers. The agreement ensures compliance with the accessibility requirements and design standards set forth by the Americans with Disabilities Act in all common areas, including parking lots and sidewalks, of the centers owned by the New Hyde Park, N.Y.-based corporation. The agreement further requires Kimco to promote ADA compliance by large anchor tenants at the shopping centers it owns across New York State.
“My office will continue to work tirelessly to ensure that New Yorkers with disabilities can enjoy full and equal access to public accommodations across New York – and as required by law,” Attorney General Schneiderman said. “This agreement stands as an important reminder to all business owners: every one of our citizens is entitled to lead an independent life. I commend Kimco for agreeing to take steps to make their shopping centers more accessible to all New Yorkers.”
Kimco, a Fortune 500 company and real estate investment trust, owns and operates one of the country’s largest publicly traded portfolios of neighborhood and community shopping centers. Kimco owns interests in 835 shopping centers across 42 states and abroad.
This matter is part of the Attorney General's Civil Rights Bureau’s ongoing initiative to increase access to retail sites for individuals with disabilities across New York State. The initiative, which began in 2012, recently resulted in an agreement with Vornado Realty Corporation, another large owner of shopping centers in New York. That agreement required Vornado to bring the parking lots and garages of its 21 New York shopping centers into compliance with state and federal accessibility requirements. More information about the Vornado agreement can be found here. Agreements between the Attorney General's Civil Rights Bureau and other retailers, theaters, and bus companies are helping to provide a greater level of accessibility to New Yorkers with disabilities.
The Attorney General’s Office launched an investigation into Kimco after receiving a complaint from an individual in a wheelchair concerning accessibility barriers which obstructed his access at Kimco-owned shopping centers on Staten Island. After conducting surveys of several of the properties, the office retained an expert to conduct a comprehensive compliance review of Hylan Plaza, a Kimco-owned shopping center on Staten Island. The surveys revealed barriers to access for people with disabilities, including an inadequate number of van-accessible parking spots; accessible parking spaces that were too narrow; and curb cuts in the parking areas that had slopes and cross slopes that were too steep and not flush with the street. In addition to the issues identified in the common areas, several restrooms in anchor tenant stores, as well as pathways through stores to various goods and services, were not accessible.
Under the agreement, Kimco will take steps to directly address the barriers identified by the Attorney General. Kimco will:
- Hire an ADA consultant to survey common areas at its New York shopping centers, including Hylan Plaza, and determine what changes are necessary.
- Take remedial action to ensure that the common areas of each shopping center, including entrances, sidewalks and paths comply with the accessibility standards.
- Develop new policies and procedures to ensure future compliance with ADA requirements.
- Conduct ADA training for its employees.
- Submit any plans for new construction or substantial alterations at its shopping centers for review by qualified ADA compliance experts.
Kimco must also take steps to promote ADA compliance by anchor tenants of its shopping centers by providing notice to those tenants of their obligations under the ADA, reviewing anchor tenants’ plans for new construction and substantial alterations to ensure accessibility compliance, and including provisions in anchor tenants’ leases requiring compliance with the ADA. Finally, Kimco has agreed to resolve the investigation by paying $90,000 to New York State.
Paul Tobin, resident of Staten Island and former CEO of United Spinal Association, said, “I met with the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau and shared my experience encountering barriers with shopping centers in Staten Island. As a wheelchair user, I encountered obstacles in the parking lots, problems accessing curbs to gain entry into stores and barriers at door entrances. I am grateful that the Attorney General has made aggressive enforcement of the ADA a top civil rights priority and appreciate his office’s efforts to make sure that businesses in our state are accessible to all people regardless of their disability status.”
Bruce Darling, president of Center for Disability Rights,said, “Retail centers across New York have constructed barriers that discriminate against customers with disabilities. With his office’s efforts to ensure access at those centers, the Attorney General is directly addressing such discrimination, and making it increasingly possible for individuals with disabilities across New York to live independently.”
This case is being handled by Assistant Attorneys General Ajay Saini and Dariely Rodriguez, of the Attorney General’s Civil Rights Bureau, Bureau Chief Kristen Clarke and Executive Deputy Attorney General for Social Justice Alvin Bragg.
The Civil Rights Bureau of the Attorney General's Office is committed to combating discrimination faced by individuals with disabilities across New York State. To file a complaint, contact the Attorney General’s Office at (212) 416-8250, email@example.com or visit www.ag.ny.gov.