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Development Hub or Borough Office?

In 2011, the DOB digitized the job filing process in New York City with the launch of the Development Hub. The Hub was a pivotal change in job filing procedure. When it comes to document exchange, drawing edits, meetings, and access to plan examiners, the Hub has been instrumental in streamlining the filing process. However, filing within the Hub may not be the best option for every job. Let’s look at the benefits of Hub filing and highlight instances when it’s advantageous to file at the borough office.

The obvious benefit of using the DOB’s Development Hub is pure convenience. The Hub allows easy pdf upload of plans. Uploading pdf’s eliminates the backbreaking heft of hauling architectural plans to the borough office. It also relieves problems that may arise when printing plans. The printer could be broken or out of paper. Not to mention it’s very expensive to print plans.

There is less pressure to have all documents in order when filing an application at the comfort of your pc or laptop. Payment is a good example. The Hub has a payment gateway that accepts credit cards and E-checks. If there is an issue with the payment, simply try another method.

Speed and quicker correspondence are benefits of using the Development Hub. However, the Hub can bottleneck when volume increases. For instance, the Hub saw a spike in job filings as the 2008 Building Code neared expiration. Obtaining meetings and receiving examiner comments took 3-4 times as long.

Filing at the Hub means convenient correspondence with plan examiners and other DOB professionals. Upon filing, the filing representative receives the plan examiner’s email. If requested, the plan examiner will usually provide contact information for the Chief Plan Examiner, Hub Director, and Zoning Specialist. Having these email contacts is an invaluable resource when overcoming minor project hurdles. For instance, filing representatives and design professionals can make project edits directly in the Hub and email the examiner directly for approval.

When filing at the borough office, filing representatives can only correspond with the plan examiner via in-person meetings. It can take 2-3 weeks to schedule a meeting with the examiner. Most filing representatives prefer the back and forth correspondence of emailing.

Video conferencing with plan examiners is available exclusively through the Hub. Usually a video conference with an examiner can be set up within days. There are unlimited meetings, each meeting lasting up to an hour. When filing at the borough office, in-person meetings with examiners are limited to 20 or 40 minutes. Applicants filing at the borough office get unlimited in-person meetings, but are limited to five without a registered professional present.

While the Development Hub wins on convenience, it’s not the best option for every job filing. Originally, the Hub was only available to New Building and Alteration 1 filings. Later the DOB opened the Hub to Alteration 2s (directive and non-directive) and Alteration 3s. In most cases, it’s still better to file a self-certified application at the borough office. Eschewing the plan examiner means the filing representative or design applicant can go to the borough office, file a self-certified application, and leave the DOB with permits in hand.

Filing through the Development Hub is a major culture shift in job filing. Many longtime filing representatives may not be comfortable with the Hub yet. However, it’s inevitable that the Hub becomes the staple of job filing as the Department of Buildings focuses on speeding up approval process.

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