Mourning A Loss Beyond Mars Bar

John Vaccaro, a theater director active in the downtown arts scene of the 1960’s and 1970’s, has lived in his sprawling, bespoke loft on Second Avenue for several decades. The vast space is filled with artwork from local friends – including various portraits of himself that Mr. Vaccaro has received as gifts – furniture and other odd items found around the East Village over the years.

If the project, which was endorsed by Community Board 3 last week, moves forward, Mr. Vaccaro’s building, 11-17 Second Avenue, will be one of two torn down to create a single 12-story building. The project will also force the temporary closure of the landmark Mars Bar, which is also on the site. Current residents will be offered units in the new development with an option to buy for just $1. But those living in 2,000 sq. ft. lofts like Mr. Vaccaro will have to adjust to downsized apartments closer to 1,200 sq. ft.

Even as many in the neighborhood have lamented the loss of Mars Bar, Mr. Vaccaro, who is 81, stands to lose far more: his home.

NYU Journalism’s Tania Barnes and Stephanie Butnick report.