After Luckless Landmarking Effort, Gathering of the Tribes Clashes With Landlord

285-287 East Third StreetThe Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation 285-287 East Third Street. Preservationists would like to see it landmarked, and a local poet would like to keep holding events in it.

It’s been 10 months since the building housing Gathering of the Tribes was put on the market, and the relationship between the artistic space’s founder, Steve Cannon, and his landlord is as tense as ever.

The latest dispute revolves around the regular art events organized by Mr. Cannon that take place at the federal-style townhouse on East Third Street.

“He’s made assurances that he wouldn’t do anything that would disturb other tenants in the building,” said Simon Chow, a partner of the building’s landlord. “If other people are complaining about noise, am I supposed to give him consideration over the tenants in the buildings?”

Mr. Cannon countered that only one person in a neighboring building had complained about the noise. Nevertheless, he said, the landlord, Lorraine Zhang, had threatened him with eviction.

Steve CannonStephen Rex Brown Steve Cannon.

“She told me explicitly on the phone that we’re in violation of our agreement in terms of me continuing to have Tribes here,” Mr. Cannon said. “Her claim is that by me having people running up and down the stairs at events here, it’s causing damage to her building.”

Ms. Zhang would not comment, but Mr. Chow insisted that Mr. Cannon was not technically a tenant of the building in a legal sense. He also added that Mr. Cannon was not on the verge of being kicked out.

“If he uses the backyard past 10 p.m., that violates our agreement,” Mr. Chow said. “We’re reminding him on a daily basis, ‘Don’t forget, this is what you promised.’ When our tenants complain, we have to take them into consideration as well.”

The relationship between Mr. Cannon — the former owner of the building — and Ms. Zhang became strained earlier this year when Ms. Zhang put the place up for sale, raising the prospect of Gathering of the Tribes becoming nomadic. Mr. Cannon, who is blind, said that he had sold the building with the understanding that he would be able to stay in it for at least the next 10 years.

He added that while the “For Sale” sign has been taken down from the front of the building, potential buyers have still recently passed through. Mr. Chow could not be reached regarding the status of the property.

Amid all the back-and-forth, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation and East Village Community Coalition (unbeknownst to both Mr. Cannon and Ms. Zhang) quietly pressed for the townhouse, along with a neighboring property, to be granted landmark status.

In a response reprinted below, Mary Beth Betts, the director of research for the Landmarks Preservation Commission, writes that the two buildings “do not appear to have enough sufficient architectural or historical distinction to merit designation as a New York City individual landmark.”

The preservationists offered a rebuttal, writing, “These two buildings are not high style (as the Commission’s letter indicates that they need be) but rather excellent examples of vernacular Greek Revival rowhouse architecture built for the professional and middle classes and representative of a significant time and place.” Mr. Berman said that no further dialogue with the commission regarding the townhouses had occurred since October.

285-287 East Third Street