Former Hindu Temple to Get High-End Duplex

dharmaEvan Bleier

The former home of Vishwa Dharma Mandalam, a Hindu temple, may soon be getting some less austere residents. The two-story mixed-use building at 96 Avenue B will double in size if an application filed on Tuesday with the Department of Buildings is approved, and the two additional floors will house a duplex apartment with a penthouse overlooking Avenue B.

Armand Pierro, an owner of the building, said the units would be strictly rentals, although he has no takers as of yet. “They’re going to be high-end rentals, whatever that means,” he told The Local.

Although the Hindu temple founded by H.H. Avadhuta Sri Ramakrishnananda in 2003 moved out of the building less than a year ago (a sign posted on the front the door gives the address and contact information for their new location in Astoria), Mr. Pierro said that their decision to leave the building had nothing to do with the renovations. “They moved out because they wanted to,” he said, adding that their departure set the wheels in motion for the current project.

Mr. Pierro doesn’t expect difficulty getting the proposal approved by the Buildings Department and isn’t worried that the additions will make his building stand out on the block, even though it will be twice as tall as its neighbors on either side. “I’ll make it a point of putting the same fronting material on my building so it will look the same as the one next to it,” he said. He also said the city would make him put a tree in front of the building: “I’m not sure where it will go, but I’ll find the space.”

96 Avenue B has previously been home to Metropolis (a well-regarded used clothing store) and, in the 19th century, a “cloak and suit establishment,” according to the Tenement Museum blog.