Post tagged with


Your Voices | 35 Cooper Square

1.28.11 Rally, 35 Cooper Square, East VillageSuzanne Rozdeba A January photograph of 35 Cooper Square.

Few posts that have been published on The Local have generated as much strong reader response as NYU Journalism’s Greg Howard’s opinion piece questioning the value of preserving the historic site at 35 Cooper Square.

Readers offered a range of opinions that touched on questions of the neighborhood’s authenticity, who is qualified to comment on community issues, and the frequent tensions that occur between the university and the community.

Commenters wondered if Mr. Howard’s age – he’s 22 – and relative short time in the neighborhood – he has been here all of eight months – diminished the credibility of his perspective. “You should have stopped at the part about being young, ignorant, and new to town,” Bryan wrote. “Just because NYU students don’t notice the unique elements of their surroundings doesn’t mean others are being insincere in their outrage.”

“East villager” wrote: “I hope for both society’s and your own sake as an individual that you will one day mature into the type of man who will be ashamed to have written and published such a thing as a callous and arrogant youth.”

Another reader, “your worst nightmare intellectually speaking,” offered an even more unvarnished appraisal:

“You disgust us. Get it?? You epitomize so much that is wrong with the fabric of NYC. You are another bloggong spokesman for a generation of unoriginal posers in every way. You make me want to vomit you arrogant out of town, know nothing, know it all- kid.”

Other readers argued for the importance of preserving historical sites. Someone “who actually likes New York” wrote:

“The city should protect its history, and 35 Cooper Street is a much more compelling example of it than the modernist towers the city has in droves. Quality of life, attractiveness of the city to workers and tourists, and diversity of retail all depend on small, historic buildings like this existing. It would be one thing if today’s architecture were half-decent. But, Thom Mayne blockbuster buildings aside, it’s primarily cheap and hideous.”

Lisa noted that:

“…when something like the African burial ground is re-discovered, for instance, that “newfound” history adds something back to the richness and diversity and curious experiment that is New York. The City immediately becomes a more interesting place. Wouldn’t it be nice to keep some of that intact, not only for ourselves, but for the New Yorkers of the future?”

“Snapped” added:

“Nothing worth having comes easy. And that goes the same twice over for boutique hotels and shreiking girls throwing up outside my building. Just because they can be here doesn’t mean it’s ok, or they should.”

“Calm down everyone” offered a defense of Mr. Howard:

“Is the juxtaposition that happens here now not fascinating? And my main question is, do the old time East Villagers really believe all the younger people who’ve moved here are bad? HELLO, culture moves in waves, there’s a new one happening… that’s not stopping, that shouldn’t be stopped. Embrace it, I think I’m finding out new things about myself daily. Keep writing Greg.”

Join the conversation: Do the ever-replenishing supply of newcomers and transient residents in the East Village have a right to speak on neighborhood issues ?

Conversation | 35 Cooper Square

Phillip Kalantzis Cope

As we know by now, the 185-year-old 35 Cooper Square is about to be torn to the ground, and replaced by a giant futuristic hotel, or luxury condominiums, or a really swanky office building, or some such non-East Village-y thing. And as we know by now, a lot of longtime East Villagers aren’t happy about it, the destruction of the awe-inspiring, historical, super-significant ageless wonder that was the Asian Pub.

Protestors picketed, petitions were signed, letters were mailed, and for naught. The capitalistic Man that is New York City prevailed. It’s a time for tears, right?

Not so fast. Recently, one of The Local’s readers commented on the expected demolition of the historic building, saying that even though she went to school and lived closed by, she “didn’t even know it existed.”

And although I’m but 22 years old, only lived in the East Village for some eight months, and am more privy to this neighborhood’s prolific bar scene than its historic past, I can’t help but thinking that maybe, just maybe, this sudden preservationist uproar is a bit, well, contrived.

Because as I said, I don’t know much about this neighborhood. I do know, though, that for years, 35 Cooper Square was little more than a place for broke NYU and Cooper Union kids to get really, really drunk. It was a lovely place, but not really historic. Where was the outcry then?

The days of Diane di Prima living upstairs have long since passed. Over time, 35 Cooper Square evolved, from a residential haven for poets and writers, to – like it or not – a cheap watering hole. Over time, 35 Cooper Square’s become little more than an eyesore next to its surroundings. And somewhere over that time, 35 Cooper Square lost its history.

One preservationist said to me in disgust that by the time the Bowery is fully developed, “only the wealthy and trust fund babies” would live here. Her anger seemed less directed toward 35 Cooper’s demise and more at the type of people who will ultimately live here.

But why are we fighting it? This is one of the most progressive neighborhoods in one of the most progressive cities in the world. For decades, we’ve been a haven for artists, musicians, minorities, gays, freedom fighters, beatniks, hippies. Our rich history stems from us opening our doors, to everyone, and the ever-shifting landscape that our tolerance produces.

The East Village skyline will shift, and shift again. It always has. Who’s to say this is a bad thing, or that tomorrow’s residents won’t include the next di Prima, Hendrix, or Madonna? As East Villagers, it’s our duty to remember the past. But when we reflexively cling to our past, when we use 35 Cooper Square as a scapegoat for fear and uncertainty of an unseen future, we become something altogether different.

Join the conversation: Is the concern over preserving 35 Cooper Square justified?

Stop Work Order Lifted At 35 Cooper

The Local has confirmed this afternoon that a Stop Work Order is no longer in place at 35 Cooper Square, where preservationists have been fighting to keep the federal-style building from being demolished. “It has been lifted,” Jane Crotty, a spokeswoman for the property developer, said referring to the order. Asked when work will resume at the site, Ms. Crotty said, “As soon as they can, hopefully tomorrow or the next day.”—Suzanne Rozdeba

Final Tenants Reflect on 35 Cooper

35 Cooper SQ.: The scrim of DeathTim Milk As the historic site at 35 Cooper Square faces the prospect of demolition, the building’s last tenants – Hisae Vilca, and her granddaughter, Rachel Lindenberg (below), who operated the 35 Asian Pub – recalled their memories of working and living in the oldest building on Cooper Square.
35 Cooper Square Last TenantsSuzanne Rozdeba

As preservationists make last-ditch efforts to keep 35 Cooper Square standing, its last tenants, Hisae Vilca, and her granddaughter, Rachel Lindenberg, retraced their own history in the little house and the pub Ms. Vilca ran on the ground floor for the past five years while she lived upstairs.

“I love everything old, including me. I love antiques, and I loved that building,” said Ms. Vilca, 77, who came to New York from her native Japan five decades ago and who customers fondly called “Grandma.” She opened the bar, a neighborhood favorite, in 2006. “I had a very sentimental attachment to the house. Some of the other people were just tenants. But for me, it was a different kind of attachment,” she said.

The federal-style house, built around 1825, is under threat of demolition after the developer Arun Bhatia began construction there on Feb. 4. A Stop Work Order has been in place since Feb. 14 because of a broken fence at the back of the site, and inspectors found two violations, for failing to publicly display a work permit and failing to properly protect the public and nearby property.

Closing day on Jan. 29 brought customers and staff to tears, Ms. Vilca said. “They were all crying. I had customers, young and old, who would come every day, rain or shine. The last day, everybody’s crying and getting drunk,” she said, “I had to go upstairs.”
Read more…

Dozens Gather at Vigil for 35 Cooper

Rob HollanderGreg Howard About three dozen demonstrators turned out to protest the planned demolition of historic 35 Cooper Square. Below: The journalist Pete Hamill (left) speaks with David Mulkins of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors.
Pete Hammill and David Mulkins

Braving freezing temperatures and acknowledging long odds, about three dozen demonstrators took part in a protest tonight calling for a halt to the planned demolition of 35 Cooper Square.

The demonstration, described as a vigil by organizers, represented what preservationists characterized as their last-ditch effort to stop the destruction of the 185-year-old Federal-style structure, which is the oldest building in Cooper Square.

After a months-long fight between preservationists and developers of the site, the fate of 35 Cooper Square is all but certain. Nevertheless, protesters tonight brandished picket signs and defiantly chanted “Keep alive 35!” while organizers gave speeches about the historical significance of the site.

“The city wants to develop, that’s what this is all about,” Rob Hollander, a co-founder of the East Village History Project told the crowd. “It’s our community. It really belongs to us.”

The sense of community ownership, and of loss, pervaded the atmosphere on the blustery night. David McReynolds, 81, said that he has lived in the East Village for 50 years and has many fond memories of 35 Cooper Square.

“I knew Diane di Prima decades ago,” said Mr. McReynolds, referring to the poet priestess who lived in the house in the 1960’s. “She used to stuff envelopes for me at Liberation Magazine.”

The journalist Pete Hamill, who’s 75 and a former resident of the East Village, was one of the most recognizable faces at tonight’s protest.

“It’s an example of failure,” Mr. Hamill, who’s also a member of the faculty at NYU Journalism, said of the impending demolition of the building. “There are people not yet born who won’t get to see what New York was. This is our inheritance. We have to keep this place alive.”

Many demonstrators said that they recognize the futility of trying to stop new construction altogether. “We’re not saying we’re against development,” said Richard Moses, of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative. “We’re for sensitive development. This place has cultural and historic significance.”

And in the blistering winter cold, under the metal scaffolding, in front of the boarded up, doomed little brick house on 35 Cooper Square, East Village residents continue to protest for the preservation of what they call “The Old New York.”

“It’s the eleventh hour,” Mr. Moses said. “But we’ve got to fight.”

Fence Cited in Work Halt at 35 Cooper

The developer of 35 Cooper Square blamed a city-issued stop work order on a broken fence at the site and expects workers to return today. “It should be fixed this morning,” Jane Crotty, a spokeswoman for Arun Bhatia, who owns the property, told The Local this morning. “They will be back on the site this morning, and it should take about a half hour to fix, and then they will be back at work.” Ms. Crotty said that she expects full work to resume at the site once city inspectors approve the repairs.—Suzanne Rozdeba

City Orders End to Work at 35 Cooper

35 Cooper Square Stop Work OrderColin Moynihan The New York City Department of Buildings posted a full stop work order outside 35 Cooper Square. Below: A close-up of the roof of the building. A violation notice from city officials cited the roof, which “has been partially stripped to sheathing and in some cases joists.”
35 Cooper SQ.: Destroyed Roof DetailTim Milk

The New York City Department of Buildings posted a full stop work order on a plywood wall that developers recently put up the front of 35 Cooper Square, a nearly 200-year-old federal-style building near the corner of East Sixth Street.

The stop work order is dated Feb. 14, the same day that a demolition permit for the building was granted to a developer, Arun Bhatia, and others who own the property. Mr. Bhatia could not immediately be reached for comment.

Neighborhood residents, elected officials and conservation advocates had held rallies and circulated petitions in an attempt to convince the Landmarks Preservation Commission to protect the three-story building, which is the oldest structure on Cooper Square. But the commission recently declined to make the building a landmark, saying that its historic façade had been altered. A spokeswoman for Mr. Bhatia has said that he has no firm plans for the building or the site.

Accompanying the stop work order were two notices of violation that were issued in Mr. Bhatia’s name because, they said, a work permit had not been posted in area visible to the public and because of what one form termed a “failure to protect public and property affected by construction operations.”

That form went on to offer additional details, saying that 35 Cooper Square’s roof “has been partially stripped to sheathing and in some cases joists” and is accessible by way of a second floor bar in the Cooper Square Hotel, a recently built high rise.

On Tuesday evening several passersby paused to gaze at the stop work order and other documents. Among them was Cynthia Pringle, an arts administrator from Greenpoint who works near Cooper Square.

Ms. Pringle, 29, said that she hoped the stop work order would prevent the demolition of the old building.

“This is the last of its kind around here,” she said. “This is history.”

Demolition Set for 35 Cooper Square

35 Cooper Square 1Claire Glass City officials today approved a plan to demolish the historic site at 35 Cooper Square. Below: About 100 people held a demonstration last month to protest planned demolition at the site.
DSC05184Suzanne Rozdeba

Scaffolding has gone up, workers are busy on the roof and an application for full demolition was filed and approved today for 35 Cooper Square. Yet the new owners of the nearly 200-year-old federal-style building that preservation groups are trying desperately to keep standing told The Local three times in the past 10 days that the firm as yet had no concrete plans for the property.

Beyond erecting the scaffolding, removing the asbestos, and blocking the windows with wood as a “safety” precaution, there are no definite plans for construction, Jane Crotty told The Local today, speaking for developer Arun Bhatia, one of the new owners. Mr. Bhatia is a partner at Cooper and 6th Property LLC, which owns the building. “I don’t have any word on that,” she said.

As for the application for full demolition, Ms. Crotty said, “They’re pursuing their rights to develop the property. The application was filed today.” She confirmed asbestos removal began this past weekend, and is continuing today. “The removal will probably take a couple of days, if not a week.” In conversations on Feb. 4 and Feb. 11, Ms. Crotty had also said there were no definite plans for the site.

Over the last several weeks advocacy groups and elected officials have fought to preserve the site. The Bowery Alliance of Neighbors had gathered more than 1,000 signatures for a petition to designate the spot a historic landmark. Now, it would appear, those efforts have been dealt a significant setback.

Upon hearing news of the approval of the application for full demolition, David Mulkins, chair of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, said, “This city needs to do something very quick to preserve and protect this street before all of this historic character, all evidence of it, is gone. It does break your heart, and it also breaks your spirit.”
Read more…

100 Attend Rally For 35 Cooper Square

DSC05156Suzanne Rozdeba David Mulkins, chair of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, speaks at a demonstration this evening in support of a landmark designation for 35 Cooper Square. The designation would prevent development at the site.
1.28.11 Rally, 35 Cooper Square, East Village

Holding signs that said “Build Memories, Not Luxury Hotels” and “Save Cooper Square’s Oldest Building,” about 100 people, many of them East Village residents, gathered in front of 35 Cooper Square today in a rally supporting the designation of the site as a historic landmark.

“We’re here today because this is one of the most significant buildings on this street. This is the oldest building on Cooper Square. If you lose this building, Cooper Square loses a much earlier sense of its history,” David Mulkins, chair of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, which organized the rally, told the crowd, which included a handful of children from The Children’s Aid Society holding a sign that said, “Make 35 Cooper Square a Landmark.” The rally, which started at 4:30 p.m., lasted about 45 minutes.

The alliance is circulating a petition asking for supporters to urge the Landmarks Preservation Commission to designate the site as a historic site; more than 700 signatures have been collected so far. The building was sold for $8.5 million in November.

Mr. Mulkins, holding a sign with pictures of Cooper Square from the late 1880’s and early 1900’s, mentioned the site’s next-door neighbor, the Cooper Square Hotel, saying, “If we have this kind of out-of-scale, out-of-context development, we are destroying the sense of place that we get in these historic neighborhoods.”

The building at the current site, which houses the popular Cooper 35 Asian Pub, has a rich history that should not be destroyed, said State Senator Thomas K. Duane, whose 29th District includes the East Village. “There’s so little left of our beloved Village, of the history we are proud of. To risk losing a piece of that, even just one building, is tragic. We need the Landmark Commission to get this building on the calendar, and we need to preserve it.”

Assemblywoman Deborah J. Glick, who was also at the rally, said,  “We will continue to fight to landmark this essential part of New York’s history. I believe that people raising their voices will overcome the attempt of the administration to ignore us. Today is a great representation that we are standing together. We will fight until we win.”