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Richard Moses Celebrates 5 Years and, Hopefully, 300+ Historic Buildings

richard moses Richard Moses (right) at LESPI’s birthday bash.

At a meeting on Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission may well create a new East Village/Lower East Side Historic District encompassing over 300 buildings. But the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative isn’t waiting till then to celebrate: the group marked its fifth anniversary last night with bubbly and birthday cake at Smart Clothes Gallery on Stanton Street. Since preservation architects Richard Moses and Britton Baine – inspired by a screening of “Slumming It: Myth and Culture on the Bowery” – started the organization in 2007, they’ve gone on to become instrumental in the creation of a 10th Street Historic District and have led countless tours and discussions about neighborhood history and architecture. The Local chatted with Mr. Moses as he prepared for last night’s birthday bash.


You’ve garnered opposition from religious groups in the community in regards to landmarking. Have others opposed your projects and how do you handle the situation?


There were a few property owners who were opposed. They came out and expressed their opposition, but there wasn’t a huge number of them by any means; I would say a few.

It’s a tricky situation because emotions tend to run high on both sides. Certainly we’re sympathetic to concerns of religious institutions on the idea that they want their congregation to be thriving and we certainly want them to be thriving – we don’t want them to burdened. We feel sometimes that there’s a misunderstanding of some of the requirements of the Landmarks Commission and that there’s a different focus on short-term versus long-term goals. Read more…

Landmarks Commission Nixes Puck Condos, But Owner Won’t Give Up

The Puck BuildingIan Duncan The Puck Building with its gold mascot

Puck, the mascot of the building of the same name on the corner of Houston Street and Mulberry Street, is facing the prospect of some shiny glass condos above his shiny gold top hat. Kushner Companies, the building’s owner, wanted to stick apartments on the roof of the landmarked structure. The Landmarks Preservation Commission told it no back in September. Today, it again said no to revised, more modest designs.

In an e-mail, a spokeswoman for the commission said, “The Commissioners did not approve the proposal as presented. They commented and voiced a variety of concerns about the bulk, scale and design of the proposal.” Read more…

51 Astor Update

New 51 Astor Place Building

Echoing what The Local reported back in June, Edward Minskoff, the developer of the office building set to go up at 51 Astor Place, tells Real Estate Weekly that the Cooper Union Engineering Building will be demolished by the end of the year so that his futuristic Fumihiko Maki-designed office tower can be built by the end of 2013.

On 10th St., Towers that Never Were

St. Mark's in the BoweryIan Duncan St. Mark’s in the Bowery as it looks today, and below, a rendering of one of the towers that might have stood on the site, courtesy of Modern Mechanix.
Design for St. Mark's Church

Frank Lloyd Wright is probably not a name to make the hearts of preservationists quake. But if the architect had had his way, tonight’s debate on a new East Village historic district would have been held in a very different context.

In the late 1920’s, Wright proposed tearing down the row houses on East 10th and Stuyvesant Streets and building over the cemetery at St. Mark’s in the Bowery to make way for four glass skyscrapers. Plans held by the Museum of Modern Art show the church crowded in by the towers: at 19 stories they would have rivaled the Cooper Square Hotel for size.

And just as two East Village clerics have come out as opponents of the preservation area, it was The Reverend William Norman Guthrie, the rector of St. Mark’s, egging Wright on.

The church’s once-affluent congregation had been whittled away as the Lower East Side became a home to immigrants. Guthrie approached Wright in 1927, commissioning him to design an apartment tower on church land, hoping the rent would restore its ailing finances.

“At that time, Wright’s career was in the doldrums,” said Hilary Ballon, an expert on his work and deputy vice chancellor of NYU Abu Dhabi. “Getting to build a skyscraper in New York was a great restart.”
Read more…