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Nine-Story Dorm Bound for 35 Cooper, But Whose Is It?

35 Cooper Square From Feb. 2011 to May 2011Claire Glass and Stephen Rex Brown The demolition of 35 Cooper last year.

So, what university is behind the dormitory planned for 35 Cooper Square?

EV Grieve first spotted the plans, filed with the Department of Buildings yesterday, which call for over 30,000 square feet of student housing.

But which students will stay there?

“Not N.Y.U.’s,” wrote university spokesman John Beckman of the dorm.

“We already have a dorm on Third Avenue,” said Jolene Travis, spokeswoman for Cooper Union.

“We’re already building a dorm on Fifth Avenue,” said Sam Biederman, a spokesman for The New School. Read more…

Imposters at 35 Cooper?

35 Cooper SQ.: The scrim of Death

Today EV Grieve shared a photo of two men and a minivan inside the lot at 35 Cooper Square. Naturally, the prospect of a surveying crew prepping for construction at the high profile site led us to ask its owner, Arun Bhatia, what was going on. His spokeswoman’s response only added to the intrigue: “I spoke to Arun and we do not know who those men were. We are trying to find out. We are not doing anything on the site.”

Full Demolition of 35 Cooper Set

The Department of Buildings has issued a new permit that would allow the full demolition of 35 Cooper Square. The permit, which was issued May 6, clears the way for the destruction of the historic site; a second permit was also issued for fencing for the site, where scaffolding now obstructs the view of the three-story house. Despite preservationists’ attempts to keep the building standing, the developer has said he will not maintain it. —Suzanne Rozdeba

Developer Will Not Preserve 35 Cooper

35 Cooper SQ.: The scrim of DeathTim Milk The developer of 35 Cooper Square has told preservationists that he will not maintain the historic site and will move forward with an undetermined development plan.

Update | 6:30 p.m. In a blow to preservationists, the developer of 35 Cooper Square has announced that he will not preserve the historic site and will move forward with an undetermined development plan.

“Unfortunately, it was concluded that it would not be feasible to develop the site with the building or any significant portion of it remaining, and that any potential relief” — in the form of a variance — “would not remedy the site conditions which make preservation infeasible,” Stephen Lefkowitz, an attorney for the developer Arun Bhatia, wrote in a letter dated April 28 to City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez.

Workers were also seen on site today erecting scaffolding around the historic building.
Read more…

Work Set to Resume at 35 Cooper

Work at 35 Cooper Square is set to resume now that the site’s developer, Arun Bhatia, has been issued a new permit to install scaffolding at the site. “The owner can do work under permits issued,” said a Department of Buildings spokeswoman. As for the status of a violation issued against Mr. Bhatia regarding the site’s roof, a hearing is scheduled for June 2.—Suzanne Rozdeba

Protect the Roof of 35 Cooper

35 CS RoofIan Duncan The author, one of the preservationists trying to forestall the demolition of 35 Cooper Square, issues a call to the developer of the site to cover the roof to prevent further damage. Below: A detail of the roof shortly after work began in February.
35 Cooper SQ.: Destroyed Roof Detail

The recent article, “Developer Cited for 35 Cooper’s Roof” had some readers curious re what’s so important about the roof. The history of this building has been well-told, but the roof and dormers as essential structural elements and character-defining features, are currently compromised by partial demolition and exposure to the elements. Any effort to save this building, at this point, needs to start with the basics: putting a tarp back on the roof.

Over the winter, roofing material was removed by workers hired by the new owner under a permit for asbestos abatement, a prerequisite for obtaining a demolition permit. The dormers were similarly stripped of their protective roofing, and non-historic skylights were removed, exposing not only the roof structure but the upper floors of the building to the elements. The old wooden shingles, part of the historic fabric of the building, are now visible, but so too are the gaping holes in the roof. The rain and snow of the past few months are surely accelerating any decay and rot in the 185-year-old structure smacks of demolition by willful neglect.
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Violations Cleared on 35 Cooper

The developer of 35 Cooper Square has resolved three outstanding code violations concerning work at the site, according to a spokeswoman with the Department of Buildings. The developer, Arun Bhatia, paid about $16,000 in fines related to the violations, according to department records; the status of a fourth violation was unclear. Mr. Bhatia has not said how he intends to develop the site, which preservationists have asked him to maintain. —Suzanne Rozdeba

Developer Cited for 35 Cooper’s Roof

35 Cooper SQ.: Destroyed Roof DetailTim Milk The developer of 35 Cooper Square has been cited by the Department of Buildings for the condition of the historic structure’s roof, which is pictured above in a February photo.

City officials have ordered the developer of 35 Cooper Square to take immediate steps to repair the roof of the historic structure, which has been the subject of a campaign by preservationists to keep it from being razed.

On Wednesday, officials with the Department of Buildings issued a citation to the developer of the site, Arun Bhatia, ordering him to make the repairs.

Since February, city officials have issued four citations concerning work at 35 Cooper Square, all of which are still open. In addition to this week’s notice regarding the roof repairs, Mr. Bhatia has been cited for failure to safeguard property, performing work without a permit, and failure to post a permit.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Buildings said that the citation regarding the roof repairs “means that we had previously issued a violation for the condition of the roof and the property owner has not corrected that condition. What the property owner should do now is obtain permits to perform the necessary roof work. In this case it would be to close off the roof.” A hearing on the roof violation is set for June.

Asked about the gaping hole in the roof and whether the developer would be required to cover it, she said, “We issued a violation for the roof. To bring the site into compliance, the owner should obtain a permit for the necessary work.”

A spokeswoman for Mr. Bhatia, who met with preservationists on Tuesday to discuss the building’s future, did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Developer Meets on Fate of 35 Cooper

35 Cooper SQ.: The scrim of DeathTim Milk The developer of 35 Cooper Square met with preservationists this afternoon and listened to arguments for maintaining the historic site.

In a room filled with about 20 people at the Neighborhood Preservation Center, Arun Bhatia, the developer of 35 Cooper Square, mostly quietly sat and listened today to requests made by preservationists to keep the building standing.

At the meeting, which began at 4:30 p.m. and lasted an hour, Mr. Bhatia arrived with a team of four people, including his spokeswoman, Jane Crotty, his lawyer and historic preservation architect Richard Southwick. Also at the meeting were Andrew Berman of The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, David Mulkins of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, Kent Barwick of the Municipal Art Society of New York and a former Landmarks Preservation Commission chairman, Carolyn Ratcliffe of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, and representatives for City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez and State Senator Tom Duane.

“We appreciate they met with us and that we started a dialogue about exploring possibilities. We hope the conversation is going to continue,” said Mr. Berman. Asked what Mr. Bhatia said regarding demolition, Mr. Berman replied: “They didn’t give much detail in terms of exactly what their plans are at this point, which hopefully is a good thing that there are some possibilities. He was there to hear what we had to say. He heard it, and we’re going to wait and see what their response is.”
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Advocates Hopeful About 35 Cooper

35 Cooper SQ.: The scrim of DeathTim Milk Talks are set for next month between developers and preservationists on the future of 35 Cooper Square.

Preservationists are holding out hope that there is still a future for 35 Cooper Square, now that the site’s developer, Arun Bhatia, has agreed to meet with neighborhood groups next month.

The meeting, arranged through Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, is set for April 12, Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, told The Local this morning. The Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, Historic Districts Council, East Village Community Coalition, and Lower East Side Preservation Initiative are among groups invited to the meeting, which will not be open to the public. The meeting’s tentative location is the Neighborhood Preservation Center on East 11th Street.

“It’s something we’ve been seeking for weeks or months,” said Mr. Berman. “It’s been in the works for a long time. We won’t know until we have the meeting exactly what will come out of it, but obviously we’re happy that it’s happening.”

Asked what persuaded Mr. Bhatia to arrange the meeting, Mr. Berman said, “My sense is that it was always a possibility, and now it is confirmed. We’re looking forward to it.”

Mr. Berman and other preservationists hope they can convince the developer to keep 35 Cooper standing. “Certainly the goal going into the meeting is to explore the possibilities for preserving the building, or preserving it as much as possible,” Mr. Berman said. “We go into this knowing that that is not the developer’s plan. We want to engage in what we hope will be a productive conversation, and we’ll see what comes of it. At this point, it seems as if the building’s only hope is the developer.”

Jane Crotty, a spokeswoman for Mr. Bhatia told The Local, “We agreed to meet since the elected officials asked for the meeting. We will hear what the community has to say.”

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