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The Day | Bowery Building Becomes Cause Célèbre

Bio BusScott Lynch

Good morning, East Village.

As seen on EV Grieve, the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors and others are circulating a petition to make sure the circa 1818 Federal-style house at 135 Bowery becomes a landmark.

An East Villager tells The Post that he thinks Gavin DeGraw is getting preferential treatment from the NYPD— the police have posted fliers in an attempt to find the singer’s attackers.

The owner of the building that formerly housed Sin Sin tells DNAinfo that plans to turn the ground space into a bakery are off the table. Read more…

A First Look at Karl Fischer’s Design for 427 East 12th Street

427 E. 12th St.Karl Fischer An exclusive rendering of the new building bound for 427 East 12th Street

When the news first broke that a new six-story residential building at 427 East 12th Street would be designed by controversial architect Karl Fischer, speculation immediately ensued about its appearance.

Now, The Local has obtained a rendering of the building, which is marked by floor-to-ceiling windows and a penthouse that sits two stories above its neighbors. The developer of the building, Shaky Cohen, said that he and Mr. Fischer had strived to make the building fit into the neighborhood.

“We try to blend in to the neighborhood. We try not to be a focal point,” Mr. Cohen said. “Obviously it’s a modern building — we’re not going to replicate a design from the 1930s.”

He added that the building will feature a pair of one-bedroom apartments on floors two through five, with the ground floor accommodating an apartment with a backyard, and the top floor a penthouse. The building will also include perks like a virtual doorman and a communal roof deck.

But two local preservationists scoffed when they saw Mr. Fischer’s design.

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Looking Back | 35 Cooper Square

A day after preservationists held a vigil for the demolished 35 Cooper Square, The Local takes a look back at the historic building with archival photographs provided by David Mulkins of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, one of the leaders of the campaign to maintain the building.

35 CooperSq with snow -DMulkins

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Preservationists Lament 35 Cooper

35 Cooper Square VigilStephen Rex Brown Preservationists gather at the site of the now-demolished 35 Cooper Square.

About three dozen locals dressed in black held what they called a vigil at the ruins of 35 Cooper Square on Wednesday, lamenting the loss of the 19th century building that was built by a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant and once hosted the likes of Diane di Prima, William Burroughs and Cecil Taylor.

“This is truly a day of sadness, said Victor Papa, the president of the Two Bridges Neighborhood Council. “It was as precious as the White House, and it’s gone forever.”

Mr. Papa and at least a dozen others spoke in front of the plot of land that only two weeks ago featured the two and-a-half story home noted for its Federal-style architecture.

Now it was nothing more than a pile of rubble.
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Residents Laud Historic District Plan

Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting May 12Grace Maalouf Kate Daly, executive director of New York’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, speaks earlier tonight at an informational meeting about two new proposed historic districts in the East Village.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission presented its plans tonight for creating a historic district in the neighborhood and heard from several community groups who voiced their support for the measure and also suggested extending the districts.

The presentation, which occurred during an informational meeting at the BRC Senior Services Center hosted by Community Board 3, is one of the first in a series of steps that would mean property owners in the designated areas would need commission approval before making changes to their buildings.

Kate Daly, executive director of the commission, said she has been meeting and will continue to meet with individual property owners whose buildings will fall into the designated districts, and stressed that Thursday’s meeting was merely to “get the word out to the larger community.”

She added that the commission is “very eager to move forward” in the designation process, and that the two historic districts proposed are just the beginning for the Lower East Side.
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Moves to Protect the East Village

Community SynagogueGrace MaaloufThe Community Synagogue on East 6th Street is one of the significant buildings to be included in the proposed new historic district.

As gentrification continues to alter the East Village landscape, attempts are afoot to have sections of the neighborhood designated a historic district, helping to preserve their architecture and character.

Following extensive surveying and examining the neighborhood, The NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission recommended at an April 26 meeting that two areas of the East Village be designated historic districts. This is a preliminary step in the process, with a follow-up public presentation and hearing before the Landmarks Subcommittee of Community Board 3 on Thursday this week.

The two areas slated to constitute this historic district include approximately 300 buildings. One section is the north side of East 10th Street between Avenues A and B, opposite the northern boundary of Tompkins Square Park. This block includes a mix of stately 19th century brownstones along with tenement buildings.

The second area is from East 2nd Street to East 7th Streets, between the Bowery and Avenue A. Read more…

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.
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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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The Bowery’s Bid for Posterity

Bowery 1800'sCourtesy of Tim SchreierA photograph of The Bowery in the 19th century showing the elevated railroads.

Kerri Culhane’s lightning-speed, three-minute presentation at the Community Board 2 meeting held at Our Lady of Pompeii Church on Monday provided little indication of the vast research she has gathered in seeking to create a Bowery National Historic District which would span the approximately mile-long avenue, which runs from Chatham Square to Cooper Square .

Currently, individual buildings on the Bowery including The Bowery Savings Bank and Bouwerie Lane Theater have been designated National Historic Landmarks, along with limited portions of the Bowery being included in already designated National Historic Districts. The effort is being co-sponsored by the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors and The Two Bridges Neighborhood Council.

Former NYC Landmarks Preservation Commissioner Anthony Tung has described the “disjointed beauty” of the assemblage of buildings which line the former Native American foot path and later road leading to Peter Stuyvesant’s farm or “bouwerie” from which the street took its name.
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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.”

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.”
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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.”

Preserving History On The Bowery

Bowery Alliance of NeighborsSamantha Ku David Mulkins, chair of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, with a 1901 stereoview of the lower Bowery by H.C. White Co. (enlarged below).
Bowery Alliance of Neighbors

In a closet off the bedroom of his East Fifth Street apartment, David Mulkins stores a treasure trove of old New York artifacts. Stacks of round film reels, piles of papers, photographs and old entertainment posters compose a shrine to the Bowery from the 1800s to the present.

“A lot of people, especially younger people, if they know the Bowery at all, they only know the period when it was known for bars and flophouses,” said Mr. Mulkins. “In the second half of the 20th century, the Bowery was home to some of the most important cutting-edge art that has come out of this country.”

Mr. Mulkins, a high school teacher and 25-year East Village resident, is the chair of the Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, which works to preserve the historic character of the Bowery.

The organization started three years ago to protest the construction of the 21-story Cooper Square Hotel, completed in 2009. “It’s completely out of scale, out of context,” said Mr. Mulkins. “It’s probably the most hated building in this area.”

Currently, the Alliance has a two-pronged approach to the Bowery’s preservation. First, it has submitted an application to have the Bowery included on the National Register of Historic Places. Owners of specific historical buildings would be eligible for tax credits and grants from the state and the city. However, it is not seeking landmark designation from the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission, which comes with a variety of restrictions, said Mr. Mulkins.
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