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GREENWICH VILLAGE SOCIETY FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com


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GREENWICH VILLAGE SOCIETY FOR HISTORIC PRESERVATION

Lawsuit Against N.Y.U. 2031 Likely on the Horizon


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NYU Core Aerial Rendering July 24Courtesy of N.Y.U. A rendering of N.Y.U.’s plans for two blocks south of Washington Square Park that features the newly reduced buildings.

Opponents of N.Y.U.’s expansion are hinting that they will announce new legal maneuvers to derail the project should it be approved the City Council tomorrow as expected.

An e-mail from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation notes that lawyers representing faculty opposed to the plan will speak tomorrow after the vote at City Hill “regarding their next steps.” Those opponents have long spoken about the possibility of challenging the land-use review process in court.

NYU 2031 RevisionN.Y.U. A slide depicting the reduction of building’s in
the proposed project footprint.

The executive director of the Greenwich Village Society, Andrew Berman, would not comment on the organization’s specific legal plans until tomorrow, but added, “Should they vote to approve this plan, we and our partners on the N.Y.U. faculty will be working closely with our counsel, Gibson Dunn, to look at every remedy available to right this wrong.” Read more…


Six More East Village Buildings That May Soon Be Declared Historic


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Yesterday the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Andrew Berman, shared the history of six buildings that may soon be part of the proposed East Village-Lower East Side Historic District. Before this afternoon’s critical hearing, he’s delving into the history of six others.

68 East 7th StreetG.V.S.H.P. 68 East Seventh Street

68 East Seventh Street, built in 1835. This row house at 68 East Seventh Street was built speculatively in 1835 by Thomas E. Davis. Sometime in the 1850s or 1860s, the original Greek Revival façade was updated with Italianate details that include the triangular and segmental window pediments and the frieze located below the original cornice. In 1882, the house was sold to the Protestant Episcopal Church Society for Promoting Christianity Among the Jews, which occupied it until 1904, when the house became a Jewish religious school operated by the Machzikei Talmud Torah. It was then subsequently a synagogue. The house was returned to private residential use in 1960. Read more…


Six East Village Buildings That May Soon Be Declared Historic


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On the eve of a critical hearing regarding the proposed East Village-Lower East Side Historic District, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Andrew Berman, shared information on 12 of the more compelling buildings within the footprint. Here’s a look at the first six.

101 avenue aG.V.S.H.P. 101 Avenue A

101 Avenue A, now the The Pyramid Club. Built in 1876 by architect William Jose.

Although little is known about William Jose, a German-born tenement-house architect, his buildings are often some of the most unusual and intricate in their neighborhoods. His Neo-Grec design for 101 Avenue A is no different, with an unusually ornate cornice, florid fire escapes, and deeply incised window hoods.

The building housed several tenement apartments on its upper floors, while its ground floor long served as a hall where locals would gather to eat, celebrate, mourn, or discuss labor issues and neighborhood gossip. Kern’s Hall was the first to open in 1876 and was followed by Shultz’s Hall, Fritz’s Hall, and most famously, Leppig’s Hall.

John Leppig and later his son, also named John Leppig, both served as the unofficial “Mayor of Avenue A.” Leppig’s closed in the 1930s, and by the 1960s the space was home to a series of performance spaces and cultural centers, which reflected the East Village’s evolution from an ethnic enclave to a worldwide center of cultural ferment. It was also at this time that underground music icon and Warhol superstar Nico lived upstairs at 101 Avenue A, while she was performing with the Velvet Underground.

In 1979 the present occupant, the Pyramid Club, opened in the space. The Pyramid Club had a profound impact on the downtown art, music, and performance art scene. The Wigstock Festival is said to have begun there, as well as politically-conscious drag performance in the early 1980s. In later years it became a showcase for up-and-coming artists, including Madonna, RuPaul, Nirvana, and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. Read more…


13th Street Auction House Now a Landmark


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IMG_0019Lauren Carol Smith The former Van Tassel and Kearney Horse Auction Mart.

A building that served as an auction block for some of the city’s finest steeds around the turn of the century and decades later the studio of artist Frank Stella is now protected for the ages.

The city Landmarks Preservation Commission today voted to designate the former Van Tassel and Kearney Horse Auction Mart building at 126-128 East 13th Street a landmark, essentially preserving its exterior as-is. Read more…


Survey Says: N.Y.U. Should Expand Elsewhere


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Proposed Aerial

A study commissioned by opponents of N.Y.U.’s expansion finds that the city’s economy would be better served if it were built outside of Greenwich Village. The report, released today by the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, states that the Financial District, Downtown Brooklyn and Long Island City could all better accommodate the amount of construction required for N.Y.U. 2031 while also reaping the benefits of the influx of students and scholars. The analysis comes only weeks after the Greenwich Village-Chelsea Chamber Commerce released its own study highlighting the economic benefits of the expansion in Greenwich Village, as well as its support among local merchants.


Local Leaders to Borough President: Hear Us Out About N.Y.U. Plan


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AndrewBermanProtestBeforeCB2MeetingNatalie Rinn Mr. Berman, right, at a protest on Thursday.

One of the most vocal opponents of New York University’s proposed expansion near Washington Square Park wants Borough President Scott M. Stringer to hold a public hearing before making an advisory decision about the controversial plan next month.

Andrew Berman, Executive Director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, drafted a letter to Mr. Stringer last Friday as the Borough President began his month-long review of the university’s proposal. The note, which came on the heels of Community Board 2’s unanimous advisory decision last Thursday against the expansion plan, was also signed by 15 community members, including block association leaders, preservationists, and Mark Crispin Miller of N.Y.U. Faculty Against the Sexton Plan. Read more…


Amid Cheers, C.B. 2 Votes Against N.Y.U. Expansion


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ProtestorsOutsideNatalie Rinn Protestors held a rally before the Community Board’s vote on the N.Y.U. plan.

The ambitious expansion of New York University faced its first formal rejection last night, as Community Board 2 voted unanimously against the plan, saying it would turn Greenwich Village into a construction site for at least 19 years and fundamentally change the neighborhood for the worse.

Not a single person spoke in favor of the plan during over two hours of testimony in the packed basement of St. Anthony of Padua Church on 154 Sullivan Street. After 115 locals, academics and students skewered the plan that would add four new university buildings and 2.5 million square feet of space just south of Washington Square Park, the board cast its vote in opposition to the expansion dubbed “N.Y.U. 2031.”

“We’re here tonight to firmly reject this plan,” said board chair Brad Hoylman. “It’s clear that there is no support for this insidious plan that would destroy the culture of Greenwich Village.”

Cheers went up from the standing-room only audience after the vote, though its impact is limited, given that it is only an advisory opinion. The project will next be considered by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, the City Planning Commission and the City Council, which will ultimately determine the project’s fate. Read more…


John Leguizamo’s East Village


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jlegs_U2R0178

From 1980 until 1996, John Leguizamo, the actor, comedian, writer and producer behind such hits as “Mambo Mouth” and “Ghetto Klown,” lived on East Seventh Street. He now resides in the central Village, but he still has roots in Alphabet City: his production offices are headquartered in his old brownstone there; and last month his wife Justine, who sits on the board of the Greenwich Village Society For Historic Preservation, spoke at a hearing that resulted in the landmarking of a block on East 10th Street.

Mr. Leguizamo told The Local that the East Village “will always hold a special place in my heart.” Of course, things have changed since the days when “you’d see Eric Bogosian at the bodega, Steve Buscemi buying a coffee, Iggy Pop at the health food store, Quentin Crisp tottering down the street,” as he wrote in his memoir. Over e-mail, he said, “The neighborhood used to be alive with all different kind of artists. Musicians, poets, painters, actors, singers, dancers. But the rich came in and all the squatters left and went to Brooklyn.”

So what’s there still to love about the “East Vill”? Mr. Leguizamo reflected on some of his past and present favorites. Read more…


East 10th Landmarked, But Not Before Controversial Renovation Is Approved


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buildingNoah Fecks East 10th Street. The second building from the right was approved for a rooftop addition only hours before the street was designated a landmark district.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a historic district on a block of East 10th Street along Tompkins Square Park today, though a controversial rooftop addition that led to the expedited hearing also got the go-ahead literally hours before the vote.

With the designation, the exteriors of the 26 buildings between Avenues A and B will essentially be preserved as-is. But at the meeting the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, Andrew Berman, revealed that developer Ben Shaoul’s plans for a rooftop addition to 315 East 10th Street had been approved by the Department of Buildings.

“It reflects poorly on Shaoul and the city agencies that they couldn’t get their act together,” said Mr. Berman. Read more…


On Eve of Landmark Hearing, a Tour of East 10th Street


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Tomorrow, a public hearing by the Landmarks Preservation Commission will determine the future of East 10th Street along Tompkins Square Park. Over the weekend, The Local spoke with Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, about the history of the strip.

293 East 10th Street

239 East 10th StreetG.V.S.H.P. 293 East 10th Street

This building, like a lot of buildings in the East Village, shows in a very material way the evolution of the neighborhood from a place of single-family homes for the merchant class to the locus of immigration to New York City. It was built at the corner of East 10th and Avenue A in 1845 for James French, a boot-maker.

Only five years later it was sold to a gentleman named Joshua Varian and a Haraim Chandler leased it from him. Chandler lived with seven other families. This building very quickly became a multi-family home, or a tenement. By the late 1890s it was owned by Charles J. Smith, whose name still appears on the top left-hand side of the building. The top floor of the building was probably added by Smith as part of the tenementi-zation of it.

Interestingly, we know that Chandler worked for the N.Y.P.D. very early in its existence; it was only founded in 1845. Chandler worked as a detective and was injured during the 1863 draft riots. He died in 1881.
Read more…


Puck Building Penthouse Gets Green Light


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Puck before and afterPKSB Architects The original and final proposals for a rooftop addition to the Puck Building.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission finally approved a rooftop addition to the Puck Building today, concluding a four-month process that resulted in numerous rejections of numerous designs.

The owner of the landmarked building at Lafayette and East Houston Streets, Jared Kushner, expressed his pleasure with the outcome, which only came after four other designs were rejected by the commission.

PuckMichael Natale Puck.

“I am very pleased with the results. We got an extension approved that allows us to go forward with a special project,” said Mr. Kushner, who owns the New York Observer. “The additions to the building will further enhance one of the most iconic buildings in the world.”

Elisabeth de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the commission, said that the latest design would not amount to a drastic change to the Puck Building.

Commissioner Michael Devonshire, an architectural conservator, said, “They’ve reached the target of minimalism in terms of massing.”
Read more…


Calling All Preservationists


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A job listing for a historian? In this economy? That’s right, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation is looking for a director of preservation and research, according to a new post on Histpres. Among the many job responsibilities: Coordinating historic buildings research, preparing draft requests for the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and responding to questions from the public regarding landmarking. (And one recommended qualification from The Local: A strong tolerance for lengthy community board meetings).


Addition To Puck Building Rejected Yet Again


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Puck Building additionGreenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation A rendering of the rooftop addition to the Puck Building that was shown at a public hearing.

For the third time, the owner of the historic Puck Building was sent back to the drawing board because his plans for a new rooftop penthouse were deemed too obtrusive.

“It’s too tall, it’s much too visible and what you see is too aggressive,” said Frederick Bland, a commissioner with the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Jared Kushner, the owner of the New York Observer and the principal of Kushner Companies, which owns the building at Houston and Mott Streets, has tried to gain approval for the proposed condominium since September. In October, the company returned to the landmarks commission with a more modest design, and was rejected again. Today, even more modest designs met the same fate.
Read more…


Against a Historic District: Don’t Landmark Religious Buildings


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synagogue, East VillageMichelle Rick

Today on The Local, we’re hosting a dialogue about the neighborhood’s proposed historic districts. First, Britton Baine and Richard Moses, who serve on the steering committee of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative, spoke out in favor of them. Now architect Ido Nissani argues that one of the districts would burden and disrespect the synagogue he attends. Add your own thoughts via the comments.

As an active member of the Meseritz Synagogue on East Sixth Street and a graduate of Cooper Union, the East Village has come to be part of my heart.

Recently, our house of worship has been included in a proposed historic district in the neighborhood. This has caused great concern among the congregation of the synagogue about the expenses associated with being a landmarked building, as well as the implication of ceding dominion of our building to a city agency.

For those who ask: “What guarantees do we have that the historic synagogue will still stand many years from now if it is not landmarked?” I respond: “What guarantees do we have to see these very buildings standing if they are landmarked?” Read more…


The Day | Gavin DeGraw is on the Mend


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cartLauren Carol Smith

Good morning, East Village.

The Associated Press tells us that Gavin DeGraw, who was attacked by at least two men in the East Village on Monday night, has been released after a night’s stay at Bellevue Hospital. A police source tells the Post that the singer was too drunk to remember the attack clearly, but his brother Joseph insists he was drinking nothing but cranberry juice.

If that incident isn’t keeping you away from the nightlife, the folks at DNA Info remind us that the first-ever AlphaBet City Dolly Film Festival starts tomorrow. Thirty independent films will be screened at bars and restaurants between Avenues A and C, from First Street to 14th Street.

Two new Bowery restaurants are coming along: Yesterday EV Grieve noticed that Veselka Bowery was readying its tables, and now Bowery Boogie notes that the Bowery Diner, from the owners of Peels, has put up some signage. Read more…


Foes of Historic District Plan Emerge


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Historic buildings of the EVDavid Jarrett The leaders of two local houses of worship have emerged as critics of the proposed historic district in the East Village.

Thus far, the proposed East Village historic district has been met with relatively little opposition — but that looks as if it is going to change.

The leaders of two local houses of worship have emerged as outspoken opponents of the proposed district in the neighborhood, which they say would lead to unnecessary expense and bureaucratic inconveniences.

Rabbi Pesach Ackerman of the Congregation Meseritz Syngg on Sixth Street and Father Christopher Calin of the Orthodox Cathedral of the Holy Virgin Protection both bristled at the notion that they would have to get approval from the city Landmarks Preservation Commission before renovating the exteriors of their religious institutions.

“Once you’re landmarked, you’re not the owners of the building anymore,” said Mr. Ackerman, who has been the Rabbi of Meseritz Syngg for 42 years. “Anything you do, you have to ask their permission.”

Representatives from both institutions, along with those in favor of the district, are expected to speak on Thursday during a meeting of Community Board 3, which will be dedicated to the proposal.
Read more…


An Honor for the Poet Bob Holman


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Philip Kalantzis Cope

This evening the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation gathers for its 31st annual meeting and presentation of awards to honor individuals, groups, businesses who have made significant contributions to the area. This year’s winners include Bob Holman, founder of the Bowery Poetry Club, and the Fourth Arts Block.

Founded in 1980, the society is dedicated to preserving the architectural heritage and cultural legacy of Greenwich Village, the East Village, NoHo, the Gansevoort Market, and South Village. Their myriad activities include historical and architectural research, lectures, tours and publications. Currently, the group is at the forefront of the effort to designate parts of the East Village as historic landmarks.

Bob Holman has been tirelessly involved in promoting poetry and the arts on the Lower East Side during the past four decades through a host of activities. Most recently, he emceed the reading of Allen Ginsberg’s epic “Howl” at Howlfest. He served as coordinator of the Poetry Project at St Mark’s. In 1987, he helped reopen the Nuyorican Poets Café where he served as slam master for newly introduced poetry slams.

In 2002, he realized a vision in founding The Bowery Poetry Club, a venue where poets, musicians, playwrights  and artists are able to present their work seven days a week.

Tonight’s event, which is open to the public, begins at 6:30 p.m. and is being held at The Village Community School located at 272 West 10th Street. Come and join the festivities.


Preservationists Lament 35 Cooper


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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.
Read more…


Residents Laud Historic District Plan


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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.
Read more…


Moves to Protect the East Village


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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…