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LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION - The Local East Village Blog - NYTimes.com


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LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION

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


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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.

Q.

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?

A.

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…


Garage Might Be Demolished Next to Merchant’s House? Nobody Told Me, Says Garagekeeper


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cart ali tousirSasha Von Oldershausen Ali Tousir at his hot dog cart.

Just about everyone in the neighborhood knew about the plan to build a nine-story building next to the Merchant’s House Museum – that is, everybody but the guy whose business was in jeopardy because of it.

Nadir Ayub runs his storage business, Al-Amin Food Inc., out of the one-story garage located on 27 East Fourth Street. The lot, which currently houses 26 carts belonging to local food vendors, is also the site of a contentious development plan that has provoked the ire of many East Village residents.

And yet when The Local approached Mr. Ayub a day after the proposal was reviewed at a Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting last week, he seemed surprised to hear of it. He said he had signed a five-year lease with the garage’s owner in May, around the time he took over the storage business. That same month, unbeknownst to Mr. Ayub, representatives of the Merchant’s House, along with City Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, were complaining to Community Board 2 about a plan to demolish his workplace.  Read more…


At Landmarks Hearing, Outcry Against Hotel Adjacent Merchant’s House Museum


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LPC Merchant's House MeetingSuzanne Rozdeba

Preservationists, politicians, and neighborhood residents asked the Landmarks Preservation Commission yesterday to nix, or at least limit the height of, a proposed hotel that they fear will damage the historic Merchant’s House Museum.

Speaking to about 70 people at a public hearing at One Centre Street, City Council member Rosie Mendez, who said she had allotted close to a million dollars for museum renovations, asked that the nine-story, 32-room hotel be scaled back to three and a half stories, to match the height of the neighboring museum. The commission must approve the application because the proposed site is within the NoHo Historic District Extension.

“In this city, when we have great buildings, and it tells something about our history, and our communities, we landmark them,” she said. “And the Merchant’s House Museum is one of those buildings.” The councilwoman asked for a protection plan that would require the developer to pay for any damage as well as for the expense of moving artifacts during construction. Supporters of the national landmark, built in 1832, believe that any construction could cause damage to its interior Greek Revival architecture and its Federal-style brick exterior.

Edward Carroll, the project’s controversial designer, argued that the Bowery was already home to buildings that were taller than the hotel proposed for East Fourth Street, and said it would have a “tri-part design” that would “put it in context with the loft buildings that are typical to the late 1800s and early 1900s in this particular neighborhood.” He also pointed to Great Jones Street, one block south. “There’s a lot of similarities to be seen, with the heights of 100 feet, 80 feet, interposed between each other on one block.” He said the façade would be made of a dark-grey steel and surrounded by a limestone frame. Read more…


Merchant’s House Hearing Postponed Again


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Massing of Hotel

The much-delayed hearing regarding the proposed nine-story hotel next door to the Merchant’s House Museum is now set for Sept. 11. This is the fifth time the hearing has been postponed: Previously, it was scheduled for Sept. 4 after the developer of the hotel requested more time from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to prepare a presentation that will likely seek to allay the many concerns of museum supporters. Critics have said the hotel could threaten the foundation of the museum, and that its size would diminish the historic qualities of the 180-year-old building.


Merchant’s House Hearing Set for Sept. 4


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Proposed Hotel

A critical hearing regarding the proposed nine-story hotel abutting the Merchant’s House Museum is scheduled for September 4, the museum just announced in an e-mail. Following the hearing, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will either give the green light for the controversial hotel, or send the developer back to the drawing board. Supporters of the museum consider the proposal dangerous because construction could undermine the structure of the 180-year-old building, as well as its aesthetic. Still, there’s no guarantee the hearing will take place on the scheduled date — it’s been postponed four times already. “Hopefully we don’t have a fifth postponement,” said Emily Wright, a museum spokeswoman. “We’re still of course very concerned, the potential for damage is very serious.”


Merchant’s House Hearing Postponed Again


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Proposed Hotel

A critical public hearing on a proposed hotel next-door to the Merchant’s House Museum has been postponed for the fourth time. A spokeswoman for the Landmarks Preservation Commission said that the presentation, originally scheduled for tomorrow, had been put off at the request of the developer, who needed more time to prepare. The museum’s administration has fiercely lobbied against the nine-story hotel, saying it would ruin the 180-year-old building’s aesthetic and could potentially undermine its foundation, as well. A new date for the hearing has not yet been scheduled. Update | 3:56 p.m. An earlier version of this post said the public hearing had been delayed for the second time. According to the Merchant’s House Museum, it is the fourth. “We want to believe it is because the Commission is taking this very, very seriously. As well they should,” the museum wrote in an e-mail.


Metsky Gets Go-Ahead on Great Jones


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lumber

Curbed reports that the Landmarks Preservation Commission gave architect Richard Metsky the green light for a significant enlargement of 45 Great Jones Street yesterday. The approved plans call for two additional floors on the three-story building, as well as a penthouse recessed from the street. The building, which originally housed a lumber company, will have a commercial space on the ground floor.


At Landmarks Hearing, Preservationists and Religious Leaders Clash


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EV Historic District Map of the proposed district.

Preservationists came out in force today to support a proposed historic district that would encompass a large chunk of the East Village, and ran into familiar anger from religious groups.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission held the public hearing to collect feedback on a proposed 330-building district that would be centered around Second Avenue south of St. Marks Place and regulate the facades of cultural icons like the La MaMa theater, the former Fillmore East building, and the Anthology Film Archives, among other storied buildings.

At the meeting, which was standing-room only for the first hour and a half, members of the commission listened to about 80 speakers express more support than opposition, with many sporting blue and yellow stickers reading “Preserve the East Village, Landmark Now!”  Read more…


Merchant’s House Hearing Postponed


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merchants houseDaniel Maurer The museum’s fence got a new coat of paint today.

Word just came down from the Landmarks Preservation Commission that a critical hearing on a proposed nine-story hotel next-door to the Merchant’s House Museum has been postponed so that the developer can have more time to prepare a presentation. A spokeswoman said the developer has asked to present the project on July 24.

“I feel like we’ve just come off the L.P.C. ledge,” joked Margaret Halsey Gardener, the executive director of the museum. She added that dialogue between the museum and SRA Architects, which is designing the proposed hotel, has improved since last month. The developer recently installed a seismograph in the museum to monitor construction in the lot on East Fourth Street near Bowery.

But the concerns regarding the hotel’s impact on the house’s structure — as well as the experience for museum visitors — remain. In fact, when the developer recently dug test pits to examine the foundation of the lot “the house was shaking pretty violently,” Ms. Gardener said.

Update | 4:30 p.m. Breaking News: The Merchant’s House Museum’s fence just got a new coat of paint, as pictured above.


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…


Old Auction House Gets Landmark Vote Next Week


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The city’s Landmark Preservation Commission will consider whether to designate the former horse auction house at 126-128 East 13th Street a landmark on Tuesday. The former Van Tassell & Kearney Auction Mart “is one of the last remaining in the city that was constructed for staging horse auctions,” a commission spokeswoman wrote in an email. The building also served as sculptor Frank Stella’s studio and was the subject of much lobbying by preservationists when developers revealed plans to replace it with a seven-story building in 2006. (That plan fell through). The vote on the auction house was originally slated for June 26 — the same day as the vote on the larger 330-building historic district in the neighborhood — but was moved up due to a packed agenda.


Here’s The Story: A Look Inside That Controversial Fifth-Floor Addition


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Screen shot 2012-02-10 at 3.25.34 PM

Want to live in one of the most controversial apartments in the neighborhood? Here’s what the layout of your new pad will look like!

Earlier today, The Local got hold of the blueprints for 315 East 10th Street, the building that got the go-ahead for a rooftop extension literally hours before the Landmarks Preservation Commission declared it within a historic district along Tompkins Square Park.

The completely new, 1,523-square-foot fifth floor will feature a pair of one-bedroom apartments (accessible by elevator!). The exterior will have a new “historic” touch, too: a spokeswoman for the Landmarks Preservation Commission said that the owner of the building, Ben Shaoul, has pledged to build a replica of the existing cornice on top of the new floor. 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…


Spurred by Possible Construction, East 10th Street Landmark District Put on Fast Track


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Historic buildings of the EVDavid Jarrett Details from a building within one of the two proposed districts.

A critical hearing regarding a proposed landmark district on East 10th Street has been expedited due to a controversial application for an addition to a building in the area, the Landmarks Preservation Commission revealed today.

Last week, the real estate magnate Ben Shaoul applied for an additional floor to 315 East 10th Street along Tompkins Square Park, which he had recently purchased. The rooftop addition, which would be a departure from the 26 buildings – most of which are four-story 19th- and 20th-century dwellings – that line the block, garnered the attention of the city Landmarks Preservation Commission.

“The reason we’re scheduling the date earlier than we planned is that the Department of Buildings notified the Commission’s staff this past Sunday that the owner of 315 East 10th Street had filed an application for a permit to construct a rooftop addition that could potentially affect the character of the proposed district,” wrote Elisabeth de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the Commission. Read more…


Landmarks Commission on Latest Puck Proposal: Close, But No Cigar


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Screen shot 2011-12-06 at 5.09.53 PMLeft: The building as it is today, without the addition. Right: The most recent proposal. Note the small structures on the roof. Kushner Properties

Jared Kushner did not succeed the first time he sought approval for a rooftop addition to the landmarked Puck Building, and he’s still trying again and again.

Today the Landmarks Preservation declined to approve a plan for a condominium on the roof for the third time, this time because a rendering of the proposal was found to be inaccurate. Still, it appears that approval of the plan — the three others were rejected for being too ostentatious — is near.

Puck Building2Kushner Companies A previous version of the rooftop addition, which was rejected.

“The architecture has calmed down. It’s not a statement anymore,” said Frederick Bland, a commissioner with the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Throughout the process, which began in September, Mr. Kushner has remained positive in spite of the rejections. His tone hadn’t shifted so close to the finish line.

“We are pleased with the progress we’re making,” he said in a statement. “This continues to be a productive process leading to a very special finished product which will improve the building in many ways.” Read more…


Bond Street Renovation Gets Go-Ahead


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A landmarked building on Bond Street will get two additional floors and major renovations to the entrance and backyard thanks to an approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Curbed reports that the plan comes after a previous proposal was rejected by the commission for being too out of context with its surroundings between Bowery and Lafayette Street. The building, which was built in 1890, fared better than a planned addition to the nearby Puck Building, which was rejected yet again by the commission yesterday.


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…


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


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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…


The Day | A Setback in the Fight for 316 East Third


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Mars BarRachel Citron

Good morning, East Village.

According to the Greenwich Village Society for Historical Preservation, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has rejected a hearing about 316 East Third Street, the 177-year-old rowhouse the GVSHP has been fighting to save from demolition. In a letter to the preservation group, the LPC writes, “The changes to the building are too numerous and from many different periods, resulting in a lack of architectural significance necessary to be considered an individual landmark.”

Preservationists, take comfort: To celebrate its 160th birthday, Kiehl’s is introducing a “Limited Edition New York Heritage Collection” of scents that date back over fifty years. The Star, out of Malaysia, has a Kiehl’s history lesson.

EV Grieve sneaks a peek inside Tompkins Square Bagels. Still no sign of the Mosaic Man’s artwork.

Read more…


DocuDrama: Preservationists Try to Save Row House From Becoming Another 35 Cooper


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316 E. Third StreetStephen Rex Brown The rowhouse at 316 East Third Street.

Last week, preservationists doubled down on their last-minute effort to protect a 177-year-old row house that the owner hopes to demolish and replace with a seven-story, 33-unit apartment building.

A quartet of local preservation groups began pressing the city Landmarks Preservation Commission early this month. In a letter you can read below, the coalition cited the building’s historic qualities, which are reminiscent of 35 Cooper Square, another Federal-style row house that was demolished in May amid much controversy.

“The significance of this and the handful of other surviving pre-Civil War rowhouses to Alphabet City cannot be underestimated,” the preservationists wrote in a letter to the commission on August 2, referring to 316 East Third Street. “Built for merchants associated with the East River’s thriving shipbuilding industry, they recall the neighborhood’s formative years and are all that remain from its heyday as the dry dock neighborhood.”

The letter also noted that the commission had singled out the property as being “eligible for historic designation” in a 2008 study assessing the impact of rezoning in the area. Read more…