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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.


A ‘Landmark’ Meeting: C.B. 3 Subcommittee Considers Renovations for First Time


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106 and 100 East 10th StMelvin Felix 106 and 110 East 10th Streets.

It’s not the closing of Mars Bar, or the opening of another 7-Eleven, but Community Board 3 reached a milestone yesterday as the Landmarks Subcommittee held its first public hearing on proposed renovations to buildings in a historic district.

The new protocol — in which the subcommittee votes on a “certificate of appropriateness” for renovations to protected properties before sending them to the parks committee and then the full community board — will be applied to the 330 buildings in the East Village-Lower East Side Historic District if the district is approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

“When Landmarks decided they were going forward with the two historic districts, we started looking at the increased responsibility because of the sheer number of buildings,” said Carolyn Ratcliff, chairwoman of the subcommittee.

But don’t expect the meetings to become as epic as the board’s S.L.A. committee meetings. Read more…


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…


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…


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…


Landmarking Push Doesn’t Bother Shaoul


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buildingNoah Fecks East 10th Street. Ben Shaoul’s building is one over from right.

The developer that spurred the Landmarks Preservation Commission to expedite a public hearing for a proposed historic district on East 10th Street said today that the designation would not affect his plans for a building on the block along Tompkins Square Park.

“It doesn’t make a difference if it’s landmarked or not — we’re going to comply with whatever is set forth by the governing parties,” said Ben Shaoul, who recently bought the building at 315 East 10th Street. “We intend to fully restore the façade to its original state, anyway.”

It was Mr. Shaoul’s application with the Department of Buildings to build a rooftop addition to the property that garnered the attention of the Commission, which is considering protecting the exteriors of the 26 buildings on the north side of Tompkins Square Park. By law, the Commission can fast-track the landmarks process if proposed renovations to a property would affect the historic aesthetic of a district up for consideration. 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…


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…


In Favor of a Historic District: It Preserves Local Character


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East 10th StreetMichael Natale East 10th Street

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

This has been an exciting time for the East Village and its historic architecture. In June, the city Landmarks Preservation Commission calendared for public hearing two new historic districts: the proposed East Village-Lower East Side and East 10th Street districts. In July, after three contentious public hearings, Community Board 3 voted with a strong majority to support landmarking these districts.

The question now is, when will the LPC schedule the hearing date for their designation? For preservationists, sooner is much better than later, because until the LPC votes to landmark the districts, the buildings will not be completely safe from defacement or demolition.

Two questions preservationists have been hearing are, why landmark, and how will landmarking benefit the East Village? There are many reasons. Read more…