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Party Options, Part Two

Tree WrapMichael Natale

As we prepare to dim the lights at The Local–until the morning of January 2, 2013, news willing–here are a few more ideas for painting the neighborhood red.

In the world of noise, Blonde Redhead plans to a thunderous New Year’s Eve at Irving Plaza. The Punch Brothers have taken over Patti Smith’s regular New Year’s Eve spot at the Bowery Ballroom. They sold out in advance, just like she always did.

If you insist on making a complete night of it, here are the bars licensed to stay open for the duration. At higher cost, party through until dawn at Webster Hall’s New Year’s Eve Ball.

Soothe sore heads at the Poetry Project’s 39th Annual Marathon Reading on New Year’s day. Or celebrate in vintage style, of course, at Merchant’s House Museum, which invites you to pay New Year’s calls just like 1850–after holiday punch and some canapés.

Enjoy–and we’ll see you back here next year.

The Day | Suzy Snowflake Comes to Town

Never forgetScott Lynch

Good morning, East Village.

As David Schwimmer’s East Sixth Street mansion nears completion, residents displaced by Hurricane Sandy are getting a little more help this week. Listings geared to their needs are being posted in a special section at the no-fee rental site Urban Edge. Reports say landlords will strive to be flexible about length of lease and security deposits.

A less depressing way to get your life turned upside down will become available if plans for a flying trapeze center at Hamilton Fish Park come to fruition.

On the party side of the street, get your vintage frock out for a batch of 1950s cocktails and Christmas cartoons like “Suzy Snowflake” at the Merchant House Museum — and be sharp about it. Last Friday’s shindig sold out.

If you’re looking for sustenance, Mighty Quinn’s, which recently shed its plywood in the old Vandaag space, is strongly rumored to be unveiling its slow-smoked brisket today. But if you’re just looking to stay home and browse through pretty neighborhood pictures, consider Bowery Boogie’s selection of the year in Instagram.

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

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

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

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

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

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.

Merchant’s House Hearing Postponed

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.

Effort to Protect Merchant’s House Museum Gets Ratched Up

Proposed hotel and existing lotLandmarks Preservation Commission The garage at 27 East Fourth Street, and the proposed building.

Community Board 2 beefed up its efforts to protect the historic Merchant’s House Museum last night, resolving to disapprove of a plan to build a hotel next to the historic building unless the proposed structure is scaled back.

Earlier this week, the board’s Landmarks and Public Aesthetics Committee issued a recommendation that the nine-story hotel be “in scale with the adjacent Merchant’s House, not industrial buildings on Lafayette,” meaning the new hotel should only be four stories tall. But last night, members of the full board objected that the recommendation failed to explicitly demand that the hotel’s construction permit be denied unless its developers agreed to downsize.

Nick Nicholson, the chair of the board of directors of the Merchant’s House Museum, felt that, without such a rejection clause, the recommendation wasn’t forceful enough in voicing concern that the demolition of a one-story garage next to the Merchant’s House and the construction of the hotel might jeopardize the structural integrity and delicate plasterwork of the 19th century landmark. And members of the board agreed. Read more…

C.B. 2 Committee Votes Against Hotel Adjacent Merchant’s House Museum

Massing of HotelCourtesy of L.P.C. A rendering of the proposed hotel.

A Community Board 2 committee threw a wrench in plans for a nine-story hotel next-door to the Merchant’s House Museum last night in response to concerns that the development would endanger the historic landmark.

The plan, which calls for the demolition of an unremarkable one-story garage to be replaced by the hotel, was disapproved by the Landmarks and Public Aesthetics committee in a unanimous vote. As expected, the museum’s staff and supporters  – including Councilwoman Rosie Mendez, who has funded restoration of the museum – voiced their concerns about construction next to the only intact family home from the 19th century in the city.

“We have to treat this as if it were Notre Dame in Paris,” Nick Nicholson, the chairman of the board of directors for the museum, told The Local today. “Whoever develops the property, the first concern has to be the preservation and safety of this building.” Read more…

Local Legends | Ghosts Of Seasons Past

Merchant's HouseTim Milk
Seabury TredwellIllustration by Tim Milk Top: The Merchant’s House Museum, considered one of the most “haunted” locations in New York, was once inhabited by Seabury Tredwell, whose ghost is said to make appearances at the museum.

There it is again, the creeping feeling that you are being watched. You check to make sure the curtains are closed, and they are, so you wonder why you should feel so jumpy. You chalk it up to lack of sleep, or too much coffee, or maybe you should stop eating gluten.

There it is again, you feel it, even stronger now. You cannot help but think, “Maybe I really am being watched.”

The marvel of living in an older city, and New York would qualify, is that the ghosts of those who have gone before are standing all around. Life in the East Village often means inhabiting a place through which has marched a parade of people who cannot be remembered by any living soul.

But that doesn’t mean they ever left your apartment. The place is haunted. And these ghosts don’t bear tidings of the Past, Present or Future, but mostly just wish you would get the hell out.

And the more they make themselves known, and you talk it up amongst your friends, the more you realize that you are out-numbered. They stand in witness to all that you do. They laugh at your lunch. They crowd your elbow when you unpack your groceries. And although you may consider their haunting a nuisance, just imagine what they must think: “Who is this stranger in my home? Why did she paint the walls this color! And what has become of all my things?”

A chat with Anthony Bellov, Board Member of the Merchant’s House Museum, dispelled any doubt that was left in my mind. He has documented the many dozens of paranormal manifestations in Merchant’s House, considered to be New York’s most haunted place. I mentioned that I believed there was a ghost in my own apartment, and that this had become a real problem. “Have you tried communicating with him?” he asked. “It really helps.” He should know, because Merchant’s House is replete with oppressive miasmas, especially if anything inside is disturbed. Then the spirits freely throw things, poke visitors in the ribs and sometimes even appear at the door.

“It matters to them what will happen to this house,” he noted. Its inhabitants, the Tredwells, clung to it as a life-long refuge. And, it would seem, they never left it. Seabury Tredwell, the patriarch, stares out verbosely from his portrait in the parlor. And when he turned that piercing stare on a visiting fourth grader who strayed and stepped into his bedroom, the boy ran out with a frightful tale of a man in there.

“What man?” the tour guide asked him.

“The man in the picture downstairs!”

“Time is not there for them,” Mr. Bellov told me, and we speculated on concepts of parallel existence. Life goes on, it would seem, for us all. Seabury’s daughter Gertrude is also said to haunt her former home.

Back home in my apartment, I pulled up a chair and called out to my ghost.

“Can we talk?” I asked.