Monday, September 13, 2010

Historic East Fourth Street artists' collective soon to be condos

Back in March, we wrote about the side-by-side townhouses for sale on East Fourth Street near Avenue D....

There's a new listing for two townhouses at 326-328 E. Fourth St. between Avenue C and Avenue D... 12 bedrooms in the two homes... and both buildings are going for $4.6 million... According to the listing:

Extraordinary Opportunity. Two side by side townhouses that have 46 feet of street frontage and a 46 foot by 50 foot rear garden await your vision, dreams and renovation. Extensive original details throughout the townhouses. These properties will be delivered vacant, are currently over 7,000 square feet and come with an additional 10,000 square feet of air rights. Beautifully located across community gardens and on a charming block. This could also be a development site or for institutional use.

As the Times reports today, this is home to "an artists’ collective and burial society called the Uranian Phalanstery and First New York Gnostic Lyceum Temple, was started in the East Village in the late 1950s by the artists Richard Oviet Tyler and Dorothea Tyler."

Per their article by Colin Moynihan:

For decades, the East Village has been home to countless avant-garde organizations and collectives, drawn to the area by its cultural vitality and low cost of living.

Those days of affordability, however, appear to have largely vanished, and over the last decade or so many of the creative groups that once had a home in the East Village have moved or become defunct.

Faced with tax liens, the group is selling the two old brick buildings on East Fourth Street near Avenue D that it has owned since 1974. The group is also beginning the complicated process of cataloging the contents.

The Times also notes that the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) and the East Village Community Coalition are working to to get landmark status here. "In letters to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, the groups said the houses dated to around 1840 and retained original cornices, molded stone sills, windows and ironwork, among other features. 'That these houses have remained virtually unchanged in the past 170 years is miraculous and noteworthy,' the preservation groups wrote. 'That they could be lost to irresponsible development would be nothing short of tragic.'"

Read more about it at the NYPress.

Speaking of development, the campaign is well under way to sell the buildings. Per Blumstein at Corcoran:

Deep in the Alphabet lies a potential Gem of an investment. Two buildings, old and in disrepair, are on the market as a set. Just recently the price was reduced from $4,300,000 to $3,950,000.

What makes them so special is the air rights that come with the buildings – 17,630 buildable square feet. At the current asking price, that is $224 per square foot to buy. Even with good quality construction you could put up condos at under $700 a square foot, and the lowest condo (a resale) is on the market in the Alphabet for $800 a square foot with the average at $1,051 and the highs around $1,700 per square foot (The Copper Building is selling at 215 Ave B with the remaining units averaging around $1,256 a square foot). Given the 2-3 years minimum before completion, the fact that it would be new development and a likely upturning real estate market, a buyer/developer could be poised for considerable returns.

Anyway, the GVSHP has documentation showing "the house’s original owner built the first steamship to cross the Atlantic Ocean (nearby Avenue D was the East River’s edge, which in the early 19th century was full of working piers before shipping activity shifted to the wider and deeper Hudson); that in the late 19th century these houses were transformed from homes of successful merchants into tenements to house the waves of immigrants moving into the area; that in the early 20th century 326 and 328 East 4th Street were converted to house a Hungarian Synagogue."

Per the GVSHP:

YOU CAN HELP! Please write a letter to the city today urging the Commission to consider landmark designation for 326 and 328 East 4th Street right away, and to protect these remarkable survivors which capture so many important aspects of the evolving history of the East Village and New YorkCLICK HERE for a sample letter and contact information.


Laura Goggin Photography said...

This is very interesting...thanks for posting the link to the preservation info.

Lisa said...

"Deep in the Alphabet"?!? What kind of terse, crypto-codespeak is that? Deep in the Alphabet. Jesus.