Thursday, October 14, 2010

NY1 looks at a 'landmark dispute' on East Fourth Street

NY1 ran a piece last night titled "Plan To Redevelop East Village Row Houses Draws Fire."

A landmark dispute on Manhattan's Lower East Side is pitting some longtime residents against one another as a developer sets his sights on the neighborhood. NY1's Rebecca Spitz filed the following report.

They may not look like much, but to some, a cluster of 1830s row houses located at 326 and 328 East 4th Street mean a lot. The buildings currently house an arts collective, but they're moving out and a new developer is coming in — and that has some people worried.

"We're just concerned about inappropriate alterations to the building, or actual demolition itself because these are the only buildings that have ever been on these sites and it's so rare that a 170-year-old building is still around in the East Village," said Kurt Cavanaugh of the East Village Community Coalition.

A developer, who would not talk with NY1, has already signed an agreement to buy the buildings. He has also filed an application to build two new stories on top of the existing structures.

"To destroy them with a high rise or something crazy would be nuts," said one East Village resident

You can watch the video here.

It's a good piece, — I'm glad that word of this potential development is getting out there .... Here's a little more background on the two townhouses between Avenue C and Avenue D that hit the market back in March for $4.6 million. As the Times reported last month, this was 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 Colin Moynihan's article, the group is faced with tax liens, and sold the building they have owned since 1974.

Meanwhile, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation (GVSHP) and the East Village Community Coalition are working to to get landmark status here.

In any event, the historic townhouses are now in contract. The Corcoran listing shows they went for $3.95 million. The Times story last month noted that the developer is Terrence Lowenberg, who's also behind the work at Ninth Street and First Avenue. Curbed pointed out that the two-story rooftop additions are designed by architect Ramy Issac, "the neighborhood's most controversial tenement topper."

Previously on EV Grieve:
Historic East Fourth Street artists' collective soon to be condos

Two side-by-side townhouses on East Fourth Street await your renovation


glamma said...

oh man. what a crying shame. seriously what is wrong with these people?

pinhead said...

Thanks for the piece, Grieve. I'm a history geek, and I often mourn the loss of so much of the city's physical history.

That said, landmark status alone will not restore these buildings. It will take serious money to keep them from further deterioration and collapse--to say nothing of restoration--and in this city that money comes from developers.

These are simple, utilitarian buildings that have been significantly modified to suit new purposes over the past 170 years. Who can say whether the addition of new floors is any more or less damaging to the buildings' character than what has already been done?

The EV has plenty of examples of gut-renovated tenements with restored architectural detail, driven by some developer's profit opportunity. Perhaps this group is willing (or can be persuaded) to not simply destroy what's left of these buildings, but rather to ease them into their next useful life and restore some of their glory in the process.

Goggla said...

Just don't let Julian Schnabel get his hands on these...

Anonymous said...

Are you kidding? If they were bright Schnabel pink they'd go great with the mural building next door (which I love by the way)! I seriously doubt that's what's going to happen with them though. I agree that they need some serious renovation.

Goggla said...

@Anon 11:06 - Ha! You're right, I totally forgot about that mural!