Thursday, April 7, 2016

Development watch: 14 2nd Ave.

There's finally some activity to note at 14 Second Ave. ... the now (mostly) empty lot adjacent to First Park that housed Irreplaceable Artifacts until its demolition by the city in July 2000.

According to published reports that summer, a wall and two floors collapsed, which forced the evacuation of 51 apartments in three nearby buildings.

As The New York Times reported at the time:

A construction crew was making alterations to the first floor of the four-story shop, Irreplaceable Artifacts, in defiance of an order to stop work, a spokesman for the city's Buildings Department said.

City officials ordered the building destroyed, along with everything inside — including several Tiffany windows valued at $50,000 each and a walnut ceiling from William Randolph Hearst's collection. Evan Blum, the owner of Irreplaceable Artifacts, salvages fixtures from demolished buildings and refurbishes them. The collection was worth millions of dollars, Mr. Blum said.

No one was injured. (No. 14 was not for residential use at this time.)

The site has been tied up for years with litigation between Blum and the city. (The Observer has a nice recap here.)

Yesterday, in a rather vague post, Real Estate Weekly noted the following:

SKW Funding closed a $12 million first lien mortgage loan for the refinance and cross-collateralization of two Manhattan properties.

The first asset is located between Houston Street and East 1st Street on Second Avenue in the East Village.

The site is a predominately vacant land which contains the foundation from a prior structure that was demolished in 2000.

The second site is on 125th Street... which also happens to be where the Blum-owned Demolition Depot is located.

While there's some financial paperwork (and cross-collateralization!) happening, to date, there aren't any new work permits on file with the city for the address.

Back in 2007, Blum proposed a 10-story hotel for the property. The idea didn't really go over well at a CB3 committee meeting in the summer of 2007. Per The Villager:

While presenting the preview of the hotel proposal to C.B. 3’s Land Use Committee, Blum’s attorney was met by passionate testimony from tenants of the neighboring Cube Building urging committee members to block it based on Blum’s previous record.

“Given the history of Mr. Evan Blum, it’s very hard to have a positive take on any proposal coming from him,” said Valerio Orselli, executive director of Cooper Square Mutual Housing Association, which manages the Cube Building. “He has a very cavalier attitude when it comes to laws and regulations in the city of New York.”

Blum later expounded on the project to The Villager:

“We intend to do something really nice and interesting and beautiful that the neighborhood could be proud of, as opposed to the crap that is being built around the neighborhood,” he said.

Blum described the project as “more philanthropic in nature, rather than a self-serving commercial interest,” and said it would be “geared toward the arts.”

The hotel would also venture into new gastronomic territory.

“We will be attempting to build the finest vegan restaurant in the city,” Blum said. “It’s something I’ve practiced for many years and it’s finally gaining more stature in society. I think it’s important that one evokes these principles.”

We're looking forward (mostly!) hearing about what might be next for the lot.


Anonymous said...

That corner is so loud from the traffic. I hope it's an inexpensive hotel! With real walls.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like Blum is just trying to "get over" on everyone.

Anonymous said...

It is impossible to believe in the sincerity of anyone wishing to open a: hotel, bar, bar/restaurant/"affordable" housing.... these days.

Anonymous said...

Are there any pictures of the former building?

Anonymous said...

Blum's credibility is, and will remain, at ZERO for anyone who remembers his reckless disregard for safety and human life in 2000. He cannot be trusted with anyone's welfare (aside from his own!).