Monday, October 29, 2018

Workers remove artifacts from the vacant 14 2nd Ave., fueling speculation of new development

On Friday, an EVG reader spotted workers 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.

As these reader photos show, some artifacts remained on site...

... and workers were removing them...

A little recent history for the address. According to published reports from the summer of 2000, a wall and two floors collapsed at 14 Second Ave. between First Street and Houston, 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.)

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.”

Back to Friday, the reader who shared these photos wryly noted: "Can luxury condos be far behind?"

Probably, but there's nothing yet on file with the Department of Buildings for the address. (And there are still Stop Work Orders dating to 2009 and 2000.)

Given all the luxurious developments — new and existing, like here and here — around this address, the parcel likely won't sit empty for too many more years.


Brian said...

Still can't get over how this area went from squats to super luxury with no inbetween. Okay, I exaggerate a little, but you get the idea.

noble neolani said...

Lies, that's how you get things done today. Tell people you will build a community center and they unravel a trendy hotel with 4 nightclubs inside it. There is no way this guy will do anything that does not best suit his own financial interest and he will drench the sales pitch to tug at our heartstrings then build what he damn pleases.

Gojira said...

I was on the SLA committee at the time, and can affirm that Evan Blum was, and still is, a greedy piece of shit who was solely responsible for the collapse and eventual destruction of his building and its contents. His plan at that point was to open up the first floor of the building on the south side, allowing access to what he called the "sculpture garden", in which he wanted to have a - what else? - bar, which our committee was in discussions with him about (we had denied his liquor license application). Despite being told to stop work, he had his crews cut a very large and wide egress arch in the structural wall so he could start the build-out process; in doing so, they destabilized that whole side, either because they didn't think to shore up the gap, or because they didn't have time to do so. As if that were not bad enough, he had huge stone items stored on the roof, the weight of which helped contribute to that poor building's downfall (literally), killing one of the two cats who lived there. And then he turned around and sued the city because his actions caused the devastation? Priceless.


Can we have an archeological adventure in that hole and recover riches Indiana Jones style?

Laura Goggin Photography said...

If you get a chance to see "My Mars Bar Movie" by Jonas Mekas, there is a scene where the camera is on people in the bar and you can hear the collapse of the building in the background, which was just across the street. The camera doesn't move from the bar-goers, who, after glancing up a the disaster taking place outside the window, go right back to nursing their drinks.

40 years cyclist said...

Is this property still under eminent domain by the city? It is listed as the entrance for the future 2nd Avenue Subway Houston Street Station in MTA planning materials. Anything built there would have to take that into account. The Bean on 3rd and 2nd is in the proposed north entrance to the station.