Thursday, December 7, 2023

Proposed hotel next to the Merchant's House Museum returns to the Landmarks Preservation Commission

EVG file photo

A developer's decades-long effort to build a hotel next door to the landmarked Merchant's House Museum on Fourth Street between the Bowery and Lafayette is back in the news. 

Merchant's House officials learned yesterday that the Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold a public meeting on Tuesday, Dec. 12, to discuss — and possibly vote on — the proposed development for an 8-story hotel. (Find the meeting and registration info at this link. A PDF of the presentation is here. A livestream will be on the LPC YouTube page. Village Preservation has more details.)

Per the Merchant's House: 
At the last LPC hearing nearly three years ago, the LPC declined to vote on the proposed development. If the LPC now votes to approve the project, the Merchant's House will be forced to close to the public for at least two years to safeguard the house and the collection. Construction next door will cause significant structural damage to our landmark 1832 building. 

Shockingly, landmark status does not guarantee protection.
The development firm Kalodop II Park Corp. has been trying to build the hotel for nearly 12 years. 

In January 2019, the developers sued New York City, the City Council and Councilmember Carlina Rivera over the rejection of their Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) application for the project. (Not sure whatever happened to that suit.)

The developers have been seeking a spot rezoning to build an 8-story hotel on the site — higher than the current zoning allowed. The full City Council ultimately voted down the rezoning in September 2019. 

Preservationists, not to mention the leadership of Merchant's House, the circa-1832 building, were concerned that the construction could permanently damage the structure, one of only six residences in NYC that is both an exterior and an interior landmark. Local elected officials and Community Board 2 have all opposed the current application for the 8-story hotel. 

The developers have promised to take extensive measures to ensure that the neighboring structure would not be harmed during the hotel construction. 

This project dates to 2011.

The proposed site of the hotel, 27 E. Fourth St., currently houses Al-Amin Food Inc., which houses carts for street vendors. 


JM said...

Just say no.

David Garber said...

The proposed building looks great, is sized contextually, and uses high quality materials. What am I missing?

noble neolani said...

This home / Museum is a super rare treasure which preserves a precise moment of mid 1800's life of our city's history. As we have seen in recent months, historic buildings as well as apartment buildings which are the homes of our fellow citizens and neighbors being undermined to the point of being condemned. If anyone has experience living next to new construction, even the largest building will endure damage once pile drivers start working. Please support this gem of a museum for current and future generations to learn and enjoy. Let you government leaders know you support the Merchant House.

Neighbor said...

Maybe compromise and require housing instead of a hotel? Obviously with conditions to not harm Merchant House. Surely there is a way to responsibly build next door without destroying it..

Babs said...

The Merchant House website says the following: "Preservation architects and engineers have analyzed the proposed plans and determined that irreversible damage to the Merchant’s House is guaranteed. At particular risk is our original 19th century ornate decorative plasterwork as well as the plaster walls and ceilings. The original, 1832 plaster is extremely fragile and could literally come crumbling down. The worst case scenario is very possible: damage to the museum could be catastrophic (i.e., complete collapse). "

noble neolani said...

@David Garber, read your profile so your comment explains why you are in the game to wipe out history so you and others like you can $$$$ Shame on you

Brian Van said...

I do not trust this hotel proposal. However, what ought to be built there to make better use of the lot than as a food cart garage? Does the city council, CB or LPC have any suggestions that might eliminate the risk to the Merchant's House?

Sleepless in EV said...

I have very little faith in construction companies and their professional reassurances that they will take every effort to be cautious in their endeavors. We have plenty of examples right here in which neighboring building are compromised by excavation and construction efforts; forcing residents to evacuate and/or the construction sit to be abandoned for years.

While this building itself is not so bad looking, given it could have been much worse, I still have no idea as to why they need to build ANOTHER hotel when 2023 is a record year for hotel construction. We have The Moxy, the Bowery, the Standard, the Hyatt, the Public and the Holiday Inn. That's just in this immediate area. Going out a bit further, the number dramatically increases.

This is simply another YIMBY piece of nonsense. New York is turning into Las Vegas; a city for tourists without regards to scale or appropriateness.

KPR789 said...

EVGrieve: good for you reporting on this and including so many links. And good for Village Preservation for its persistent campaigns to make people aware of this and testify against it. The Merchant House is one of the City's most precious historical treasures and recognized as such by authorities that grant landmark status. And one of the most fragile ones. If ever there was a proposal before the LPC that the commission should totally oppose in service of its "Landmark Preservation" mission, it is this. Not simply for how exceptional the Merchant House but also for the dire consequences if the developer/architect's promises to shore the site go awry. Especially in light of the increasing number of recent construction site violations that have compromised the structural integrity of adjacent buildings (buildings that are NOT historic). Hotels we have in NYC in abundance. We have only one Merchant House. And we can't simply build another.

Anonymous said...

Hear hear!

Marilyn Stults said...

I just watched the Landmarks Preservation Commission Hearing on You Tube. Shame on LPC for approving the revised plans for the lot next to the Merchant’s House Museum, even with conditions, I.e., creating a fund to repair any harm done to the museum. Do they really expect a firm owned by a convicted felon and ex-convict, Constantine Fotos, to pay money in advance for possible damages? It was easy to trace his history on line - convicted of illegal demolition & construction work in 1988, among other things.

Cosmo said...

This is terrible news. Shame on the LPC. What do they even stand for? As noted above, the Merchant House is a city and national treasure unlike any other and cannot ever be replaced. Why do we need ANOTHER hotel? Why does it have to be on THAT lot? The developer has been pushing this for 12 years! Why? There are many other places to stick a hotel in this city. Now that the useless office high-rise has gone up on the corner of Bowery, I suppose that is an excuse to open the floodgates for more development that no one in the neighborhood wants or needs. The person above in favor of this project doesn't even live in NYC. I'm so angry and disgusted.