Large development may threaten one of NYC’s most historic buildings

Will Gleason
Written by
Will Gleason
Content Director, The Americas

The Merchant’s House Museum isn’t too thrilled about a potential new neighbor.

Not much has happened at the proposed development site bordering the museum, one of the best in the city, since the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved controversial plans for a 100-foot-tall brick building to rise there in 2014.

Now, the developer is seeking approval from the City Planning Commission to proceed with the eight-story hotel at 27 East Fourth Street. The building requires a spot rezoning and special permits in order to begin construction.

“At eight stories, the proposed hotel towers over the four-and-a-half story Merchant’s House (completely blocking sunlight to the rear garden) and is grossly incompatible with the surrounding buildings in the Noho Historic District,” the museum’s executive director Margaret Halsey Gardiner said in a statement. “If the Planning Commission approves the application, the developer would be able to proceed and the museum’s fragile, 186-year-old building would suffer catastrophic structural damage and likely collapse during construction.”

During the LPC hearings in 2014, the hotel’s developers described multiple measures they would take to ensure the 19th century structure was not damaged. However, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation has also come out in opposition to the construction next to the 186-year-old house, warning about possible damage to the site.

“We’re opposed to this zoning change that they’re asking for, which has to go before the Community Board,” says GVSHP executive director Andrew Berman. “This is the only 19th century house in the city that has been preserved both inside and out.”

The group is now asking those who oppose the development to send letters to Department of City Planning Chair Marissa Lago and Mayor Bill de Blasio or attend a Community Board #2 Land Use Committee meeting Wednesday night at 6:30pm.

The preservationists may be the least of the developer's worries, however, as everyone knows that site is hella haunted.

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