FOIL cracks facade of city’s case for dismantling row-house exteriors in Meatpacking District

Judith Zeng

BY THE VILLAGE Sunshine | Updated Might 31, 2:15 p.m.: Anything was certainly “undermined” in the scenario of nine historic Meatpacking District structures whose facades were ordered demolished very last slide — that is, the evidence for conserving them.

A Flexibility of Information and facts Legislation request for correspondence from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission disclosed that the agency was suggested by its very own structural expert that it was “feasible” to mend the facades of the row houses at the northeast corner of 14th Avenue and Ninth Avenue — “and at no increased hazard than would be posed by demolishing them.”

The impartial view was offered by Donald Friedman, a principal at Aged Structures Engineering, a foremost consultancy organization in structural engineering for historic properties. Friedman is on retainer to advise L.P.C. His opinion was primarily based on his inspection of the structures.

“In my viewpoint, it is technically possible to repair service the street facades, and to do so with no far more chance than will be developed by demolishing them,” Friedman explained to L.P.C. He went on to suggest “an eight-stage sequence of operations for undertaking so.

These findings had been shared with regional politicians in a May possibly 20 joint letter despatched to them by Andrew Berman, executive director of Village Preservation Frampton Tolbert, government director of the Historic Districts Council and Pamela Wolff of Help you save Chelsea.

Particularly, the letter’s signers charge, John Weiss, the L.P.C. deputy counsel, “was not forthcoming” about the independent opinion’s existence when he was questioned about choices to demolition at a Nov. 12 Community Board 4 public conference. Moreover, and even more egregiously, the letter states, the data was then also withheld from the Landmarks commissioners themselves at a Feb. 8 hearing as they continued to deliberate on the job.

Alternatively, L.P.C. deferred to the city’s Department of Buildings, which purchased the facades taken down — albeit with the proviso of attempting to save as numerous of the bricks as feasible to reuse in the new facade.

“It is disturbing to see that skilled professional opinion indicated that demolishing the facades of these nine landmarked row properties was unwanted, and that this facts was retained from the public, elected officials, Local community Board 4 and even customers of the Landmarks Preservation Commission,” Berman, and Wolff wrote. “In addition, it is obvious that this details was overruled by the administration at massive and we question that you inquire of the organizations involved why it was in this situation.

“Finally, we strongly urge that steps be taken to assure that this kind of info is hardly ever once more hidden and that there are processes in spot to make certain this information and facts is publicly obtainable.”

“The letter in essence describes almost everything,” Berman told The Village Sunshine, “that the L.P.C.’s employed engineer examined the structures and advised the company that facade demolition was not wanted to hold them harmless, and gave them a plan for how the structures could be restored with out this kind of demolition. D.O.B. overrode this, but disturbingly L.P.C. then withheld the details that their engineer encouraged them that demolition was not vital, while they have been frequently requested about this.”

Berman additional that the preservationists “kind of knew this was the circumstance, but right up until the FOIL requests arrived through months later, didn’t have any evidence.”

To examine the letter, simply click here.

Representing Tavros, the project’s developer, is Capalino + Organization, the substantial-run lobbying team that was involved in the contentious sale of Rivington Dwelling, a Decreased East Facet AIDS Hospice, for market place-charge growth — which involved quietly taking away a deed restriction for the aged previous faculty building’s use as a health care facility. Eventually, immediately after a  general public outcry, though, Rivington Property was alternatively preserved for a healthcare-releated use and is now owned by Mount Sinai Overall health System for use for its behavioral sciences division.

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