Wow.....I thought it wasn't possible anymore.....that's amazing!
Wow.....I thought it wasn't possible anymore.....that's amazing!
Ohhhhhh. If they can pull that off, there may just be a glimmer of hope for the human race.
^ That can never be forgiven, but at least the current sad, disgraceful remains of this beauty can hopefully be erased from our sight and, eventually, our memories.The removal of the upper floors still rankles local activists and historic preservationists, who considered the building one of the finest architecture examples in all of Harlem and complain that the city let it deteriorate beyond repair.
Actually, I think that color rendering was what the first restoration attempt was going to look like before the fire and subsequent demolition. Looks like they have an option for a rooftop penthouse drawn on the plan elevation
On Block in Harlem, Neighbors’ Push for Restoration Will End in Demolition
By CARA BUCKLEY
[Jennifer S. Altman for The New York Times]
Derrick Taitt and his neighbors tried to save the graffiti-covered building at 58 East 126th Street.
Gentrification, or at the very least prettification, has reshaped block after block in Harlem, but it has not fully arrived at East 126th Street between Madison and Park Avenues.
There, handsome rows of century-and-a-half-old brownstones line the north and south sides of the street, just as they do one block west, on a pristine tree-lined stretch where homeowners keep polished doorknobs and spotless front stoops.
But along East 126th Street, vacant buildings are interspersed among the inhabited ones.
Their windows are boarded up or bricked over with cinder blocks. Chicken wire encircles a couple of the front stoops. One brownstone is fronted by ribbons of razor wire, though neighbors said people still lived there legally, they just went in through the back.
In the middle of the block, on the south side, sits No. 58, scrawled over with graffiti, stricken with a caving roof and collapsing floors, and deemed structurally unsound. The building is slated for demolition this month by the city, despite a nearby resident’s efforts to buy it and neighbors’ laments that the seamless row of houses will be punched through with a gap-tooth hole.
“Historical buildings should be saved,” said Michael Henry Adams, an architectural historian and the author of “Harlem: Lost and Found.”
“If a property is more valuable with its historic resources intact,” he said, “why would you let it get to a state where the only recourse is to demolish it?”
No. 58 has not been designated a city landmark, but, according to Mr. Adams, it has the potential to be, sitting on a brownstone block comparable to others with historical designations. It is also about a block and half from the former home of the poet Langston Hughes, 20 East 127th Street, which is a city landmark.
Despite a strong overall community sentiment that city money should go to restoring such buildings before they degenerate and become structurally dangerous, the city says it is not in the business of rescuing unsound, privately owned buildings.
“It’s always the private property owner’s responsibility to maintain the property,” said Eric Bederman, a spokesman for the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, which is overseeing the demolition. “It is a critical part of what being a responsible owner is about.”
Property records show a troubled financial history for No. 58, which, according to Mr. Adams, was most likely built in the late 1860s for upper middle class whites. It was advertised for a sheriff’s sale in 1970, acquired by the city in 1980 through a tax foreclosure, sold at public auction two years later, and in 2006, was bought for $950,000 by a corporation called Parade Place LLC, of Brooklyn. Messages left with Saadia Shapiro, who is listed in public records as the corporation’s managing member, were not returned.
One neighbor, Derrick Taitt, who owns a brownstone on the north side of the street, said that No. 58 had sat empty for over two decades. In recent years, neighbors began calling the city’s 311 line as conditions deteriorated. Debris was falling. The roof was collapsing. Squatters were sneaking in and out of a large hole in the street level wall.
“It’s gotten worse in the last eight or nine months; street dwellers have been coming in,” said Michael Peterson, 44, who lives with his family in the top floor of No. 56, next door. “All of us collectively have been complaining.”
The brownstone on the other side of Mr. Peterson’s building is also vacant, which is troubling to him and his neighbors. No. 52-54, a double-wide, has long been a gathering point for vagrants, drug users and prostitutes, Mr. Peterson said. He and other neighbors recently bought supplies from a hardware shop and hammered together a wooden barrier with nails sticking out of the top to block the basement stairwell. They also lined the front fence with chicken wire.
“Prior to the sealing, it was really bad,” he said. “But we shouldn’t have to do that.” (According to property records, the building is owned by the William M. James Housing Development Fund Corp. Reached by phone, Mr. James, who is 96 and a former minister at Metropolitan Community United Methodist Church, across the street, said that there were plans to convert the building into a seniors’ center).
But though the buildings on either side have vexed Mr. Peterson, he does not want to see them torn down. “It’s just going to bring in more issues,” he said.
Mr. Taitt, who said he was on the board of the Community Association of the East Harlem Triangle, said he had tried repeatedly to contact the owner of No. 58 to make offers on the place, sending certified letters that got no reply.
“Another neighbor said, ‘Why don’t we get together and buy it?’ ” Mr. Taitt said. “The owner doesn’t want to talk.”
After inspections by the city departments of housing and buildings found further problems at No. 58 — a teetering rear brick wall, more roof cave-ins, a collapsed floor — they issued a declaration to demolish in late March. A spokesman for the housing department said that demolition work would most likely begin in two weeks, and that the property owner would be billed.
Neighbors suspect, warily, that after the building is torn down, a bland, boxlike structure will rise in its place: the property owners may build whatever they please, so long as they comply with zoning requirements and the building code.
Already, neighbors are girding for the loss.
“These buildings have personality,” said E. Wayne Tyree, 70, a poet who lives nearby. “This will change the whole beauty of the thing.”
Corn Exchange Plans Not Well Received by Landmarks
by Curbed Staff
Danois Architects and Artimus Construction presented their plans for former bank/residential apartment building Morris Mount Bank, also known as the Corn Exchange, to the Landmarks Preservation Commission yesterday. The Queen Anne style brownstone, praised by architecture critics when it was constructed in the late 19th century, has been in unfortunate and rapid decline for the last few decades, having recently fallen into complete disrepair when a fire took out the roof and upper floor in 1997 and the top three floors had to be demolished due to structural instability. While the Commission was happy to hear about a plan to restore the building to its former glory, they weren't quite sure that this was the plan to do that. The proposal included bringing the building back to its original seven-stories but making the top floor double height, in effect making it eight-stories tall, with the bottom two floors designated for commercial use and the top five for office space.
Things really started to go downhill once a representative from the Historic Districts Council delivered testimony in which she quoted this New York Times article where architectural historian Christopher Gray said the building had "the effect of half a dozen cups of strong coffee." She then equated the new plans to decaf. Although architect David Danois asserted that his intention was to “recreate the grandeur and elegance that [the Corn Exchange] once had,” the LPC criticized that approach, saying that Danois' plans were neither a faithful restoration nor a modern counterpoint. They also questioned his proposal to use synthetic materials such as fiberglass in places that were originally stamped copper and zinc. They also called the facade "flat," and the Mansard roof "not a Mansard roof." The Commission concluded by calling the plans "a reasonable starting point, but only a starting point."
Well, this is depressing, to say the least.
One of New York's worst developers wants to knock down one of Midtown's ever-dwindling Beaux-Arts gems.
Say goodbye to Old New York; say hello to an empty pit for four years, followed by a cheap glass box to match the "landmark" (510 Fifth) across 43rd Street from this after the property has changed hands a few times.
Landmark church in peril
By KATHIANNE BONIELLO
They’re praying for the immaculate construction.
Preservationists hope a Manhattan developer set to buy one of Harlem’s most beautiful churches will save it.
St. Thomas the Apostle Church on West 118th Street (pictured) has sat empty for nine years since the New York Archdiocese shuttered it in 2003.
Efforts to landmark the hulking neo-Gothic structure built in 1907 failed, and the building, which was recently covered in scaffolding, has been in limbo ever since.
The archdiocese is in contract to sell the property and two others to Artimus Construction in a $6 million deal, according to papers filed in Manhattan Supreme Court.
The documents give no hint of Artimus’ plans. The archdiocese declined to comment.
Peg Breen, of the New York Landmarks Conservancy, praised Artimus Construction. “If this developer is true to its track record, it could be very good news,” she said.
But locals were less sure of the impending sale, which requires court approval.
“I presume they’re selling it to knock it down,” said Simeon Bankoff of the Historic Districts Council.
This was such a fine building - one of the most beautiful churches in New York. I use the past tense because much of the interior decoration has been stripped away. I am not sure about the alter, but the stained glass was removed and reinstalled in a new, larger church somewhere in Westchester.
That's all I am going to say - anything more would trigger a denunciation from Bill Donohue, and I am in no mood for that today.
This one's a stunner.
Really hoping it gets saved -- which all depends on the developer now, since the city is pathetic on landmarking churches (i.e., it almost never does it, even though these are some of the most worthy buildings given current church finances and the fact that these were once the receiving point of many neighborhoods' architectural energies and ambitions).
Much of (Central and West) Harlem has been fairly good about preserving its architecture. As is true in our unending era of Modernism, much of Harlem's new construction is junk. Here's hoping this church keeps with the former trend rather than the latter.