LPC Will Hear Cases for Bialystoker, Seward Park Library Landmarking

Posted on: December 10th, 2012 at 6:48 am by
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The Landmarks Preservation Commission is holding its second public hearing [PDF] of December tomorrow morning for a new crop of landmark considerations. Looking at the agenda, there are three significant Lower East Side properties worthy of preservation status. All are deserving, and have been in the news of late.

In August 2011, the Depression-era Bialystoker Nursing Home on East Broadway became a microcosm of all that’s wrong with the neighborhood. A facility that served the needs of the community shuttered in the interest of possible condo conversion. Stoking the flames at the time was news that Ira Meister, President of the Board of Directors, had his real estate company purchase the adjoining building from cash-strapped Bialystoker. Old-timers were relocated later that fall, and neighbors have since rallied to garner public support for landmark status.

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Just a few blocks to the west, the Seward Park branch of the New York Public Library at 192-194 East Broadway is also up for the honor. The origins of the institution date back to 1886 when the Aguilar Free Library Society opened a branch here. Two decades later, in 1909, the four-story red brick Renaissance Revival building was opened to the public. The facility boasted a circulation of 425,571, which was the highest of any other NYPL at the time. Given its position in the city ecosystem, this one seems like a shoe-in for the designation.

And then there’s the Jarmulowsky Bank Building at 54 Canal Street. Sender Jarmulowsky’s former bank is already a landmark, so architects of the new boutique hotel are seeking LPC approval for its facade modifications (“certificate of appropriateness”). As previously reported, the conversion calls for the removal of aged rooftop apparatus (elevator housing, water towers), replacement of rear fire escapes with balconies, and ground-floor infill. Community Board 3 approved the proposal in September.

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