Peace Pentagon Activist Offices Relocate to Chinatown Following $20.75M Sale

Posted on: May 9th, 2016 at 9:23 am by
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The storied Peace Pentagon of 339 Lafayette Street is finally liquidated. The spirit of the resistance is leaving the neighborhood, with luxury to take its place (naturally).

As previously reported, the A.J. Muste Institute sold the borderline-unstable building to real estate baron Aby Rosen for $20.75 million in October. It owned the icon since 1974. The cobbling of boutique retailers on the ground level – whose rents helped sustain the Institute and its anti-war compatriots – all departed shortly thereafter. For the War Resisters League, Global Revolution TV, Socialist Party USA, Paper Tiger Television, and other progressive groups, the last day in the office was Thursday evening. Ironically a day commemorating a war down south (Cinco de Mayo, when the underdog Mexican army beat the French at the Battle of Puebla). Not forever, though.

The Institute was able to secure a $35,000 per month lease at 168 Canal Street. Apparently all of the remaining tenants will be making the journey to Chinatown. Just across the Bowery. It’s a five-year lease, and the A.J. Muste Institute is still looking to buy new headquarters.

The Canal Street space will probably be ready for business by late June.

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Inside the Peace Pentagon before the move, Photo: New York Times

Of the move, the New York Times reported last month:

A weakened support column in the Muste building was discovered about a decade ago and presented a nagging problem, however. Repairs were estimated at more than $1 million, exceeding what the owner could easily manage. Many in the institute were reluctant to move, cherishing the building’s history and worrying that selling it would be selling out. But after years of debate, the board unanimously agreed to sell.

The building’s buyer [Aby Rosen] agreed that the institute and its tenants could remain there at no cost through May. The institute’s board considered buying a building in East Harlem until discovering that a covenant created by a previous owner forbade advocacy of abortion rights or euthanasia from taking place there. The board was also interested in a space above the Strand bookstore because of its proximity to Union Square, the site of many political rallies, but it was too expensive, Ms. Boghosian said. Buildings with security measures that required visitors to show identification were ruled out because that could rankle activists.

So, Chinatown it is.

It’s time for the wrecking ball.

While there are no permits on file with the Department of Buildings just yet (for demolition or new building), we were told that Rosen plans to demolish the destabilized structure to build more condos. And, for the record, the developer is already converted a former women’s shelter just across the street to create luxury retail.

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