Elizabeth Street Tenement Denied Landmark Status, Despite Endorsement of Martin Scorsese and Debbie Harry

Posted on: November 18th, 2016 at 5:02 am by
This image has been archived or removed.

The drive to landmark one Little Italy tenement came to a screeching halt a few weeks ago, despite some high-profile endorsements including Martin Scorsese and Debbie Harry.

For the last two years, tenant Beth Joy Knutsen-Papaleo has worked toward a goal of preserving not just 239 Elizabeth Street, but the block between Prince and East Houston Streets. Her research and hustle netted public comments of support from both Debbie Harry and Martin Scorsese. One of the largest stakeholders in the area, the St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, also supported the grassroots landmarking measure.

Kuntsen-Papaleo sent her “Request for Evaluation” to the Landmarks Preservation Commission four months ago. “We, the 239 Elizabeth Street’s Tenants Association, believe the time is now to landmark our building’s incredible history,” she wrote at the time. “It is not only our building, but the block of Elizabeth Street between Prince and East Houston that must be preserved for the sake of what made our little street so incredibly important.”

There was some initial hope off the bat, bolstered by said celebrity backing. Plus, the endorsement of St. Patrick’s Old Cathedral, given its status in the neighborhood, was thought to be a boon for the cause.

This image has been archived or removed.

It was not enough, though. The proposal fell on deaf ears. A letter from the LPC relayed the news. It reads, in part:

I am writing to provide further clarification on your Request for Evaluation for 239 Elizabeth Street and a potential historic district between Prince and Houston. The agency had evaluated 239 Elizabeth Street and found that it does not rise to the level of architectural and cultural significance necessary for designation and does not merit further consideration as a potential individual New York City landmark.

Elizabeth Street and the adjacent area may warrant further study to determine whether they could merit designation as a historic district.

This decision to deny may have been related to the ongoing ownership situation here. You’ll recall that ICON Realty purchased 239 Elizabeth Street in August. From what we hear, the same old move-em-out tactics are at play. And landmark status could hinder the conversion plans.

Recent Stories

Grave Marker Fund for Homeless Man Beaten to Death on the Bowery Last Year

It’s been exactly one year since the city was rocked by the fatal bludgeoning of homeless men on the Bowery while they slept. Of the five beaten by 24-year-old attacker Randy Santos, four ultimately died – Chuen Kwok, Anthony Manson, Florencio Moran, and Nazario Vasquez-Villegas. In the days that followed the murders, elected officials and nonprofits held […]

Fridays Under $40: Scared with a Sandwich

In our Friday column, “Fridays Under $40,” Boogie writer Sara Graham again hits the streets to find cheap eats and affordable things to do during these weird times. In this edition, we’re staying inside for under $40. After I returned from a trip to Delaware to see my parents for the first time in almost […]

And then There’s this Apartment with a Tub in the Kitchen

The standard pre-war tenement layout included a bathtub in the kitchen. It made sense, as this was the central location of plumbing. The phenomenon began with the advent of plumbing in city tenements between 1901 and 1905. With bathhouses no longer necessary to wash up, the kitchen became central. The tub here made sense given […]

International Center of Photography to Reopen Next Week

The International Center of Photography is reopening in one week. Sidelined for more than six months (almost immediately after its debut at Essex Crossing), the 40,000 square-foot museum and school is making its galleries and gift shop accessible to the public. On tap are four exhibitions to “address this tumultuous time, marked by the effects of […]

Secondhand Bookstore Comes to Orchard Street

And today, in news out of left field… There is a secondhand bookstore coming to the Lower East Side. Down at 47 Orchard Street, the former home of Anna Sheffield’s eponymous jewelry boutique. The new store is as yet untitled, but will feature used books, vinyl records, and assorted antique. “I have a large collection […]