City Approves 12-Story Provident Loan Bank Development on East Houston

Posted on: January 16th, 2018 at 5:00 am by

Any fading hope for a landmarked Provident Loan Society building on East Houston was dashed two weeks ago when the city approved plans for its redevelopment.

Despite grassroots support to protect the century-old structure – and backing from Community Board 3 in December 2015 – no such designation ever transpired. Instead, its longtime owners, Elsa and Dunnie Lai, will continue on the path of installing a twelve-story protrusion from the bank building. The development has been a years-long pursuit.

The Department of Buildings quietly okayed their proposal shortly after the new year (January 2). The layout now calls for 38 apartments, plus several recreational terraces and fitness rooms for tenants, all spread across 35,438 square-feet of floor area. There is also bicycle storage with twelve spaces and commercial retail, presumably on the ground floor (6,800 square-feet). Floors eight through twelve cantilever over the Mercury Lounge, made possible thanks to the acquisition of 9,238 square-feet of air rights from that property, as first reported here in January 2015.

Photo: Rogers Partners

The architect of record on the project is still Rogers Partners, which plans to restore the historic Provident Loan Bank facade, but will gut the ground-level space for the new commercial tenant. Design of the twelve-story residential growth, like all new development these days, allegedly takes cues from the artists who helped shape the area (and who probably couldn’t afford to live here now). It’s inspired by the work of artist Jasper Johns, who once lived and worked at 225 East Houston. Specifically channeling Johns’ number series by using “pieces that allow the abstract and concrete qualities of the numbers to build upon one another and create an ultimate sense of structure.”

However, it just looks like a late-stage game of Jenga…

The Provident Loan Society financial institution erected the Classical Revival-style building in 1912. It’s apparently the most intact of the dozen remaining former bank branches dotting the city. Not for long…

Photo: Rogers Partners

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