Six Years Later, City Planning to Consider 8-Story Hotel Beside Historic Merchant’s House

Posted on: April 10th, 2018 at 5:00 am by

Those plans for an eight-story (100 feet) hotel beside the historic Merchant’s House Museum on East Fourth Street are back in play six years later. Then, as now, local preservationists are concerned about the impact this major construction will invariably have on the structural integrity of the building.

As previously reported, the development will rise on the site of a one-story brick warehouse at 27 East Fourth Street that currently acts as HQ for area food cart vendors. (The garage was built in 1945-46 by Herman Kron.) Plans were first floated way back in 2012, and approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission two years later. Since then, nothing but crickets. Until this month. Armed with said approval, the proposal now goes before the City Planning Commission for green light.

The Merchant’s House is concerned about its future if the hotel is allowed to proceed. This classic building dates back to 1832, and is considered New York City’s only 19th century family home that is preserved intact. It’s one of the few landmarks to have protective status over both its interior and exterior. That could change, however, with the potential of construction abutting its property. According to advocates at the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, engineering and architectural experts have warned that the fragile site could potentially suffer irreversible damage if the project moves forward.

Museum Executive Director Margaret Halsey Gardiner issued a call-to-arms:

The proposed hotel, at 100 feet tall, is in violation of the City’s Zoning Resolution. The developer’s application for a zoning text amendment – “spot zoning” – in effect would rewrite the law for a series of waivers that benefit the developer alone.

At eight stories, the proposed hotel towers over the 4 ½ story Merchant’s House (completely blocking sunlight to the rear garden) and is grossly incompatible with the surrounding buildings in the Noho Historic District.

If the Planning Commission approves the application, the developer would be able to proceed – and the museum’s fragile, 186-year-old building would suffer catastrophic structural damage and likely collapse during construction.

Councilwoman Margaret Chin, Council Speaker Corey Johnson, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, among others, are in opposition. Community Board 2 will hold a public hearing on the matter tomorrow night.

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