Well, people do care about the fate of Tin Pan Alley. At least superficially, anyway. My post yesterday, about how five buildings on W. 28th Street that once spawned some of the greatest songwriters and music in American history are now on the brink of being sold and demolished, has been picked up by the New York Post (with a vital assist from Curbed). Here's the article:
There's a blue note for Tin Pan Alley, the birthplace of American song.
Much to the dismay of tenants and preservationists, five of the buildings on West 28th Street between Broadway and Sixth Avenue - a block that for 60 years was the heart of the songwriting industry - have gone up for sale.
The buildings, at 47, 49, 51, 53 and 55 West 28th Street, are being sold as a group for - hold on to your hat in these cacophonous economic times - a mere $44 million.
A listing on Loopnet, a real-estate Web site, recommends that the buildings be demolished, "yielding over 111,000 square feet of prime Chelsea property."
The listing includes an architectural rendering of - what else? - a high-rise.
The buildings were listed last month, but most people only found out about it yesterday, when items appeared on the Lost City and Curbed blogs.
"It's a very, very disturbing prospect," said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, a housing preservation group. "These buildings are incredibly significant to the development of New York City. They helped launch the careers of songwriters and musicians who are still popular today.
"The notion of Tin Pan Alley entered into our idea of New York and our idea of America. The buildings deserve to be protected."
Leland Bobbe, 59, a photographer who has lived at 51 W. 28th St. since 1975, echoed Bankoff's words.
"This makes me sick," he said. "This whole neighborhood has lost its uniqueness. It's just another symbol of what New York was and what it will no longer be."
From the 1890s to the 1950s, Tin Pan Alley was the place where music publishers and songwriters - including Irving Berlin, George Gershwin, Hoagy Carmichael and Johnny Mercer - were concentrated.
The sale is being handled by Lois Thompson, of Coldwell Banker, who said she couldn't provide specifics because she was about to begin observing Yom Kippur.
"Catch me on Friday," she said.
Public records say the buildings are owned by Jo-Fra Properties, of Bayside, Queens.
The buildings are well-kept four-story brownstones that have stores on the first floor and apartments above. Tenants pay about $1,000 a month for 1,000 square feet. Residents at 51, 53 and 55 W. 28th St. said they hired a lawyer and had the zoning of the buildings changed from commercial to residential. Bobbe said this means the tenants can't be evicted and that the buyer will have to negotiate with them to get them to leave. They plan to ask for $1 million per apartment.
Whaddaya say, guys? Is it time to rouse the rabble and put flame under the Landmarks Commission's butt?