18 July 2008

Waiting to Fall Down

I've kvetched in the past that there is a more insidious way New York landlords and developers are getting rid of old building than simply knocking them down. It's called neglect. They just leave a landmarked or classic structure unattended and unloved and wait for age and gravity to do the work a wrecking ball otherwise might.

AMNY does a public service by pointing this out today and posts it's top ten list of buildings dying from neglect. Here they are.

400-06 W. 57th St., Manhattan
A judge ruled in May that the owners of one of Manhattan's oldest apartment complexes must bring the 127-year-old landmark into good repair.

53-83 Water St., Brooklyn
Workers are stabilizing the vacant Civil War-era warehouses' arched windows and repairing a large crack on the building's northwest corner. There are currently no plans for the state-owned buildings, which overlook the waterfront Empire- Fulton Ferry Park.

81-85 East 125th St., Manhattan
Promises in 1999 to restore the Harlem hulk, built in the 1880s, and convert it to a cooking school have not been delivered. The Landmarks Preservation Commission has referred the case to the city's law department.

Fearing the apartment complex, in the Brooklyn Heights historic district, could collapse, the city in May evacuated tenants and removed the top two floors from the five-story building. The owner has submitted a plan to the Landmarks Preservation Commission to stabilize the 1850s building.

135-29 Northern Blvd., Queens
Only the lobby of the former movie palace in Flushing is a designated landmark. Its current owner planned to convert the site into a 16-story residential and commercial tower, with plans to restore the foyer, but has since put the 80-year-old building up for sale.

7484 Amboy Road, Staten Island
A developer's 2005 plans to demolish the crumbling building and replace it with townhouses were foiled when the city later designated the 1869 structure a landmark. The developer filed a lawsuit against the city in March.

502-506 Canal St., Manhattan
The red brick buildings have stood since 1826 and feature one of Manhattan's oldest storefronts. Today, they are vacant and covered in graffiti. Wooden windowsills are eroding, and plywood covers the window openings.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy describes the 1811 structure as "the most endangered Federal-era building in lower Manhattan." In May, Syms department store bought the site, but says it is only trying to protect its adjacent flagship store from "encroachment" and has no plans to develop 67 Greenwich St.

The 1846 building is rumored to be a former mob hangout. Preservationists fear the vacant Greenwich Village site is falling into dangerous levels of neglect and are pushing the city to step in.

A former 1870s saloon and meeting hall, the vacant three-story Melrose building has no windows, exposing it to rain and snow.

Of course, there are many more. The Landmarks Commission can no longer just designate landmarks. It has to enforce their upkeep and preservation. City Hall should give this office its own police force. Love to see some derelict landlords get it with a billy club.


Ken Mac said...

Patti Smith owns and lives in the building next to 43 MacDougal. She has used her own money to do repairs on both her building and the adjacent wall of 43 MacDougal. The building's owners ignore tickets, though the place is serious rat central. And it sits right across from a school for handicapped kids!

Anonymous said...

Hi can you please not post people's addresses on the internet. It's highly inappropriate, and while we appreciate your support, it actually causes the wrong people to have information that is better kept private. If it is possible, please remove the address details from this post.
Thank you.
Jesse Smith

Brooks of Sheffield said...

What are you talking about? First of all, this is a reprint of an article in AMNY, which first published the addresses. Second, these are mainly public buildings, the addresses of which are public knowledge. Third, if the owners have not kept up their buildings, are causing a danger to the surrounding neighborhood, are suggesting a change to their building that requires Landmarks Commission approval, or are endangering historic building that are of general value to the city—these are all highly public matters. They are NOT private matters. There is nothing wrong with publishing the addresses. And who, pray tell, are the "wrong people"?