20 April 2013

Remnants of Historic Tin Pan Alley Endangered Yet Again

The City never learns. Nobody learns.

Five years ago, I found out that a group of buildings that once housed several of the historic music publishing buildings that made up Tin Pan Alley, the cultural entity that did nothing less than create the Great American Songbook, were on the block, in danger of being torn down and replaced by apartment towers. The media leaped on the story, bemoaning the street's probable fate. Between that, and the economic crash of late 2008, the buildings were saved. That is, they weren't demolished. But neither were they preserved through landmarking, as they should have been. As they should have been long ago.

Well, the same strip of five-story buildings—47 through 55 W. 28th Street—are again up for sale. And again the agent is the ravenous Massey Knakal, which has done more than any other real estate agency in the city to decimate the city's architectural and cultural heritage. "This Chelsea/Madison Square Park nighborhood has experienced a unique renaissance of hotel conversions, recent residential developments,  office building restorations, trendy eatery's [sic] and excellent shopping," the listing breathlessly relates. "All retail units could be delivered vacant."

Additionally, No. 45 is also up for sale, but by a different realtor.

Back in 2008, there was an effort to get the whole block of W. 28th Street between Broadway Fifth landmarked. The Landmarks Commission expressed interest, but has done nothing in the ensuing five years. Since then, the tenants of the buildings won a legal campaign and no longer face eviction, and, as part of the settlement, the buildings have had restorative fa├žade work done.

You can learn more about what's in danger of being lost herehere and here


Polly Cat said...

Buildings hold so much history, I think it's tragic when they are demolished. I'm from Birmingham UK and it has been practically ruined by the authorities who seem to tear down anything, regardless of it's past, and replace them with ugly, boring monstrosities!

David Freeland said...

Disturbing news. Thanks for uncovering this, Brooks. FYI, I will be hosting a free walking tour of Tin Pan Alley and the Tenderloin on Sunday, May 5 at 12 noon, as part of Jane's Walk. We are going to meet in front of Gilsey House, 29th and Broadway.

Anonymous said...

The building # 45 west 28th street
in addition to being well known
as the Music Publishers Jerome
Remick building is also the home
of a more known venue The Wizard of
Oz was first published there in
1904 the sheet music and info are
available at the Library of Congress.

What is also missing of course in these news stories are the loss of
the wholesale cut flower shops that
are also housed in many of these buildings as well as the tenants that live there.

Anonymous said...

As of 4/23/2013 none of these buildings have been sold so there
is plenty of time to help save them.
Simeon Bankoff the Executive Director
of the Historic Districts Council has
written to have these buildings landmarked to the powers that be.
The tenants many of whom do not wish to be bought out have protections in
place t legally stay.

If someone as Michael Feinstein or
Setven Sondheim or other singers
and writers from Broadway would take on the cause to save 45-55 west 28th Street buildings that
would be swell, This cause needs
"big names" behind it.

Anonymous said...

The rumor is many of the tenants
in # 55 # 53 # 51 were just recently
offered one million dollars
to leave but they want more
Not a good sign for preservation there & quite sad.Several tenants
have summer homes as well so this
for them is no big loss.

Barry Alfonso said...

As a songwriter, I think it's tragic that this block is not given national landmark status. America's musical history is so rich and fascinating; it would be a shame if Tin Pan Alley was tossed into the dustbin.

Anonymous said...

The owner is a shrew and wants the IMDs evicted