Merchant’s House Museum files petition in court against construction of adjacent eight-story hotel

July 27, 2018

The museum via Google street view

The Merchant’s House Museum and its supporters filed a petition on Monday in New York Supreme Court against the construction of an eight-story hotel planned next door. The 186-year-old East Village home at 29 East Fourth Street belonged to hardware merchant Seabury Tredwell, who bought the 10,000-square-foot residence for $18,000 in 1832. The museum, which has been remarkably preserved since then, became the first property in Manhattan to be designated a New York City landmark in 1965. But landmark status does not guarantee protection from any adjacent construction projects. The museum is now taking legal action against the hotel project because, as its executive director, Margaret “Pi” Halsey Gardiner, told the WSJ: “It’s not going to be able to survive construction next door, I guarantee you.”

The lawsuit claims the Department of City Planning violated state and city environmental quality laws by asserting the hotel’s construction would not impact the museum. And the legal filing says the developer, Kalodop II Park Corp., submitted false information to City Planning about the effects of construction in its environmental review.

The project has been challenged since 2014 when the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the hotel project proposed by Kalodop. The company owns the parking garage next to the museum at 27 East Fourth Street. Kalodop is applying for an amendment to the city zoning code to get a special permit for constructing the hotel in a historic district.

In May, all 41 members of Community Board 2 voted against the developer’s application to construct the hotel. In June, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer came out against the proposal and recommended the developer move the project to 403 Lafayette Street instead.

The City Planning Commission, which held a hearing earlier this month to discuss the zoning change, will vote on August 25. The project would then come before the City Council in late September and later, Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“If the Merchant’s House can’t be protected, no landmark is safe,” Michael Hiller, the attorney representing the museum said in a petition on its website. “No historic district is safe. No natural resource is safe. No community or neighborhood is safe.”

[Via WSJ]


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