Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Disappearing Building Update

The state of the building on Fourth Street, just behind 402 Warren Street, has not changed since Sunday. The demolition is so far limited to the top floor--the eyebrow windows, the frieze band, and the roof.

Gossips learned this morning, however, that yesterday, after the top floor was already gone, Peter Wurster, code enforcement officer, issued a demolition permit for the second floor, bypassing the Historic Preservation Commission owing to "the 'emergency' nature and public safety concerns."

Yesterday, too, Tom Swope, who chaired the Historical Preservation Commission in 2006, when the Hudson River Hotel project was presented to the HPC, and in 2007, when 406 Warren Street was demolished without a certificate of appropriateness, unearthed a narrative which he believed accompanied a certificate of appropriateness that was granted to the Hudson River Hotel project. Significantly, in this seven-year-old document, there is no specific language about demolishing the building that is now being demolished. 
The third part of the project is the row of three elegant brick townhouses in pure Greek Revival style along North Fourth Street. The three townhouses will be rebuilt, keeping the original facades and their details, doorways, cornice and window sizes and openings, but again the roof will be raised to create spaces that meet current habitability codes, but the roof angle and style will be maintained from the street so as to appear the same. Also maintained will be the frieze band and eyebrow windows that give the row of houses its distinctive Greek Revival look. The big change to these houses will be that number 8 North Fourth, the townhouse immediately abutting 402-404 Warren, will have its first floor removed, to create an entrance to the hotel. This entrance will be a drive through and under the second and third floors of the townhouse, so that cars will drive in, drop of guests, and exit at Prison Alley.

There is some question if a certificate of appropriateness was ever actually granted to this project, and the current HPC chair Rick Rector is now searching the files for some record of it. Even if one had been granted, though, it didn't, based on the narrative, authorize the demolition that is going on now, and it wouldn't still be in effect. A certificate of appropriateness is only valid for one year.


  1. Between this mess and the 900 Columbia debacle, the whole subject is going to blow up, and it needs to. Where is the enforcement here? Where is the oversight? Where is the public involvement?

  2. Wow. And people still wonder how the former Gen'l Worth Hotel, Front St. etc. were demolished.
    Some things never change.

  3. All Mr Cohen understands is demolition.
    He hasn't a clue what he's doing and has no funds to boot.
    Great example of "no vision."