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Historic Broadway Gems Saved from Demolition

On October 17, 2017 the Landmarks Preservation Commissions (LPC) held a hearing to consider landmarking 827-831 Broadway, the threatened 1866 lofts once home to Willem de Kooning. Just two weeks later, the LPC voted to landmark them, culminating a year and a half campaign by GVSHP and our allies to save them from the wrecking ball and replacement with a 300-foot tall glass office tower.

827 and 831 Broadway, between 12th and 13th Streets

These 1866 lofts were once home to Willem de Kooning and a vast array of influential art world figures, and were connected to critical figures in early American industry and commerce. When GVSHP discovered plans to demolish these buildings in early 2016, we began a campaign to save them, unearthing historic documentation of their significance which became the basis for their designation, lining up support for preservation among government officials and art world figures, placing an op-ed in the New York Times with Eric Rayman calling for the buildings to be saved, and generating thousands of letters to Mayor de Blasio and the LPC in support of designation. The LPC initially rejected GVSHP’s plea for landmark designation, but later relented and calendared the buildings for designation, over opposition from the developer/owner. Read the full history of the buildings, and GVSHP’s landmarking proposal, here


deK Archive001.jpg
Portraits of Dutch-born American artist Willem de Kooning (1904-1997) in his loft studio at 831 Broadway, New York, by Fred W. McDarrah. © Estate of Fred W. McDarrah. Our special thanks to the Estate of Fred W. McDarrah for their support of GVSHP.

At the hearing on landmarking the buildings on October 17, 2017, the owners threatened to sue if the buildings were landmarked, claiming that designation would constitute a “hardship” for them given the amount they paid for the buildings.  But the owners previously publicly stated that the buildings were worth the purchase price for the value of the retail alone, belying this claim.

In addition to the thousands of people who wrote letters and testified at hearings in support of landmarking these buildings, elected officials, other preservation groups, and art world figures came out in support of preserving these buildings, including then-Councilmember Rosie Mendez, who personally testified in favor at the LPC hearing. Your support always makes a difference!

But the battle didn’t end there

The developer then proposed a totally out of context crinkly glass box to sit on top.

After two rejections by the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), a proposal to build additions kept returning to the Commission.  The good news: the size of the proposed addition to 827-831 Broadway was substantially reduced, minimizing its visibility (the basis upon which the LPC must judge its ‘appropriateness’).  The bad news: the developer is now moving forward with a jarringly visible 7-story addition to the connected property at 47 E. 12th Street, which GVSHP had proposed for inclusion in the landmark designation (the three properties are of the same design and were all built in conjunction) but which the LPC refused to include (full application here).

GVSHP opposed the revised application based upon the visibility of the proposed 7-story addition to the 12th Street building, and reminded the LPC that the 12th Street building should have been landmarked as well – read our letter here.

The St. Denis on 11th Street and Broadway slated for demolition, and what is proposed.

Though we had an incredibly important victory at 827-831 Broadway,  we still need to get the Mayor and city to support zoning and landmark protections for the surrounding area, which faces a flood of overdevelopment like what was planned at 827-831 Broadway.  This hyper-development pressure is only getting worse with the recent City Council approval of the Mayor’s Tech Hub on 14th Street.

The fight is not over, you can click HERE to send an email to the LPC and tell them to give historic district protections to the area south of Union Square.

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    2 responses to “Historic Broadway Gems Saved from Demolition

    1. I live and own property in this historic area. It would be a great loss to the city’ Character and to the quality of life if these construction permits are approved. The area should be landmarks.

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