Demolition Planned for Blockfront on Third Avenue South of Union Square
A developer has filed plans to demolish nearly an entire blockfront on the west side of Third Avenue between 10th and 11th Streets, including Nos. 50 through 64 at the north end of the block (only No. 48 at the south end of the blockfront will remain standing). Kinsmen Property Group acquired the sites and filed the plans, which include several buildings constructed in the late 1830s, as well as the former home of the historic New York Central Art Supply and the Brata Gallery (read more about all the buildings’ histories here). No plans have yet been filed indicating what will be built there.
The blockfront is located within our proposed South of Union Square Historic District, which has been named one of the seven most important and endangered historic sites in the state by the Preservation League of NYS, and determined eligible for the State and National Registers of Historic Places. But the Landmarks Preservation Commission has stubbornly refused to designate the proposed district (though we have made some progress), in spite of incredibly broad support for the proposal. And local City Councilmember Carlina Rivera, who represents the area, has refused to support designation of the proposed district. In fact, Councilmember Rivera broke her 2017 campaign pledge not to support a nearby city upzoning to allow the enormous 14th Street Tech Hub (now known as “Zero Irving”) unless the city also agreed to comprehensive zoning and/or landmark protections for the area South of Union Square, to protect it from the inevitable increased development pressure and demolitions this project would spawn. No such protections were ever delivered, but Rivera supported the upzoning, urging her City Council colleagues to do the same, ensuring its passage (more here).
The small piece of good news: In 2010, with then-City Councilmember Rosie Mendez, we got these and surrounding blocks rezoned to put height limits in place for new construction (none existed before), and to discourage the construction of dorms, which had rapidly proliferated throughout the area under the prior zoning. The new 2010 zoning increased the likelihood of new construction being residential, and added incentives for including affordable housing.
Unfortunately, while the rezoning was a BIG improvement over the prior zoning (which only produced dorm towers), it didn’t guarantee perfect outcomes. Hotels like the Moxy on East 11th Street could still be built, and developers didn’t always utilize the affordable housing inclusion incentives. Village Preservation had urged that any rezoning for the 14th Street Tech Hub be contingent upon rezoning this area to further encourage residential rather than commercial development, and to increase the incentives for affordable housing inclusion or to make them requirements. Councilmember Rivera promised to do so when running for the City Council in 2017, and then broke her pledge by voting for the Tech Hub upzoning without these measures.
We will continue to closely monitor plans for the sites, and share any information on what may be projected for construction there. We continue to actively campaign for landmark designation for our proposed South of Union Square Historic District, to preserve the rich history of this area.