NEWS AND ISSUES
February 1, 2011
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
One Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007
Dear Chair Tierney,
I write to express my disappointment that the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) has declined to calendar 35 Cooper Square for consideration as an individual New York City landmark. Given the building's architectural, cultural, and historical significance, as well as its imminent danger of demolition, I urge you to reconsider this decision and expeditiously calendar a public hearing.
As a Federal-style rowhouse built in the early 19th century, 35 Cooper Square's architecture recalls the post-Revolutionary period of American history with its distinct gambrel roof, two-and-a-half-story height, twin peaked dormers, and large-end chimneys. It is true that the free-standing residence was altered in the late 1800s to accommodate a storefront in what was then a burgeoning commercial district and its facade was modified to reflect the fashion of the time. I would argue that these changes made more than a century ago add to 35 Cooper Square's historic character and should not disqualify it from potential landmark designation. Indeed, as other preservation advocates and elected officials have noted, LPC has designated as individual landmarks several other rowhouses from the Federal era despite alterations.
Furthermore, for more than 200 years, 35 Cooper Square has been a witness to and participant in our City's culture and history. According to neighborhood preservationists, it has housed notable figures including Beat Generation poet Diane DiPrima, actor Joel Grey, author Claude Brown, and painter J. Forest Vey. Infamously, in the 1980s, 35 Cooper Square was home to Hisae?fs restaurant, which played a central role in the New York City Parking Violations Bureau bribery scheme as well as the sting operation that exposed this major municipal scandal.
As you may know, in early November 2010, Massey Knakal Special Asset Strategy Group announced it had sold 35-39 Cooper Square for $8.5 million, or $293 per buildable square foot, to Cooper and 6th Property LLC. It is all but certain that 35 Cooper Square will be demolished to make way for a new development unless LPC intervenes.
There is too little left of New York's beloved, historic East Village. To risk losing 35 Cooper Square with its architectural significance and historical and cultural heritage to another out-of-context and out-of-scale development is tragic. While I appreciate the demands placed on LPC and the limits of its resources, I appeal to you to reconsider your objections and to swiftly calendar 35 Cooper Square for a public hearing.
Thomas K. Duane
New York State Senate
29th Senate District