10 At-Risk Buildings

| 17 Feb 2015 | 01:04

A preservation group names the historic buildings in Tribeca most at risk of tear-down

Tribeca They are among the 10 most at-risk buildings downtown.

The Tribeca Trust, a preservation group, has released its list of the 10 Most Endangered Buildings in the neighborhood -- structures the group says are either targeted for tear-down, or in danger of demolition down the road. All are historically significant.

Below, the list and the Trust's arguments for why they should be saved.

1. 67 Vestry Street

This fortress-like building was erected in 1897 by the same architect who did the Flatiron Building, Frederick Dinkelberg. Frank Helmle, also a noted architect, designed the two-story addition in 1910. As reported recently in Our Town Downtown, more than 1,500 people have signed a petition asking the Landmarks Preservation Commission to save the building, and Community Board 1 has issued a resolution asking the same.

2. 31 Desbrosses, also known as 438-440 Washington Street

The architectural firm of Kurtzer and Rohl built this brick, stone, and terra-cotta warehouse in 1899 and Sonn Brothers Whiskies occupied the upper floors as storage. (Sonn's advertising can still be seen along the west side of the building.) Ponte Equities owns the building, and has yet to make repairs from Hurricane Sandy damage.

3 & 4. 360 Broadway/57 Franklin Ensemble

These buildings date from the 1840s and once housed the fifth-floor workshop of the historian Ezekiel Porter Belden, whose carved, wooden panorama of New York City created an architectural sensation at the time. According to one of his biographers, Walt Whitman visited Porter's workshop and was inspired by the sight to use his talents to become the poet of the "panorama" of New York.

5. The Merck-Associated Press-Burlington Building

This was built in 1857 as an office building, over the site of the former Columbia University. It housed the New York headquarters of the Associated Press from 1893-1910 and eventually also housed Merck Pharmaceuticals. The present owner-developer wants to tear it down and build a skyscraper. The ground floor currently houses a mosque. Previous Landmarks Commissions were willing to calendar it as an individual landmark, but not the current commission.

6. The John Duncan & Sons Store on Park Place

Next door to the Burlington Coat Factory-Merck Building is the stripped facade of the John Duncan and Sons Store, the Zabar's of its day.

7. The Carriage House, NW Corner Washington and Vestry

Related Properties is trying to accumulate all the rights on the block to build skyscrapers.

8. The Liquor Store

This tiny building has been around since Prohibition. The curved glass display windows are extremely rare in New York now. If this building were part of the historic district, they could build higher but preserve the windows and one-of-a-kind signage.

9. 288 West Street

Ponte Equities owned 288 West Street and the adjoining building housing Ponte's restaurant, then sold it to Related Properties, which is likely to develop it, ending the last of what was the Washington Market along the river.

10. 84 Walker Street

This is one of the oldest houses in lower Manhattan, built in 1834. It was built by Peter Jay, son of the founding father John Jay, and was eventually rented out to Steinway Piano Company in 1854. The artist Frank Stella used it as a studio in the 1960s. The building is owned by the Chinese Baptist Church, who also owns the neighboring lot. Permits for development have been filed in recent years, although no obvious action taken.