Landmarks Commission Approves East 10th Street Historic District, Apparently Too Late For One Endangered Building

This afternoon the Landmarks Preservation Commission fast-tracked the approval of the East 10th Street Historic District (the block between Avenue a and Avenue B on the northern boundary of Tompkins Square Park).   Just before a unanimous vote, LPC Chair Robert Tierney said the “expedited” decision was very unusual but that the Commission felt compelled to move quickly due to the actions of developer Ben Shaoul.

But it appears the commission did not act swiftly enough. As EV Grieve first reported Shaoul, who owns 315 East 10th Street, filed a Buildings Department permit to add a fifth floor to the historic structure. That permit was approved by the DOB today. Once a building permit is issued, there’s not much that can be done to halt building alterations.

There was thunderous applause after today’s vote. Andrew Berman of the Greenwich Village Society of Historic Preservation told us outside the hearing room that the designation is a big achievement. But at the same time, Berman said, the lack of coordination between the two city agencies is unfortunate.

Here’s the written statement Berman sent out a short time ago:

“While we are glad the East 10th Street Historic District was designated today, we are deeply disappointed that the City dropped the ball and missed, by just a few hours, the opportunity to prevent permits being issued for 315 East 10th Street… It’s truly a shame that these City agencies could not coordinate their efforts to prevent this from happening.  We are losing more and more of the East Village every day; I hope this spurs the Landmarks Preservation Commission forward to redouble their efforts to protect this vulnerable and endangered neighborhood.”

UPDATE 5:15 p.m. A few moments ago, LPC Chair Tierney released the following statement:

The Department of Buildings is required to adhere to its own regulatory timeframes, and a DOB permit was issued prior to the Landmarks Commission’s vote today. Nonetheless, I believe the work will not compromise the integrity of the district.

Separately, Elizabeth de Bourbon, the LPC’s director of communications, told us:

The Commission expedited the timing of the hearing and vote after receiving notification that the owner of one of the buildings had applied for a permit for a rooftop addition from the Department of Buildings. We moved as quickly as we could, and today was the earliest possible day we could hold the hearing and vote based on the amount of research needed to complete the report and justify the designation. Also, the lawyer for the owner contacted us to say his client plans to meet with us to discuss suggestions for the design of the one-story addition and is willing to work with LPC staff as they move ahead on their grandfathered permit.

UPDATE 10:07 p.m. State Senator Daniel Squadron is also out with a statement tonight:

The unanimous LPC vote in favor of the East 10th Street Historic District is an important victory for those of us who want to see the Lower East Side and East Village’s vibrant history and character last for generations to come. But the timing of DOB’s permit to allow the expansion of 315 East 10th Street is disturbing and raises serious questions about coordination between city agencies. This only underscores how critical it is that we continue our work to protect this historic neighborhood.