A short time ago, the Landmarks Subcommittee of the City Council voted 4-1 to disapprove the landmarking of 135 Bowery, an 1817 federal style row house.
Community activists won a rare victory this past summer, when the Landmarks Preservation Commission decided the endangered building was worthy of protection. But today District 1 City Councilmember Margaret Chin explained why she had decided to withdraw her earlier support for preserving 135 Bowery. Most members of the panel deferred to her judgment, with the exception of Rosie Mendez, who represents neighboring District 2 (covering the area above Houston Street).
First American International Bank, the property owner, wants to demolish the historic row house and put up a 7-story commercial building. Chin said she was swayed by their offer to create affordable commercial space for small businesses in Chinatown.
There was a lot of passionate testimony from neighborhood activists today. They argued that saving 135 Bowery is critical to retaining the character and authenticity of the Lower East Side. The full City Council must vote on the committee’s recomendation later in the month.
We’ll have a more detailed report, summarizing all of the testimony, sometime soon.