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Preservation Group Says Landmarks Commission Rejects 75 Essex Application (Updated)

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75 Essex St.
75 Essex St.

There was a bit of news last night during our panel discussion on historic preservation at the Manny Cantor Center.  In the last several days, reported Joyce Mendelsohn of the preservation group Friends of the Lower East Side, hopes for protecting former Good Samaritan/Eastern District Dispensary Building were dashed.

The group submitted a “request for evaluation” to the Landmarks Preservation Commission in January. Last week, Community Board 3 voted 34-1 in support of the landmarking proposal. But Mendelsohn said the commission has now sent notice that it has rejected the request.

Shalom Eisner, the longtime owner of the building, located at 75 Essex St., initially opposed landmark designation but later said he could support designation if the commission allowed him to build on top of the original structure, utilizing excess air rights.  Eisner has been trying to sell the building for several years, most recently at a price of $21 million.  The property is adjacent to one of the parcels of Essex Crossing, the large residential and commercial project set to break ground next year.  The developers have balked at Eisner’s price for the building.

UPDATED Tuesday morning: The letter from the Landmarks Commission was dated March 27, two days after the community board vote. “After a careful assessment of the property’s architectural and historical qualities,” Director of Research Mary Beth Betts wrote, “the (senior staff) committee found that the property lacks the significance necessary to be considered eligible for designation as an individual landmark.” She went on to explain that, in the committee’s view, the building’s style is “comparable to vernacular office and loft buildings common to the period.”  Betts also noted that changes to the building diminished its architectural significance.


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