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Nearly 200-Year-Old Row House at 355 Grand St. Slated For Demolition

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355 grand
355 Grand St.

A Federal-style row house dating to the 1820s at 355 Grand St. is apparently not long for this world. According to Department of Buildings records, the new owner of the property, home to Flowers Cafe and Vic’s Pizza, plans to replace the historic structure with a new six-story building.

Jennie Lai of Interboro Realty Management purchased 355 Grand St. last December for $4 million. As we reported back in 2011, Joseph Pizzo (a New Jersey-based landlord), listed the property for $4.5 million. He marketed it as a development site, noting that zoning allowed for about 7,000 sq. ft. The current 3200 sq. ft. building includes the two ground floor retail spaces plus two apartments.

The application with the Buildings Department calls for around 2,000 sq. ft. of commercial space and 4500 sq. ft. of residential space. The perimeter wall height would be 85 feet. The architect of record is Brooklyn-based Shiming Tam. The application is listed as “pending.”

Bill Frazer, owner of Flowers Cafe, said it appears he could keep the 10-year-old sandwich shop open until the end of the year. Frazer hasn’t decided how long he’ll stay in the current spot but is looking for a new space elsewhere on the Lower East Side.

355 Grand St. (also known as 51 Essex St.) is a “contributing building” in the National Register’s Lower East Side historic district. That designation, however, does not protect the property from demolition. The building has not been designated by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission.

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  1. There is no preservation by the local elected officials on the LES and no advocacy by the Business Improvement District. Just look along Grand Street from the hosiery store to the fabrics stores. They can tear down these buildings, but the same terrible infrustructure when it comes to the roads and subways. Grand street has been under construction for years. Put more people in buildings yet not upgrade the sewer systems or other services like schools, local parks.

  2. I live in the bland Grand Street coops, and that building at 335 Grand St. is the first to let me know I am back on the real, character-rich LES. In addition, I once lived in a per-Civil War building – and still remember that stunning experience, especially the oak balustraded staircase to the fourth floor, where I lived. It would be nice to find a way to upgrade old buildings to make them economically viable in the present, while retaining what is unique about them.

  3. It saddens me that new development will destroy the history of our community. This will not be the first time and I am more than positive not the last. Over the course of the past 10 to 15 years a few historical building in my mind had be destroyed. In the end money talks and everyone must keep walking. I remember the days when I was able to walk around all of the Lower East Side and see the familiar buildings and parks that I hung out at. To know that my parents grew up or hung out there with family and friends. These building hold more the memories of our childhood, but that of the history of New York in the early years.

  4. Is nothing sacred in this neighborhood anymore? I don’t understand how none of the landmark-esque structures around here are not actually landmarked, they just go to the highest bidder. What we’re left with now is cookie cutter modern crap that will probably not last nearly as long as some of these old buildings have. The lack of preservation here makes me sick. Nearly everything from my childhood has been demolished. I guess even if you still live on the same block you really can’t ever go home again.

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