East Village gas explosion site could get luxury condo building

A historic preservation group questions if the building fits the neighborhood.

The proposed design for a 7-story luxury condo building at the site of the fatal 2015 East Village gas explosion has some historic preservationists questioning if it will fit well in the neighborhood.

“It looks a little bit more like a new building on Bond Street or in SoHo than something that would necessarily make sense in an East Village historical district,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation.

Renderings submitted in an application to the Landmarks Preservation Commission show a gray brick building with floor-to-ceiling windows, as well as large corner windows on every floor. The building, on Second Avenue and East Seventh Street, would have 21 units and retail space at the ground level, according to Nexus Building Development Group.

“The proposed design doesn’t do anything to mark or reflect that there was this terrible disruption on this site before,” Berman added.

The explosion, sparked by an illegal natural gas hookup on March 26, 2015, killed two people, injured 13 others and destroyed three buildings. Five people, including the building owner, were charged with manslaughter in connection to the explosion.

The village society isn’t expecting the new building to be a monument to the victims, Berman explained, but members are wondering if there is a way to make “a nod or gesture to the tragic event.

“A classic example of this is the Weathermen House,” Berman said.

The house, at 18 W. 11th St. in Greenwich Village, was also the site of an explosion, caused by an accidental detonation of a bomb assembled by members of the radical group Weather Underground in 1970. The blast killed three people.

When a new building was finally rebuilt it included an angled front that jets out farther than the other row houses on the block. The design, which didn’t get approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission without a fight, “makes note of the tragic event while also moving forward,” Berman said.

Community Board 3’s landmarks committee will hear the formal presentation for the design at a meeting Monday, June 18, at 6: 30 p.m. at the Grace Church School (46 Cooper Sq.). The public is welcome to attend the meeting to share opinions on the proposal.

The committee will make recommendations on the plans and the design will have to be approved by the preservation commission before moving forward.

Nexus and the building’s designers, Morris Adjmi Architects, did not immediately return requests for comment.

Nicole Brown