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Rendering of St. Mark's Place tower.

Councilmember Carlina Rivera comes out against St. Marks Place air rights transfer

Lower East Side Councilmember Carlina Rivera came out against a proposed air rights transfer from 4 St. Mark’s Place to an office tower right across the street.  

“This development would clearly be out of context with the landmarked 4 St. Mark’s place, as well as the surrounding streetscape and character,” said Councilmember Rivera in a joint statement with Assemblymember Deborah Glick and state Senator Brad Hoylman during a City Planning Commission hearing on Wednesday, Mar. 4.  

“It’s clear that the developers, in the wake of numerous concerns raised by neighborhood groups, Community Board 3, several members of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and elected officials, have not proposed or addressed any serious ‘appropriate conditions and safeguards’ that the 74-79 permit states should be considered in order to ‘minimize adverse effects on the character of the surrounding area,” Rivera added. 

“Given that there is a great likelihood that the City Planning Commission will approve the transfer, it will likely ultimately come down to the City Council, where the body will follow the lead of the local Councilmember, in this case Rivera,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of Village Preservation, in a statement. ” We are hopeful that her statement today will be followed by a no vote in the Council and a call to her colleagues to do the same.”

In June, the Landmarks Preservation Commission gave the O.K. for developers Real Estate Equities Corporation (REEC) to get a special permit which would allow them to buy 8, 386 feet worth of air rights from the landmarked Hamilton Holly House on 4 St. Mark’s place for $ 4 million allowing them to build their 10-story-tall office tower 20 percent larger than what is normally permitted in the neighborhood. In exchange for the air rights, REC would have to use 5 percent of the sale to maintain the landmarked building which was once the home of Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Elizabeth Schuyler. 

Residents and preservationists, particularly Village Preservation, have repeatedly pushed back against the deal. At least a dozen East Village residents and representatives from Village Preservation sat in on or testified against the transfer at today’s CPC meeting upset that tower would change the historical character of the neighborhood and that most of Hamilton Holly House restorations are complete. 

“The nearby merchants House Museum is a perfectly preserved slice of New York from 200 years ago. That is not what this house which is not open to the public should be or needs to be,” said Harry Bubbins from Village Preservation. Bubbins added that while the group continues to petition for landmark and zoning protections in the area preservationists do not want to accelerate the process by allowing for REEC to have the special permit. 

The City Planning Commission will hold a vote soon on the testimony given at Wednesday’s hearing.  REEC did not immediately respond to a request for comment. 

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