A Call to Arms!
The Merchant’s House is Fighting for Its Survival
See recent press and updates in the column to right.
In 2014, the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved a plan for construction of an eight-story hotel next door to the Merchant’s House Museum, at 27 East 4th Street. The 1832 Merchant’s House is a city, state, and federal landmark. In New York City, it is one of only 117 buildings (and one of only six residences) that is both an exterior and an interior landmark. Remarkably, landmark status does not guarantee protection from adjacent construction.
The City Planning Commission has now received the developer’s application for zoning changes and the special permits they need to begin construction. It is a seven-month process, starting at the Community Board, then to the Manhattan Borough President, then City Planning , and ending at the City Council.
Why Say NO!
- The proposed hotel, at 100 feet tall, is in violation of the City’s Zoning Resolution. The developer’s application for a zoning text amendment – “spot zoning” – in effect would rewrite the law for a series of waivers that benefit the developer alone.
- At eight stories, the proposed hotel towers over the 4 ½ story Merchant’s House (completely blocking sunlight to the rear garden) and is grossly incompatible with the surrounding buildings in the Noho Historic District.
- If the Planning Commission approves the application, the developer would be able to proceed – and the museum’s fragile, 186-year-old building would suffer catastrophic structural damage and likely collapse during construction.
The Merchant’s House is New York City’s only family home preserved intact, inside and out, from the 19th century. It is a vital – and irreplaceable – New York City cultural institution, open to the public since 1936.
If the Merchant’s House – Manhattan’s first designated landmark in 1965 – can’t be protected, NO New York City landmark will be safe from out-of-control private development.
How You Can Help
- WRITE the City Planning Commission urging them to REJECT the developer’s application.
Visit www.gvshp.org/mhm for an easy online form.
- SIGN our petition — Click here.
- If you are an East 4th Street resident, or nearby neighbor, we need your contact info! Email us at email@example.com.
- DONATE to the MHM Legal Fund (see below).
- ATTEND the Community Board 2 Public Hearing.
(They will make their decision at this meeting!)
Wednesday, May 9, 6:30 p.m.
NYU Silver Building, 32 Waverly Place, Room 520
- SPREAD THE WORD! Ask your friends and colleagues to help!
“If the Merchant’s House can’t be protected, no landmark is safe.
No historic district is safe. No natural resource is safe. No community or neighborhood is safe.”
Michael Hiller, land use, zoning, and preservation lawyer
But it costs money. Lots of money. We have already had to spend tens of thousands of dollars on engineering consulting work and studies. Lawyers’ fees and engineering expenses will continue to mount.
We can’t save the Merchant’s House without your help!
Please consider a donation. Any amount will make a difference.
“In my estimation, the Merchant’s House is without a doubt
the most important historic house in this city, and unfortunately,
it’s now probably the most endangered one.”
Michael Devonshire, Architectural preservationist and
Commissioner, Landmarks Preservation Commission
“… New York City has plenty of boring eight-story hotels, but we only have one Merchant’s House.”
Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director, Historic Districts Council