The word on the street is that 46 Laight Street, an old tenement where a renovation and rooftop addition has long been plagued by various ills, has traded hands. The five-story stack of red bricks, dating back to 1870 and overlooking never-ending construction around the Holland Tunnel roundabout, is in the Tribeca North Historic District, and ran afoul of the Landmarks Commission when the previous owner surreptitiously stripped off the rear facade. Couple that with the deadly economic freeze, and getting this one back on track sounded like mission impossible.
Not so! It's said that the new owners, George Rizk of D.E. Shaw Real Estate Advisors and hedger Jon Halpern of Marathon Asset Management, plan to put three units where six were previously approved. A slew of recent applications are on view at the DOB website, showing that zoning approval was granted in August, and a Stop Work Order that got slapped on the property in September has just been rescinded.
The recent troubles at 46 Laight Street have historical preludes, including the heroic response of one Elizabeth Condon, a chambermaid who worked at a house on this site back in 1860 and fought off some noisy rogues who broke in and stole the silver. That was in the days when Laight Street fronted onto fashionable St. John's Park, before Cornelius Vanderbilt bought the square and, in 1868, built the massive Hudson Rail Freight Terminal on the blocks where traffic now flows out of the Holland Tunnel.
The arrival of freight trains transformed the area from residential to industrial; townhouses gave way to tenements and in came longshoremen, laborers, and local immigrant workers. Single family homes turned into warehouses, like the yellow brick Grabler Building next door at 38-44 Laight, where these days $5 million will cover the cost of a condo. All around things are coming full circle, with nearly all the nearby old buildings reconfigured as high-priced residential, many commodious enough to house a chambermaid or two.
· Seen & Heard: 46 Laight [Tribeca Citizen]
· City Cites Building for Missing Facade [The Tribeca Trib]