Daniel Straus’ development company gave a presentation to the Landmarks Preservation Commission yesterday concerning the six East 74th Street brownstones Straus purchased from the Whitney Museum in 2010. Various committee, society, coalition, and neighborhood members also showed up to deliver testimony on the proposed alterations to the buildings, which include tearing down one, adding to the rooftops of two, and restoring the facades of all five left standing. The brownstones would serve as the entry to a single new high-end condo. Opinions were mixed, with some praising Straus on his commitment to historic preservation, some deriding Straus for his lack of commitment to historic preservation, and some just bashing the Whitney.
(There were nice things said, too, which we didn’t write down, so just take our word for it):
“We find the proposed architecture to be rather mundane and without clear intent.” –The Municipal Art Society of New York
“This proposal is far better than anything the Whitney ever thought of?although it’s not hard to do that.” –Defenders of the Historic Upper East Side
“The bulkhead that you proposed looks like a massive cargo container. It has all the charm of a railroad boxcar.” –Tom Saunders, 44-year resident of the neighborhood
“The proposed addition will overshadow and clash with the historical buildings in place.”
“Let us not be distracted by the proposed restoration and façade-ing.”
“The developers' taste is obviously questionable.” –Whitney Community Coalition
“This architect has done a splendid job compared to everything the Whitney wanted to do for the past 25 years.” –The Coalition of Concerned Whitney Neighbors
Additional testimony was given by two former employees of Somerset Nursing Home in Connecticut (part of Daniel Straus’ Care One Nursing Home chain) who were allegedly terminated unlawfully for attempting to unionize workers. They contended that if Straus could not be bothered to follow U.S. labor laws, it was unlikely he would follow historic preservation laws, and that he is “not the kind of person who should be allowed to change historic buildings.” Because we all know alleged failure to follow labor laws is just a gateway offense.
· New Tower for Ex-Whitney Brownstones Rankles Neighbors [Curbed]
· Brownstone Bonanza! Whitney Museum Sells Eight UES Oldies [Curbed]