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East Village hotel next to Merchant’s House rejected by community board

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Developers are hoping to plop an eight-story building next to the 186-year-old interior and exterior landmark

Manhattan Community Board 2 unanimously rejected a proposal to plop an eight-story hotel right next to the Merchant’s House Museum, the Villager reports. All 41 members of the board voted against the proposal of developer Kalodop II Park Corp., which preservationists say could do irreparable harm to the East Village institution.

The developer has been trying to move this project along since at least 2011, but it was only recently that the project was entered into the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP). This is because the developer is seeking two special permits to build taller than what the zoning allows in this part of the East Village.

The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission approved the hotel project in 2014, but not before calling it “drab on so many levels.” While the hotel developer argues that their engineering team is set to take all the precautions to ensure that no harm comes to the 186-year-old building, the museum, and preservationists are not convinced.

The Merchant’s House Museum is both an interior and exterior landmark, and the director of the museum worries that construction on an adjacent lot could lead to the complete destruction of the building. It’s not just the building that’s at stake, but also the museum’s garden, which would be cast in shadows if an eight-story building were to go up right next to it.

In order to move forward, the developer needs to demolish a one-story garage at 27 East Fourth Street. But before that demolition is approved, and before the hotel can rise, there are still many hurdles to cross. The petition still needs to be heard by Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, the City Planning Commission, and the City Council.

The Council member representing this part of the East Village, Carolina Rivera, seems to be on the side of the museum and preservationists, saying in a statement in Aprill that she would not support the project until the museum was assured of the safety of its building. The City Council is the final stop for this project, and other City Council members usually tend to side with the Council member representing that particular neighborhood, so things don’t look particularly good for the hotel developers right now.