CB3 Committee Approves Jarmulowsky Cupola Restoration and Landmark Designation for 75 Essex

Posted on: February 7th, 2014 at 5:16 am by

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Ron Castellano explaining plans for Jarmulowsky hotel conversion

The landmarks subcommittee of Community Board 3 last night voted on two significant measures affecting the architectural character of the neighborhood. Both the Jarmulowsky Bank Building rooftop restoration and the bid to landmark 75 Essex Street resulted in unanimous approval from the pared-down panel.

Let’s start with the certificate of appropriateness for the Jarmulowsky rooftop at 54 Canal Street. Architect Ron Castellano – tasked with designing the luxury hotel conversion – presented the intentions to restore the cupola to its turn-of-the-century glory. Intricate details of the dome itself, such as the colonnade, pinnacle, and decorative eagles, will also make a comeback. Moreover, Castellano stated that the Department of Buildings has already approved the job, albeit without possibility that it be occupied. At least not yet. (They want a viewing platform inside)

There was lots of love and enthusiasm for the cupola restoration. Simply put, committee members, the Friends of the Lower East Side preservationists (who offered endorsement), and the general public in attendance were stoked for the proposal. The measure sailed right through without much static. The one caveat, however, was the simultaneous request to retool the marquee above the Orchard Street entrance. This piece was not approved and requires additional information, specifically about the lighting scheme there.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission will also need make its own assessment after the full board ratifies at the end of the month.

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The Jarmulowsky hotel agenda item was preceded by the grassroots movement to landmark the former “Eastern Dispensary Building” at 75 Essex Street.

Spearheading the preservation effort is the aforementioned Friends of the Lower East Side, who argued that the possible sale of the building and its location amidst the Essex Crossing SPURA development area are certain causes for concern. Joyce Mendelsohn championed its history, architectural beauty, and environmental benefits (“the greenest building is the one already built”) during her presentation.

The board supported the overall proposal but showed some concern with the fact that building owner Shalom Eisner was not present for testimony. However, Friend Mitchell Grubler cited our own Allison B. Siegel in her 2010 interview with Eisner: “[Shalom Eisner] emphasized that whoever (in case Madonna isn’t interested) purchases 75 Essex Street will have to leave the outside as is (“that will be set forth in the contract”).”

The RFE for 75 Essex also achieved approval, but still requires a rubber stamp from the Parks subcommittee before heading to full board. And as part of the resolution, Eisner’s opinion on the possible landmark designation must first be confirmed before the final vote is taken.

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