Get Ready for This 12-Story Tumor Atop the Provident Loan Society Building on East Houston

Posted on: October 30th, 2015 at 5:00 am by
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A campaign is underway to permanently protect the Provident Loan Society building on East Houston. But can it conceivably happen in time? It’s staring down the barrel of imminent demolition and redevelopment. An uphill battle for sure.

Earlier this year, we learned some unfortunate news that the corner stalwart was facing the real threat of extinction. The landlord of the adjacent five-story tenement that houses Mercury Lounge sold their air rights to the owners of 223-225 East Houston. Public records show that Elsa and Dunnie Lai (Houston Essex Realty Corp.) acquired the approximately 9,238 square-feet of “excess development” rights for $2.25 million, which also grants an easement to potentially cantilever over the iconic rock venue.

Nearly a year after our first report, we now have a glimpse of the project. Renderings published to architect Bluarch Architecture reveal the ugliness. A 41,000 square-foot residential protrusion from the rooftop. If the info is to be believed, it’ll rise twelve stories and feature forty apartments; unclear whether condos or rentals.

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Photo: Bluarch Architecture

Despite the behind-the-scenes prep, local activists are organizing a fight to keep the Provident alive in its current form. Sans tumor. There is a campaign underway to landmark the 1912 structure. The measure will go before Community Board 3 for approval in November. Alas, it’s a bit late in the game. Hopefully the Provident can be saved.

The Provident Loan Society, for which the Classical Revival-style building was erected in 1912, is a non-profit organization born in response to the financial panic of 1893. Its founders included group of prominent New Yorkers, including J.P. Morgan and Cornelius Vanderbilt. Their specialty was providing short-term loans at a lower rate than loan sharks. It’s still around today.

In the last twenty-some-odd years, though, the corner hulk became synonymous with nightlife. Element was the most recent; and a Blackout Haunted House for Halloween. The former financial center was also home to the Manhattan Gentlemen’s Club (strip club), a goth nightclub known as Chaos, and The Bank. Plus, artist Jasper Johns once dwelled and worked here.

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