As we mentioned yesterday in Extra, Extra, this week brought Manhattan preservationists some bad news and some bad news with a side of hope.
First up, the bad but slightly hopeful news. On Thursday morning the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of New York shocked a number of folk when they, with no warning, started to demolish St. Brigid's Church on Avenue B and 7th (above), which at 157-years-old is one of the oldest houses of worship left in Manhattan. The church has been a sore point for the Archdiocese since it was shut down in 2001 due to fears the building, designed by Irish architect Patrick Keely, might collapse. Despite the efforts of parishioners old and new, the fate of the building has looked glum since February when the Church announced its plans to tear it down. But as politicians and the media got behind the story recently things had started to look up. And then the church went and started literally breaking windows on Thursday. But here's where the good news starts to come. The coalition of people who are trying to save the building managed to get a Judge to issue a temporary restraining order on taking the building down while the coalition fights the Church's demolition permit in court. For the history of the building alone, we hope they win. In the meantime you can learn more at the Save St. Brigid's Now site (though it doesn't look like it's been updated in awhile).
Now for the bad news. In case you didn't know, developer Gregg Singer is an asshole. A quick recap: In 1998 Singer bought the old P.S. 64 building on Ninth Street (above) from the city. He then tried to develop it out, announcing plans to build a 19-story "university dorm" - building extra tall because of the "community benefits" a dormitory would provide. But when every school in the city said no dice Singer had to scrap the dorm. Worse luck for Singer hit when a neighborhood group, surprisingly, lobbied successfully to have the the facade of the building land-marked. Singer's response to this was to announce that he would, solely out of spite for the neighborhood, strip the detail work off of the facade and putting a rehabilitation shelter into the building. But now it looks like he's moving forward with his plan.
On Tuesday Singer's minions started slowly taking down the terra-cotta and limestone exterior of the building using an unexpired permit to do so he was granted before the building was landmarked. He hopes to get his "facility providing temporary housing for the homeless and ex-convicts, supportive housing for people with H.I.V./AIDS and services for the mentally ill, substance abusers and 'troubled youth'" up and running by year's end. His hope is that once he has removed all the detail work he will be in a good position to appeal the building's landmark designation. Though no one has ever successfully appealed, Singer thinks he has a chance. We also think he has a chance at winning the title for most loathsome New Yorker of the year (or at least a dishonorable mention).
Photos of St. Brigid's and P.S. 64 by bluejake.