Demolition of Leaning SoHo Building Approved

74 Grand Street. Photo: CityLand.

Owner will store cast-iron facade after damaged building is demolished. On September 22, 2009, Landmarks approved SoHo Equities Inc.’s application to demolish a George DaCunha-designed five-story loft building at 74 Grand Street, in the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District. According to Landmarks Deputy Counsel John Weiss, for many decades 74 Grand Street’s five-story building leaned approximately 10 inches to the west. In 2004, as a result of excavation and construction work at the neighboring site at 72 Grand Street and heavy rains, 74 Grand Street shifted approximately 14 inches further. The City vacated the building and contractors installed emergency shoring and bracing. Despite these efforts, the building has continued to shift. Under the approved application, the owner will demolish the building and disassemble and store the damaged structure’s historic cast-iron facade for future reinstallation at the current site.

At the hearing, Tim Lynch, the Executive Director of Buildings’ Forensic Engineering unit, testified that 74 Grand Street, which sits atop an 18th century marsh, is “very unstable” and currently leaning 30 inches to the west. Lynch explained that 74 Grand Street’s condition has also caused the buildings at 76 and 78 Grand Street to shift, noting that 78 Grand Street has migrated five inches since 2005.

The owner’s representative described the process for dismantling and cataloging the cast-iron facade, explaining that the owner would need to remove the cast-iron components simultaneously with demolition. He said that the owner was exploring storage options for the building’s cast-iron facade.

The Commissioners expressed concerns about the facade’s security once it has been removed and stored, noting that the cast-iron elements have historically been targets for thieves. Weiss said that if Landmarks approved the application, the permit would contain detailed requirements for safe and secure storage. He pointed out that Landmarks and the owner would also sign a side agreement requiring, among other things, that the owner permit Landmarks staff to conduct detailed inspections of the cast-iron elements on a regular basis. Weiss noted that the side agreement obligations would attach to any subsequent owner of the site.

Chair Robert B. Tierney concluded that the building “regrettably” had to be demolished, and the Commissioners unanimously voted to approve the application.

LPC: 74 Grand St., Manhattan (COFA #10-2175) (Sept. 22, 2009).

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