Fate of East Village horse mart uncertain


The fate of the last remaining horse mart in the city, pictured above, is in the hands of Landmarks after it held an emergency hearing on September 7. Photo: Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Emergency hearing held on East Village horse stable and auction house. On September 7, 2006, less than one month after calendaring, Landmarks held a hearing on the possible designation of the Van Kearney and Van Tassel Horse Auction Mart at 126 East 13th Street in the East Village. The 1903 Beaux-Arts building, which has also served as an automobile showroom, a women’s assembly-line training center during the second World War, and the studio of painter Frank Stella, was recently purchased by a developer who received a building permit to construct a seven-story building on the site, but had yet to receive demolition permits. In response to community petitioning, Landmarks calendared the building, which halted the issuance of demolition permits by Buildings. 3 CityLand 126 (Sept. 15, 2006).

Numerous public figures spoke in favor of designation or sent representatives to the hearing, including State Assemblywoman Deborah Glick, Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Council Member Rosie Mendez, and State Senator David Chang. Mendez spoke of her community’s recent struggles to protect P.S. 64 and St. Brigid’s Church, and asked that Landmarks work more closely with Buildings to avoid the destruction of important historic buildings.

Landmarks also heard from residents and preservationists who urged swift landmarking of the horse mart and praised it for both its architectural and historical significance. Andrew Berman, of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, asked “How many structures can conjure up images of the Vanderbilts purchasing polo ponies, Frank Stella creating masterpieces of 20th century art, and Rosie the Riveter fighting the war on the home front?” Union Square Community Coalition’s Jack Taylor recounted the events leading to the demolition of the Fiss, Doerr & Carol Horse-Auction Mart, and asked that Landmarks preserve what may be the last remaining horse mart in the city.

Jay Segal, attorney for the property owner, Ultimate Realty, testified that the owner had purchased the property with the intention of constructing a building with the maximum height and floor area under the area’s zoning, and that millions of dollars had been spent for architects and other fees. Segal stated that it would be far fairer if Landmarks surveyed the city so owners would know if a building was “sacrosanct.”

At the hearing’s commencement, Landmarks Chair Robert Tierney stated that the owner and Landmarks had reached a “standstill agreement,” where the owner would not seek to obtain any further permits, and Landmarks would delay its vote on the designation. If Landmarks designated the horse mart, Buildings would have to deny the demolition application. The hearing was closed without any comments by commissioners.

LPC: Van Kearney and Van Tassel Horse Auction Mart, 126 East 13th Street (LP- 2205) (Sept. 7, 2006).



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