Landmarks Preservation Commission puts the brakes on planned demolition of 111 Noble St. in Greenpoint
Hands off that 1850s house.
The city Landmarks Preservation Commission put the brakes — at least for now — on a proposal by real estate investor Roei Paz to demolish a wood-frame home at 111 Noble St. in the Greenpoint Historic District and replace it with a taller residential building.
At a public hearing at the preservation agency’s Lower Manhattan headquarters on Tuesday, Muhammad Rahal, an engineer at Severud Associates, described flaws in the house’s condition. But in response to questioning by commissioners, Rahal said 111 Noble St. could be repaired, though its west wall would have to be replaced.
Rahal based his observations on a structural condition survey he did of the house.
At the end of the hearing, several commissioners said they weren’t convinced the 162-year-old house needs to be demolished.
So the commission did not vote on the proposed project. Instead, Commission Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said the property owner’s engineer and architect must return to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.
First, she said that during their return appearance, they should try to explain why the house cannot be salvaged. Later, Srinivasan said they need to “think about restoration” and suggested that an addition could be built on the back of the original house.
Demolition plan is a ‘Trojan horse,’ neighborhood resident says
Residents of the block where 111 Noble St. is located and preservation advocates testified at the hearing that the Landmarks Preservation Commission would set a “dangerous precedent,” as resident Lawrence Drucker phrased it, by approving the house’s demolition.
Another Noble Street resident, Peter Ehrman, called the proposed demolition and development project a “Trojan horse threatening every building in the Greenpoint Historic District and the integrity of the concept of landmarks.”
Christabel Gough of the Society for the Architecture of the City said demolition would be “the first step in the destruction of the Greenpoint Historic District.”
Patrick Waldo of the Historic Districts Council said the demolition plan “seeks to erase 160 years of neighborhood history for one person’s financial gain.”
Though 111 Noble St. has been altered since its construction in the 1850s, it still has its original massing, size and scale, he noted.
It and other houses in the Greenpoint Historic District were built by and for working-class residents — people who labored on the docks in the era of wooden ships, he added.
Beige bricks and a penthouse
Paz, the investor who owns 111 Noble St., bought it through an LLC for $1.9 million in September 2016, city Finance Department records indicate.
The new-house design presented by Paz’s rep was for a three-unit building that would be three stories in height plus have a set-back penthouse. The designer had chosen beige bricks for its facade, which also would include a three-stories-high wall of windows on one part of it.
Paz, who formerly spent a decade working in the diamond industry in New York City, is now in real-estate development and investment, his LinkedIn page says.
Ruslan Goychayev of RSLN Architecture, the architect of record for the 111 Noble St. project, has worked with Paz before.
Goychayev also was the architect of record for a four-stories-plus-penthouse, eight-unit apartment building to replace a two-story house at 18A Bleecker St. that Paz had purchased for $1.026 million in December 2015, city Buildings Department filings and Finance Department records indicate. The Bleecker Street property, which is in Bushwick, is not located in a historic district.
Mid-19th-century houses on the block where 111 Noble St. is located are selling for solid prices these days.
On the opposite side of the street, a brick rowhouse at 130 Noble St. was sold for $2.8 million in August, Finance Department records indicate.