By Patrick Hedlund
DNAinfo News Editor
COOPER SQUARE — Hope may not be lost for a group of advocates pushing to preserve a centuries-old building at risk of demolition by its new owner.
Local activists fighting to save 35 Cooper Square — the 1825 Federal-style rowhouse near the corner of East 6th Street — have succeeded in getting the property's buyer to meet with them to discuss possible preservation initiatives for the historic building.
The Bowery Alliance of Neighbors, which has led the charge in bringing attention to the property's plight, announced that local Councilwoman Rosie Mendez was able to get the address's new owner to attend a meeting with advocates on April 12.
"We have agreed to a meeting at the request of elected officials, and we will leave any discussion of the project for that meeting," said a spokesman for owner Arun Bhatia.
The three-story building at the head of the Bowery — sandwiched between the gleaming new Cooper Union academic building and the towering Cooper Square Hotel — was once owned by a descendant of Peter Stuyvesant before housing such luminaries as Liza Minelli and Beat Generation poet Diane DiPrima, historians have noted.
The property sold to Bhatia for $8.5 million late last year before rumors began swirling that the developer planned to raze the 1825 building, starting with the closure of its ground-floor restaurant and the filing of demolition application last month.
Advocates have held a series of demonstrations outside the property — earning kudos at a rally last month from journalist Pete Hamill — and recently got the local community board to support their efforts to stave off demolition.
The city Landmarks Preservation Commission has declined to consider designating 35 Cooper Square a landmark, citing the addition of stucco over the building's original brickwork, a commission spokeswoman said.
Bowery Alliance of Neighbors co-founder David Mulkins noted that the Bowery itself has been deemed eligible for inclusion in the state and National Register of Historic Place, meaning that 35 Cooper Square could qualify to receive tax credits of up to 40 percent if the new owner decides to preserve certain historic features.
"I'm hoping that they will be open-minded and look at examples of buildings that have been preserved and benefited the developer, as well as the historic integrity of the neighborhood," he said, noting that Bhatia also purchased two adjoining lots.
"We're very hopeful that since they have three lots, they might consider preserving this one and doing something in the other two lots."