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Owners of Historic LES Building Drop Opposition to Landmarking

By Ben Fractenberg | February 12, 2013 7:27pm

LOWER EAST SIDE — The owners of the shuttered Bialystoker Home for the Aged on the Lower East Side are no longer fighting a proposal to landmark the historic building.

Gary Ambrose, treasurer on the board of trustees for the Depression-era Art Deco building at 228 East Broadway, had previously argued that giving the building landmark status would make it almost impossible to sell to a developer.

But Ambrose said Tuesday at a Landmarks Preservation Commission hearing that the owners now "do not oppose" landmarking Bialystoker, which closed in November 2011.

"Presently, we are in discussions with potential buyers who both recognize that the Bialystoker building is expected to receive city landmark designation and accept that reality," he said during the hearing.

"However, at this time the board has not yet entered into a contract of sale with any of these prospective purchasers. As a result, we cannot be assured that a sale will generate sufficient funding to make good on Bialystoker's obligations to our dedicated former staff, vendors and government agencies."

Ambrose had previously said the home was losing $1 million a month before closing and had become "dangerous to residents and employees," The Lo-Down reported last year.

The home also reportedly owed up to $14 million to the city and state and union SEIU 1199, whose members staffed the home, The Villager reported last August.

There has been no date set yet for a vote on whether to give the building landmark status, the LPC said.

Councilwoman Margaret Chin, whose district includes the building, offered her support for landmark status last summer.

"The Bialystoker home opened in 1929 and was operated as a nursing home and community gathering place for Jewish immigrants from Poland," she wrote in a letter to the commission dated July 6, 2012. "Bialystoker is an important part of the history and experience of Jewish immigrants on the Lower East Side."