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Dilapidated TriBeCa Landmarks Finally On the Road to Recovery

TRIBECA —A crumbling, nearly two-century-old TriBeCa building where a wall partially collapsed in January is finally undergoing a restoration, after years of complaints from neighbors and government agencies over its dilapidated condition.

Construction has already begun on the vacant, landmarked building at 502 Canal St. — which accrued more than 20 complaints and 30 violations over the past two decades from the Department of Buildings — architects on the project told members of Community Board 1 Thursday evening.

“We want to restore it back to its original glory,” said Adrian Figuero, an architect with SRA Architecture told the board's Landmarks Committee.

But after years after violations, the building has become more well-known for its disrepair than its historical significance.

The building’s owner, Ponte Equities, which did not appear at the meeting, has been threatened with lawsuits by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for its failure to care for the building, letting it fall into a state of decay.

The brick building, landmarked in 1998, was constructed in 1819 for John Y. Smith, who ran a starch and hair powder business out of the ground floor and lived with his family above.

According to the LPC’s website, it’s part of a “rare surviving cluster of early 19th century structures in lower Manhattan” that includes neighboring 504 and 506 Canal St. All are landmarked, owned by Ponte, and have been hit with multiple violations, records show.

Figuero said all three of the buildings — 502, 504 and 506 — are being restored and turned into townhouses. He hopes the buildings will be ready for use by the winter.

“I think you’ve done a really thorough job,” said Coren Sharples, a CB1 member. “We’re happy to finally see this happening. It's too bad it took so long."

The restoration plans still need final approval from the LPC.

Ponte Equities did not immediately return a request for comment.