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Owner of One If By Land in Trouble for Ripping Arch Off Landmarked Facade

 The owners of One If By Land, Two If By Sea removed the arch (inset), from the landmarked building without permission from the city.
The owners of One If By Land, Two If By Sea removed the arch (inset), from the landmarked building without permission from the city.
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DNAinfo/Danielle Tcholakian; inset: Facebook/One If By Land

WEST VILLAGE — Owners of a famous West Village restaurant have been ordered to halt renovations after they ripped off an arch from its landmarked 19th-century carriage house.

The owners of One If By Land, Two If By Sea were issued a warning by the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission on July 2 for making changes to the façade of the building without permits.

"All work at or on this premises must stop immediately!" LPC Chair Meenaskshi Srinivasan wrote in the letter.

The building on Barrow Street dates back to 1834, according to city records. The plaster archway is mentioned in the LPC's 1969 designation report for the Greenwich Village Historic District.

But the restaurant's manager said the arch had to be taken down for safety reasons after it partially collapsed when the restaurant's new owners replaced the old wooden carriage house doors.

"A lot of things had to be fixed because this is an old building," said manager Tony Elezovic.

"One of the things that needed to be fixed was the doors, because there were holes in the bottom — mice could come through."

Elezovic said when they opened the old doors, part of the façade cracked and, after a storm a few days later, part of the arch collapsed.

A spokeswoman for the LPC said the owner of the building assured the agency that they are filing an application to remedy the situation. They have 20 business days from July 2 to submit the application before the LPC's warning becomes a violation.

If they're found in violation, they could be fined as much as $5,000. Some Landmarks Law violations carry criminal penalties.

The building owner will also have to appear at an LPC public hearing where the agency's commissioners will decide if the proposed fix is suitable.

"After running the restaurant for the last 18 years, we were looking foward to a relaxing summer vacation in Europe," the owner, Colleen Goujjane, told DNAinfo New York in a LinkedIn message. "Unfortunately, things did not go as planned."

Goujjane said she and her husband, Oscar, are going to meet with their tenants next week when they return and discuss the next steps.

"We will most certainly do everything without our power to restore the building to its original beauty," Goujjane added. "Our wish is to continue our solid standing with the neighborhood we love!"

Neighbors say they complained in June to the LPC that the One If By Land restaurateurs had "covered beautiful original wood doors and decorative brass trim with cheap wood," according to the Village Alliance's Terri Howell.

“In addition, they are now opening the doors so the sound and music reverberates into the surrounding apartments,” Howell wrote in an email.

Sources with the 6th Precinct said they have received noise complaints about the restaurant but did not find any issues when they visited.

The Greenwich Village Preservation Society is spearheading a campaign to restore the arch.

But Elezovic believes that its removal revealed something preservationists and historians should be thrilled about — the building's "original columns from the 1800s."

"There is some misinformation campaign going on, for what reason we do not know," Elezovic said.

"If the historical preservation society would give us a chance to explain, we believe that they would be pleasantly surprised and happy [to see the columns] just in the way we were."

Elezovic said the restaurant owners are holding off on submitting their application to the LPC because they want to try to persuade GVSHP that the original columns are superior to restoring the archway.

"The reason we haven't done it is because we want to make sure that the historic preservation society takes a look at it before we go back to what it was," the restaurant manager said.