Friends of Lamartine Place

Friends of Hopper Gibbons Underground Railroad site & Lamartine Pl. H.D.

HELP FIGHT ILLEGAL ADDITION TO THE UNDERGROUND RAILROAD STATION

UPDATE:

The developer, Mr. Tony Mamounas, is still fighting to retain his illegally built 5th story addition to the landmarked Hopper Gibbons house, a documented Underground Railroad Station.  On August 6th, 2014, the NY Supreme Court judge ruled in our favor, that he must first apply to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, which he was trying to bypass.  Now, however, he is appealing that decision.

The Friends of  Lamartine Place’s  attorney is asking for $12,500 for our group,  to intervene, but we only have $4,000 in our coffers. We need $5,000 for our retainer fee, with the balance of $5,000 due August 15th, and $2,500 due at time of oral argument in September.

This is possibly our last recourse, so if you would like to help insure that the illegally built 5th floor is torn down instead of being allowed to remain, sticking out like a sore thumb and obscuring the escape route taken by the Gibbons family during the New York City Draft Riots, won’t you help contribute?  This landmarked block is the only one to have survived those riots.  With its front yard gardens, these antebellum row houses, planned by Torrey and Mason in 1846-7, opposite what amounts to a small park, it is one of Manhattan’s treasures.

If Mr. Mamounas is allowed to get away with his fraudulent claim that the bulk of the 5th story addition was built before it was landmarked (disproved by time-stamped photographs), other developers will feel gleefully liberated to do likewise.

To Donate- Write a check to the Historic Districts Council - 232 East 11th Street New York NY 10003 and make sure to put “Friends of Lamartine Place” in the memo line.

Credit cards donations can be accepted by phone at 212-614-9107  or online, using the donation button below.




 

UPDATE:

On Tuesday, February 12, 2013 the Board of Standards and Appeals unanimously voted that the Hopper Gibbons house must fall under the jurisdiction of the Landmarks Preservation Commission and that the owner would have to get approval from them to keep their addition before re-applying for a waiver to the Multiple Dwelling Law allowing such an expansion.  However, the owner’s attorney, Marvin Mitzner, disagrees with the Board’s position and pugnaciously declared that he will take the case to Court, claiming that the owner, Mr. Mamounas,  has the right to retain the illegal 5th-story addition to this four story row house and to avoid landmarking laws.   Given that the owner’s building permit and waiver to expand the building were invalid, that the bulk of the construction was completed after it was landmarked, we must do everything in our power to insure that this addition is REMOVED, not retained.

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Lamartine Place historic district- Hopper-Gibbons house under scaffolding

Lamartine Place historic district- Hopper-Gibbons house under scaffolding

 

The owner of the Hopper-Gibbons home (339 West 29th Street), the only documented Underground Railroad Station in Manhattan, recently filed with the Board of Standards and Appeals to retain the illegal 5th story addition to this four story row house and to reject the Landmark Preservation Commission’s authority over this building.  The Department of Buildings, furthermore, recently issued two new building permits for the sidewalk shed and scaffolding.  The Friends of Lamartine Place have hired legal counsel to help fight this permit, but they need your help.

Please help preserve this beautiful and historically-important block by making a contribution (even small amounts of $5 or $10 would help). Your donation is completely tax-deductible to the fullest extent of the law.

 

To Donate- Write a check to the Historic Districts Council – 232 East 11th Street New York NY 10003 and make sure to put “Friends of Lamartine Place” in the memo line.

Credit cards donations can be accepted by phone at 212-614-9107  or online, using the donation button below.



For further information on the history behind the building and on the owner’s latest tactic, see two Daily News articles by Jennifer Cunningham:

http://articles.nydailynews. com/2012-01-16/news/30630632_ 1_brownstone-underground- railroad-quaker-abolitionists

http://articles.nydailynews. com/2012-01-29/news/30677052_ 1_historic-site-nuisance- abatement-historic-house.

View the PDF of the press release:lamartine place donation flyer september 2012

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A brief summary of the Mamounas brothers’ continued defiance of the law over the years at 339 West 29th Street

In 2008, the building failed an audit conducted by the Department of Buildings, because it was not in compliance with the Sliver Law, and in 2009, because it was in violation of the Multiple Dwelling Law.  The building permit was subsequently revoked.

In November-December, 2010, the owners built new apartments in the illegal 5th story addition at the very time they were supposed to do nothing but bring the building up to fire code.

In 2011, the Department of Buildings issued an “order to correct” (to remove the 5th story addition) and was even pursuing a criminal investigation against Mr. Mamounas.  His current attempt to bypass the “order to correct” and the LPC’s authority and to, instead, keep building skyward is, therefore, particularly exasperating and needs to be fought tooth and nail.

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