Controversial Bowery site now up for sale

One year after successfully avoiding landmarking of its circa-1817 Bowery property by promising to build affordable office space on the site, First American International Bank has put it up for sale, Bowery Boogie reported.

The site, at 135 Bowery between Grand and Broome streets, is listed by Massey Knakal Realty Services with an $8.5 million asking price. The listing notes that because the property is within a district that could be landmarked — but avoided the designation on an individual basis — it could turn out to be one of the few development sites on the thoroughfare. Current Department of Buildings permits allow for an eight-story, 20,427-square-foot commercial loft building with ground-floor retail.

Bowery Boogie said the community would be right to feel “hoodwinked” by First American. The bank cried foul when the property first came under Landmarks Preservation Commission’s attention in 2010, two and a half years after it purchased the plot for $5.06 million, and eventually convinced local Council member Margaret Chin to block the designation by promising “affordable” office space, which she said Chinatown desperately needed. Now, it’s unclear whether a new owner would stick to those terms.

The property, believed to be the oldest remaining on the Bowery, was demolished earlier this year. [Bowery Boogie]Adam Fusfeld

Updated: In a statement to The Real Deal, Council member Margaret Chin said she spoke with current ownership and said that the inclusion of affordable office space must be part of the terms of a sale.