As 186 Spring Street comes down, tensions arise

Property was home to gay-rights pioneers and, later, to a Beastie Boy

From left: 186 Spring Street and Robert Tierney of the LPC
From left: 186 Spring Street and Robert Tierney of the LPC

In the week since demolition began at 186 Spring Street — the townhouse purchased by Canadian developer Nordica from Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz to build a seven-story condominium — allegations of homophobia are emerging over the redevelopment of the gay-rights landmark, the New York Observer reported. In the 1970s and 1980s, the property housed prominent gay-rights activists, such as Bruce Voeller, Arnie Kantrowitz and Jim Owles.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission denied the pleas of preservationists to landmark the property and keep it from redevelopment. Allen Roskoff, who was Jim Owles’ partner for many years, told the Observer, “What they did was homophobic … not only do I consider it an act against the movement, I consider it an act against me personally.”

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But the LPC counters that over the years it has landmarked other gay-rights landmarks as they are part of larger historic districts, such as the Stonewall Inn in the Greenwich Village Historic District. The LPC has never approved applications to landmark individual properties within existing historic districts.

In addition, the LPC argued, the influence of 186 Spring Street‘s on the movement was not central, but peripheral. [NYO]