Derelict 19th-Century Building Continues Its Decline

“Down on its luck” was how John M. Weiss, the deputy counsel for the Landmarks Preservation Commission, described the derelict hulk of 502 Canal Street in Lower Manhattan in November after flooding from Hurricane Sandy prompted the Buildings Department to bar entry.

Two months later, its luck is running out.

The nearly 200-year-old, three-story building has deteriorated even more, despite the landlord’s promise to make repairs as required by the commission.

This month, a wall collapsed, spilling a metal roll-down gate onto the sidewalk and prompting complaints from neighbors and preservationists, among them George Calderaro of the Historic Districts Council, who called the situation “demolition by neglect.”

In 2003, the building appears to have been bought for over $3 million by an owner connected to the Ponte family, which is also affiliated with the restaurant F. Illi Ponte around the corner (a yellow sign on the second floor of 502 Canal beckons prospective diners there). A phone call to the owner was not returned.

On Nov. 19, the landmarks commission issued a permit for shoring and bracing work on the building. The city says the owner plans to stabilize it, remove the Canal Street facade by hand and then restore it with the original bricks.

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