Updated with Property Owner Justification
The ‘hole’ at the northwest corner of Allen and Main streets could get a bit deeper. Mayflower Allen Property LLC is seeking Preservation Board approval to demolish 15 Allen Street. The two-story building is located adjacent to a ‘green space’ created by a demolition in the 1980s and is located within the Allentown Historic Preservation District.
Huamei Wang’s Mayflower Allen Property LLC purchased 15 Allen and adjacent 19 Allen in 2016 for $62,000 and $128,500 respectively.
Siracuse Engineers PC has concluded the building is not structurally sound:
Working with the owner, Adam Sokol, AIA created a redevelopment plan for the site but the design was rejected by the National Park Service:
Given the very significant expenses for abatement, shoring, and selective
demolition, it was the owner’s judgment that, even with tax credits, the project
was not economically viable without adding additional space to offset the
We developed a design that would have fully restored the existing facade, while
adding a third story that was minimally visible from the street, and consistent
with the history of both this individual structure as well as the Allentown
historic district in general. Our proposal was created in consultation with the
New York State Historic Preservation Office and had the full support of its
director, Julian Adams. Unfortunately, our Part II application was rejected last
summer by the National Park Service. Although the Secretary of the Interior’s
Standards do not prohibit additions to historic structures, the NPS nonetheless
cited a “Technical Preservation Standard” which arbitrarily proscribed additions
to buildings with fewer than four stories. Having few options remaining, we
appealed this decision, with the support of both the owner as well as Mr.
Adams, eventually attending a hearing which took place in Washington, DC at
the headquarters of the National Park Service. Although the individuals
officiating at this hearing seemed sympathetic to the particular circumstances of
this project, the development pressures facing such projects in Allentown, the
costs of preservation, etc., they nonetheless surprised us, and Mr. Adams, with a
This unfortunate course of events has led to the present application for
demolition, as there sadly appears to be no other viable path forward for this
property at this point. The denial by the NPS, in spite of strong support by the
local SHPO, will have the effect of damaging a National Historic District and is
a rebuke to both our firm and the owner of the property, who, at a considerable
investment of time and resources, attempted to support what would have been a
sensitive rehabilitation of a historic structure.
There is potentially good news. Sokol goes on to say a new structure is planned:
At this point, following demolition, the owner intends to construct a structure
of similar size and use on the property. We anticipate that the approvals process
for this new structure will begin in the first quarter of 2017.
It will be a demolition derby at the Preservation Board meeting on January 12. Besides the Allen Street application, the Board will consider demolitions in the Hamlin Park Historic District: 33 Brunswick Boulevard, 1491 Jefferson Avenue and 289 Northland Avenue. Also on the agenda is Ciminelli Real Estate Corporation is also asking for permission to demolish 721 Ashland, 1006-1028 Elmwood Avenue, 583 and 584 Potomac Avenue, and partial demolition of 976 and 982 Elmwood to prepare for its two-building, mixed-use project.