Artist Richard Hass' trump l'oeil cast-iron mural that's greeted visitors to the corner of Prince and Greene Streets in Soho since 1975—a mural that's been fading for awhile and is now threatened by the possibility of a new building going up on the site directly in front and thereby 'obliterating' it, to use the word of one group of rather upset Soho residents.
Currently, there's a one-story building on the southwest corner of Prince and Greene (110 Prince Street, to be exact). Camper Shoes, which has a store across the street, would like to demolish the building to build a commercial headquarters. Given that the existing building at 110 Prince Street is historically non-notable, it's not landmarked, which shouldn't make it hard for Camper to get plans for a contextually-designed headquarters approved. Assuming the headquarters is taller than one story, it would either partly or fully hide Haas' mural, just as new development 100 Eleventh has mostly obscured artist Knox Martin's Venus mural in Chelsea.
Haas' mural adorns the side of 112-114 Prince, a classic cast-iron building constructed in 1890. Though it looked pretty spiffy back in the day, the mural has lately fallen prey to taggers as well as simple fading from age; an estimate from 10 years ago said proper restoration would run upwards of $100,000.
We spoke with SoHo Alliance's Sean Sweeney, a member of the preservationist side, who lays it out: "Camper's plans and renderings—I forget the architect's name, but I think he's from Virginia and specializes in green buildings—are not developed fully, I understand, since the attorney says he would like our input on the design. I think they went to Landmarks and LPC told them to come to us to gauge our reaction, since the SoHo Alliance and LPC worked together on saving The Wall mural on Houston. This mural may not have bothered to get a LPC permit in 1975, the lawyer told me, so its protected status is in doubt. The court of public opinion is important therefore, as we await the haters who will no doubt come down on us aging, hippy, NIMBY, unemployed, artist rent-controlled scum." (The man knows his Curbed commenters, friends.)
Below, a flyer from the Soho Alliance that's being taped to lampposts around the neighborhood:
We're only in the first inning of this one, folks. Strap in.