J. Press to be demolished

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Photo by Dana Schneider .

The New Haven Preservation Trust is continuing to advocate saving 262 York St., a building that is scheduled for demolition and renovation this month.

Last February, snowstorm Nemo caused severe structural damage to the J. Press, Inc. site, and afterwards city officials declared the building unsafe. J. Press relocated to Chapel Street temporarily and moved again in November to its current location in Yale University Properties at 260 College St. As of Wednesday, J. Press has not come forward with a demolition schedule or renovation plan, leaving the New Haven Preservation Trust concerned about whether the building’s historic architecture will be preserved in the process.

“It’s one of those buildings that New Haven has lived with for many, many years,” preservation services officer John Herzan said. “We are advocating that some elements be preserved because once you alter those original architectural features you really take away from the historic identity of the building.”

Constructed in 1860, the building originally housed a wealthy merchant named Cornelius Pierpont, who ran a shop on Broadway. According to Herzan, the building is a “rare example” of a 19th-century townhouse. The site is also listed in New Haven’s Historic Resource Inventory for its French-style architecture.

According to a December statement from the trust, the group’s goal is to preserve “as much of the building’s historic fabric as possible.” Herzan said that he has not been allowed inside of the building to assess its structural integrity, but even if the building is too severely damaged to remain standing, some of the architectural elements could still be preserved in the demolition process.

Herzan said the statement from last month along with inquiries about the demolition were sent to project manager Jay Cohen of the architecture firm Environetics in New York, but to date, Herzan has not received a response.

When J. Press relocated to College Street in November, store owner Jim Fitzgerald told the News that J. Press had hoped to avoid demolition if at all possible. But because three different structural engineers stated that the building had to be razed, they did not have a choice. Fitzgerald added the new building would be similar to the old building, but would take better advantage of the space.

Although the building is not owned by the University, Fitzgerald said J. Press has been working with Yale on the demolition project.

“They own the buildings next to it and we want to be a good neighbor,” he said.

Associate Director of New Haven and State Affairs Lauren Zucker said that Yale officials met with J. Press’s contractors as well as city officials to discuss the demolition before winter break. She added that Yale is waiting for J. Press to come forward with their demolition plan.

Fitzgerald declined to comment about a specific demolition date.

J. Press Company was founded in 1902 in New Haven.

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