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Carter's View

The Board of Standards & Appeals will hold hearings December 13 on two projects on Charles Lane in the Far West Village on which construction was stopped by order of the city's Department of Buildings in the wake of a rezoning of the area that lowered their permissible size.

Both developments were in construction when the stop work orders were issued and the developers claim that therefore they are entitled to proceed.

Some preservationist groups, however, have argued that the developers should have been aware of the planned rezoning and should not be allowed to finish their projects as planned.

One of the projects is at 166 Perry Street and the other at 163 Charles Street. Both have frontage on Charles Lane.

Charles Blaichman, Richard Born and Ira Drucker, the developers of two of the three Richard Meier modernist glass towers along West Street in the Far West Village, have commissioned Asymptote to design a 8-story building with more than 20 condominium apartments at 166 Perry Street, which is around the corner from the Meier towers.

The developers were in the process of adding two stories to an existing 6-story garage structure on the site when the City Council voted October 13 to rezone the permissible size of new buildings in the neighborhood.

In its submission to the board, the Perry Street Development Corporation argued for the renewal of the "lawfully issued building permit issued before the effective date of the map change to the Zoning Maps" and maintained that its "irrevocable financial commitment" for the project was $1,864,488. Its site fronts for 100 feet on Perry Street and 100 feet one inch on Charles Lane.

At 163 Charles Street, Barry Leistner was building a 8-story building designed by Daniel Goldner Architects with a triplex and two duplex apartments and ground floor commercial space.

The handsome design, shown above, has a two-story base with a step-down entrance and four balconies. The facade has floor-to-ceiling windows with a Mondrianesque-pane pattern. Its clean-cut, modern lines complements the design of the Meier buildings, but the project ran into opposition from the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation that argued that the property and several others should be landmarked by the city.

The building that had been on the site was originally built for a cartman and a carpenter in 1832 and included a rear stable that had been converted to an art gallery by Vito Acconci facing Charles Lane, a narrow cobblestone street with no sidewalks.

Mr. Leistner had acquired the site for about $5,900,000 from Kenny Schacter, who had previously commissioned a 9-story, 6-unit building from architect Zaha Hadid, a winner of the Pritzker Prize for architecture.

Mr. Schachter is an art gallery owner.

In its submission to the board, 163 Charles Street Realty LLC, maintained that its "irrevocable financial commitment" for the project was $10,244,613 and noted that its plans had been approved November 24, 2004 and amended April 28, 2005.

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said that the developers are trying to get extensions to allow them to complete their buildings under the older, less restrictive zoning for the area.

With regard to the 163 Charles Street project, Mr. Berman said that "Ironically, if they do have to conform to the new zoning, they would only be able to build a 3-story building on the site, the same size roughly as what was demolished, though undoubtedly the 1832 house they demolished would have been more valuable than anything they would build now."
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Architecture Critic Carter Horsley Since 1997, Carter B. Horsley has been the editorial director of CityRealty. He began his journalistic career at The New York Times in 1961 where he spent 26 years as a reporter specializing in real estate & architectural news. In 1987, he became the architecture critic and real estate editor of The New York Post.