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Carter's View

The New York City Board of Standards and Appeals agreed to reschedule a hearing yesterday for September 12 for a zoning variance for a planned 7-story building with 14 condominium apartments at 363 Lafayette Street.

The building is located in a manufacturing zone in NoHo.

An attorney with Greenberg Traurig LLP representing the owner told the board that discussions were being held with residents of 20 Bond Street, which the property is next to.

363 Lafayette LLC, which is connected with Olmstead Properties of which Samuel Rosenblatt is a member, is the developer.

BKSK Architects of which Stephen F. Byrns and Joan Krevlin are principals is the architect. Mr. Byrns is a commissioner on the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission and his firm has designed many of the most attractive new buildings and conversions in Lower Manhattan in recent years such as the Hubert, Duane Park, Fisher Mills, and 138 Reade Street and 116 Hudson Street.

An article by Lincoln Anderson in the July 12-18, 2006 edition of The Villager indicated that the postponement was due to concerns that the planned building would interfere somewhat with the studio of Chuck Close, the famous artist, at 20 Bond Street, which adjoins the site of the proposed new building, which is located on Lafayette and Great Jones streets but has a narrow strip that is planned for retail space and that may "dramatically reduce" natural light by entirely blocking the windows on the west side of Mr. Close's ground-floor studio.

Furthermore, the article continued, "the main part of the new building, which Close says would be about 10 feet away from his building, would effectively put his studio at the bottom of 'a pit.'"

According to Mr. Anderson's article, the artist's studio "has excellent northern light, tanks to original skylights at the uptown end that had been blotted out with tarpaper when he moved in, but which he uncovered." "There is also western light from two windows on his studio's western all, again windows that were original to the building, he says, probably once windows for men's and women's bathrooms when the place was a sweatshop."

"This can't be easily duplicated," Mr. Close was quoted as stating in the article, adding that "If I lose my light, I'm gone."

Mr. Close, who is a quadriplegic, is one of the most famous contemporary American artists best known for his very large portraits of friends some of which appear almost pixilated.

In the evening Contemporary Art Sale May 10, 2005 at Sotheby's, a Close portrait sold to the Eli Broad Foundation for $4,832,000, an auction record for the artist.

The site of the planned new building was formerly partially occupied by Jones Diner.

A petition to "Save Noho from Overdevelopment" has been signed by 131 persons as of this afternoon and it notes that "Since the 1960's, NoHo has been - at its core - a home to New York's emerging and established artists. Some of the most notable NoHo artists have included: Robert Rauschenberg, Robert Mapplethorpe, Frank Stella, Ellen Stewart, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Robert Frank, Brice Marden, and Chuck Close."

"At the center of Noho's current crisis is a proposed building at 363 Lafayette Street, which - under its current design configurations - would force one of Noho's last living legends, Chuck Close, to move out of his Bond Street studio," the petition continued.

The proposed building would not only block some of Mr. Close's light, the petition maintained, but "would also disrupt the work and lives of other resident s of 20 Bond Street, unnecessarily blocking air and light on six floors along the northern and western sides," according to the petition.
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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.