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A blog from CityRealty (Links below will take you to the 6sqft site)

Carter's View

The Landmarks Preservation Commission denied an application for a certificate of appropriateness this morning for a proposed through-block residential condominium project in Chelsea.

The project of the Roseland Property Company of Short Hills, New Jersey, called for a 16-story structure at 35-41 West 21st Street and an 8-story building at 38 West 22nd Street. The mid-block site now consists of two parking lots and a one-story garage.

SLCE is the architectural firm for the project, which is within the Ladies' Mile Historic District.

The buildings would be connected by a 15-foot-high one-story structure at their rears, which are separated by 60 feet. Both buildings would have their own entrances and elevators.

The project will contain 113 rental units, seven of them full-floor two-bedroom apartments in the 22nd Street structure, whose handsome and rather modern facade does not have bay windows that are present in the 21st Street proposal.

James Davidson of SLCE told the commission that the project was in context with its neighbors and that the 21st Street building will have three vertical sections. The outer two have large bay windows and the middle one has slightly receded windows and extends to a 15th floor center "dormer." The facade consists of a champagne-colored cast stone and clear glass. The base of the ground floor would be Laurentian green granite, Mr. Davidson said, adding that the 22nd Street structure would have no retail space.

The proposed building is setback at the 15th floor except for the "dormer," which serves as a central crown or accent.

One of the commissioners objected that "there is too much going on" and Commissioner Stephen Brynes suggested that the building's piers were too spindly and perhaps had too many bays. Commissioner Jan Pokorny said he was impressed with the design but said he was "not particularly happy with the hat on top," referring to the 15th story "dormer."

Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, testified that "In overall terms of the architectural language of the proposal, this new building fits into the Ladies' Mile Historic District," adding that "in terms of tone and design details however, HDC feels the design falls short of the mark and needs some significant adjustments before it could be considered 'appropriate.' Of particular concern is the piercing of the cornice line on the 21st Street facade by the central bay. In the Ladies' Mile, buildings tend to have strong horizontal cornices. This punctuated cornice is not in keeping with the characteristics of the district, and is not strong enough to make a real statement. Instead, it appears to be a weak post-Modern flourish more suited for a suburban hotel than a building in a Manhattan historic district."

Jack Taylor of The Drive to Protect the Ladies' Mile District, testified that "this composition seems both lacking in solidity and overly active in fenestration." "In contrast," he continued, "the eight-story facade on West 22nd Street is calm and handsome. Our only objection there is its lack of ground-floor retail space." Mr. Taylor also suggested that the west end for the setback be inset to reduce its visibility from the Avenue of the Americas.

The building would contain 113,447 square feet of space, including 8,909 square feet of retail space on 21st Street and its permissible size under existing zoning is 121,000 square feet, Mr. Davidson said.

The land-use committee of Community Board 5 voted earlier this month 4 to 2 to recommend denial of a certificate of appropriateness from the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the commission, suggested that the applicants meet with the commission's staff to study design changes so that the commission can "revisit" the application.
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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.
Spacious 1 Bedrooms with outdoor space and in-residence w/d View Property
Luxury Homes in Midtown | Newly Renovated Studio-2BR Homes View Property
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