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The Related Companies has reached a compromise design with various community groups for its controversial project at 469 West Street, which is presently occupied by the former Superior Ink building.

Related had originally proposed a 270-foot-high, 23-story structure with residential condominiums for the site and that design was similar in its configuration to its development at 445 Lafayette Street, now nearing completion. That building, which is across the street from Cooper Union, is notable for its curved reflective glass facades. It was designed by Gwathmey-Siegel Architects, which is also designing the West Street project for Related.

At November 2 hearing at the city's Board of Standards & Appeals, Related submitted a revised, smaller and non-curvilinear design for the West Street project, but announced that it had just reached a compromise agreement with several community groups for a different and still smaller design, one that had not yet, in fact, been designed.

At a lengthy hearing today at the Board of Standards & Appeals, several community groups and spokespersons for several elected officials applauded Related for its willingness to be responsive to the community. Almost all of the speakers emphasized that they endorsed the new compromise, although almost added that they still had reservations about various aspects of the design.

The new design was recently presented to the board and to various community groups, but was not shown at the hearing. The view above shows the full-block project from the south with West Street on the left and townhouse units on the right. The tower is setback about 35 feet from Bethune Street and about 25 feet from West 12th Street and its lower portion is indented about 4 feet.

Meenakshi Srinivasan, chair of the board, closed the hearing and requested some more financial information and design specifics from Related and indicated that the board will make a decision January 10.

Assemblymember Deborah J. Glick declared in a statement that she appreciates that "Related has taken the unprecedented step of simultaneously submitting for consideration two plans, Plan A which was discussed at the November 2nd BSA hearing and Plan B which is having its initial hearing today," adding that "Related's willingness to listen to their neighbors's desires regarding the placement of the tower is appreciated and has resulted in a plan for the tower's placement which is more appropriate and appears to have significantly less drastic impacts on adjacent buildings than does Plan A." She said, however, that "there remain problems with both plans" and maintained that the board and Related should consider options to lower the project's height and use more traditional materials.

Similar comments were read in a statement by State Senator Thomas K. Duane. The statement said he remains "concerned about the overall height and the possibility of a glass facade." He urged that the board, however, support the plan: "its passage would ensure that the hard work of all parties is rewarded."

Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, testified that "the building is still too tall," adding that "given that a variance must be the minimum necessary, we see no reason why the proposed floor-to-ceiling heights [10 feet cannot be reduced the bring down the overall height of the building. Additionally, we would support moving the mechanicals to the basement of the building to further reduce the building's height and mass if it can be done without contributing to construction impacts."

"We find the stepped out, cantilevered upper section of the building completely inappropriate, and feel strongly that it should be eliminated," Mr. Berman declared, adding that his organization "strongly" urges that the facade design be "re-thought."
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.