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

Carter's View

The Board of Standards & Appeals today approved a zoning variance for a 190-foot-high residential condominium development by The Related Companies at 469 West Street, which is also known as 70 Bethune Street, in the Far West Village.

The project will be developed on the site of the Superior Inks factory. It has been designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, which designed the curved blue-glass tower at Astor Place now nearing completed for Related.

Related initially proposed a similar tower for the Superior Inks site, but encountered opposition by preservationists who were campaigning for a rezoning of the neighborhood that would, among other things, lower the permissible height of some buildings.

The Superior Inks site was ultimately not included in the rezoning that was enacted, but Related revised its design several times by lowering its height and reverting to a rectilinear design. The original design called for a 210,000-square-foot building that would have been 270 feet height.

In a dramatic, last-minute compromise with preservationists and neighborhood groups the night before the previous hearing on the building at the Board of Standards and Appeals, Related agreed to lower the building to 190 feet and to reduce its size to 190,000 square feet.

A recent, but not final rendering of the building's facade along Bethune Street is shown at the right. The building's tower is at the western end of the site and setback from the sidestreets.

Andrew Berman, the executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said he was "grateful" for the "partial victory" in getting the Board to reduce the size of the building, but, he continued, "we will still fight to landmark the wonderful Superior Inks factory, the last working factory along the Greenwich Village waterfront and long a local landmark with its twin smokestacks."

Mr. Berman also said his organization "will continue to push Related to further reduce the size and height o the building they are proposing, and to eliminate the 10-story-high glass walls they are proposing, which are totally inappropriate.

His organization submitted a landmarking plan and Mr. Berman said that the city has "proposed to landmark about five blocks and 50 buildings in the Far West Village, but has not yet included this site."

"Greenwich Village is a special and historic place, and we don't want it to become another glass high rise Miami," Mr. Berman said.

Mr. Berman sent a letter January 9 to Robert Tierney, chairman of the city's Landmarks Preservation Commission, in which he described the building as "an important historic link to the time when the Greenwich Village waterfront was the center of the busiest working waterfront of the world, which was responsible for New York's rise as the world capitol of commerce."

"Built in 1919-21 as a cracker factory for Nabisco, this was part of a broader complex of Nabisco buildings in the area, the bulk of which is located a few blocks to the north on 15th Street, in what is now known as Chelsea Market," he wrote, adding that "The architect, A. G. Zimmerman, and the Nabisco President, Adolphus Green, appear to have been aware of and influenced by emerging contemporary German ideas about utilitarian and industrial design, and Zimmerman's broad bays and functional design betray his own Chicago roots."

The board closed hearings on two other controversial projects in the Far West Village, 163 Charles Street and 164-172 Perry Street, both small but modern mid-block projects close to the three towers designed by Richard Meier along West Street not too far south of the Superior Inks site.

The board is expected to issue decisions on those projects January 31.
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.
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