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Carter's View

Community Board 1 last night recommended that the Landmarks Preservation Commission approve a plan designed by Joseph Pell Lombardi to restore a 1905 coffee warehouse at 401-411 Washington Street and integrate it with a new 7-story building on the adjacent site at 414-422 Washington Street that will be a "photographic negative" of the warehouse building.

The "photographic negative" on the new structure will be a facade of cast marine grade aluminum with a stainless steel and zinc, thermal spray and burnish furnish that will have virtually identical detailing to existing warehouse building.

The warehouse building also is known as 71-77 Laight Street and the plan calls for it be converted to a residential use and have a one-story roof addition. The restoration plan will replace the terracotta cornice and clean and replace the dark red-brick facades and restore the loading docks and canopies as well as replace the existing windows and doors and restore the limestone and granite base.

The plan also calls for a partial demolition of secondary facades on the warehouse building to create an internal court yard adjoining the new building, which is now occupied by a one-story garage structure from the 1950s but which will become a mirror of the warehouse building except for the facade color.

The garage structure is a 'non-contributing" building in the TriBeCa Historic District and the new building will be "monochromatic silver/gray."

The board's resolution said that its landmarks committee was "intrigued by the use of the material and most members felt that with strict management of the maintenance this building would be an interesting, contextual addition to the historic district."

In addition to needing a certificate of appropriateness from the landmarks commission, this project needs a variance from the Board of Standards and Appeals.

An article by Mark Wellborn in the September 17, 2007 edition of The New York Observer reported that "401 Washington Street and 422 Greenwich Street, two industrial properties in north Tribeca, closed in a package deal for $57 million, according to city records." "The seller was the Usdan family, which had owned the buildings for decades, according to a source familiar with the deal," the article continued, adding that "The deed listed the buyer, 71 Laight Street, LLC, as having an address in Burgos, Spain, a city renowned for its Gothic cathedrals and monasteries, not its budding real estate development."

Mr. Lombardi has been one of the most active architects of residential conversion projects in Lower Manhattan for many years. His other current conversion projects in the TriBeCa area include the Fairchild and Foster Atelier at 415 Washington Street and the Pearline Soap Atelier at 414 Washington Street.
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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.
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