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Rendering of 277 Canal Street (Morris Adjmi Architects for Landmarks Preservation Commission) Rendering of 277 Canal Street (Morris Adjmi Architects for Landmarks Preservation Commission)
Updated June 27, 2023 with results and takeaways from the Landmarks hearing.

On Tuesday, June 27, the Landmarks Preservation Commission ("Landmarks") reviewed an application for a vertical extension of 277 Canal Street, a three-story commercial building in the Soho-Cast Iron Historic District Extension. Also known as the Oltarsh Building in honor of designer David Oltarsh, the building dates back to 1927, when it was constructed as the first movie theater in the area. Over 100 years later, it is generating attention as the first building to require Landmarks approval in the wake of the Soho-Noho rezoning that passed at the end of 2021.

“The building…is evocative of the changes that were taking place in the Soho area as a result of transportation improvements and new forms of mass entertainment in the early decades of the 20th century” – Soho-Cast Iron Historic District Extension Designation Report

Developer United American Land is no stranger to Soho, as their portfolio includes the restoration and resiential conversion of 53 Howard Street and 321-323 Canal Street, the latter of which won Landmarks' Lucy G. Moses Award, which has been dubbed "the Oscars of preservation." They have tapped Morris Adjmi Architects, a firm well known for its context-sensitive designs and creative use of brick. Commissioner Jeanne Lutfy noted that this was neither the developer's nor designer's first appearance before Landmarks, and commended them on the approach they applied to this project.

The extension will ultimately bring the building to 13 stories and 145 feet tall, containing 10,000 square feet of retail space and 100 new housing units, which are expected to comprise 20 studios, 45 one-bedrooms, and 35 two-bedrooms (h/t Commercial Observer). Twenty-five will be designated affordable under Mandatory Inclusionary Housing.

↓ The new building will certainly change the streetscape, but will not dramatically alter the local skyline.

New Soho buildings

↓ The extension will feature a textured brick, terra cotta, and metal facade.

277 Canal Street materials

↓ The facade's design nods to the industrial buildings in the historic district.

277 Canal Street facade detail

↓ Renderings depict a crown and cornice at the top of the building.

277 Canal Street crown detail

↓ The original building's brick will be cleaned and repaired, and the original architectural details will be restored to their original glory.

277 Canal Street architectural details

↓ The proposed extension is nowhere near as flashy as that at 837 Washington Street, another David Oltarsh design.

837 Washington Street Meatpacking District

Details are not available on residential amenities, but the greatest perk of all may be its Soho address: The building is a short distance from Soho's designer flagships, independent boutique, popular restaurants and bars, and famous gallery scene. 277 Canal Street is situated directly above the entrance to the Canal Street N/Q/R/W subway stop, up the street from the Canal Street 6 and J/Z stops, and down the street from the Canal Street A/C/E and 1 stops.
As Manhattan Borough President Mark Levine, Manhattan Community Board 2, New York Landmarks Conservancy, Association for a Better New York, and local residents and businesses alike testified in favor of the building, they praised the restoration of the historic building, as well as the materials and congruity of the addition. Chair Sarah Carroll described the project as an exciting opportunity for preservationists to think about growth; but in the end, amidst concerns about certain design elements and the retail-level signage, no action was taken today.
Landmarks did not make its decision based on the promised housing, but almost everyone who testified about the project praised this aspect of it. Local resident Andrew Stern described present-day Soho as a neighborhood for "the rich and rent-controlled," and he's not far off the mark: CityRealty listings show only 127 publicly listed apartments in Soho at a median price of $4,247,500 for condos and $3,750,000 for co-ops. Renters are even less lucky: CityRealty listings show only 92 publicly listed units for rent at a median price of $12,000/month.

Even if Landmarks had approved the building today, there would still still a lengthy construction and restoration project ahead. To that end, we present a selection of Soho apartments currently on the market.
277 Canal Street Present-day 277 Canal Street

147 Sullivan Street, #1A (Corcoran Group)

131 Thompson Street, #3C (Compass)

Charlton House, #6C (Sothebys International Realty)

90 Prince Street, #2S (Serhant LLC)

The West Broadway Arches, #3F (Compass)

508 Broadway, #5 (Douglas Elliman Real Estate)

458 Broome Street, #4FL (Compass)

152 Spring Street, #3 (EXP Realty NYC)

59 Wooster Street, #3 (Luxe Group NYC LLC)

One Kenmare Square, #8BC (Compass)

425 Broome Street, #3N (Douglas Elliman Real Estate)

525 Broome Street, #6FL (Corcoran Group)

Spice Warehouse, #PHB (Douglas Elliman Real Estate)

80 Greene Street, #PH5F (Corcoran Group)

60 Greene Street, #4 (Serhant LLC)

42 Wooster Street, #6N (Serhant LLC)
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