January 4, 2010

LPC Docket Number: 110828
Brooklyn, Block: 5237, Lot: 142
69 Dekoven Court aka 700 East 17th Street – Fiske Terrace-Midwood Park Historic District

A Queen Anne style house built in 1903. Application is to legalize the construction of a garage addition commenced without LPC permits.

HDC Testimony
As with other applications for legalization, this proposal should be judged as if it were being brought here as a new project, not one already in process.  Although the proposed is considerate of the house’s Queen Anne style, in the context of the historic district and its development, it is not appropriate.  As the map of the block illustrates, there are no other attached garages.  Instead there are detatched garages set back away from the houses.  Unlike later suburban historic districts, Fiske Terrace-Midwood Park developed when the automobile was still a novelty, not yet an integral piece of the family that was kept in its own room of the house.  Besides the inappropriateness of an attached garages here in this neighborhood, the addition would be a very tight squeeze, cluttering the open, green space integral to a garden suburb.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

LPC Docket Number: 114242
Manhattan, Block: 485, Lot: 34
454 Broome Street aka 65-67 Mercer Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

A store building designed by Samuel Warner and built in 1879-80. Application is to replace granite sidewalks slabs with concrete paving.

HDC Testimony
HDC has long viewed historic paving material as integral pieces of an historic district, particularly in SoHo, and so it should come as no surprise that we oppose this application.  The commission too has been strong in its stance to retain this historic fabric.  In recent years, other applicants have been guided toward more creative solutions when dealing with damaged paving such as turning over the granite or cutting thinner pieces of it that can be set on top of concrete.  Yes, this is more work and more money than simply pouring concrete, but it helps preserve the overall character of the area that has attracted such business here in the first place.  In order to reap the benefits of a thriving historic district, it is critical to invest time, effort and money into its preservation.

LPC Determination: Denied

LPC Docket Number: 113352
Manhattan, Block: 697, Lot: 31
259 10th Avenue – West Chelsea Historic District

An Industrial Modern style warehouse building designed by Cass Gilbert and built in 1927-28. Application is to alter the ground floor, construct rooftop additions, and install mechanical equipment.


HDC Testimony
In general, HDC finds the proposed alterations appropriate, but we do feel the rooftop addition needs to be restudied.  As proposed, it is very visible, both from the nearby corners and of course the High Line, and throws off the symmetry of Cass Gilbert’s very thoughtful design.

Built for the R.C. Williams grocery company around the time of its 115th anniversary, the building’s design and history literally parallel the High Line.  It is interesting that the architect for the impressive U.S. Custom House and the Woolworth Building downtown was chosen as the architect for this building, a clear sign of the company’s wealth and prominence.  The result is certainly one of the most impressive structures in the district.

The Edison Monthly in 1928 described the building best:  “Simplicity is the keynote of the building, and yet its solidity and symmetry of line bear witness to the skill of the architect, Mr. Cass Gilbert. No frills would be appropriate here, for the business of dispensing coffee and sugar, flour, cheese and pineapples is an intensely practical one. Everything for use, is the principle embodied in this building…”

HDC asks that the simplicity, solidity, and symmetry of this historic structure be preserved and that a rooftop addition that is less visible and/or more symmetrical be designed.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

Posted Under: HDC@LPC