May 3, 2011

Item 10
117324- Block 195, lot 26-
178 Dean Street – Boerum Hill Historic Distric
A modified Italianate style rowhouse built in 1859. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions.


While we applaud the restoration work going on at the front facade, HDC feels this application for rooftop and rear yard additions is too much for this small rowhouse and this very pristine garden core.  The further extension of this rear yard addition will only encourage neighbors to build further in order to catch up.  The rear façade becomes barely recognizable with the first two floors primarily of glass.  More masonry is needed on these lower floors instead.  While we appreciate that the location and width of the top floor openings will remain the same, HDC would rather only one window be altered to create a door.  Also we are curious to know if the  window lintels on the top floor are historic.  If they are, they should be retained.

LPC determination:  No action

Item 18
118028- Block 514, lot 7&9-
146-150 Wooster Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic Distri
A garage built or altered from an earlier structure in the early 20th century, and a parking lot. Application is to demolish the existing building and construct a new building.


The 2008 Certificate of Appropriateness  to legalize painting the façade and installation of new doors here at 150 Wooster noted that “the building’s style, scale, materials and details contribute to the special architectural and historic character of the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District.”  It makes one wonder what has happened in the past three years that would make this early 20th-Century garage a candidate for demolition.

Of the 500 buildings designated in 1973 in the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District, 61 were one- or two-story buildings.  I use the past tense because a dozen have since been demolished or significantly added to, and in the process a piece of this area’s story has been whittle away. Instead of demolition, HDC feels a more appropriate new structure would incorporate this historic building.  For example, the front third or so of the garage could be retained for use as a lobby and build the new structure behind and around it.  That is just one idea, and the talented team working on this project could certainly come up with others.

LPC determination:  Approved

Item 27
117678- Block 821, lot 1-
636 6th Avenue aka 56 W. 19th Street – Ladies’ Mile Historic District

A neo-Renaissance style store building designed by Buchman and Deisler and constructed in 1896. Application is to replace entrance infill, install a canopy, and remove fire escapes.


HDC applauds the applicant for the restorative work planned for the neo-Renaissance Alexander Building.  We are equally grateful that they have searched out and presented the historic drawings for the landmark.  Our only wish now is that those drawings are more closely followed for the new entrance.  The proposed entrance canopy and infill feel too transparent and generic.  Wooden doors with window panels, like those seen in the historic drawing, would provide the transparency needed.  Framing around the lower transom would also help create a proper entrance, not just a wall of glass.  The base of this impressive building has been less than impressive for too long, and a storefront master plan is sorely needed.  While such an official plan will not come out of this application, this is a chance to create a starting point for how the rest of the base is treated in the future.

As to the removal of fire escapes, it would be nice to keep the older more ornate one that does not interfere with the cornice.  This fire escape does not appear to harm the building and for the sake of variety and history it should be retained.

LPC determination:  Approved

Item 29
113442- Block 745, lot 58-
338 West 22nd Street – Chelsea Extension Historic District

A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1836. Application is to construct rooftop and rear additions and install new window openings.

chels beforechels after

The proposal seems to have been changed slightly from what we saw at Public Review Friday, primarily for the better.  While we understand that a nice plan for restoration is in the works for the front façade 338 West 22nd Street, HDC wishes similar thought and respect would be shown on the rear façade.  The simple, nicely intact historic façade along with its windows and lintels would be lost in this plan for rooftop and rear additions   Considering the rarity of this 1830’s façade, HDC asks that the Commission extend its usual ruling to preserve at least the top two floors, much like you decided in January for 291 West 4th Street, a house just eight years older than this one.  The rooftop addition should also be pulled back more from the rear wall in order to help this façade maintain its integrity.

LPC determination:  Approved with modifications

Item 31
118018- Block 1111, lot 1-
Central Park, Cherry Hill Concourse – Scenic Landmark

A former carriage concourse and surrounding landscape and pathways, within an English Romantic style public park designed by Olmsted and Vaux in 1856. Application is to replace paving, furnishing and landscaping.

The Historic Districts Council is the advocate for New York City’s designated historic districts and neighborhoods meriting preservation. Its Public Review Committee monitors proposed changes within historic districts and changes to individual landmarks and has reviewed the application now before the Commission.

While we wish to preserve Central Park, each generation has left its mark there over the past century and a half.  Some of these alterations have proven to be  incompatible, wear out, or are quickly dated.  Others like the adventure playgrounds, the Alice in Wonderland statue, and the boathouse to name a just few have added to the richness of the park and should be preserved.  The Cherry Hill Concourse happily falls into this latter category.

The space is in good condition with only the asphalt needing an overhaul.  A nicer material such as belgian block or that perennial park favorite, hex pavers, could be put in its place.  HDC questions the use of resin aggregate.  It has not been approved for use elsewhere in the park, and it is not known how well it will work here.  This important, busy spot should not be used as a test case.   This 1980 design, old enough now to be considered historic, by noted preservation landscape architect Philip Winslow is not only a handsome design, but also reflects an important piece of Central Park’s history – its rebirth – and it is worth preserving.

LPC determination:  Approved with modifications (retain the brick  and stone work)

Posted Under: HDC@LPC