Part of Downtown Landmark Proposed to be demolished

From the Tribeca Trib

Owner Asks to Demolish Part of Landmark

By Carl Glassman
POSTED MARCH 30, 2007

Among its many Downtown holdings, Swig Equities owns a city protected landmark, the massive 25 Broad Street. It’s “a magnificent property,” Kent Swig, the company’s president, says of the 105 year-old former office building. Most of it, that is.

Swig is seeking permission from the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to “decertify” the landmark status of a rear wing of the building, which would allow him to demolish it.

The owner is converting the 315-apartment rental building into condominiums. The elimination of the 20-story wing (only the first floor would remain) would allow Swig to create views for the new condos in that part of the building, and “transfer” that bulk by adding 12 stories to what otherwise would be a 35-story tower he plans to construct nearby, at 45 Broad Street.

In return, Swig would restore the building’s exterior.

Last month, he made his pitch to the Landmarks Committee of Community Board 1, which is advisory to the Landmarks Commission.

“Can we actually remove this section, place the bulk [on 45 Broad Street] and put in all the dollars that are necessary into a piece of the building that people will see and enjoy?” Swig asked.

Swig said the wing is only 16 percent of the entire building and, in any event, would be nearly hidden by other buildings going up around it. In addition, he argued, much of the exterior has been altered over the years.

“When one looks at the whole building, it’s pretty clear that [the wing] is a secondary feature,” Swig told the board.

Most members of the committee seemed to agree that the building section could come down, but they took exception to other alterations to the building and especially were not happy that the new tower, 45 Broad Street, would grow taller as a result.

“This is a canyon area and it will just become more so,” said committee member Marc Donnenfeld.

Roger Byrom, the committee’s co-chair, had a suggestion. “Are you prepared to consider [offering] something that the community would get a benefit from?”

“We’re very active Downtown,” said Swig, whose company, by his own reckoning, owns “eight or nine” buildings in the Financial District. “So I think we’re willing to look at anything that’s reasonable and makes sense to the community.”

Matters of bulk transfer are not the purview of the Landmarks Committee and in a telephone interview with the Trib, Swig made it clear that a public amenity could not be exchanged for approval of his plans. Byrom, too, said no tradeoff was on the table.

Nevertheless, Swig, who bought the building for a reported $200 million in 2005 from Crescent Heights—its principal, Bruce Menin, is the husband of CB1 chair Julie Menin—said he was prepared to offer a public amenity in another one of his buildings “just because it’s a nice thing.”

Having later met with several board members, Swig said he has an idea “which they are thrilled over.” Neither he nor Byrom would say what that is but Byrom called it “exciting.” Swig returns to the committee April 12 to again discuss proposed alterations to his building.

Menin said she will recuse herself for the board’s vote on Swig’s plan because she lives at 25 Broad Street.

Posted Under: Demolition, Lower Manhattan

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