Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on October 24, 2017

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.

Item 2
19 Fillmore Place – Fillmore Place Historic District
An Italianate style flats building built c. 1853. Application is to construct a rear yard addition and alter rear façade.
HDC objects to the proposed rear yard addition. The only precedents for rear yard extensions in this historic district are 2 story full-width extensions, which can be seen at the house adjacent to 19 Fillmore. At the very least, this addition should be scaled down to follow that adjacent addition, which would preserve the masonry and window openings as the neighbor has. This is the only historic district in this neighborhood. If this look is what the applicant desires, there are many non-historic buildings to choose from in Williamsburg.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Item 10
A taxpayer built in 1955 and a one-story restaurant and shop. Application is to demolish buildings and construct a new building on both lots.
This historic district is characterized by a general uniform cornice height of between 76 to 88 feet tall, many of which are cast-iron buildings. Using this context, it is clear that the proposed building is simply too large for this location and surroundings—its massing is completely unlike anything on this block. The proposed building should maintain and fortify the existing cornice line of adjacent buildings, not loom over them. This building will top out at 135 feet, which will hulk even above the tallest, nearest building across the street which terminates at only nine stories. HDC reminds Commissioners that nothing is as-of-right in an historic district, and a new building which is larger than the existing could work on this corner if its massing is reduced to work as a part of the existing fabric. As it stands, the bulk of this proposal is simply far too incongruous with the existing historic district to even be discussing the merits or details of its design.

LPC determination: NO ACTION


Item 11
A stable designed by H. Hasenstein and built in 1896. Application is to replace a sign installed without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).
Our committee hopes the applicant will rethink their proposed sign. The 1969 designation photo shows a sign with a mounting armature and pin at the second floor that appears to still exist. Perhaps these elements could be utilized, a solution that would replicate historic fabric and keep the sign at the level of the actual establishment, as opposed to outside someone’s upper story apartment.

LPC determination: Approved

Item 12

337 Lafayette Street – NoHo Historic District Extension
A Utilitarian style store and loft building designed by Louis A. Sheinart and built in 1922. Application is to install banner signs.
HDC finds the proposed signage to be excessive in both size and number. One corner sign could easily do the job of the three large signs that the applicant is proposing.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Item 13

52 King Street – Charlton-King-Vandam Historic District
A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1841. Application is to remove metal caps at lintels and sills.
This application amounts to nothing more than a proposal to remove historic fabric, specifically metal lintel caps that are attractive historic features. Perhaps removal of these features with a specific proposal for some kind of restoration may be appropriate, but this application includes no such proposal. The applicants should return to the LPC when they have a coherent and comprehensive restoration plan, as opposed to just removing historic features. These features, while they may not be original are historic and an integral part of the façade.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Item 14
An Italianate style rowhouse built in 1853. Application is to install awnings and signage.
HDC finds the proposed signage to be excessive. The blade sign’s removal is positive, but the second floor awnings’ signage appears too busy and detracts from the residential character of the building, and it would be a big improvement to remove this as well.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Item 15

181 Bleecker Street – South Village Historic District
A stripped Greek Revival style rowhouse originally built in 1829. Application is to reconstruct the primary façade above the ground floor.
While the proposed façade re-design will harmonize some features, it truly needs further study. The tax photo displays defining and attractive features such as a cornice, storefront, and original window openings. HDC suggests incorporating these major features, which will assist the design in proportion. For instance, the current window openings are too small for the building, which are further emphasized by the large swath of brick where a cornice should be.  The ground floor remains unresolved in the proposed elevation, with a picture window and innappropriate doors. Overall, for all the work, the final composition still comes across as a mediocre building and a wholesale, unifying design should be conceived and then implemented.

LPC determination: Approved

Item 16
18 East 50th Street – Individual Landmark
A neo-Gothic style commercial building designed by Rouse & Goldstone and Joseph L. Steinam and built in 1915-16. Application is to modify storefront infill and relocate flagpoles.
While this storefront proposal is an improvement to the façade of this building, HDC asks that the applicant push the glazing all the way back to its original plane. The deep recess behind the arches was a characteristic of the building’s design to have an imposing, striking entrance. If the glass were pushed all the way back, the loggia space beneath the arches would be restored and make for an attractive entry without sacrificing much square footage or the programmatic needs of the tenant. Re-exposing this defining feature, rather than continuing to cover it behind glass, is very much the caliber of work that would strengthen and restore this individual landmark.

LPC determination: Approved

Item 17
3 Riverside Drive – Individual Landmark
A French Renaissance Revival style town house designed by C.P.H. Gilbert and built in 1896-98. Application is to excavate the cellar and rear yard, and construct below-grade additions.
HDC is puzzled as to why a two-story, or 21 foot excavation is necessary. Incorporating not one, but two subcellars is certainly the deepest excavation that we have ever seen. As with all excavations, we are concerned about the safety of the building and its surrounding neighbors. No engineering information was provided about how this excavation will be conducted or if there will be underpinning. HDC asks Commissioners to look closely at the floor plans of these spaces and determine if the second subcellar is appropriate or necessary, especially as one has to pass through a “storage room” that is even further below-grade to access the basketball court.
LPC determination: Approved with modifications

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