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Thread: 31 West 57th Street - Rizzoli Bookstore - Proposed Demolition

  1. #1
    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Default 31 West 57th Street - Rizzoli Bookstore - Proposed Demolition

    These three buildings should be landmarked!


    Bookstore May Have to Flee the Wrecking Ball, Again

    By CHARLES V. BAGLI


    Rizzoli Bookstore, whose Old World charm, chandeliers and big storefront windows make it a favorite of
    authors and book lovers, is losing what was its home for 29 years on 57th Street. Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times



    http://ny.curbed.com/archives/2014/0...omment-1525555

    Twenty-nine years ago, Rizzoli Bookstore, whose Old World charm, hand-wrought chandeliers and big storefront windows make it a favorite of noted authors, book lovers and tourists, fled Fifth Avenue two steps ahead of the wrecking ball.

    It may now have to take flight again.

    The owners of the building at 31 West 57th Street near Fifth Avenue that houses Rizzoli — the LeFrak real estate family and Vornado Realty Trust — recently gave the bookstore the bad news: They plan to demolish the six-story, 109-year-old building, as well as two small, adjoining buildings.

    The owners declined to describe their plans on 57th Street, where a string of extremely tall and slender ultraluxury towers are under construction.

    “I can’t comment on those buildings,” Harrison T. LeFrak said. “If you have any questions, speak to my partner.”

    A spokesman for Vornado did not return calls requesting comment.

    But one executive who has been briefed on the plans said the owners hoped to find Rizzoli a new home. The executive said the developers had not decided whether to build a commercial or residential tower.

    The developers may not be talking. But many authors, publishers and preservationists were distraught over the possible fate of one of Manhattan’s most revered bookstores and the former mansion it has called home for nearly three decades.

    “We’re losing yet another literary landmark in Midtown,” said Michael Signorelli, senior editor at the publisher Henry Holt. “Rizzoli has three magnificent floors of books.”
    Seven years ago, another favorite, the Gotham Book Mart on East 46th Street, closed. The grand Doubleday and Scribner’s bookstores that once lined Fifth Avenue are long gone. Many others have also shut.

    “It’s sad if we also lose those three limestone mansions, which were converted to commercial uses decades ago,” said Peg Breen, president of the New York Landmarks Conservancy. “There will be very little left on 57th Street that shows how it used to be.

    “I think bookstores in New York City need to be protected at all costs,” she added.

    Pam Sommers, a spokeswoman for Rizzoli New York, said the company was still gathering information.

    Fifty-seventh Street, which had fallen on hard times, became home to a collection of theme restaurants like Planet Hollywood during the 1990s. Today, the developer Gary Barnett is nearing completion of a 1,004-foot apartment tower near Seventh Avenue, where the penthouse is under contract for $90 million. The developer Harry B. Macklowe is building an even taller tower near 57th Street and Fifth Avenue, where the penthouse went for $95 million. The developer Steve Witkoff bought the nearby Park Lane Hotel, where he, too, plans to build an ultraluxury tower.
    For Rizzoli, this is the second time it has had to contend with a real estate boom gobbling available space for more profitable projects.

    Rizzoli Bookstore first opened in 1964 in a five-story, 19th-century building at 712 Fifth Avenue, next to the Coty Building and near both the Doubleday and Scribner’s bookstores.

    During a building boom in the 1980s, a developer set off a firestorm among preservationists when he sought to demolish the Rizzoli and Coty buildings to make way for an office tower.

    As a battle ensued, preservationists discovered that the noted glass designer René Lalique had designed the windows at the base of one of the buildings in the 1860s. The city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission then designated the two buildings as landmarks, temporarily thwarting the project.

    Developers ultimately incorporated the facades of the Rizzoli and Coty buildings into a 50-story tower at 712 Fifth Avenue, home to hedge funds, investment firms and an Henri Bendel store.

    By then, Rizzoli had moved around the corner, to 57th Street, where a 32-foot arch forms the entrance. The architect Hugh Hardy was brought in to restore the onetime mansion to its original glory. From the old store, Rizzoli brought over four chandeliers, the hand-carved marble door frame and portions of the cherry wood paneling.

    The opening night party for the new Rizzoli Bookstore was crowded with diplomats, literary agents, Italian business executives and the writers Joan Didion, Theodore H. White and John Gregory Dunne; the photographer Francesco Scavullo; and the artist Stephen Edlich.

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/15/ny...s&emc=rss&_r=0

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    NYC Aficionado from Oz Merry's Avatar
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    Rizzoli Bookstore Demolition: 57th Street Building Lacks Significance For Landmark Protection, Says NYC Committee

    By Christopher Zara


    Reportedly facing demolition, the building that houses New York’s beloved Rizzoli Bookstore was deemed to lack the
    architectural significance for landmark protection. Rizzoliusa.com


    The building that houses New York’s beloved Rizzoli Bookstore does not meet the criteria for individual landmark status, according to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. The determination was made on Wednesday by the office of Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the commission, which found that the Midtown Manhattan property at 31 West 57th Street “lacks the architectural significance necessary to meet the criteria for designation as an individual landmark.”

    The determination follows reports this week that the charming 109-year-old structure is facing demolition, presumably to make way for yet another luxury condo and adding to the numerous glass towers that have sprouted up like mushrooms along the busy crosstown thoroughfare. Rizzoli is located in one of three adjacent townhouses, all of which will reportedly be demolished. The news has caused an outcry among New York City literary types and preservationists.

    “The sense of what 57th Street once was is getting lost,” said Peg Breen, president of the advocacy group New York Landmarks Conservancy. “I think these are the types of buildings that give you a sense of perspective. Given what’s going on on the rest of the street, you want some memories.”

    In response to reports of a pending demolition, Pam Sommers, a spokeswoman for Rizzoli, released a statement clarifying that the bookstore will remain at its current location for the time being but is “actively seeking new space.”
    The bookstore’s management had requested that the city evaluate the property to determine if it qualifies for landmark protection. In a letter obtained by International Business Times, Marry Beth Betts, a commission researcher, said a senior staff committee carefully reviewed the building but declined to recommend it for further consideration as an individual New York City Landmark.


    Rizzoli and its adjacent buildings are flanked by modern towers on 57th Street. Google Street View

    The bookstore had apparently argued for landmark status on the grounds that the building, not far from Steinway Hall, was once the location of a piano showroom, and is therefore a historic remnant of the city’s influential piano industry. The commission, however, pointed out that it has already commemorated that industry through the designation of Steinway Hall and its first-floor reception room, among other locations.

    “The committee recommends that these sites, in comparison to 31 W. 57th Street, provide a better representation of the piano’s industry’s historic significance to New York City,” Betts wrote.
    Sommers declined to comment on whether Rizzoli will appeal the determination.

    Founded in 1964, Rizzoli has been at its 57th Street location for 29 years. The New York Times reported a pending demolition on Tuesday but said the building’s owners -- the LeFrak real estate family and Vornado Realty Trust -- would not be specific about their plans. The neighborhood, and in particular 57th Street, is falling prey to rapid development. The newly constructed glass giant One57 is said to be the tallest residential building in the city.

    Given the commission’s opinion, Breen said it’s unlikely at this point that the “three little gems” will be saved unless a public backlash is strong enough to convince city officials otherwise. “It’s much more difficult when the developer already owns them and has plans,” she said. “It shouldn’t be the end of it, but it often is.”

    http://www.ibtimes.com/rizzoli-books...ction-says-nyc

  3. #3

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    What a sharp kick in the balls! I cannot believe this BS!

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    Forum Veteran Tectonic's Avatar
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    This is scary. We can't everything but come on!

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    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    57th St along with Central Park South should've been designated a landmark district. Same for Fifth Ave.

    If that had happened, Moinian's facade-obotomy of the Newsweek building wouldn't have occurred and neither would those 57th St townhouses been allowed to be razed for Macklowe's 432 Park Ave.

    Where is the Historic Council or Municipal Arts Society when you actually need them?

  6. #6

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    The building that houses New York’s beloved Rizzoli Bookstore does not meet the criteria for individual landmark status, according to the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission. The determination was made on Wednesday by the office of Robert B. Tierney, chairman of the commission, which found that the Midtown Manhattan property at 31 West 57th Street “lacks the architectural significance necessary to meet the criteria for designation as an individual landmark.”
    In other words...there is no one around that has a significant amount of money to grease their greedy palms for landmark status, so no protection for these three...

  7. #7

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    Nooo! I love that place. Why do they always have to zero in on the best buildings? There are plenty of ugly ones more deserving.

  8. #8

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    “lacks the architectural significance necessary to meet the criteria for designation as an individual landmark.” WTF

    This seems to me some sort of semantic shell game; we are left feeling a bit confused as to what the actual 'point of contention' is, or what exactly is at issue. That building is clearly 'significant' to us WiredNewYorkers: so how can the matter be dismissed in such a doctrinaire manner by this Mr. Tierney.

    The 'real' question is - what is the 'criteria' for "architectural significance". There will be no reasonable answer to THAT question; Mr. Tierney will simply reply - "because I said so". LOL

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    Disgruntled Optimist lofter1's Avatar
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    More like: "Because I was paid to say so"

  10. #10

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    Don't expect any sense of taste or humanity from the "LeFrak real estate family," who are some of the biggest slumlords around. The folks at Gateway apartments (near my home) have not been able to get functioning heat out of LeFrak for years. (http://www.batterypark.tv/real-estat...way-plaza.html) I can only manage the monstrosity they plan for this site. I can promise you the interiors won't resemble anything in those photos!

  11. #11

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    Vornado owns the gold accented 29 West 57th Street too. Fortunately, permits say it's only undergoing a facade restoration. It's unbelievable that building isn't a landmark.
    Perhaps Vornado is racing to start the development given that 3 other potential towers circle the site (the Hassadah to the west, Park Lane to the North, and the Solow-Extell parcels to the south) and with the growing number of anti-shadow/anti-uber rich alarmists, zoning reform may be on the horizon.


    There's a good chance Vornado is going to pimp out Robert AM Stern again. A base on the level of the Ralph Lauren store could mollify the outcry.

    Last edited by Derek2k3; January 20th, 2014 at 12:35 PM.

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    Build the Tower Verre antinimby's Avatar
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    The absolutely mindnumbing destruction of gorgeous structures in this city just keeps on going.

    If they raze 29 W 57, then this city is trash. No city nowadays does this. Other cities preserve or integrate inferior buildings than this into their developments. (I used to think this city was more sophisticated and progressive than most others but stuff like this just undermines what my perception of reality is.)

    29 West 57th St:


    Wikimedia




    ephemeralnewyork
    Last edited by antinimby; January 25th, 2014 at 10:21 PM.

  13. #13

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    D.i.c.k.s.!!!

  14. #14

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    Because they tend to be in valuable locations. And a lot of older buildings have a lot of unused development rights. This has the effect of putting a bull's eye on them.

    Quote Originally Posted by mariab View Post
    Nooo! I love that place. Why do they always have to zero in on the best buildings? There are plenty of ugly ones more deserving.

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    Jersey Patriot JCMAN320's Avatar
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    This is absolutely unconscionable!!! Antinimby I agree with you; no city nowadays in their right mind would destroy buildings of this beauty and historic significance. Unfortunately like the article above states, I don't think there will be enough of a public outcry; I think people have gotten to apathetic to this type of stuff.

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