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Thread: A Preservation Dilemma

  1. #1

    Default A Preservation Dilemma

    November 2, 2003

    MORNINGSIDE HEIGHTS

    The Cost of Terra-Cotta Charm? A 15-Story Residential Tower

    By DENNY LEE


    Plan A: Squat and boxy.


    Plan B:Thinner but taller.

    It is the dilemma of every foe of developers who happens to also be a preservationist, a description that seems to fit a fair number of Morningside Heights residents.

    The dilemma is this: The owners of a two-story terra-cotta building on the northeast corner of 110th Street and Broadway have presented neighbors with a tough choice. Either preserve a quirky 92-year-old building with a tower added or permit a bulkier structure in its place that would block light and air.

    The first plan calls for a slender 15-story residential building that would sit on top of the old two-story structure that currently houses the West Side Market and a bagel shop. This approach would maintain a low-scale street wall along Broadway, and preserve what the architectural historian Andrew S. Dolkart calls "the only architecturally notable" commercial structure in the area.

    The design, however, requires a zoning variance to allow a taller structure on the site. An alternative plan, which does not require any zoning change, calls for razing the terra-cotta structure and replacing it with a boxy 11-story building. It would sit squat with the sidewalk, creating an imposing street wall. Under both plans, the new structure would contain luxury apartments.

    Even tenants of the same building are of two minds on the subject.

    "For the last 27 years, I've had views of the Hudson River," said Miriam Winocour, who lives on the top floor of a 14-story apartment building behind the site. She opposes the tower plan, she said, because "two of my windows would be filled in with bricks."

    But Chris Doeblin, who lives on the third floor of the same building, sees things differently. "I'm going to lose my view anyway," he said. "The issue is the greatest good for the greatest many."

    Nearby residents are also divided. Some focus on the street and the architectural charms of the two-story structure, while others look to the sky and the height of existing buildings. Still others are undecided.

    "I haven't made up my mind," said Assemblyman Daniel J. O'Donnell, who lives on West 111th Street and who attended a Community Board 9 presentation on the plans two weeks ago. "It's not only about whose light and air. There are also issues of contextual zoning."

    As far as the developers are concerned, the choice is simple.

    "The community would prefer to see the terra-cotta building restored and preserved," said Michele de Milly, a publicist for Surtsey Realty, the company that bought the site in 1981. Not coincidentally, she said, the taller building is also more profitable.


    Copyright 2003 The New York Times Company

  2. #2
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    I prefer the tower plan, obviously.

  3. #3
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    As if we could not get one more reason to build tall buildings.

    Preserve the terra cotta structure and build the tower!

  4. #4

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    Not much of a tower anyway. Ridiculous affair.

  5. #5

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    I would consider the lower building bulkier than the high-rise, anyway. This is the reason we have complicated air-rights zoning. Thinner and taller is assumed to be better than low and bulky (at least for residential uses), and these illustrations show that nicely.

    The top rendering looks like the kinds of buildings they're forced to design in Washington, DC.

  6. #6

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    Plan B has a very nice relationship to the existing mid-rise apartment building, but—zoning regulations aside—I would like to see it brought all the way out to Broadway. Keep the darn two-story terra cotta façade if you think it’s so valuable, but Broadway should be lined with taller buildings that make a nice, tall street wall and screen views into the undesigned and scruffy interiors of the blocks. Shadows are a red herring, and views are not a right.

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Wieland
    Not much of a tower anyway. Ridiculous affair.
    Not everything needs to be super-gigantiferous to be considered a tower.

  8. #8

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    More info and renderings here: http://www.pbdw.com/

    From MorningsideHeights.net

    http://www.morningside-heights.net/westsidemarkets.htm

    West Side Markets Tower on Broadway
    A developer, Surtsey Realty Company, a company of Howard Katz, has announced plans to build an apartment building on the West Side Markets site. The developer of the project is Broadway 110 Developers LLC, an affiliate of Surtsey Realty Co. LLC, which has owned the property since 1981. The principals of Surtsey have been in the real estate business -- as owners, managers, and developers -- for over 50 years. Some of their other prominent properties on the Upper West Side in Manhattan include the Beacon Theatre and Hotel, which is operated as a full-service hotel, and the Alden and Oliver Cromwell Hotels, which were converted to residential use in the mid-1980s. In the 1960s, Surtsey Realty began converting to co-ops several of the distinctive West Side properties it owned such as 345 Riverside Drive and 600 West 111th Street.
    The architects are Platt Byard Dovell White, a fine firm with some good preservationist work, like the restoration of Columbia's Casa Italiana, in its past.

    UPDATE 10/22/03: Plans were presented to CB9 last night. There are two options: a low-rise 10-story building as-of-right, and a 16 story tower with a variance. The tower would avoid demolishing the West Side Markets building itself, though it would destroy the old Chemical Bank building.

    "We would like the opportunity to save the old building," said Paul Byard, one of the architects presenting the project. Opting to build further east would also keep construction from interfering with the subway at 110th Street. However, this option would require waivers from the community approving the additional height the architects want over the 85 feet allowed by current zoning laws. The terra-cotta building that, according to Byard, has become "an icon of this neighborhood," would undergo renovations throughout the course of the construction next door, ranging from reglazing the roof tiles to adding a metal and glass canopy in front.

    The proposed renovations would require about three months less time to complete than demolishing the building and starting anew, but the project would still take an estimated 17-18 months total, during which time the commercial tenants of the building would be unable to operate there.

    Michele de Milly, the public relations official representing Surtsey Realty Company, LLC, said that West Side Market would be welcome to return once renovations were complete. "If they wish to come back into this building, they'll be welcome," she said. "The idea is to have neighborhood retail in those spaces."

    The owners propose to construct a 15-story mixed-use development with approximately 88,000 square feet of residential space, 91 parking spaces and approximately 10,000 square feet of new and renovated retail space. The architecture and interior design of the residential building will provide all the amenities mandated under the City’s “quality housing” program. The total square-footage (98,169) of the proposed new building is the same as that permitted on an “as of right” basis on this site. However, as-of-right massing constraints would cause the terracotta building to be demolished and replaced with an 11-story squat, bulky building built to the street line on Broadway, which would diminish the light and air along 110th Street and Broadway.

    In order to maintain the light, air, and open space at this important intersection and to preserve the existing low-rise tile and terracotta building, the new structure will be pulled back from Broadway by 58 feet, creating a significant set-back from the avenue. The current configuration of buildings allows a generous amount of light and air along both Broadway and 110th Street; the setting of the new building’s residences is designed to ensure that much of this light and air will be preserved.

    The new building will contain sizeable, family-oriented condominiums -- larger (and therefore fewer) units than permitted in the as-of-right scheme -- 55 units versus 119. Along with four retail spaces on the ground floor, the plan calls for 91 underground parking spaces. The new building, which is immediately adjacent to a 14-story building, will rise to a total of 176 feet, with 15 stories and a mechanical floor above. There will be three set-backs along Broadway: 58 feet at the third floor, a total of 66 feet at the 14th floor, and 84 feet at the 15th floor. There will be two set-backs along 110th Street: 10 feet at the 13th floor and 12 feet 6 inches at the 14th floor.

    DEVELOPMENT TIMETABLE
    Construction Start: Spring 2004
    Retail Occupancy: Spring 2005
    Tenant Occupancy: Fall 2005


    PROJECT TEAM
    Architects: Platt Byard Dovell White LLC
    Historical Consultant: Higgins & Quasebarth
    Mechanical Engineers: George Langer Associates
    Structural Engineers: Rosenwasser & Grossman
    Construction Management: Pavarini McGovern


    FOR FURTHER INFORMATION
    Michele de Milly
    Geto & de Milly, Inc.
    212.686.4551
    mdemilly@getodemilly.com




    :roll:


    :x

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by TLOZ Link5
    Quote Originally Posted by Christian Wieland
    Not much of a tower anyway. Ridiculous affair.
    Not everything needs to be super-gigantiferous to be considered a tower.
    As far as I know, "not much of..." doesn't mean "not...". I'm not denying that it's a tower; the point is that the use of the word is enough to get an overreaction from those reactionaries.

  10. #10

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    I agree that the last one looks much better, it 'Fits' with the surrounding buildings instead of overpowering them.

  11. #11
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    First of all, it's pretty much the same height as the building next to it, for God's sake!

    Second, the tower is far superior and I even like the tower with the preserved bank facade, apparently not an option.

    I would like to see the tower go up to 20 floors, too.

    I love the person saying I'll now have brick in my window. Well, move next door, then.

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    Of the three rendering options I like the third the best- even with that Alamo-esque building. Cities need visual density and New York is no exception to that.

    I will recind my vote for the tower if either option number three or two is the candidate.

    his remids me of a similar issues that some condo owners started near where I work. They purchased condos that faced an alley, mainly because the site across the alley was vacant. Both site are located mid-block.

    Then a developer came and constructed a 14 story building on the site and blocked the views. They sued there developer for not letting them know of the impending building. The case was dismissed, but even if their developer knew, my opinion was that these people where expecting something that was not possible ( and a little greedy since they had a hard time selling their units).

  13. #13

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    How about the first plan, "Tower Plan with Variance", but including the bank facade?

    That would be the nicest... I'm not sure why they didn't include it.

  14. #14

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    Well this could use an update. The "as of right" tower is under construction right now. The developer became frustrated when a local, opposed to any development that would block his view, apparently, persisted in his fight even after the developer had agreed to the "variance" plan. The enraged developer decided to forego all previous compromise and seize the opportunity to gain the highest square footage. The result will be the bulkier building.

  15. #15

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    The first design without the historic structure is the better building. It looks like something you would have expected to see go up on 5th or maybe Madison in the 1960´s... classy cool elegant good taste. Nothing earth-shattering but timeless and expensive looking... It looks corporate rather than residential but still...and I think it would be fine for this area.

    It would be nice to keep the low structure however. Upper B´way was a mix of these small structures sitting along side big apartment houses up until the 1980´s when so many were torn down for new condos.

    But the building they´ve come up with has too much glass and dumb balconies... if it could have to elegance of the first design, the idea of incorporating the old building would be the right choice.

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