It seems it will look like the rest of Kaufman's stuff -- awkwardly set back from the streetwall / boring brick / cheap windows / bad massing / blank walls rising above existing low-rise buildings...
More on the Kaufman / Chang gang ...
"Nothing Is Right" with Front of New Hotel
by Carl Glassman
Landmarks Preservation commissioners are vigilant in protecting the city’s historic districts from inappropriate construction. So it is not unusual for them to say no to a proposed facade alteration or a design for a new building that is presented for their approval.
Rarely, however, do they recoil in horror.
That was the reaction at a recent landmarks hearing when architect Gene Kaufman showed a picture of a new hotel of his design, now partially completed at 320 Pearl St. in the South Street Seaport Historic District.
It was Commissioner Sherida Paulsen’s gasp that shattered the calm of the staid chamber, but her colleagues appeared equally aghast at the sight of the building, which bore little resemblance to the project that the commission had already approved as suitable for the district.
”Unbelievable,” said one commissioner. “Shocking!” exclaimed another.
“The entire front facade was built wrong. There’s nothing about it that’s right,” Kaufman acknowledged dryly. He went on to enumerate the construction mistakes: all the masonry work, the missing cornice, the window and parapet heights, the lintels and sills made of the wrong material, the stair bulkheads finished in brick instead of stucco, and the construction above the roofline that was supposed to be invisible from the street, but isn’t.
“Are you sure you didn’t have somebody else’s drawings when you did this?” a commissioner asked Kaufman.
The architect responded that he was relieved to discover that the floor heights were okay.
“Other than the floor heights, is there anything else that is correct?’ another commissioner asked.
“[The builder] actually got the floor plan almost 100 percent of what it’s supposed to be,” Kaufman replied, to laughter.
Kaufman came to the July 22 hearing to seek approval for mistakes that would be especially costly to correct. He asked to preserve the top two floor and stair bulk head at its present height and location. And he also sought to build relief elements to the facade that would protrude four inches over the building line. The alternative would be to move back the entire building front. The commissioners unanimously denied his requests.
In his presentations before the Landmarks Commission as well as Community Board 1’s Landmarks Committee (which lambasted the developer’s “cynical disregard…for the public sector and the public review process”), Kaufman said he did not have a “good explanation,” for what happened. “We were not part of the construction administration,” he said.
In an interview later, Kaufman said that “everything will be corrected.”
Neil Shah, director of development for the Hersha Group, one of the hotel’s developers and its future operator, said that “everything got screwed up” because of “miscommunication” between Kaufman and Sam Chang, the builder and part owner.
“Everyone was out of the loop, but it shouldn’t be that way. That problem shouldn’t have occurred,” he said. “We didn’t oversee it as we should have. You can bet we will now.”
Chang did not return repeated calls for comment.
The debacle on Pearl Street may have reverberations in Tribeca, where Kaufman is the architect for two other hotels to be built by Chang.
Neighbors of a 45-room hotel planned for 130 Duane Street have feared the impact of the building on the neighborhood, and voiced their doubts about the developer, which includes Hersha as well as Chang.
Originally planned as a 66-room hotel to be developed by Chang, the proposal was revised as an apartment building before it finally was approved by Landmarks following much community opposition. Last November, when excavation on the foundation began, residents were appalled to discover that the building would be a hotel (albeit with fewer rooms) after all.
“We don’t trust you, we don’t have a good relationship with you and you’ve told us things that are not true,” Jean Grillo, head of the Duane/Thomas Neighborhood Association, told Shah at a CB1 meeting in January, where he had appeared to answer residents’ concerns.
According to Kaufman, construction is awaiting approval from the Metropolitan Transit Authority because the building is near a subway tunnel.
Kaufman, with Chang as developer, also is designing a 150-room hotel at 6 York St., behind the American Thread Building, at 260 West Broadway. Many residents there have expressed concerns, too, but detailed plans for the hotel are yet to be released.
Aside from its landmarks problems, 320 Pearl St. has been mired in a legal dispute between the developer and next-door neighbors at 324 Pearl St., who filed a temporary restraining order in June 2002 to halt excavation work that began, they said, without required notice. According to the residents, the pounding of concrete was shaking their 120-year old building so badly that pictures fell from walls and fixtures swung from ceilings. Some residents left, fearing a collapse.
The developer’s lawyer, Michael Mongelli, called the co-op’s safety complaints “unfounded” and is suing the tenants for losses resulting from the work stoppage.
In the meantime, 320 Pearl Street awaits a big face lift and is months behind schedule.
Karen Stonely, the co-op’s president, said she is terrified by the prospect of more delays and prolonged construction. “We just want it to be over,” she said.