$130 million secured to invest in 35 under-resourced parks throughout NYC. On October 7, 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio and Department of Parks & Recreation Commissioner Mitchell J. Silver announced a $130 million investment in 35 community parks throughout the five boroughs. This is the first phase of a multi-faceted program to support investment in the most under-resourced parks and communities, known as the Community Parks Initiative. The Mayor’s capital budget raised $110 million of program financing. The City Council, Borough Presidents, and foundation grants cumulatively contributed another $20 million.
The project was approved by City Planning despite opposition from the Community Board, Borough President, and the local Council Member. On October 20, 2014 the City Council Subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises will hold hearings on the proposed Astoria Cove mixed-use development project. The project, designed by Alma Realty, is the first project subject to Mayor de Blasio’s mandatory inclusionary zoning housing requirement. Despite the requirement, the project has faced opposition from community groups and elected leaders arguing the designated affordable units are too expensive for current Astoria residents.
Following criticism of earlier design from preservationists and the local Council member, applicants revised design to better integrate with district and reconcile two distinct facades. On October 7, 2014, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to approve an application to demolish an existing one-story building and construct a new five-story development at 192 Seventh Avenue South in the Greenwich Village Historic District at the corner of 11th Street. The building will be residential, with ground-floor retail.
The Landmarks Commission first heard a proposal for the development of the site in April of 2014. The April proposal, with a masonry facade facing 11th Street that would reflect historic brownstone architecture in “an abstracted fashion,” would have a contemporary glass-and-metal curtain wall facing the avenue. The proposal was criticized by Council Member Corey Johnson, as well as preservationist organizations. Commissioners found the proposed architecture to read as too commercial, especially along Seventh Avenue, and recommended that the two distinct facades be better woven together so the new structure would be perceived as one building. Commissioners did not object to the existing building’s demolition.
At the October meeting, Edward Carroll of SRA Architecture and Engineering presented the revised plan. The 11th Street facade would have more articulation after the introduction of lintels, coursing, and sills. It would be clad in brick with a granite base, and a glass-faced studio at the upper level. Masonry bands would be added to the glass portion of the building, aligning with those on 11th Street. Metal on the curtain wall would be changed from black to white, and the base on the avenue would be lowered to better match the district’s historic storefronts. The curtain wall would wrap around the corner onto 11th Street for the width of one bay. Carroll said the revisions would serve to make the new structure more “sympathetic” and “subtle,” though still with two distinct facades that would reflect the cutting through of the block by the extension of Seventh Avenue.
Higgins & Quasebarth’s Cas Stachelberg further testified that the proposal was as-of-right under the lot’s zoning. Stachelberg noted that the existing building on the site, constructed in 1920 and reclad in 1946, was in poor condition and not a contributing building to the district.
Commissioners suggested ways in which the design could be improved, but ultimately determined it was appropriate for the site and the historic district as presented. Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan found there were a wide variety of buildings along Seventh Avenue South, and that the revised proposal responded well to its context. Commissioner Michael Goldblum opined that the schism between the two facades was not completely resolved, and the design would be more successful with more masonry added to the base at Seventh Avenue. Goldblum said the proposal “could be a better building,” but still fell within the parameters of appropriateness. Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron, alternately, wished to see the two facades rendered more distinct to better reflect the cut-through of the extension of Seventh Avenue. Commissioner John Gustafsson commented “I don’t think any of it is inappropriate,” and the Commissioners unanimously concurred.
LPC: 192 Seventh Avenue South, Manhattan (14-7382) (Oct. 7, 2014) (Architects: SRA Architecture and Engineering).
Plan for former Farm Colony would entail the demolition five out of eleven historic structures in the district, create senior housing. On September 30, 2014, the Landmarks Preservation Commission considered an application for the redevelopment of the New York City Farm Colony-Seaview Hospital Historic District, located in Staten Island in the Castleton area. The 45-acre property, which housed indigent and disabled New Yorkers in exchange for labor, operated roughly from 1898 to 1975, and was developed from 1874 to the 1930s. In addition to being a landmarked historic district, the Farm Colony is also zoned in a special natural area district, which mandates the preservation of any unique natural features. The colony’s buildings have been little maintained since its abandonment. The City has been actively working to revitalize the area since the 1990s, with the most recent request for expressions of interest issued in 2012. Staten Island-based NFC Associates were selected as the developers.
Appointee previously served as Director of the Design Excellence program. On October 7, 2014, Mayor Bill de Blasio appointed Faith Rose to serve as Executive Director of the Public Design Commission. Ms. Rose, a licensed architect and partner at O’Neill Rose Architects, earned her Masters of Architecture from Yale University and comes to the Commission from the Department of Design and Construction. As Director of the Department’s Design Excellence program, Ms. Rose oversaw the renovation and expansion of the Queens Museum of Art, along with over two hundred other projects. Ms. Rose told CityLand via email “I look forward to working with Mayor de Blasio to harness the power of public architecture, landscape architecture and art to benefit all New Yorkers.”
Since 1898, the Public Design Commission has been responsible for reviewing the construction, renovation, and restoration of public buildings, and currently oversees the rehabilitation of City Hall. The Commission also designs, installs, and conserves public parks, playgrounds, and artworks, as well as serving as curator and caretaker of the City’s public art collection. The Commission is composed of eleven members, serving pro bono, and include an architect, landscape architect, painter, sculptor, and representatives from the Brooklyn Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, and the New York Public Library.