BSA approves 7-story SoHo residential building

Fire-damaged building in historic SoHo to be restored and increased in height. Morty Lipkis, owner of 44 Mercer Street, a 2,480-square-foot lot in SoHo, proposed to replace a vacant fire-damaged building zoned for manufacturing with a 102-foot tall, seven-story mixed-use building. The proposed building would serve residential and retail uses with 12,549- square-feet of floor space, requiring variances for use and rear yard size. The site’s current two-story structure abuts a rear building and offers no rear yard space.

Lipkis argued that the site’s narrow 27-foot width and the abutting rear building made it impossible to realize a reasonable rate of return while conforming to the district’s manufacturing and 40-foot rear yard requirements. Lipkis further stated that the proposed 24-foot rear yard would improve existing conditions. Lipkis submitted alternate designs for office use and residential use with a 30-foot rear yard, but argued that he could not realize a reasonable return under either scenario.

The site is within the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District and the proposed building has been approved by Landmarks. Lipkis stated that he intends to preserve the building’s cast iron pilasters and granite piers to conform with the street-scape.

Community Board 2 recommended approval on condition that eating and drinking uses be prohibited on the cellar and first floor.

BSA determined that none of the alternate designs were feasible, finding that there was no reasonable possibility that as-of-right development would provide a reasonable return and prohibited eating and drinking establishments on the cellar and first floor.

BSA: 44 Mercer Street (394-04-BZ) (September 13, 2005) (Deirdre A. Carson, Greenberg Traurig LLP, for Lipkis); LPC: 44 Mercer Street (COFA#04-4892) (April 5, 2004). CITYADMIN

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