BSA Approves Residential Conversion in NoHo Historic District

Richard Lobel testifies before the Board of Standards and Appeals. Image credit: BSA

Richard Lobel testifies before the Board of Standards and Appeals. Image credit: BSA

Board found a hardship caused by the site’s irregular shape.  On April 14, 2015 the Board of Standards and Appeals granted 31 BSP LLC a variance to permit converting an existing six-story mixed-use noncomplying building at 31 Bond Street in the NoHo Historic District of Manhattan into a seven-story Use Group 2 residential building.  The proposal will remove a backshaft from the rear of the existing building, vacant since 2010, and redistribute floor area to construct a new seventh story with a 1,500 square-foot penthouse.

A public hearing was held on September 16, 2014, with follow-up hearings on October 28, December 9, and January 30, 2015.  At the September 16 hearing Richard Lobel of Sheldon Lobel PC testified for the applicant.  Mr. Lobel argued the building is “obsolete”, having been constructed in the 1880s, and incompatible with loading dock size regulations and other requirements of a conforming-use light manufacturing or commercial building.  Mr. Lobel testified six other buildings on Bond Street alone, all larger than the applicants, had previously received similar variances because of these difficulties along with other buildings in the immediate area.  Further testimony argued the residential conversion was the only scenario that would provide a reasonable return on investment, as the building’s floor plates were insufficient for as-of-right office use and as-of-right hotel use would require moving the elevator to the center of the building.

On April 14, 2015 the Board voted 4-0 to approve the variance.  In its final report the Board noted the proposal’s approval by the Landmarks Preservation Commission, granting a certificate of appropriateness on March 18, 2015, and agreed the conversion would not alter the essential character of the surrounding neighborhood or impair use of the surrounding properties.  The Board also recognized the hardship with the site came from the unique physical characteristics and not by the applicant or a predecessor in title.

BSA:  31 Bond Street (176-13-BZ) (Apr. 14, 2015) (Sheldon Lobel, P.C., for 31 BSP LLC, owner).

By:  Michael Twomey (Michael is the CityLaw Fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2014).

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