City Planning Approves Conversion of Historic District Building

20-22 East 71st Street. Image credit: Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts

20-22 East 71st Street. Image credit: Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts

Permit would allow vacant commercial building to convert into a single-family residence.  On May 6, 2015 the City Planning Commission approved a special permit for Tower Management Holdings LLC to convert a vacant commercial building at 20-22 East 71st Street in the Upper East Side Historic District of Manhattan into a single-family residence.  The building was constructed as a single-family five-story townhouse in 1923, but was used as commercial offices from 1986 until 2007.  The permit exempts the building from requirements on inner courts and minimum distance between windows.

On February 11, 2015 Manhattan Community Board 8 voted 27-0 to recommend approval of the application, and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer issued a recommendation of approval on March 17, 2015.  At the City Planning Commission public hearing on April 1, 2015, Valerie Campbell of Kramer Levin testified the permit was required as the building was constructed prior to the current 1961 Zoning Resolution and is not compliant if used as a residence.  Ms. Campbell stated no enlargement or addition to the building would occur, and an ongoing maintenance plan would be in place to keep up the building.  Basha Gerhards, Deputy Director of Land Use for Borough President Brewer, testified to the Borough President’s support of the proposal.  Ms. Gerhards stated the proposal would not impact the historic character of the surrounding neighborhood, and supported the proposal’s removal of a non-historic greenhouse on the property and the applicant’s “first-class” restoration of the building.

On May 6, 2015 the City Planning Commission voted unanimously to approve the application.  In its final report, the Commission noted a letter received from the Landmarks Preservation Commission supporting the application and how the proposal would reinforce the architectural and historic character of both the building and surrounding Upper East Side Historic District.

CPC:  20-22 East 71st Street (150213-ZSM) (May 6, 2015).

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

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