Applicant had previously planned to restore existing building, but engineers had determined it to be structurally unsound. On November 10 2015 the Landmarks Preservation Commission held a hearing on the proposed demolition of an existing structure, and the erection of a new building at 327 Bleecker Street, in the Greenwich Village Historic District, at the corner of Christopher Street. Landmarks previously approved a plan for the alteration of the existing structure in 2012.
Julie Georgopoulos of FSI Architecture testified that probes had revealed that the building’s load-bearing walls were severely degraded and unstable, and engineers had advised that the structure could not be stabilized and utilized. Landmarks Counsel John Weiss stated Buildings engineers had also examined the site and concluded that the building’s condition necessitated demolition. Because the approved proposal could not be executed, the applicant returned to Landmarks seeking a Certificate of Appropriateness for new building at the site.
The proposed new structure would be slightly taller than the one currently standing on the lot, while maintaining the four stories the existing building holds. In coming up with their design, Georgopoulos said the designers had investigated the building’s history, which began in 1833 as a two-story Federal residence, and gradually accreted bulk and height. For much of its history, the building possessed a mansard roof, which the applicants intended to mimic in their new design. Their design was informed by the mansard roofs found in the Greenwich Village area.
The new design would incorporate a window bay on Christopher Street, and commercial storefronts, in an “eclectic rhythm,” at the ground floor.
The building would possess a slate roof, and the lower stories would be clad in brick, with blue-stone lintels. The applicants would use salvaged brick from the demolished structure to the extent possible.
Sarah Bean Apmann, testifying for the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said “every effort should be made to reconstruct the historic fabric up from the existing building,” and that if Landmarks was going to permit a mansard at the site, it should be more historically accurate. Apmann said to allow the proposal would be rewarding the property owners for neglecting the building until it required demolition. The Historic Districts Council’s Kelly Carrol said any new building should replicate the structure that currently stands at the site. Landmarks Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan stated that Manhattan Community Board 2 had issued a report calling for the redesign of the Christopher Street facade and the roof dormers.
Commissioner Fred Bland found the proposed new building an inappropriate “amalgam” of historic elements drawn from different sources, and singled out the window bay and stair bulkhead as “misguided.” Bland said the Bleecker Street facade looked “reasonably okay.” Commissioner Michael Devonshire concurred with Bland’s assessment, noting than the applicants seemed to have incorporated “every type of window in the catalogue.” Michael Goldblum opined that the building’s proportions and detail required significant revision before the proposal could be found appropriate.
Chair Srinivasan agreed that he proposed mansard’s proportions were “awkward,” and also opined that the stair bulkhead on Christopher Street was excessive in bulk. Srinivasan said a four-story building was appropriate for the site, but asked the applicant to reconsider the proposal’s massing and roofline, and to “simplify their proposal,” before returning to Landmarks at a later date with a revised plan.
LPC: 327 Bleecker Street, Manhattan (14-2666) (Nov. 10, 2015) (Architects: FSI Architecture).
By: Jesse Denno (Jesse is a full-time staff writer at the Center for NYC Law)