Conversion of dilapidated rowhouses approved

Revised plan included less visible additions and more conservative facade alterations. On April 13, 2010, Landmarks approved the Chetrit Group’s revised proposal to convert six dilapidated rowhouses into three, double-wide townhouses with rooftop additions at 110 through120 East 76th Street. Chetrit’s original proposal included a request to partially demolish two of the 1885-era rowhouses and convert the six buildings into three townhouses with two-story additions. The plan called for significant facade alterations, including new street-level entrances and second floor balconies. At a January hearing, Tim Lynch, director of Buildings’ forensic engineering unit, testified that the buildings were progressively deteriorating. He recommended bracing the facades and demolishing at least two of the buildings to avert collapse. Landmarks approved the demolition in the interest of public safety, but said the proposed alterations diminished the buildings’ individual identities and the rooftop additions were too large and visible. 7 CityLand 13 (Feb. 15, 2010).

At the April hearing on the revised design, architect Gavin Macrae-Gibson noted that the proposed facade alterations would now be more in keeping with the rowhouses’ historical fabric. He explained that the facade of 116 East 76th Street would need to be rebuilt and that it would be re-clad in a Victorian-style cut brownstone. The ground floors of all the townhouses would now feature rusticated cut stone. The proposal still included two-story additions, but Macrae-Gibson pointed out that the overall height had been reduced by nine-and-a-half feet and the additions would be nearly invisible from street level.

Vice Chair Pablo Vengoechea said the revised proposal addressed all the issues raised at the previous meeting and the design retained a sense of the original rowhouses’ identity. Commissioner Fred Bland concurred, finding the additions minimally visible and the facade changes appropriate. Commissioner Libby Ryan disagreed, stating that the two-story additions were too large for the original four-story buildings. Chair Robert B. Tierney believed the project was appropriate because the additions were minimally visible and the buildings were in a near-ruined state.

Landmarks voted to approve the project, with Commissioners Ryan and Roberta Brandes Gratz voting in opposition.

LPC: 100-120 East 76th Street, Manhattan (10-4437) (April 13, 2010) (Architects: Macrae-Gibson Architects).

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