Demolition of Hudson St. building faces opposition

Residents oppose demolition of this building at 501 Hudson Street. Photo: Kristin Daggan.

Area residents oppose size and design of Morris Adjmi-designed mixed-use building. On July 15, 2008, Landmarks heard testimony on a proposal to demolish a two-story structure and build a six-story plus penthouse at 501 Hudson Street at the corner of Christopher Street in the Greenwich Village Historic District. Attorney Valerie Campbell of Kramer Levin, representing the owners, Hudson Equities Ltd., explained that the project was as-of-right under the area’s zoning, and that the first floor would be devoted to commercial uses while the other floors would be residential. Architectural historian Bill Higgins also testified on behalf of the owner. He claimed the building was of unknown origin and “radically changed” over time, from two to four-stories in 1854, an alteration at the ground floor in 1927, and then a reduction in height in 1953.

Architect Morris Adjmi presented his plan for a new building, which he claimed would be the same height as the building that stood in 1940. The building would feature a glass curtain wall divided by terra-cotta “baguettes” in black and rust colors. Adjmi stated that he drew on the neighborhood’s historic architecture for his design, which features a projected storefront, punched-in windows, and dormers. The project would rise to a total height of 70 feet.

Representatives for State Senator Thomas Duane and Assembly Member Deborah Glick expressed reservations about the glass facade. A representative from Community Board 2 urged denial of the application, stating that the Board could support an addition to the existing building, but not demolition. Council Speaker Christine Quinn also sent a letter in opposition.

The owner of an adjacent property, Steven Kessler, testified that he would like to see the corner of Christopher and Hudson Streets developed, but that the proposal was inappropriate for the site. Christabel Gough, of the Society for the Architecture of the City, stated that to “create a new residential loft building which embodies Gansevoort chic, is a step in the wrong direction,” and that the “surviving fragment of the original building has a truer relationship to the district than anything proposed to replace it.”

Since Landmarks did not have a quorum, the hearing was closed without a vote or extensive discussion. Commissioner Diana Chapin, however, told the developer that “we take demolition in a historic district seriously.” Landmarks has not yet set a date for a vote on the issue.

LPC: Hearing on 501-501A Hudson Street, Manhattan (COFA# 08-8340)(July 15, 2008).


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