The modified design increased the visibility of the Kreischer Mansion on the site. On May 8, 2020, the Landmarks Preservation Commission voted to approve a Certificate of Appropriateness for three actions to facilitate the development of a new senior housing complex, comprising of eleven buildings, surrounding the Kreischer House. The Kreischer House, a two and a half story Victorian-era mansion, and a portion of the land it sits on is a landmarked site in Charleston, Staten Island. The site of the new senior housing development includes the landmarked site. The approval followed a modification to the original proposed design.
Landmarks originally held a public hearing on the application on February 4th, 2020. The Commissioners had concerns about the visibility of the Kreischer House in relation to the new buildings, especially the four buildings located on the southwest corner of the site, and the placement of a parking lot near the mansion. They also wanted the applicants to incorporate more landscaping to keep the pastoral aesthetic of the landmarked site. For prior CityLand coverage, click here.
The applicants presented the modified design plan at the May 8th public hearing. The applicants reduced the height of the eleven buildings by three to four feet. This was done by lowering the height of the buildings’ roofs and decreasing the cellar levels of the buildings. The set back of the four buildings on the southwest corner was also reduced by three feet. This set back reduction pushed the buildings further south on the site. The reduction of the roof and cellar heights and the set back was to increase the visibility of the Kreischer House, create more distance between the proposed buildings and the mansion, and to allow the mansion to be the most prominent structure on the site.
The applicants also incorporated more landscaping, which include trees and shrubs, by the parking lot near the mansion and in between each of the eleven buildings. Ronald Victorio, representative for the applicants, explained that the landscaping near the parking lot will help make the lot look less prominent and will provide screening between the mansion and the parking lot. The applicants also changed the brick retaining wall that surrounds the site to a geogrid retaining wall. The geogrid retaining wall will be filled in with bags of materials that will promote plant growth. Victorio stated that the wall will add to the pastoral aesthetic of the site.
The Commissioners were mostly in favor of the new design, with Chair Sarah Carroll noting that the applicants have appropriately addressed all the concerns. Commissioner Michael Goldblum believed that the applicants should have gone further by reducing the buildings’ height more and incorporating more landscaping on the site; however, he noted that the design was acceptable as is.
Landmarks unanimously voted to approve the application.
By: May Vutrapongvatana (May is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019).