New SoHo Building with Salvaged Facade Approved

Current vacant lot at 74 Grand Street, Manhattan. Image Credit: Google.

Current vacant lot at 74 Grand Street, Manhattan. Image Credit: Google.

New seven-story building in vacant SoHo lot approved after changes in architect and height. On August 6, 2013, Landmarks approved the issuance of a certificate of appropriateness for the construction of a new residential building at 74 Grand Street in the SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District. The site was previously the location of a six-story 1886 neo-Grec store-and-loft building. The building was demolished with Landmarks’ approval in 2009 after it was destabilized by nearby construction work. The owners agreed to dismantle, catalogue, and store the building’s original cast-iron facade for its eventual reinstallation in a new structure at the site.

At a March 2013 public hearing, applicants proposed a plan by Bone/Levine Architects for a new eight-story-plus-penthouse building. The restored cast-iron facade would be installed approximately eight feet in front of the new building’s glass curtain wall, attached by a steel armature. The historic facade’s window opening would not align with the floors of the new structure. Representatives of Manhattan Community Board 2 and preservationist organizations spoke in strong opposition to the proposal. Commissioners also determined that the historic facade needed to be better integrated into the new building, and asked the applicants to return at a later date with a revised proposal.

At Landmarks’ June 11 meeting, a new proposal was presented by a new design team from C3D Architecture. Principal Paul Freitas presented the plan, in which the historic facade would be fully attached to the new structure, and windows and doors would be installed in the openings of the cast iron facade. The top two stories of the new eight-story building would be set back twelve feet from the front facade; additional stories would be faced in zinc with glass fiber reinforced sidewalls. The sidewalls of the lower floors would be clad in red brick, and metal balconies would be installed on the rear facade.

Commissioners found the new plan generally appropriate, though some lamented the loss of architectural ambition from the initial proposal. Commissioner Margery Perlmutter found the building slightly too tall, though otherwise approvable, but expressed regret that the designers felt they “had to retreat to something conventional.” Commissioners Roberta Washington and Michael Devonshire said the building should be reduced by one story. Commissioner Michael Goldblum agreed that the project was “appropriate, if uninspiring.” Commissioner Fred Bland said he would not oppose the plan, but found it an “opportunity lost” to “interpret an extraordinary story.” Commissioner Diana Chapin found the proposal “attractive” and supported approval.

Commissioner Libby Ryan, who chaired the meeting, asked the applicants to work to reduce the project’s height and return once more to Landmarks.

At the Commission’s August 6 meeting, the revisions were presented by Landmarks staff.  The building’s design remained the same, but with one of the set back stories removed. A bulkhead would be partially visible from street viewpoints. Chair Robert B. Tierney said the project had “come a long way” and that the applicants had successfully addressed the issue of height. Landmarks voted unanimously to award the plan a certificate of appropriateness.

LPC: 74 Grand Street, Manhattan (14-0893) (Aug. 6, 2013) (Architect: C3D Architecture).

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