Variance approved for six-story Tribeca building

Owner claimed that lot, which is occupied by a one-story building that could not be safely enlarged, was underutilized. 71 Laight Street LLC applied to BSA for a variance to build a six-story, eighteen-unit residential building with twelve accessory parking spaces at 412 Greenwich Street in Manhattan’s Tribeca North Historic District. The site is occupied by a one-story freight-loading structure built in 1956 and currently used for parking, which the owner would demolish in order to construct the new building.

The owner initially proposed a 55,055 sq.ft., six-story building with a penthouse and unrestricted ground-floor retail uses. The proposed building would replicate the massing and design of an adjacent warehouse building at 401 Washington Street that was built in 1906. The proposal included a cast aluminum facade etched with a brick pattern mimicking the warehouse’s red-brick facade. The owner received approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission for the Morris Adjmi-designed project in September 2008. 5 CityLand 140 (Oct. 15, 2008).

During the hearing process, the owner reduced the proposed building to a 54,824 sq.ft., six-story structure with restricted ground floor retail use. The owner still needed a variance because the site’s M1-5 zoning does not permit residential uses, and the project exceeded the zoning district’s permitted floor area and permitted parking spaces.

The owner argued that the existing one-story building only utilized a small portion of the permitted floor area and that it was functionally obsolete for a complying commercial or manufacturing use. It claimed that the building was not structurally capable of being enlarged vertically without extensive work to its foundation. The owner stated that the majority of the sites surrounding the lot were occupied by taller and bulkier buildings, including a ten-story loft building at 70 Laight Street and a seven-story residential building at 78 Laight Street.

BSA granted the variance, finding that the owner’s financial analysis demonstrated that because of the existing site conditions only a noncomplying building proposal would provide a reasonable rate of return. BSA noted that the addition of eighteen residential units to the neighborhood would be compatible with the area’s mixed-use character.

BSA: 412-414 Greenwich Street (231-09- BZ) (Jan. 12, 2010) (Valerie G. Campbell, Kramer Levin, for 71 Laight Street LLC) (Architects: Morris Adjmi Architects). CITYADMIN

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