Windemere Apartments gets second hearing

Landmarks continued public hearing at owner’s request. On April 21, 2005 Landmarks held a second public hearing on the proposed designation of the Windemere Apartments located at 400-406 West 57th Street and Ninth Avenue in Manhattan. Constructed in 1881 and considered the “Gateway to Hell’s Kitchen” separating Clinton from the Upper West Side, the Windemere is one of only two remaining large, early apartment buildings in the area. Theophilus Smith designed each building of the three-building complex with varying widths, distinctive cornices, and intricate brick texturing and detailing, epitomizing the large apartment house designs of the 1880s. The Windemere also served as the first residential apartment house for young women entering the workforce when Henry Sterling Goodale managed the apartments in the mid-1880s.

At the January 18, 2005 hearing, supporters included representatives of Council Member Gale A. Brewer and State Senator Thomas Duane, who called the Windemere “a beacon to Clinton.” At the second hearing, Shelly Friedman, the attorney for the current owner, Toa Construction, argued that the Windemere was unworthy of designation since it was not one grand building like the landmarked Osborne apartments, but three separate buildings. Architectural historian Andrew Alpern claimed that the three Windemere buildings were more like tenements with many units suffering from poor light and air ventilation, evidenced by the floor plans he submitted in 1989 when the building was first considered for designation.

Landmarks had originally calendared the Windemere for designation in 1989, but no further action was taken until the January 18, 2005 public hearing. No date is set for a designation vote.

LPC: The Windemere Apartments, 400- 406 West 57th Street (LP-2171) (January, 18, 2005, April 21, 2005) (Shelly Friedman, Friedman & Gotbaum, for Toa Construction).

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