Located on the south side of the street between Eighth and Ninth avenues, the three-story Greek Revival-style structure was built in 1837. It fell under the LPC’s jurisdiction in 1970, with the designation of the Chelsea Historic District. It is currently a 24-unit SRO.
The plan is to convert it to single-family use, adding a set-back fourth floor to the top of the structure with a wood roof atop that. The rear fire escape would be removed and the rear built up to the full height of the current building. The front façade would also be restored. The design comes from Red Hook-based CF Studio, but Park Slope-based architect Barry Berg is the architect of record. The design team pointed out that the proposed expansion would be smaller than the maximum zoning allowance.
The home would have a spa with a steam shower and sauna in the cellar. The kitchen and dining room/family room would occupy the basement level. The front parlor and living room would be on the first floor, followed by master bedroom suite on the second floor, three more bedrooms on the third floor, and another bedroom in the penthouse. There would be a total of five full bathrooms and three half-bathrooms. There would also be an elevator.
LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan instantly called the proposal “too big.” Commissioner Adi Shamir-Baron was concerned about setting precedent, particularly with the rear yard addition. The house sits on the southeast corner of the historic district. Its neighbors to the south and east are not landmarked.
Though the LPC’s chief concern is usually how things look from the public way, Commissioner Michael Goldblum said it’s good to think about the interior of the block, also known as the “donut,” sometimes.
Manhattan Community Board 4 was not in favor the rear yard extension, but did support the rooftop addition. Andrew Lombardi from the borough president’s office testified on behalf of Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, State Senator Brad Hoylman, Assembly Member Richard Gottfried, and City Council Member Corey Johnson. All were opposed to the rear yard extension.
Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, also testified against the proposal, saying there isn’t really such a thing as “as-of-right” in a historic district.
A pair of neighbors also testified against the rear extension. That included Carol Ott of 300 West 20th Street and Albert Taylor, who lives at 326 West 20th Street and represents the Council of Chelsea Block Associations. He was concerned about the rear extension ruining their “green oasis.”
In the end, the commissioners took no action, so the applicant will have to re-work the proposal to get their approval.