A four-story building dating back to well before the Civil War, but in quite the state of disrepair, won’t be demolished just yet. On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission decided not to approve a proposal to demolish the structure at 327 Bleecker Street and replace it with a new four-story structure. While the commissioners did seem to be open to the demolition, especially given the endorsement of the Department of Buildings, the proposed replacement was not deemed appropriate.
327 Bleecker was originally constructed as a two-story home in 1833, but was altered significantly in both the 19th and 20th centuries, bringing it to its current four-story height and rather plain brick facade. It sits within the Greenwich Village Historic District.
A restoration was approved. However, once commenced, significant structural issues were encountered. The DOB visited the site and said that, if work continued, there was a strong risk of collapse. That brought the applicant to apply to demolish the building and replace it with a new one, which would have had ground floor retail and residential on the upper floors.
The presentation was made by FSI Architecture and purported to draw from the evolution of the building and from nearby designs. That includes mansard roofs at 125 MacDougal Street, 231 Lafayette Street, and 301 West Broadway. It also includes eyebrow windows at 70 Barrow Street and blind windows at several locations. Additionally, bay windows at locations including 3 Bank Street were included.
A parapet would have hidden rooftop mechanical equipment.
Given the DOB’s concerns about a collapse, the commissioners wouldn’t rule out approving demolition, but found the proposed design not to be appropriate. Commissioner Frederick Bland said the proposal was “pastiche” and asked if a replacement should seek to replicate what it’s replacing. Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan called the proposed mansard roof “awkward.” Commissioner Michael Goldblum didn’t like design, even if it was proposed for a vacant lot. Commissioner Roberta Washington didn’t like the small windows.
Where does this leave the applicant? It leaves the applicant coming up with a new proposal and then returning to the LPC.
The Historic Districts Council would like to have seen the restoration go forward, but given the DOB statement, would like to see something more replicative. The Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation also could not approve the proposal. GVSHP’s Sarah Bean Apmann called the existing structure a “rare link to the early history of the Village.” She did say that, if a new building were to feature a mansard roof, her organization would prefer a more accurate representation of historic precedents.