Smaller Addition to 1143 Fifth Avenue Still A No-Go At Landmarks

1143 Fifth Avenue, proposed view from Central Park.

Back in November, we reported on a proposal to take a seven-story residential building at 1143 Fifth Avenue, between East 95th and 96th streets in the Carnegie Hill Historic District, and enlarge it to 13 stories. That really didn’t go over well with neighbors and preservationists, and the Landmarks Preservation Commission didn’t approve it. Last Tuesday, a new proposal, one that would have the existing one-story addition rebuilt as a two-story addition, also did not pass muster with the commissioners.

1143 Fifth Avenue, existing view from Central Park.

1143 Fifth Avenue, existing view from Central Park.

The structure was designed by J.E.R. Carpenter and completed in 1923. Its low profile is the result of a brief zoning irregularity that limited the height of buildings in that area to 75 feet.

In the November presentation, presentation consultant Cas Stachelberg of Higgins Quasebarth & Partners used that as an argument to allow the enlargement. That proposal was presented by Judith Saltzman of Li • Saltzman Architects.

After not getting approval from the LPC and intense opposition from the public, owner Jean Claude Marian, who bought the building from the French Consulate in 2013 for $36.4 million, went back to the drawing board, but not with the same design team. The new design comes from Nyack, N.Y.-based Dominick R. Pilla Associates, PC Engineering & Architecture.

Like the last proposal, the entrance would be rebuilt, the security grills would be removed from the windows on the first and second floors, and the façade would be restored. But that’s about where the similarities ended.

This time, there was no mention of the zoning irregularity.

The rebuilt rooftop addition would add 1,600 square feet and include roof access for the entire building. It would be setback 16 feet, four inches and gain 9.5 feet. Pilla described it as “not overpowering to the front façade.” The back of the building would also be expanded under the proposal.

Existing condition on the roof of 1143 Fifth Avenue.

Existing condition on the roof of 1143 Fifth Avenue.

Proposed roof condition at 1143 Fifth Avenue.

Proposed roof condition at 1143 Fifth Avenue.

The commissioners were not as upset as in November, but still not ready to approve the proposal. LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan wanted any addition massed more like it was only a single-story total. “Scale it down,” she said.

Commissioner Frederick Bland said he minded that it would be visible. Commissioner Diana Chapin called it “out of character.” Commissioner Michael Goldblum called it “rather excessive.” Commissioner John Gustafsson went further than any of them, saying he would not vote to approve any addition to the building.

Since the commission, as it usually does when it doesn’t approve a proposal, officially took no action. That allows the building’s owner to try again.

You can view the full presentation slides below.

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