BKSK Architects will again appear before the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) seeking approvals to construct a sizable commercial expansion and restoration in Manhattan’s Gansevoort Historic District, also known as the Meatpacking District. The historic row townhomes carry an address of 44-54 Ninth Avenue and 351-355 West 14th Street at the corner of 14th Street and Ninth Avenue.
If approved, developer Tavros Capital can break ground on a new commercial structure with updated retail spaces at the ground floor.
According to the LPC, previously submitted designs removed too much of the historic masonry façade and the proposed exterior changes were too great a contrast to the historic foreground. The commissioners also felt that the project team had failed to demonstrate the appropriateness of the infill itself, and that the proposed office tower was too tall and thus out of scale compared to the surrounding block.
In an effort to appeal to the LPC, new renderings illustrate a reduction of overall height from 133 feet to 102 feet, which translates to the removal of one full floor. The architects also removed the roof-level wind screen and reduced the typical floor height from 13 feet to 12 feet. Over all, the tower component will top out at eight stories.
The façade of the new construction imitates the envelope of the historic structure, and will now be comprised of terracotta with custom matte glazing, a range of red and gray brick, and minimal quantities of gray metal paneling.
The new proposals also call for the preservation of all original exterior walls and partial party walls from ground floor to the roof. Previous proposals planned for the substantial removal of existing masonry walls, which drew ire from the LPC. The team will also restore, not replace, the original slate roof, the historic wood shutters of the second floor windows, and the historic balconettes also outside the second floor windows.
With regard to the “appropriateness” of the infill, the team had this to say: “From the mid-19th century to the mid-20th century, open space reserved for manufacturing uses yielded to dense, fully built blocks. The proposed infill addition is a continuation of historic, as well as current, district development patterns.”
While this argument may seem trite or unnecessary, it directly addresses the complaints of the LPC.
As previously reported by YIMBY, the buildings were originally completed in the 1840s and are rare surviving examples of pitched-roof row houses in Manhattan. In their existing condition, the brick façades have been stuccoed, painted white, and converted for partial residential use at the upper levels. Their first floor and cellar levels are occupied by retail and dining tenants.
A virtual public hearing for the updated proposals is scheduled for Tuesday, August 11. It remains to be seen if the LPC will deem the project appropriate.