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Resolutions: May 2007

 

 

Consents & Variances

Nissan North America, application for a street permit for a vehicle display in front of 110 West 57th Street on Thursday, August 9, 2007

WHEREAS, Nissan North America has submitted an application to display two vehicles on the sidewalk in front of 110 West 57th Street on  Thursday, August 9, 2007; and

WHEREAS, This is the first time this event will take place; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five has major concerns about pedestrian traffic if this sidewalk is blocked; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends denial of the application by Nissan North America to display vehicles on the sidewalk.

The above resolution passed with a vote of 36 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention.  

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Church of Jesus, application for a street permit to hold a religious ceremony at the south east corner of 32nd Street and Broadway on Sunday, June 2, 2007

WHEREAS, The above referenced application was submitted to Community Board Five; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five takes its role in the review of applications for events in our area seriously; and

WHEREAS, The applicant was invited to, but did not attend the Consents and Variances Committee meeting, therefore the committee was unable to determine the answer to a number of questions; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends denial of the above application.

The above resolution passed with a vote of 36 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention.  

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LIBS/Empire Beauty School, application to hold a fashion show for graduating students on 34th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenue (in front of the school)  on Wednesday, May 30, 2007

WHEREAS, LIBS/Empire Beauty School has submitted an application to hold a fashion show on the sidewalk on 34th Street, between 5th and 6th Avenue on  Wednesday, May 30, 2007; and

WHEREAS, This is the first time this event will take place; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five has major concerns about pedestrian traffic if this sidewalk is blocked; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends denial of the application by LIBS/Empire Beauty School to hold a fashion show on the sidewalk.

The above resolution passed with a vote of 36 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention.  

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L&J Brazil Rest. Inc, 34 West 46th Street, application for an unenclosed sidewalk cafe with 2 tables and 8 seats

WHEREAS, L&J Brazil Restaurant Inc., has submitted an application for an unenclosed sidewalk cafe with 2 tables and 8 seats at 34 West 46th Street; and

WHEREAS, The applicant appeared before the Community Board Five’s Consents & Variances Committee; and

WHEREAS, Based on the presentation, the placement of an unenclosed sidewalk café at this location will not impede pedestrian flow; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends approval of the application by L&J Brazil Rest. Inc., for an unenclosed sidewalk cafe with 2 tables and 8 seats at 34 West 46th Street.

The  above resolution passed with a vote of 35 in favor, 1 opposed, 1 abstention.   

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Landmarks

162 Fifth Avenue (Ladies’ Mile Historic District), application to install signage.

WHEREAS, The building is a Beaux-Arts style store and loft building designed by Buchman & Fox and built in 1903 and located at the corner of Fifth Avenue and 21st Street; and

WHEREAS, The applicant, Chase Bank, the new tenant of the commercial space, wants to replace signage on the ground floor commercial space, on both the Fifth Avenue side and the 21st Street side; and

WHEREAS, The proposed signage – the Chase logo – is blue and white, 24 inches tall and 14 feet wide and is backlit, with neon illuminated letters; and

WHEREAS, Backlit signage is not in keeping with the architectural vocabulary of the Ladies Mile Historic District; and

WHEREAS, The signage is too large, and not harmonious with the neighborhood, therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends denial of the application to install the proposed signage and notes that in the past, smaller signage lit from above or pin mounted signage have been approved in this historic district.

The above resolution passed with a vote of 36 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention.  

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Request for designation of 29 West 57th Street.

WHEREAS, 29 West 57th Street, the 14-story office and gallery building, designed in a commercial neo-Gothic style in brick and terra cotta with sculptures representing pipers above the 12th floor setback and lyre players on the penthouse, was built in 1923-24 to the designs of the noted NYC architectural firm, Cross & Cross. 

WHEREAS, 29 West 57th Street is also called “Chickering Hall” because it was built to house the showroom, concert hall and offices of the American Piano Company, an important American piano manufacturer, which was founded by Jonas Chickering in 1908, and was largest piano manufacturing house in the U.S during the 20th century; and

WHEREAS, This was Chickering’s third NYC building; the first, a concert and lecture hall on l8th Street and 5th Avenue, where Oscar Wilde, Graham Bell, Walt Whitman, Charles Dickens, Mark Twain and others were heard, and the second, located at 437 5th Avenue have both been demolished.

WHEREAS, Their third building located at 29 West 57th Street was developed as a performing arts center during the 1900’s with the opening of Carnegie Hall, Steinway Hall and others, and was in keeping with the opening of music and art affiliated businesses in the 57th Street area; and

WHEREAS, Jonas Chickering was noted for his contributions to the piano industry, among them a cast iron plate to relieve stress on the wooden piano case, “overstringing”, positioning the longest bass strings over the others, and concert grand pianos, and his company was also the first manufacturer of musical instruments listed on the N.Y. Stock Exchange; and

WHEREAS, The erection of the Chickering building in 1923 celebrated the 100th anniversary of the continuous manufacturing of Chickering Pianos, and in 1924 WOR Radio moved into the building on the 9th floor with John B. Gambling as the announcer and Houdini, Chaplin and Paul Whiteman among his guests; and

WHEREAS, Although the piano industry was at its peak in 1909, with some 365,000 sold that year, by 1924 the piano industry had fallen apart largely due to the ever-growing use of radios, and “in 1929 the once mighty American Piano Company fell into receivership” and the Chickering name was ultimately sold to Wurlitzer, then Steinway, Baldwin and Gibson; and

WHEREAS, The building is crowned by gigantic polychrome terra cotta reproductions of the Legion of d’Honneur medal won by the Chickering Company’s pianos at the 1867 Paris Exposition, and they are displayed in a raised design for the water-tower enclosure; and

WHEREAS, Cross & Cross was noted for their use of exterior symbols to represent the products of the company housed within their buildings; and

WHEREAS, In 1983 there was a complete façade restoration with the medallion-like ornaments on the tower and the building itself gold-leafed so that it is in pristine condition; and

WHEREAS, Because the façade of its neighbor, 9 West 57th Street curves back, the beautiful east façade of 29 West 57th Street is also very visible; and

WHEREAS, There are two entrances to the building located at the ground floor level, the eastern entrance leads into a women’s clothing store, the western entrance is for the entire building and both entrances are located within cast stone arches that have sculptural details with musical instrument motifs; and

WHEREAS, The central storefront has three glass arches with a large picture window at the second floor which advertises a piano showroom, and the seventh floor advertises for a menswear showroom; and

WHEREAS, Between the second and third floors there are Gothic style gold leaf friezes resembling a Greek chorus and the masonry spandrels between floors four through twelve are all punctuated with boxes in gold leaf, also above the twelfth floor window; and

WHEREAS, The windows from floors four through twelve are primarily single panel pivoting panes which have transoms above and the twelfth floor windows are arched; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five strongly supports the designation of 29 west 57th Street for its architectural, cultural and historic significance.

The above resolution passed with a vote of 38 in favor, 0 opposed, 0 abstention.  

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Request for designation of 31 West 57th Street.

WHEREAS, The Sohmer Building at 31 West 57th Street was constructed  in 1919 as a 6-story piano showroom, designed by architect Randolph Almiroty in the French Classical style, featuring a single broad archway framed by quoins; and

WHEREAS, Randolph Almiroty was a partner in the architectural firm of Browne & Almiroty established in 1910 and dissolved in 1916 and as architects they worked separately in NYC from the late 1900’s; and 

WHEREAS, Among the buildings Almiroty designed was 31 West 11t h Street, a neo-classical apartment building, built in 1910 in the Greenwich Village Historic District, and 30-32 West 24th Street, a neo-Gothic store and loft building in the Ladies’ Mile Historic District; and

WHEREAS, 31 West 57th Street was built for the Sohmer Piano Company, which occupied the entire building, and was the manufacturer of musical instruments and one of the major piano manufacturers in NYC, and is the earliest known of the extant piano company buildings even predating the showrooms for Steinway and Chickering; and

WHEREAS, The Sohmer Piano Company was one of the major piano manufacturers for close to 100 years, and their pianos are considered among the finest in the world; and

WHEREAS, Hugo Sohmer, born in Germany, founded Sohmer & Company in America in 1872, which later became the American Piano Company, is credited with inventing the first baby grand in 1884 and for making custom made pianos for such famous people as Jean Harlow, Al Jolson, Ramon Navarro, Victor Herbert (owned several), Irving Berlin (owned three), and President Calvin Coolidge; and

WHEREAS, Although Sohmer sold 31 West 57th Street in 1952, they continued to lease part of it for many years as a showroom for their pianos and sold out to Pratt, Reed & Co in 1982, which continued to make Sohmer Pianos until the 2000’s when the SMC company in Korea, the largest piano maker in the world, began to produce them; and

WHEREAS, In 1986, the building was restored by the noted N.Y. architectural firm of Hardy Holzman Pfeiffer Associates, and the Rizzoli Bookstore is now the sole tenant; and

WHEREAS, It is one of many buildings on the 57th Street thoroughfare that helped establish 57th Street as the foremost musical center of the country, called “Piano Row”; and

WHEREAS, 31 West 57 has a balustrade railing which occurs at the base of the second story and the parapet, flat abstracted label moldings of the second story windows, fifth story pilasters and bracketed cornices; the severe and abstract classicism of the building may have been influenced by the modern French architecture of this period; and

WHEREAS, There is some symmetry in the window detailing on floors three, four and five, and are all metal framed windows; on the sixth floor there is an eight pane French door/windows; and

WHEREAS, The Sohmer Factory in Long Island City, although no longer making pianos, was designated a NYC landmark in 2007; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five strongly supports the designation of 31 West 57th Street.

The above resolution passed with a vote of 38 in favor, 0 opposed, 0 abstention.  

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Request for designation of 33 West 57th Street.

WHEREAS, 33 West 57th Street is a rare surviving 6-story Italianate brownstone, designed by John G. Prague and constructed in 1879-80; and

WHEREAS, The building is constructed of cast stone or limestone with a granite base which has been painted and features molded window surrounds, and concludes in an elaborate modillion ornamental cornice and  a copper clad mansard roof; and

WHEREAS, At the third, fourth and fifth floors, the masonry details are simple, with Federal style window surrounds; and

WHEREAS, In 1918, the building was altered to accommodate a store in the ground floor resulting in the Tudor arched plate glass storefront, designed by J. O’Dell Whitenack; and

WHEREAS, This building is a rare survivor from the initial period of the development of Midtown, when these blocks once had many Italianate residences many of which were refaced in the 1890’s-1900’s with new facades, this one with simple details is in good condition; and

WHEREAS, At one time the ground floor was a retail piano sales floor for Hardman Peck Piano Co. and had offices on the top floor; and

WHEREAS, The noted Hammer Galleries, founded by Armand Hammer in 1928 and the first to exhibit the famous Faberge Russian Imperial Easter Eggs, moved into the building in 1980; and

WHEREAS, The architect of 33 West 57th Street, John G. Prague, was described by Christopher Gray of the N.Y. Times as “an architect very active in opening up the West Side”; and

WHEREAS, Among the buildings he designed was 32 West 18th Street in 1887-88 in the Ladies’ Mile Historic District, a Queen Anne style rowhouse; 128 West 87th Street in 1887-88, a Queen Anne style rowhouse in the Central Park West Historic District; 23 and 25 East 64th Street, in the Upper East Side Historic District, a neo-Grec style rowhouse in 1879-80; a townhouse at 11 East 61st Street, also in the Upper East Side Historic District; and

WHEREAS, In 1870 he designed a structure at the northwest corner of Columbus Avenue and 86th Street which he also owned; in 1870 “he designed a bold cast iron structure” at 2nd Avenue and First Street, “with a mansard roof, a fad at that time” (demolished in 1959); and he also designed the façade of the famous Russian Tearoom in 1873; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five strongly supports the designation of 33 West 57th Street

The above resolution passed with a vote of 38 in favor, 0 opposed, 0 abstention.  

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Request for designation of 35 West 57th Street.

WHEREAS,  Originally constructed in 1879-80, the house at 35 West 57th Street assumed its current appearance in 1900 when Samuel W. Bowne commissioned the noted architectural firm of Schickel and Ditmars to design an elaborate new Beaux Arts style façade for the five-story building; and

WHEREAS, The architectural firm of Schickel & Ditmars that designed 35 West 57th Street is world famous, having designed historic religious buildings throughout the country as well as many designated building in NYC such as St. Ignatius Loyola on Park Avenue,  St. John the Baptist in N.Y., Polyclinic Hospital in NY; and

 WHEREAS, The firm was founded by William Schickel, a German émigré architect who had worked for Richard Morris Hunt and Henry Fernbach before opening his own office and joined Isaac Ditmars in 1887; the firm was known for both its residential and institutional commissions; and

WHEREAS, Samuel W. Bowne was a partner in the firm of Scott & Bowne, chemical manufacturers, who made emulsions, palatable castor oil, cough drops, etc; and

WHEREAS, Bowne was known as a philanthropist and the Bowne Memorial Gateway and Samuel W. Bowne Hall at Drew University are named after him. 

WHEREAS, In 1928, Bowne completed the Samuel & Nettie Bowne Tuberculosis Hospital in Poughkeepsie in honor of his wife, donated $100,000 in 1906 to complete the Bowne Chemistry Hall at Syracuse University and was also a trustee at a number of universities; and

WHEREAS, The building currently has three separate commercial tenants, two restaurants, the Great American Health Bar and Café Classico, and a beauty salon, J Sisters Salon, each with its own entrance; and

WHEREAS, The sophisticated limestone façade features a central curved two story oriel with exuberant carvings, including swags, horns of plenty, a central cartouche, brackets and a denticulate cornice, culminating in a decorative metal railing; and

WHERAS, The fifth floor windows are crowned by sculptural foliate and floral forms, and the heavily cast stone ornate seems to have been kept well intact; and

WHEREAS, There are existing window canopies with signage at the third and fifth floors, with ornamental metal Juliet balconies on the third floor; the fifth floor also has this same detailing in front of its larger, deeper balcony; and

WHEREAS, There are two Serpentine Marble pilasters with low relief carved fleur de lis capital detailing which span the ground through second floor; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five strongly supports the landmark designation of 35 West 57th Street.

The above resolution passed with a vote of 38 in favor, 0 opposed, 0 abstention.    

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Joint Landmarks and Parks

Wildlife Conservation Society/Central Park Zoo, application to construct a building, two pavilions, fencing and pathways.

WHEREAS, The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), operators of the Central Park Zoo, are proposing to construct a new Snow Leopard Facility; and

WHEREAS, Snow Leopards are an endangered species; and

WHEREAS, The facility will be operated cooperatively as part of a national breeding program; and

WHEREAS, The animals are the 3rd and 4th generation of said breeding program and have never lived in the wild; and

WHEREAS, The Wildlife Conservation Society's Director of New York City Zoos is the coordinator of this national breeding program; and 

WHEREAS, This will be a permanent exhibit with a maximum of six animals at any given time; and

WHEREAS, The proposed facility is located within the existing zoo on less than half an acre and will consist of three main elements:

  • - a concrete block holding structure, no taller than 9'-10", covered with dark cedar siding
  • - two viewing pavilions that mimic the style of other pavilions in the zoo
  • - a mesh enclosure supported by poles that is minimally visible; and

WHEREAS, The design will allow maximum viewing by the public while respecting the existing landscape, as well as the social habits and physical requirements of Snow Leopards; and

WHEREAS, The facility will be screened with plantings and has been designed to have minimal visual impact from the adjacent Transverse Drive and East Drive on the Zoo's perimeter; and

WHEREAS, The design was completed with cooperation and input from the NYC Parks Department, and the Central Parks Conservancy; and

WHEREAS, It is anticipated that the facility will be constructed next winter and not during peak visitor season; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends approval of the application by the Wildlife Conservation Society.

The above resolution passed37 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention.
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Parks

The Public Art Fund proposal for a temporary public art installation for New York-based artist James Yamada of two adjoining ‘Superman’-style phone booths in the southeast corner of Union Square (small park triangle).

WHEREAS, A proposal has been received from the Public Art Fund to install a public art project in Union Square Park; and

WHEREAS, The installation will be the work of New York artist James Yamada, consisting of two full length walk in telephone booths; and

WHEREAS; One of these booths will allow participants to make free three minute phone calls to countries to the west of the United States, the other booth will allow participants to make free three minute phone calls to countries to the east of the United States, but no calls will be able to be made to the United States except to 911; and

WHEREAS, The installation will be up for between six and eight weeks in July and August 2007; and

WHEREAS, The Public Art Fund has been cooperate with the Community Board Five and has agreed to make the installation handicapped accessible, to close the project between midnight and 5:00am and to clearly mark which booth will make calls to the east and the west; and

WHEREAS, The Public Art Fund has agreed to make adjustments to the project should public safety or other concerns dictate such changes, including and up to removing the installation; therefore; be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends approval of the application by the Public Art Fund to install a public art project in Union Square Park; featuring the work of New York artist James Yamada, consisting of two full length walk in telephone booths which will allow participants to make free three minute phone calls to countries to the east of the United States but no calls will be able to be made to the United States except to 911 for between six and eight weeks in July and August 2007.

The above resolution passed with a vote of 20 in favor, 18 opposed, 0 abstention.   

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Land Use & Zoning

110-112 East 16th Street, request for authorization by the City Planning Commission pursuant to Section 11-411 of the Zoning Resolution to extend the period of continuance for a third 10-year term of a previously approved special permit for a public parking garage with a maximum capacity of 200 spaces within a 9-story garage building

WHEREAS, the Applicant, 110 East 16th St. Associates, LLC, operates a free standing nine-story-and-roof public parking garage comprised of 196 parking spaces and located at 110-112 East 16th Street; and

WHEREAS, The City Planning Commission originally approved the application for construction of the garage in 1961 and has twice extended the term for a period of ten years; first in 1986 and then in 1997; and

WHEREAS, The garage was originally approved and built according to the standards of the pre-1961 Zoning Resolution, and the owner has voluntarily made improvements to the facilities, such as curb cuts and staging spaces, in cooperation with the City Planning Commission in order to make them comply with the current Zoning Resolution; and

WHEREAS, No complaints have been received concerning the garage; and

WHEREAS, There is a great need for parking in the Union Square neighborhood; therefore be it

RESOLVED, That Community Board Five recommends approval of the requested renewal of the authorization of the public parking garage located at 110-112 East 16th Street for a third ten-year term.

The above resolution passed with a vote of 37 in favor, 0 opposed, 1 abstention.  

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