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33 West 19th Street, Ladies Mile Historic District, application for a rooftop addition

WHEREAS, 33 West 19th Street is a six story commercial loft building located in the Ladies' Mile Historic District, built in 1903 to the designs of the architect, H. Waring Howard, extending through the block to 28 West 20th Street; and

WHEREAS, The building is in a C6-4A zone and "as of right" could support a five story addition without obtaining a Special Permit if it were not within a designated Landmark District; and

WHEREAS, The owner is applying to the LPC for approval of such an addition which would increase the bulk of the building to almost double its size, claiming that the 50 foot building frontage and height of nearby buildings would justify such a large, visible vertical expansion; and

WHEREAS, The owner's Architectural Historian consultant conceded that such an approval would constitute a "heavy lift" on the part of LPC which generally discourages rooftop additions visible from the public way, even requiring rooftop mock-ups to be built to determine the visual impact; and

WHEREAS, Although the steel mesh and glass design of the proposed rooftop addition is both appealing and imposing, it nevertheless is not harmonious with the historic character of the existing masonry building and the nearby buildings in the Historic District; and

WHEREAS, As innovative as the design may be, approval by LPC would be the wrong signal for owners of other buildings in the Historic District by becoming a precedent for other possible highly visible rooftop additions; and

WHEREAS, If LPC permits similar additions to be built, the jagged, sawtooth  rooftop streetscape appearance of Ladies Mile would be changed to the detriment of the entire District; and

WHEREAS, the owner is also proposing restoration of storefront infill, based on historically appropriate designs, but this will be handled by LPC Staff and will not be the subject of a formal hearing; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends denial of the application for a Certificate of Appropriateness for 33 West 19th Street, for a rooftop addition.

The above resolution passed by a vote of 35 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining.

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