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49 West 20th Street, aka 656-662 6th Avenue (Church of the Holy Communion) Limelight MarketPlace, Certificate of Appropriateness application to renovate

WHEREAS, The building located at 49 West 20th Street at 6th Avenue, known as the Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion, is a designated individual NYC Landmark as well as a contributing property in the Ladies Mile  Historic District, built in 1846 by renowned Boston architect Richard Upjohn; and

WHEREAS. After the Church was deconsecrated it was sold to a private investor, Mansion Realty LLC,  who subsequently net leased the property to a series of nightclub operators who at various times operated clubs on the premises known as Limelight and Avalon; and

WHEREAS, The owner of 49 West 20th Street has now leased the premises to another operator who wishes to change the use of the building to a retail market and do exterior work on the building and the property in order to fulfill this business plan; and

WHEREAS, The NYC Landmark Preservation Commission has filed numerous violations against this property, some of which are more serious than others, some of which have been have apparently been corrected; and

WHEREAS, As recently as August 19, 2009 the NYC Department of Buildings issued a Stop Work Order stating "FULL STOP WORK ORDER SERVED, GUT RENOVATION NO PERMITS ISSUED," continuing a pattern of illegal activity associated with this property; and

WHEREAS, The applicant, the current operator, has indicated to CB5 that it intends to do the following work:

WHEREAS, Several of the above changes would either 1) seriously alter the landmarked historical significance of this building, or 2) not cure LPC violations; in particular, the lack of restoration of the stained glass, the lack of restoration of the roof, the removal of the fence surrounding the building rather than its restoration, the excessive signage in the way of freestanding banners surrounding  the building, banners on the building, and two LED-lighted archways in front of the building; and

WHEREAS, Some of the proposed changes could benefit the building, and these are

WHEREAS, Community Board Five would welcome these beneficial changes if they were done in conjunction with the other work that would restore the building to its historical landmarked condition; and

WHEREAS, Neither the owner of the property nor its current operator appeared at  the CB5 Landmarks Committee Meeting on September 1, 2009 to assure CB5 of their full future compliance with all relevant New York City and State law with respect to this building;  therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends denial of the application by 49 West 20th Street, Limelight (Episcopal Church of the Holy Communion), for a Certificate of Appropriateness for exterior renovations.

The above resolution passed by a vote of 36 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining.

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