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THE LOEB BOATHOUSE, CENTRAL PARK Application by Food Service Concessionaire to replace the outdoor Bar Pavilion, Accessory Building and Patio/ Deck

WHEREAS, Central Park is a Scenic Landmark designated by the City in 1974 and a National Historic Landmark since 1963, the Loeb Boathouse is located on East Drive near 72nd Street transverse in Central Park, and

WHEREAS, the Central Park Conservancy provides a brief description of the Loeb Boathouse and its history on its Official Website:

 "Boating on the Lake has been a popular pastime from the Park's earliest days. Six rustic landings originally dotted the water's edge, and a number of shack-like buildings served as boathouses. Passengers could hire rowboats, gondolas and even multi-seat water buses for ten cents a ride. 

As interest in rowing grew, the Lake needed a proper boathouse. In 1874, Park architect Calvert Vaux designed a formal building on the eastern shoreline to provide covered space for docking and storage. With its charming Victorian touches, the building also featured a second-story terrace that afforded beautiful views of the Ramble. A popular draw for more than 80 years, the boathouse fell into disrepair by 1950 and was soon torn down. 

The iconic Loeb Boathouse that New Yorkers and visitors know so well today opened at the Lake's northeastern tip in 1954, financed by philanthropist Carl M. Loeb. From beneath the green patina of the boathouse's copper roof, visitors can rent rowboats and bikes; hire an authentic Venetian gondola; or dine overlooking seasonal views of the Lake at the Loeb Central Park Boathouse Restaurant.

WHEREAS, the concessionaire for the Loeb Boathouse (which includes the restaurant/bar, boat rental and bicycle rental activities), Dean J. Poll, is proposing to replace the bar pavilion, boat shed and patio/deck; the bar pavilion will be located closer to the restaurant and oriented to open up views of the lake, be ADA compliant, offer 117 square feet of new planting and four trees, and

WHEREAS, the proposed bar pavilion is designed to be open with white painted metal columns and glass paneled roof with copper cap and gutters; the bar will have wood paneling with a concrete counter top, and

WHEREAS, the existing bar pavilion and boat rental shed is not historic, dating back only 20 years before designation, nor deemed architecturally significant, and

WHEREAS, the materials are deemed appropriate and would blend with the adjacent boathouse restaurant; there is no significant design reference to other contextual structures in the park, and

WHEREAS, the existing bar pavilion is 444 sq. ft., seats 12 persons at the bar, 92 persons at outdoor tables with chairs, has 2,296 sq. ft of patio/deck; the proposed bar pavilion is 456 sq. ft., 12 sq. ft. larger, and seats 30 persons at the bar (an increase of 18 persons), 92 persons at outdoor tables with chairs (no change), and 2,455 sq. ft of patio/deck, (an increase of 159 sq. ft. patio/deck), and

WHEREAS, the proposed deck is in a bow shape, cantilevered over the water, using the existing piers and footings, approximately 7'-9" x 59', which will increase the footprint over the lake by 278 sq. ft., and it is being raised to one level omitting two steps to the water's edge, and

WHEREAS, the existing boat rental shed is 46 sq. ft. and the proposed boat rental shed is 124 sq. ft, (78 sq. ft. larger), which in addition to providing storage and a boat rental window will house services for the bar such as sink, dishwasher, icemaker and refrigerator, and the proposed shed will extend 7' x 8', increasing the footprint over the lake 56 sq. ft.; and

WHEREAS, the proposed boat rental shed will be elongated and oriented perpendicular to the Lake to maximize the vistas of the Lake; and

WHEREAS, the proposed changes:

1.        Have been the subject of renegotiations of a sole source contract, in mid-contract, for the past two years between the Concessionaire and the Parks Department and Central Parks Conservancy;
2.        Will allow the Conservancy to complete renovations along the perimeter of the Central Park Lake;
3.        Are expected to exceed a capital improvement with an estimated cost of $1.5 million, all to be paid for by the Concessionaire;
4.        Will become the property of  the City upon completion;
5.        Are expected to increase revenues for the City's General Fund since the current concession's remunerations to the Fund are already above the "base" rent and the changes to the Boathouse will increase capacity and, therefore, revenues further;
6.        Will open vistas currently blocked by obsolete, unattractive buildings which are being redesigned and/or relocated;
7.        Will allow for the Lake to be visible beneath the new cantilevered deck which will not require any pilings or new construction in the lake itself;
8.        Will only increase the seating at the bar by 18 seats;
9.        Have the full support of the Parks Department whose Commissioner signed the LPC Application for the Certificate of Appropriateness; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, that, although the Community Board Five is concerned about increased footprint of the accessory building and patio/deck over the lake, which gives additional public space to the concessionaire, it considers the design an attractive improvement over what  currently exists and recommends approval of the Certificate of Appropriateness application for the Loeb Boathouse, Central Park for the outdoor bar pavilion, accessory building and patio/deck with the understanding that the NYC Department of Parks  and Recreation will provide justification to the LPC that it is in the public interest, that the concessionaire is being given  permission by the Parks Department for 1) the increased footprint over the lake and 2) the greatly enlarged Boat Rental shed; and therefore, be it further

RESOLVED, Community Board Five strongly opposes any further encroachment of Public Space in Central Park (if the application is approved by LPC) for private or commercial use, even though CB 5 recognizes the Boathouse Café, which will have an enlarged deck extending over the lake, and the greatly enlarged Boat Rental shed facility as important public amenities requiring major renovations and modernization.

The above resolution passed by a vote of 37 in favor; 1 opposed; 1 abstaining.

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