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186 5th Avenue, application for a new storefront system and new illuminated signage at the sign bands

WHEREAS, 186 Fifth Avenue is a Queen Ann-style building located at the South West corner of 5th Avenue and 23rd Street in the Ladies Mile Historic District; and

WHEREAS, The building was designed by Henry J. Hardenbergh – the designer of the Plaza Hotel and the Dakota – and was built in 1883 as the headquarters of Western Union; and

WHEREAS, 186 Fifth Avenue was built of red brick, cast stone, and terra cotta and is considered a unique and important design that led to Hardenburgh’s better known buildings; and

WHEREAS, The building is part of the Ladies Mile Historic District, which was designated a historic district in 1989; and

WHEREAS, The building’s location and position are further important as a gateway to the historic district; and

WHEREAS, There have been many changes to the lower levels of the building, which can be seen as early as 1908; and

WHEREAS, The application seeks to replace the current, non-historic retail/commercial storefront with a system that more closely respects a design system and decoration that dates from approximately 1912; and

WHEREAS, The proposed design does not relate to, or seek to relate to, the original, cohesive design or the original and unique architecture, for which there are numerous drawings and photographs; and

WHEREAS, The proposed design does not include changes to the residential entrance that are needed to create a synchronous design at street level; and

WHEREAS, The applicant has made no attempt to inform or involve the residents or their building’s board in this process, when the residents have in good faith shown a commitment to appropriate support of the historic nature of the building and its design through previous work; and

WHEREAS, The applicant has not inventoried or considered the use of historic material from the building that is currently in storage and may be available; and

WHEREAS, The proposed signage, although reduced in size and scope from the current signage, includes backlit LED lighting that is inappropriate for use in an historic district; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends denial of the application by 186 5th Avenue for a new storefront system and new illuminated signage at the sign bands.

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