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175 Fifth Avenue (aka The Flatiron Building, aka The Fuller Building): A Certificate of Appropriateness for alterations to the Lobby Entrances, a Retail Storefront Master Plan, Alterations to the 21st Floor, Alterations to Building Mechanicals

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, October 8, 2020, the following resolution passed with a vote of 41 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, 175 Fifth Avenue is also known as the Fuller Building but better known as The Flatiron Building which is a 21-story French Renaissance steel-framed structure designed in the shape of a triangular “flat iron” located at the intersection of Fifth Avenue, Broadway, and 23rd Street in the Ladies’ Mile Historic District; and

WHEREAS, 175 Fifth Avenue was built for the George A. Fuller Construction Company designed by architect Daniel Burnham opening in 1902, and was designated an individual Landmark in 1966; and

WHEREAS, the applicant proposes to 1) make alterations to the two building lobby entrances, 2) create a Retail Storefront Master Plan, 3) make alterations to the 21st Floor, and 4) replace building mechanicals on the roof; and

Lobby Entrances:

WHEREAS, the original lobby and lobby entrances at 175 Fifth Avenue and 949 Broadway were altered during an earlier renovation using non-historic materials and the applicant proposes changes to make them more historically accurate as well as handicap-accessible; and

WHEREAS, proposed lobby entry changes include new bronze framing and transoms; the Broadway entrance will maintain a revolving door moved to within the lobby envelope with non-operable sidelights measuring 10ft 6in in height; the Fifth Avenue entrance will consist of two 10ft 6in high bronze doors with non-operable sidelights as well as a new inner vestibule which is consistent with the original design of the building; and

Retail Storefront Master Plan:

WHEREAS, the existing storefront bays are largely intact with original display windows framed in cast iron, having restorations made in 2000-2001 using in-kind materials and historic salvaged hardware; and

WHEREAS, existing full-transom height louvers in most bays are proposed to become a much slimmer painted aluminum design; louvers in bays on either side of both Lobby entrances and along 22nd Street will remain full-transom height; and 

WHEREAS, storefront bays are proposed to be altered to allow for a handicap accessible single door in 6 bays along Fifth Avenue, 3 bays along 22nd Street, and 7 bays along Broadway; there would be at most one set of double doors proposed for each façade dependent on the future retail tenant’s needs; and

WHEREAS, the bay to the south of the Broadway entrance is proposed to be restored flush with the building façade, and the corner revolving door on the SW Corner will remain; and

WHEREAS, the applicant has committed to preserving all historic materials in each bay as much as possible, and to re-use or store any components of original materials that need to be altered in order to meet the proposed storefront designs; and

Alterations to 21st Floor:

WHEREAS, the applicant proposes to alter an existing 21st Floor penthouse level that currently has non-historic façade materials; proposed changes include lowering window sills to install new casement and fixed windows in existing window openings, and install new doors in existing door openings. The applicant also proposes to make the north corner rounded to match the profile of the building, raise the flooring to create a usable terrace, replace exterior drainage systems with internal drainage systems, and install clear glass railings on the interior of decorative balustrades; and

WHEREAS, materials include a stucco finish for the exterior walls, painted aluminum windows and doors, and concrete pavers flooring on the terrace; and

WHEREAS, the applicant is not proposing exterior lighting to the 21st Floor or terrace area, and the alterations to the 21st Floor will be minimally visible from the street; and

Replacement and Relocation of Building Mechanicals:

WHEREAS, the applicant proposes to remove existing mechanical/electrical/plumbing equipment as well as active and inactive skylights, and install three cooling towers, new mechanical equipment, and solar panels; and

WHEREAS, the proposed number of cooling towers has been increased in order to have smaller, less visible units and the overall height of all mechanical equipment will remain the same as current conditions; and

WHEREAS, the new central air cooling equipment will allow the removal of over 600 air conditioning window units throughout the building; and


WHEREAS, alterations to the Fifth Avenue and Broadway entrances are great improvements and closer to original designs and materials; and

WHEREAS, if the 10ft 6in bronze doors require mechanical components to operate then let it be known that the applicant has committed to the installation of a door-opening mechanism that is non-intrusive to building façade materials; and

WHEREAS, the proposed alterations to the storefront bays are minimal and necessary to ensure ADA compliance, and the applicant has committed to reusing all historic material that must be altered within the storefront bays; and

WHEREAS, the visibility of the proposed 21st Floor alterations and proposed mechanical equipment changes will be an improvement to existing visibility and less distraction from the Landmark; and

WHEREAS, the proposed building-wide central cooling system is allowing for removal of over 600+ window air conditioning units; and

WHEREAS, the applicant is to confirm whether or not signage is part of an existing approved Master Plan for the building and if it is not, they are urged to return to Community Board Five for a signage master plan addendum review; and

WHEREAS, the Community Board realizes that while protecting our district’s Landmarks is of utmost importance, we also recognize the need to improve and modernize them in order to remain relevant and able to attract new businesses; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval for a certificate of appropriateness for the proposed changes to the building lobby entrances, the retail storefront master plan, alterations to the 21st Floor, and replacement of building mechanicals, providing the applicant commits to re-use of historic materials that must be altered for proposed designs, and that the applicant commits to a non-intrusive design for any door-opening mechanisms for the lobby entry doors (should they be required) that does not interfere with the building façade materials.

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