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251-253 5th Avenue, Application for Restoration at 251 5th Avenue and a New Building at 253 5th Avenue at East 28th Street

WHEREAS, 251 Fifth Avenue (“Applicant”) is a seven-story brick and brownstone building in the Madison Square North Historic District designated on June 26, 2001; and

WHEREAS, The building was constructed in 1872 as French flats with ground-floor stores and designed by architect George P. Post in the Queen-Anne style; and

WHEREAS, 251 Fifth Avenue has frontage on the east side of Fifth Avenue and the north side of East 28th Street; and

WHEREAS, The façade and top of 251 Fifth Avenue has been extensively altered; and

WHEREAS, The applicant seeks replacement of the existing six-story structure at 253 Fifth Avenue with a mixed use commercial and residential apartment building; and

WHEREAS, The applicant is seeking a special permit pursuant to Article VII, Chapter 4 (74-711) of the Zoning Resolution that permits a bulk, height, set back and use waiver for the construction of a building at 253 Fifth Avenue; and

WHEREAS, as part of the requirements, the Applicant must perform a full restoration of the existing landmark at 251 Fifth Avenue, and must seek a letter from the Landmarks Preservation Commission confirming that the proposed new building has a harmonious relationship to the landmark, especially for bulk, massing and height; and 

WHEREAS, The Applicant proposes a major restoration of the façade, lintels, and roof of 251 Fifth Avenue that would bring the building substantially closer to the original design as shown in historic photographs; and

WHEREAS, The proposed restoration of 251 Fifth Avenue would include reconstruction of the original turret, installation a new gray slate hexagonal tiles at the turret and mansard roof, installation of a new painted wood pivoting oculus window, a new painted wood pivoting circular window, a new painted wood double-hung window, and a replicated wrought-iron railing; and

WHEREAS, The materials at 251 Fifth Avenue would include brownstone piers, bluestone cornices, historic red brick, Benjamin Moore Coyote Trail paint for the cast-iron portal  and dormers, and Benjamin Moore Black Forest Green for the window sashes and storefront infill; and

WHEREAS, The Applicant also proposes construction of a new 22-story building at 253 Fifth Avenue, adjacent to and connected with 251 Fifth Avenue; and

WHEREAS, The new building is proposed to be composed of a masonry base, shaft, and cornice with sand-colored terracotta tile façade with a height of 233 feet, four inches and would be 15 stories taller than the 251 Fifth Avenue building; and

WHEREAS, The new building would have the southernmost portion of each floor above the seventh floor recede from the floor below, creating stepped pattern that would be highly visible when looking at 251 Fifth Avenue from the south; and 

WHEREAS, The materials at the new building would include glazed terracotta extruded tile pilasters and bulkhead, Benjamin Moore Iron Mountain painted slab and pilaster,  Benjamin Moore BranchPort Brown HC-72 mullions, sandstone color sandblasted terracotta tile rainscreen, light gray tinted insulated glass, and a dark granite storefront base; and

WHEREAS, The application is atypical with the historic restoration and new building presented together in parallel as one project; and

WHEREAS, The new building would be massive in height with bulk, scale, and complexity of design inharmonious with the existing landmark and with the Madison Square North Historic District; and

WHEREAS, The new building would tower over and overpower 251 Fifth Avenue; and

WHEREAS, The busy design of the proposed new building at 253 Fifth Avenue and the stepped-pattern of its floors above 251 Fifth Avenue would not be contextual and distract the viewer’s attention away from the historic building; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends denial of the application pursuant to Art. 74-711 of the Z.R. for a certificate of harmoniousness and a certificate of appropriateness for building at 251 Fifth Avenue and for the construction of a new building at 253 Fifth Avenue.

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