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Nicole Anderson reports for The Architect's Newspaper. 03-governors-island-nyc-leases-archpaper Governors Island, the once sleepy military base, has been evolving rapidly in the last five years—transforming into a hub of cultural activity, educational facilities, and lush parkland. And now, the next phase of the $260 million redevelopment plan will add a mix of spa services, classrooms, and artist studios. Last December, the Trust for Governors Island issued a request for proposals seeking ideas for creative, educational, or commercial uses for over 40 historic structures, which had previously provided residential quarters, administrative offices, and other communal functions. And while the exteriors of these 19th and early-mid 20th century wood and brick buildings are landmarked, the interiors are not, and can be renovated to accommodate a variety of tenants with different spatial requirements. After considering 15 proposals, the Trust announced the selection of its three finalists last week, two of which already occupy space within the island’s historic buildings: Lower Manhattan Cultural Council (LMCC), Quadratec Spa, and the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School (Harbor School). These tenants will move into five buildings, and take over only 30 percent of the historic district, leaving much of the area open for further redevelopment. “Governors Island is a unique shared public resource for all New Yorkers. Now, with the completion of the first phase of the park and announcement of new tenants, the island is fulfilling its potential as a lively year round destination,” said Trust president Leslie Koch. “These tenants will bring new recreational educational and cultural activity and much needed resources to the Island.” 01-governors-island-nyc-leases-archpaper The Quadratec Spa will take over three historic buildings, which will include indoor facilities, saunas, a light café, and outdoor pools with panoramic views of Manhattan. 02-governors-island-nyc-leases-archpaper Next door, LMCC, a non-profit dedicated to arts and culture, will occupy all of Building 110. The organization already operates over 20 studios and exhibition spaces in the building, and now plans to build additional studios, a digital media lab, more gallery space, and a screening room. For over three years ago, the Urban Assembly New York Harbor School (Harbor School) has lived in Building 550. Now the public high school, which fittingly offers a curriculum based on environmental conservation and water-related issues, has the green light to take over Building 555, the 25,000 square foot, former Coast Guard and Army structure. This new expansion will enable the school to grow its student body from 435 to 755 students. 04-governors-island-nyc-leases-archpaper The Trust is also in negotiations with CIEE Global Campus—an organization providing international education and exchange programs—to retrofit two existing structures—Building 12 and Pershing Hall—into classrooms and dormitories for over 250 international students. As Governors Island transitions from a seasonal to a year-round destination, the Trust will do away with the free ferry rides and charge a $2 fare on weekdays and weekend afternoons to help subsidize operations. Tenants are slated to begin construction in 2014 and move into their new quarters by 2016. Over time, the Trust plans on releasing more RFPs, and introducing new programmatic uses and redevelopment plans to the 172-acre island.  
Curbed staff report for Curbed. 1-00545-0021_Y40Mr5g9 In 2011, Gary Barnett and Extell won a nine-year battle to buy a pair of cast-iron buildings on Broadway in the Noho Historic District, and now the developer's plans for at least one of the structures is coming to light. At a community board meeting last night, architecture firm Beyer Blinder and Belle presented plans to restore 734 Broadway to its previous luster, add a little extra bling to its crown, and top it with a glass two-story penthouse. The five-story building, which currently houses a Foot Locker at street level and five residential units above, is notable for being one of the famed cast-iron buildings the Jardine Brothers designed in the second half of the 19th century.  Currently, grime and disrepair obscure the landmark's beauty. It has a Broadway-facing fire escape that is badly rusted, as are the cast iron brackets that it's attached to. While fire escapes are considered characteristic to the district, Beyer Blinder and Belle pointed out that most of the other buildings have fire escapes facing secondary streets, and therefore propose that the fire escape be removed. The masonry at the attachment points will be repaired, and all other rusted cast iron will also be restored in order to return the building to its original design. Additionally, the ground-level façade below the existing cast iron cornice will be completely remade because none of it is historic to the building. This includes creating a new storefront cornice with replica cast iron, which was previously removed.  Restored-facade
The rear of the building has also seen its share of alterations during the last century. A dilapidated two-and-a-half story shed at the back of the building will be demolished, and a new, enclosed rear yard will be built. The entire rear façade will also be painted to look as it did originally. Right now, the plan is to paint the building in green tones, but that may change pending further analysis of the paint on the building.
Street-view-from-Broadway 1910-Historical-view
The biggest change will be to the top of the building. Not only will the three missing decorative finials be replaced, but behind them will lie a new two-story residential penthouse addition. The addition will be all glass, and unlike other additions to historic buildings in the district, the floors will not be "stacked" at the street front. The first floor of the addition will be recessed from the front of the building by 23 feet, and the second floor will be recessed from the first by 15 feet so that the addition can't be seen from the street. Residents like Anita Brandt liked the "minimally visible" design and could see that the architects "did their homework" on the building's history.
Roofop-addition-rendering Proposed-rear-and-side-of-building
The living areas in the penthouse will be on the first floor and the bedrooms on the top. Privacy will be provided by an aluminum framed curtain wall system. In all, the two new floors will add an additional 22 feet to the cast-iron structure. 
Despite the attempt to keep the addition as non-intrusive as possible, one resident raised concerns that the glass would reflect too much light and "glow" which could be potentially distracting. But by and large, residents embraced the design and raised few objections. "We're speechless, what can we say, we love it," said Brandt, an architect who also works with historic landmarks. The landmarks committee of Community Board 2 voted to approve the designs with modifications to the shape of the finials from spherical to elongated and to the height of the storefront bulkhead, which will stand about 16 inches tall to line up with the pilasters' base. They also recommended that the Landmarks Preservation Commission's report encourage the City Planning Commission to look favorably upon a Modification of Use since the building is currently zoned for merchandising and some retail uses.  
Hana R. Alberts reports for Curbed. Tribeca Citizen has spotted the rendering of Morris Adjmi's cast-iron inversion design posted on the construction plywood at 83 Walker Street. The design was unveiled back in 2011, but the site has appeared to be pretty much stalled since then. Its design, by the way, is unique because " Instead of columns curving out from the building, they are indented into it. The windows, typically recessed, jut out from façade." The nine-story condo (which will have nine units, according to DOB permits) got a thumbs up from the Landmarks Preservation Commission over two years ago, and construction was slated to begin nine months from then. Well, that didn't happen, but maybe the posting of the rendering means more action is on the way. We've reached out to Adjmi's reps for more information on the project.  
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Raising Joyful Hell

Nicole Anderson reports for The Architect's Newspaper. Last week, The Flea Theater, the off-off Broadway downtown hub for experimental work, broke ground on its new home in Tribeca. An existing three-story building will be retrofitted by Architecture Research Office (ARO) to accommodate a variety of productions and creative uses, establishing a permanent home to carry on the theater’s mission to raise “joyful hell in a small space.” “Their whole ethos is based on off-off Broadway and to support young actors and actresses of every age level, playwrights of any age level, and emerging talent as well as very established talent,” said Kim Yao, partner and founder of ARO. “So part of the challenge for us was to balance the performing spaces with really solid back of house spaces in a very tight building.”
  ARO will overhaul the mid-century structure, which sits on the former site of New York Hospital, and plans on maintaining the original 200-year-old brick walls and arches in the basement where a small performance space will be situated. “The Flea likes idiosyncratic spaces,” said Stephen Cassell, partner at ARO. “Everything is designed for flexibility.” The structure will consist of three different theaters, each outfitted with moveable seating. On the top floor, a 1,850 square foot concert theater, dubbed “The Sam” after theater agent Sam Cohn, will host a range of programming from acrobatic performances to large-scale plays. Below, on the ground floor, “The Pete” theater, which takes its name from a play by A.R. Gurney, will be a multi-purpose interior space that can extend out onto an adjacent garden to allow for a number of viewing options and uses. In the basement, the brick black box theater, “The Siggy,” named after actress and Flea co-founder Sigourney Weaver, will provide a smaller space for new work, especially geared towards the resident acting troupe known as “The Bats.” “The idea behind the project with the Flea was always to embrace the existing structure, and the significant adaptive reuse is very much I think in keeping with the character of the organization,” said Yao. “And so what we are really doing is restructuring some areas, replacing others, and increasing volume.” In addition to the three theaters, the building will include four dressing rooms, costume shops, two lobbies, and back of house space. The street façade, made of brick and a black steel awning, will rise up to shield the mechanicals on the rooftop. Yao said that the structure, wedged between a tall residential building, an AT&T switching building, and a FDNY Fire Station, will create “a great new presence on a very quiet street.” The theater is anticipated to open its doors by spring of 2015  
Jeremiah Budin reports for Curbed. In order to be able to build its store in Gowanus, Whole Foods agreed to preserve and repair the landmarked Coignet building, which sits on the corner of the lot. But locals are claiming that the construction of the supermarket has created a huge crack in the historic structure - possibly the first concrete building in the city - and that Whole Foods doesn't even care. Whole Foods, for its part, is claiming that the building was just like that when they got it, telling Brooklyn Paper, "Nothing that occurred in relations to building our building for the store affected what's happening to that building. I don't think anything caused that crack. The building is a bit weathered." Although the supermarket chain is still promising that it will eventually fix up the Coignet's façade, this is not likely to help out the building's short-term sale prospects, as it was put on the market back in January. Other locals have different concerns about the Whole Foods, set to open next Tuesday. "Whole Foods is one more example of stores catering to the affluent newcomers," said one resident, referring to the planned 700-unit Lightstone Group development. Another said it reminded her of a "suburban strip mall." Welcome to the neighborhood, Whole Foods!  
Elie reports for Bowery Boogie. 75-essex-street-2013 Fueled by two notable landmarking victories in recent months – Bialystoker Nursing Home and 339 Grand Street – the Friends of the Lower East Side are retraining the crosshairs on another one-of-a-kind building. One we’ve covered at length – 75 Essex Street. As revealed here last month, 75 Essex is back on the market for $21 million. With the new Essex Crossing development soon to redefine SPURA, no abutting property is safe from destruction and/or alteration. Not even one as historically rich as this. Hence, the action. The Friends sent a “Request for Evaluation” to the Landmarks Preservation Commission last January, which was acknowledged by the city three months later. Due to the crickets from that end, the grassroots organization is turning up the heat by imploring folks to submit letters to Chairman Robert Tierney. “Due to the endangered status of this important building in this rapidly gentrifying neighborhood, Friends of the Lower East Side has embarked on a campaign to save the Good Samaritan/Eastern District Dispensary building,” said Mitchell Grubler, a founding member of the grassroots organization founded in 2011 and dedicated to preserving the architectural and cultural heritage of this historic center of immigrant life. The freestanding 75 Essex was erected in 1890 to house the Eastern Dispensary (aka Good Samaritan Dispensary), established in 1832 to provide the sick and poor with a place to receive aide and medicine.  It initially opened on Grand Street during a massive cholera epidemic “that claimed the lives of more than 3,500 people, mainly destitute Irish immigrants crammed into filthy hovels in the fourth and sixth slum wards of downtown Manhattan.” Today, it’s owned by the family behind ground-level occupant Eisner Brothers, a business that will likely fold once the address is in new hands. An excerpt from their letter to Chairman Tierney:
As stated in our Request for Evaluation, submitted on January 14, 2013, the building is surrounded by Site 1 of the Essex Crossing/Seward Park Mixed-Use Development (see attachment for text and photos). While the building is not on the site, it is vulnerable to damage by work conducted around it or it could be diminished by inappropriate development surrounding it. The dispensary is eligible for the National Register and is noted in the Environmental Impact Statement for the development. Rose & Stone designed Eastern District Dispensary in the style of a freestanding Italianate palazzo. The four-story building is clad in orange brick on the first story and tan brick above, laid in Flemish bond. A rhythmic series of five round-arched openings are set within the first story of the eastern façade along Essex Street. Projecting belt courses, giving the effect of rustication, radiate from the central entrance and four flanking windows. Under the belt courses, now coated with cementitious parging and painted reddish brown, is brownstone of a similar color. Above the arches is a row of nine vertical sash windows, surrounded by moulded brick, repeated at the third story, and nine arched windows at the fourth story.
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Midtown Rezoning Bites the Dust

Nicole Anderson reports for The Architect's Newspaper. With the support of incoming mayor Bill de Blasio, City Council has squashed the Bloomberg administration’s plan to allow for the development of taller buildings in East Midtown. The decision marks the end of Mayor Bloomberg’s 12-year term, leaving behind a legacy that will likely be remembered for reshaping the cityscape with large-scale development. “We are obviously disappointed in this decision. This plan would have created tens of thousands of good paying jobs for New Yorkers in every borough and resulted in tens of millions of dollars in private sector funding for public infrastructure,” said Steven Spinola, president of The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). The proposal, ambitious in both scope and scale, pushed for the rezoning of the 73-block swathe around Grand Central Terminal with the intention of spurring the construction of new office towers that would ultimately replace the existing outdated building stock. This move, Bloomberg argued, would be critical in sustaining and growing the area into a robust business hub and attracting the right corporate tenants to keep this slice of midtown competitive with other global cities. City Council, however, said that the plan didn’t garner enough votes, and would ultimately be shot down by members, prompting Bloomberg to withdraw the application for the proposal. “We should rezone East Midtown, but only when we can do so properly. After extensive negotiations, we have been unable to reach agreement on a number of issues in the proposed plan,” said speaker Christine Quinn and council member Dan Garodnick in a joint statement. The duo pinpointed the Council’s specific issues with the plan, including the process, price, and timing of the air rights, the funding required for infrastructure improvements, and the feasibility of the public realm improvements suggested. In a statement, Bloomberg said that a financing agreement had been reached to allocate $100 million in funding to transit and public realm improvements, but it was contingent upon the development piece of the plan moving forward. “We are withdrawing the application for the rezoning of East Midtown. This will unfortunately cost the area hundreds of millions of dollars in badly needed subway and street improvements and $1 billion in additional tax revenue—as well as tens of thousands of new jobs that would have been created,” said Bloomberg in a statement. Throughout the Uniform Land Use Review Procedure, critics and community members expressed concern that larger development would bring more people to midtown, putting a strain on the area’s infrastructure. The plan will likely be revisited. Mayor-elect de Blasio has spoken in favor of City Council’s decision, but said that he plans to eventually pursue the rezoning of midtown. “I applaud the City Council for pressing the pause button in order to ensure these concerns are adequately addressed,” he said in a statement. “We must continue this process in earnest upon taking office, and I commit to presenting a revised rezoning plan for the area by the end of 2014.”  
Katherine Clarke reports for The Real Deal. Ponte Gadea Group, the U.S. investment arm for Spanish billionaire Amancio Ortega, has acquired a 56,000-square-foot office and retail building at 414 West 14th Street for $94 million, according to public records filed with the city today. The group purchased the property from a partnership between the Carlyle Group and Sitt Asset Management, which acquired it for $70 million six years ago. With a reported net worth of some $57 billion, Ortega is the world’s third richest man, per Forbes magazine’s most recent ranking, and is the head of Inditex fashion group, which owns the retail chain Zara. Ponte Gadea has developed properties in other cosmopolitan cities including Miami, where it was a partner on the development of the Epic Residences & Hotel at 200 Biscayne Boulevard. Commercial brokerage Studley brokered the deal on 14th Street. A representative for the company was not immediately available for comment. Both Carlyle and Ponte Gadea declined comment. Sitt Asset could not be reached. Carlyle and Sitt Asset snapped up the six-story property in 2007 and redeveloped it into a modern office building with state-of-the-art amenities, including a roof deck for events. It has 38,583 square feet of office space and 16,587 square feet of retail, according to PropertyShark. The retail space is currently leased to tenants such as the outdoor clothing retailer Patagonia, which inked a deal for 7,500 square feet last year, and Levi’s, which signed its lease in 2010 and has the space through 2020, according to data from CoStar. The property is across the street from 401 West 14th Street, a stake in which just hit the market, The Real Deal previously reported. The stake is owned by Clarion Partners and is being marketed by Eastdil Secured.  
Mark Maurer reports for The Real Deal. Tribeca-centric developer Colonnade Group wants to convert the landmarked former warehouse for the Pearl Paint home-improvement and craft store into a mixed-use building. The developer paid $9.2 million for the five-story building at 42-46 Lispenard Street, between Church Street and Broadway, in October. Plans call for the red 13,216-square-foot building to gain ground-floor retail. Four full-floor apartments will have ceilings of at least 12 feet, with 24-foot ceilings for the penthouse. The project is set to break ground early next year, according to BuzzBuzzHome. Colonnade is at work on a three-unit residential conversion at 174 Duane Street, which would add one story to the four-story building, as previously reported.  
Reuven Blau reports for NY Daily News. Outgoing Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has touted a plan to redevelop the vacant Childs building into an amphitheater that can seat 5,000 and host 40 concerts a year. The historic, now-vacant Childs Restaurant building on the Coney Island Boardwalk is being eyed for redevelopment as a 5,000-seat concert amphitheater. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz’s signature effort to convert the historic Childs Restaurant into a massive amphitheater is coming down to the wire — and it’s anyone’s guess whether the outgoing captain of Kings will complete his much-desired coup de grace. The City Council is expected to hold a hearing on the complicated proposal to renovate the boardwalk building on Dec. 16. City lawmakers will likely vote on it three days later, when the council holds its last full meeting of the session. “I’m hopeful that the city council will approve it,” said Markowitz. Any delay beyond Jan. 1, however, could doom the project. In September, the Coney Island community board voted against it, arguing that the approximately $35 million in public funds earmarked for the theater and a small park nearby would be better used to help repair infrastructure that was damaged by Superstorm Sandy. And the district’s incoming councilman agrees. “Coney Island cannot become a year-round destination, with jobs and economic opportunity for its residents, without infrastructure and transportation improvements,” said Mark Treyger. Critics have also argued that public money should not be going towards private development of a concert hall. Markowitz defended the plan, noting the building has sat empty for years. “It shouldn’t be held up. There’s no reason to oppose it at that location,” Markowitz said. He’s worked hard to ensure it passes. Markowitz said Monday that he talked to Council Speaker Christine Quinn  about the theater plan before he endorsed her last April — a move in which he  turned his back on then-Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, who hails from Park  Slope. “Any major project that I have championed needs the approval of the City Council,” he said. “So would I have spoken to her? You bet!” The unusual $53 million plan calls for the city to buy the Childs building — along with an adjoining lot between W. 21 St and W. 22nd St. — from iStar Financial, the real estate investment company that acquired the historic structure from a developer after the economy tanked in 2008.According to plans, the amphitheater will seat 5,000 people with room for another 2,000 on a lawn behind it. The performance space could play host to as many as 40 concerts between May and October. Space will also be leased year-round to a yet-to-be-selected proprietor, to operate a restaurant inside the building. This is not the first time Markowitz’s hope of finding a permanent home for  his seaside concerts has faced opposition. Public protests in 2009 blocked a planned amphitheater inside Asser Levy  Park in Brighton Beach.