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Sugar & Plumm Wins Landmarks Approval with 'Toned Down' Facade

By Leslie Albrecht | January 17, 2012 5:52pm
A photo presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission showing what Sugar & Plumm Purveyors of Yumm's storefront will look like under the new design.
A photo presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission showing what Sugar & Plumm Purveyors of Yumm's storefront will look like under the new design.
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DNAinfo/Leslie Albrecht

UPPER WEST SIDE — A new candy store that some locals complained was "too suburban" for the Upper West Side passed a major hurdle Tuesday, winning approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to open the upscale sweets shop with a toned-down facade.

The LPC vote means confectioner Sugar & Plumm Purveyors of Yumm can move ahead with plans to open on Amsterdam Avenue and West 78th Street.

"We're thrilled," said Peter Fine, vice president of business development for Sugar & Plumm, at Tuesday's LPC hearing. 

In December, the LPC criticized Sugar & Plumm's facade design as "cutesie" and "tarted up" when the store first sought the commission's approval, which is required for the project to move ahead.

The old design for Sugar & Plumm.
The old design for Sugar & Plumm.
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Sugar & Plumm.

On Tuesday, Sugar & Plumm returned to the LPC with plans for a toned-down facade design that is partly inspired by a historic photograph of the building where the store will open.

In response to the LPC's comments, architects for the shop eliminated 3-foot high candy-colored light sconces and signage on some of the store's awnings. They also added granite to the storefront, a nod to marble features shown in the historic photo, which dates to the early 1930s.

The redesign breaks up Sugar & Plumm's long facade and makes it "less monolithic," Fine said. The candy store will move into the corner space once occupied by the Shining Star Diner and several other Amsterdam Avenue storefronts.

LPC commissioners praised the look of the new facade, as well as the fact that Sugar & Plumm's architects incorporated some of the 82-year-old building's history into the design.

"They did everything we asked them to do," commissioner Joan Gerner said. "They really toned it down quite a bit."

One commissioner lauded the redesign as "very appropriate," while another said she looked forward to visiting the store when it opens.

The combination candy store and full-service restaurant is slated to open its Upper West Side location in the spring, Fine said. Sugar & Plumm launched last year at the Bergen Town Center in Paramus, N.J., and also recently leased a Downtown Brooklyn space.

The store's playful look drew scorn from some locals, who said it seemed more suited to a suburban mall than the Upper West Side. Residents also objected to Sugar & Plumm taking over storefronts that had once been occupied by small neighborhood businesses. Sugar & Plumm representatives have argued the store will employ local residents and serve neighborhood families.

Neighbor David Schatsky, who started a Facebook page and website slamming the store, said he couldn't comment on the new facade design because he hadn't seen it yet. But he said a large store like Sugar & Plumm worried him regardless of what it looked like, because he's concerned about the loss of small businesses in the neighborhood.

"Deep-pocketed backers are gobbling up retail real estate and remaking it [to] serve their own corporate goals and the needs of out-of-town tourists at the expense of people who live here," Schatsky said in an email.

"I fear the redundant bank branches and luxury chain stores will survive on the Upper West Side even if locals don't patronize them because their owners use them as billboards instead of creating businesses that locals want and need."

Schatsky is one of many Upper West Siders who've mourned the loss of mom and pop stores in recent years. The city recently unveiled a set of proposed zoning laws aimed at protecting the neighborhood's small businesses.

A public hearing on the city plan to protect mom and pop stores will be held Wednesday, Jan.18, at 7 p.m. at Goddard Riverside Community Center, 593 Columbus Avenue at West 88th Street.