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'Tower' Building Planned for SoHo Lot Panned by Locals as 'Sacrilege'

By Andrea Swalec | October 16, 2012 1:43pm

GREENWICH VILLAGE — A proposed nine-story building on Crosby Street that designers said would put a modern spin on SoHo's defining architecture was roundly rejected by Community Board 2's landmarks committee Monday, after members called the project too tall and out of sync with its neighbors.

In a unanimous vote, the CB2 committee urged the city Landmarks Preservation Commission to send Selldorf Architects back to the drawing board for 42 Crosby St., at the corner of Broome Street, which is now a parking lot that falls within the landmarked SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District.

Committee co-chairman Sean Sweeney said the 125-foot-tall aluminum and glass building, which would feature a four-story tower atop a five-story base, would dwarf its neighbors, which average about 70 feet tall.

"What really troubled us were [Selldorf's] photographs," Sweeney said. "We thought the site-lines they chose were done purposely to obscure the tower."

Broome Street resident and building owner Carl Rosenstein said he also thought Selldorf had "cherry-picked" the angles at which the building was shown in renderings.

"There were no elevations showing what the tower would look like," he said. "To allow this tower to go up would be just sacrilege."

Selldorf partner Sara Lopergolo did note that the zoning for the lot allowed for a taller structure.

Aside from its height, the committee also had doubts about the building materials.

"If it's the SoHo-Cast Iron District, why would you use aluminum?" Sweeney said.

Lopergolo said the design of the 45,000-square-foot building, which leaves space for ground-floor retail, used SoHo's characteristic cast-iron buildings as a jumping-off point.  

"We wanted to take the idea of the cast-iron building to the next step," she said.

City records show that a company registered under the name Broome Street Owner LLC bought the lot at the northwest corner of Crosby and Broome streets, located just south of the SoHo outpost of Bloomingdale's, last November for $16 million.

The design proposal for 42 Crosby St. will be heard by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday, Oct. 23.