UPPER EAST SIDE — A developer's proposal to partially demolish a landmarked building has been shot down by Community Board 8 — but at least one member wondered Thursday whether the Fifth Avenue structure was worth saving at all.
Brazil-based JHSF Participacoes S.A. wants to redevelop 815 Fifth Ave. — believed to be the oldest building on the thoroughfare from the beginning of Central Park uptown — into an apartment tower, requiring partial demolition of the historic structure.
The plan has been blocked by the community board to this point. But Landmarks Committe Co-Chair David Helpern said the building, even in its current state, didn't add to the historic district because its facade had benn altered in the 1920s.
"This building, in my judgment, is a non-contributing building," he said. "You don't save a building because of age."
He also thought it's short stature and lack of width made the skyline facing Central Park look amiss.
"If we're talking about orthodontics. This thing is a like a missing tooth," he said.
815 Fifth Avenue, between East 62nd and East 63rd streets, has been on JHSF Participacoes S.A.'s wish list for a while now. Its architect, Connecticut-based TP Greer Architects, first pitched a soaring, 19-story residence to CB8's Landmarks committee, generating community uproar for both being too tall and too aesthetically different from other neighborhood buildings.
The firm resubmitted a shorter, less modern-looking design to Landmarks on March 18, 2013, which was ultimately rebuked by the committee and later, at the full board's monthly meeting two days later.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission, which considers community board decisions, will have ultimate say whether the project can proceed.
The controversy went beyond the developer's proposal, however.
As Helpern made these comments, some CB8 members whispered in protest.
"He should be thrown off the committee!" one member said. "He's wrong 100 percent!"