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Columbus Avenue Building Wants to Expand and Add Lobby-Level Stores

By Emily Frost | July 16, 2015 3:22pm
 The owner of 70 West 93rd Street plans to expand the lobby to add room for five retail stores. 
70 W. 93rd St.
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UPPER WEST SIDE — The owners of a 30-story residential building are looking for city approval to expand its footprint and add five stores to the lobby level.

Stellar Management, which owns 70 W. 93rd St., has plans to add 14,000 square feet of space to the ground floor, reps for the company told Community Board 7 Wednesday. The building houses a mix of rent-stabilized and market-rate apartments, as well as an assisted-living community known as Columbus Manor.

The plan would enlarge the lobby so that it is flush with the property line, replacing space that's currently a concrete plaza surrounding the building.

To make up for the loss of outdoor space for building residents, the owners would also add a roofdeck atop the expanded lobby. The new terrace would jut out from the building, and include trees and grass visible from the street, as well as seating areas, said Richard Metsky, one of the project's architects.

The new rooftop will "give the building richness and character," he said. 

A glass wall would fence off the new rooftop, which will be accessible to all tenants from the first residential floor, he said. 

By expanding up to the property line — which meets the sidewalks on Columbus Avenue, West 93rd Street and West 92nd Street — Stellar Management can make room for five retail spaces, Metsky explained. 

The 12-foot-high lobby space will be enclosed in glass, four of the stores will have individual Columbus Avenue entrances, and an additional store will have an entrance on West 93rd Street, the plans show. 

The glass frontage will be combined with metal beams for a "really simple, clean, contemporary palate," Metsky said. 

Stellar Management is taking advantage of a 2008 amendment to the area's zoning regulations that allows residential buildings to expand their ground-floor space and rent to commercial tenants. Several other buildings, including the nearby Axton and Leader House, have already taken advantage of the new rule and expanded to include ground-floor and basement-level stores. 

Representatives for the developer insisted that the commercial tenants would not be big-box stores and that a study showed the businesses would have no impact on existing traffic in the area. 

However, residents worried that deliveries would block the narrow surrounding side streets and the presence of retail would change the feel of the primarily residential neighborhood.

The congestion created by drop-offs and pickups at the nearby Trinity School, as well as activity at the stores in Columbus Square, are already a headache, residents testified.

Others were concerned that moving the lobby would make for a longer walk to the elevators for people with mobility issues and parents with strollers. 

Community Board 7, which has a chance to weigh in on the design and make recommendations before it goes before the Department of City Planning, decided it wanted to see the designs again in September. The second review session would give them more time to look over the plans and for the public to weigh in, members said. 

CB7 has an advisory role in reviewing the designs. City Planning has not yet scheduled its official review, Stellar Management said.

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