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City OKs Chelsea Townhouse Expansion Despite Concerns Over Courtyard

 318 W. 20th St.
318 W. 20th St.
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CHELSEA — A second home in the Chelsea Historic District has gotten the OK for a rear extension that neighbors say will alter the nature of the courtyard it juts into.

Several homes on West 19th and 20th streets, including a townhouse at 318 W. 20th St., between Eighth and Ninth avenues, have connected backyards that form a courtyard divided by fences.

On Tuesday, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission approved plans by the owner of 318 W. 20th St. for a three-story rear-yard addition, despite neighbors' concerns that the addition would chip away at the green space behind the homes and alter the continuity of the historic backyard facades.

The owner’s revised plans reduced the rear addition by one story vertically and a few feet horizontally, architect Rogelio Cambiasso told the commission.

Neighbors, however, were still “very disappointed” by the revisions, 300 West 20th Street Block Association co-president Carol Ott said.

“I know they want to be fair to people who make investments in their homes, but it basically… sort of makes moot public participation,” she said.

Ott and nearly a dozen neighbors protested the owner’s plans at a public meeting in April.

In September, the LPC approved a similar rear extension that many of the same neighbors had argued would turn a townhouse at 334 W. 20th St. into a "mini-mansion."

“It diminishes the courtyard, and that appears to be OK, certainly with Landmarks, and I guess with the city in general,” Ott added. “Let’s pave over all the green spaces — I guess that’s OK.”