Gary Barnett’s Extell Development won the approval of the Landmarks Preservation Commission for its proposed 16-story condominium project at 1010 Park Avenue, which will see the developer demolish a historic Park Avenue church rectory building.
The approved plan entirely preserves the Park Avenue Christian Church, but demolishes the adjacent rectory and incorporates some of its materials into the condo building’s bottom three floors, including the original facade materials and a large stone door. The plan also includes a slight recess that will improve views of the church from the south.
In April of last year, the commission designated the rectory a “no style” building, but despite its lack of formal historic district protection, some members wanted architects Beyer Blinder Belle to find a way to incorporate the rectory’s facade.
The architects countered by saying that preserving the facade was not worth the trouble. In his presentation today, founding partner John Beyer said that the firm “would be doing handstands in order to save something that you have determined is not contributing to the district.”
Some commission members were appeased by the proposed changes. Chairwoman Meenakshi Srinivasan said that “the idea of interpretation versus literal preservation actually works better.”
But others, such as Michael Goldblum, were simply forced to concede. “The project meets my interpretation of appropriateness, although I think it could be a lot better,” he said. “My vote would be a reluctant one.”
Commissioner Roberta Washington said, “I would say that this is the runner up… I’m still thinking it’s not completely nonsensical to have the actual facade.”
Though today’s decision means that Extell can move forward with its plans, the approval came with certain caveats, including a recommendation that two penthouse floors with ceiling heights extended for maximum luxury value be reduced from 16 feet each to 14 feet.