Aurora, Gottlieb release new designs for Gansevoort project

Changes were made at behest of Landmarks
By Kathryn Brenzel | June 02, 2016 10:00AM

A massive redevelopment planned for the Meatpacking District will return to the Landmarks Preservation Commission next week a slightly shorter, simpler project.

Four months after their designs were rejected, Aurora Capital Associates and William Gottlieb Real Estate next week will present new plans to the commission for their commercial development on Gansevoort Street. The commission had rejected earlier designs at a meeting in February, arguing that the buildings were too tall and out of step with the style of the neighborhood.

The new designs shave nine feet off the height of 60-68 Gansevoort Street, making it 62 feet tall and four feet off 70-74 Gansevoort Street, making it 82 feet tall (excluding rooftop mechanicals), said Todd Poisson of BKSK Architects. The penthouses on both building have been eliminated. The new plans also call for the restoration of 50 Gansevoort, rather than its demolition, as was originally planned, he said.

The firm also followed the commission’s direction to tone down 70-74’s facade by changing the brick to a light tan brick and eliminating some details, including “moments of wood’ on the building’s skin.

“It’s a much simpler, straightforward facade design, in a beautiful way,” he said. “This process alway tends to produce a better building.”

Still, an opposition group, Save Gansevoort, said they feel the changes don’t go far enough. For example, the group argues that 60-68 Gansevoort should be an additional seven to 11 feet shorter in order to match the typical height of old tenements in the neighborhood.

“We feel like they are trying to skirt Landmarks’ directives,” said Elaine Young, a member of Save Gansevoort.

Jared Epstein, vice president of Aurora, said the developers appreciate the input of Landmarks, residents and stakeholders to help “shape the best possible vision” for the project.

“This neighborhood has not one, but many histories, and this project is an opportunity to tell the complete story of its evolution over the past 130 years,” he said.

Aurora and Gottlieb are redeveloping five buildings to create an 111,000-square-foot commercial hub along Gansevoort Street between Washington Street and Ninth Avenue. The developers have faced some fierce pushback from some members of the community, mostly surrounding the project’s adherence to the historical character of the neighborhood.

The developers found themselves in hot water in January when the results of a public opinion poll on the project were released. At the time, Save Gansevoort alleged that the survey was a push poll that inaccurately showed overwhelming support for the redevelopment.