Is Taylor Swift Building a Franklin Street Compound?
Remember how, in February, we discovered that Taylor Swift had paid handsomely for #2N at 155 Franklin, the building where she also owns the penthouse (created from what had been two units)? And how we wondered whether she might be hoping to combine #2N with the three-story townhouse at 153 Franklin next door, which she bought in the fall of 2017? At the time, the only logical reason was that she wanted to be able to drive in and out of 153 Franklin unobserved—and for that, she would need a curb cut in front of the building.
“She has applied for a work permit to make a curb cut in front of her townhouse, which would then allow for a car to pull in to the a garage in the home,” reports the Daily Mail, citing records that “reveal that on April 12, a representative for an engineering firm hired by Swift’s team filed a work plan with the NYC Department of Buildings in hopes of getting approval for what he estimated was a $1,000 project. That project is a curb cut according to the papers.” Indeed, the permit is in the DOB NOW: Build public portal. The Daily Mail says that a permit has likely not been issued yet “due to the width and placement of the cut, with Swift’s team asking for a 12-foot wide cut that is just 2.5 feet from the property line of the nearest residence.”
“Once that is done and her garage is constructed she will connect the townhouse to the neighboring apartment building through the second floor,” the website continues, although it doesn’t seem to have any proof of such a plan. Carving a passage from 153 to 155 would not be easy. As James explained regarding the purchase of #2N, “While anything is possible, the Building Code requires a fire separation between buildings. You cannot have unprotected openings between two buildings below the roof. This theory requires an alteration that is not a clean, as-of-right job. A lot-line door could be protected, and some such doors exist or existed in Tribeca, but the Department of Buildings now might not approve it as it would approve a lot-line window—even if the area of existing lot-line windows is less than (the as-of-right) 10% of the area of the east wall. Regardless of whether such a door were deemed an egress, an easement would be required by the DOB between the building condos, not just individual affected unit owners, and Swift may not have enough shares or cooperative neighbors to get the approval of the 155 condo board. (I doubt the two buildings share a party wall, so the simple option of a party wall easement is likely unavailable.) Any such easement would have to be recorded and thus eventually available on ACRIS.” Nothing there yet.
Sandy Mattingly of Manhattan Loft Guy, meanwhile, added this: “No rational board would approve this because they would lose control over who enters their condo. (Anyone in the townhouse could get into #2N, under this hypothetical arrangement.) Maybe they see some benefit (Swift pays everyone in the condo?) and maybe the condo is comfortable that key-locked elevators provide sufficient security in each condo. Not to mention, this is a rather complicated arrangement to put together.”
Indeed. But it’s amazing how money can smooth the way of so many difficult projects—even if that didn’t work when she tried to buy access through 15 Leonard. If anyone at 155 Franklin would care to share some intel, we’d love to know more…. All tips are anonymous.