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Greenwich Village Developer Seeks To Demolish Historic Building For Luxury Condo Tower

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A developer has submitted plans to demolish a 19th century building in Greenwich Village’s historic district to pave way for a 21-story luxury residential tower.

The plan by Madison Realty Capital will go before the community board as well as New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission, setting up a battle with a local preservation group that has charged that the proposed project at 16 Fifth Avenue, which is set to rise 244 feet between West 8th and 9th Streets, is wildly out of character for the mostly low-rise neighborhood.

“No building of this scale has ever been approved in a historic district,” said Andrew Berman, the director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, also known as Village Preservation.

Under city rules, owners of a building that lies within a designated New York City historic district must receive a permit from the landmarks commission before performing any type of work.

According to Berman, the average height of buildings along Fifth Avenue in the Greenwich Village Historic District is 140 feet. “Allowing a building that is 75 percent taller than average on lower Fifth Avenue is not appropriate,” he argued.

One aberration is One Fifth Avenue, which stands on the next block and measures roughly 340 feet with its spire. But Berman said the pre-war building, constructed in 1927, arrived before the neighborhood was designated a historic district.

Currently, the targeted development site consists of five-story building with 20 units. According to Village Preservation, the original property was built by prominent developer Henry Brevoort, Jr in 1948 as a pair of houses for the city’s elite. By the late 1860s, the buildings were used as rooming houses. They were combined into a single apartment building in 1936.

Berman said the building is significant for its history more than its architectural value, as a reflection of the “changing demographics and socio-economics of the surrounding area and city.”

Madison Realty Capital purchased for $27.5 million in 2015, according to city property records.

Information from the Department of Finance reported on the website PropertyShark shows that the year it sold, 10 of the 20 units in the building were listed as being regulated.

The following year, however, the building was listed as having no regulated units.

The proposed project would have only 18 units, according to the application filed with the Department of Buildings. According to a 2017 YIMBY story, a Robert A.M. Stern-designed plan showed the building has having 36 units in total, with several full-floor residences and two duplexes.

In a press release, Berman said “the plan to replace rare affordable housing units with a smaller number of super-luxury ones that will likely only serve as third or fourth home to international jet-setters is deeply troubling.”

Madison Realty Capital did not respond to a request for an interview. Through a spokesperson, the firm said that the 2017 renderings in YIMBY were outdated. It added in a statement: “Madison Realty Capital looks forward to working with the city and the Greenwich Village community on our new residential project at 16 Fifth Avenue. We are committed to making the building contextually appropriate with the surrounding neighborhood.”

Public hearings on the application before the community board and landmarks commission are expected to be scheduled early next year.



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