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The Leaning Tower of West 17th Street

[The new building at 31 W. 17th (at center, left) and its leaning neighbor]

30 West 18th Street seems like the perfect property for a 100-unit residential condo development. That's what the Hakimian Organization must have thought when they got hold of this former parking lot that goes all the way through the block and includes the plot at 31 West 17th Street. It's in the fashionable Ladies' Mile Historic District And right next door to Extell's new Altair 18. However there was one big snafu. The problem wasn't the Hakimian property. Or the Altair. But another older building next door at 29 West 17th Street. That one turned out to be all askew and leaning over the property line! In the past ten years the Department of Buildings has issued numerous violations, stating:

FAILURE TO MAINTAIN ... BUILDING IS LEANING OUT OF PLUMB APPROX 10" TO THE WEST.Oh, boy! What's a developer to do with a neighbor like that? Cook + Fox Architects came up with a plan. They erected a slanting slab of steel that rises the full height of the newly constructed 31 W. 17th facade, matching the lean of 29 W. 17th. The beam narrows as it moves to the top of the building and then drops straight down to the sidewalk. A smart bit of engineering and visual sleight of hand, thus described by the Landmarks Preservation Commission:

... clever use of architectural elements on the West 17th Street facade responds well to the unusual lot-line condition created by the adjacent building.Unusual indeed. There's still that troublesome gap between 29 W. 17th and its neighbor to the east. Standing across the street and looking up the gap / lean is quite apparent. DOB has disapproved the application for a fix there. Seems after all these years the responsible party still hasn't figured out the engineering solution to the leaning tower of West 17th Street. Let's just hope that the new building at 30 West 18th / 31 W. 17th, with all its brick and steel, is as strong as it looks.

[The facade of 30 West 18th Street]

[Brickwork on the 18th Street facade]

· Upcoming Projects - 30 West 18th Street [Hakimian Organization Website]
· Stars Come Out to Celebrate Altair Lofts, Themselves [Curbed]
· Trends in Real Estate Advertising: 'Warm Buns' [Curbed]
· Certificate of Appropriateness for 30 West 18th Street [LPC]
· Application Data: 29 West 17th Street [DOB]