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Upper East Side Townhouse Next in Line for Facade Facelift?

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The brick townhouse at 12 East 76th Street is a pretty plain affair, especially in a neighborhood crawling with superlative mansions. That may change if Orlandi Realty, which bought the five-story property for $12.35 million in December '08, is given approval for a new facade with an Italian limestone base, casement windows and wrought-iron railings. The townhouse, built in 1882 and altered in 1964, is in the Upper East Side Historic District, and last week the proposed new design was pitched to the Landmarks Preservation Commission. No action was taken, but some folks showed up to voice concerns about the design?including that the reconstruction would turn the house into a "misdirected hybrid building." The preservationists at the Historic Districts Council got into an even more detailed (and downright snippy!) critique.

The HDC sent us its testimony on the proposal in advance of the LPC hearing:

This proposal is not simply to redesign a façade. It is to demolish the façade, along with the rear façade and the roof and floors in between. While we understand this does not meet the Department of Building’s technical definition of a demolition, the demolition of building materials should be noted here at the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

HDC finds that some of the details have not been fully developed or explained. No materials boards were supplied at Public Review on Friday. Simply saying something is sandstone is not enough when building an entirely new façade in an historic district. We find the windows in particular to be awkward. To begin with, they should be painted black, not white. Transom windows are needed in the upper floor windows to balance the horizontality of the proposed casement windows. And detailing of the ashlar around the windows, how it will interface with the standstone walll, needs to be more completely planned out.

So there's backlash to contend with, but the design looks like an upgrade, no? Please don't hate us, Tom Wolfe!
· Sale: 12 East 76th Street [StreetEasy]
?reporting by Deanna Kawitzky

12 East 76th Street

12 East 76th Street, New York, NY