The towering slab of concrete at 25 Great Jones Street, an empty hulk of a wannabe hotel visible from near and far along Lafayette Street, wants to re-invent itself as a big stack of condos. But after a zoning presentation before the land use committee of Community Board 2, the development team might not want to hold its collective breath. The owner is seeking additional bulk, beyond what zoning regulations allow, so they can bump out the building to the Great Jones sidewalk. Even more mass would be added at the other end over Bond Street, where a single-family townhouse with a one-car garage would be slotted in between two old loft buildings.
The zoning pros presented a number of economic arguments?a hotel would cost more to build than it would return in profit, and banks won't loan money for little hotels?but some on the CB2 crew thought the better plan would be to lop off a few of the offending floors, then transfer that bulk down low so the condo scheme fits into the allowable zoning envelope.
The building owner is SDS Procida, developer of The Dillon in Hells Kitchen, and the Great Jones hotel was to be SDS' first foray into the world of hospitality. The tower is just a sliver, set back from the street and rising tall above the old loft buildings nearby. Originally planned as a 13-story hotel with 48 little rooms, the concrete shell first started to rise over Noho in 2007, before these blocks were landmarked in 2008. But when the economy tanked, the plan stalled. Despite some worthy attempts by architect Henry Smith-Miller to put a pretty face on the raw concrete skeleton, it's been offending Noho-ites for way too long and many just want it to go away.
A new conglomeration of neighbors, joining together as the NoHo-Bowery Stakeholders, are trying to come up with what they call a compromise. They are a disparate group, including hoteliers André Balazs, Richard Born and Ian Schrager along with stylista Patricia Field and NYU's own Doctor of Zoning, Alicia Hurley. They argue that without concessions from the Community Board and City Planners, the owner could simply opt to finish the offending tower in it's current non-conforming configuration. Their position seems to contradict the owner's proclamations that the tower as built just won't work, but zoning battles can bring out the crazy in everybody. It looks like the offending finger could be towering over Noho for the foreseeable future.
· Announcing NoHo-Bowery Stakeholders Inc. [NoHo News]
· 25 Great Jones Street coverage [Curbed]