Urban explorers and other lovers of New York's faded glory will soon have to cross one building off their list; plans to restore the beautifully decaying building known as Temple Court into a hotel sailed through Community Board 1's landmarks committee 8-0 last night. The committee was wowed by architect Gerner Kronick + Valcarcel's plan to hew closely to the building's original features. The developers of the 5 Beekman Street building, who plan to turn the 1880s-era structure across from City Hall Park, along with a new 40+-story tower that will go up next door, into a hotel with 285 rooms, 85 condos, and retail on the ground floor, sought permission to build a few small additions on the building's roof, chiefly the extension of an air-conditioning system and an elevator bulkhead, neither of which would come close to the height of the building's two towers. The architects will also amend the building's store fronts, making sure that they will remain "inspired by the 19th Century," though it is unlikely that the Phillips Sporting Good Co., the 20-cent sheet music store, or Baltimore Dairy Lunch will return.
The brick and terracotta building's status as a landmark requires the developers to seek permission for the exterior changes, which will be implemented under the watchful eye of preservation experts Higgins Quasebarth & Partners. And though architects have more leeway in terms of the interior, planners said they will keep the nine-story Victorian atrium, with iron balustrades favored by young rappers, largely intact, again drawing rare praise from the committee, who noted that as a hotel, the interior will be somewhat accessible by the public.
"A lot of us worried about what would happen to the building for years, but it is exciting to know that the interior will be restored as well," said committee member Corie Sharples. Or as chair Roger Byrom put it more succinctly, "This is terrific. Many terrible things could have happened."
· 5 Beekman Street coverage [Curbed]