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Garage-to-Restaurant Conversion Swaps Color, Wins Approval

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Back in September, a Gene Kaufman-designed conversion was proposed for a garage on a quite corner of Greenwich Street in Tribeca, and to say that proposal didn't go over well with the Landmarks Preservation Commission would be an understatement. It was even suggested that tearing the building down would have been better than the very white plan put forth, but the second time around was an entirely different story. On Tuesday, the LPC approved converting the one-story garage at 456 Greenwich (at the northwest corner of Desbrosses Street) into a restaurant.

The biggest problem with the original presentation was the color. The current building is red masonry and the proposal was to paint it white. One commissioner compared it to a suburban Olive Garden while another said it was more like an Applebee's. They also didn't like the massive wall around the front garden or the canopy leading into the restaurant. Several members of the commission liked the idea of converting the garage into a restaurant, but it was the way it was proposed that was a problem.

Take two worked out much better for Kaufman. He dramatically lowered the wall around the garden, eliminated the canopy, redesigned the windows, and, most importantly, changed the material from white to red masonry. To add to the industrial look of the structure, the windows now feature exterior roll-down gates.

LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan called the revised proposal "much better." Commissioner Frederick Bland said they asked for it to be more "garage-y" and they got it. There was some discussion of the roll-down gates, and it was decided that the applicant should work with staff and make the gates perforated. The proposal was approved unanimously.

It is worth noting that only the front half of the building sits in the Tribeca North Historic District and it is only that half that is proposed for conversion. That leaves the back half of the building open for redevelopment as a much taller structure.

—Evan Bindelglass is a local freelance journalist, photographer, cinephile, and foodie. You can e-mail him, follow him on Twitter @evabin, or check out his personal blog.
· Tribecans, Landmarks Abhor Garage-to-White Restaurant Plan [Curbed]
· All 456 Greenwich Street coverage [Curbed]
· All Landmarks Preservation coverage [Curbed]