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Neighbors Laud Cupola Comeback With Proverbial Champagne

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Manhattan's Community Board 3 approved a DLJ Real Estate Partners' ramped-up plans to restore the rooftop of the Lower East Side's historic Jarmulowsky Bank Building, a former bank that is getting converted into a 105-room hotel. The board was particularly happy over the developer's recent decision to re-erect the building's 50-foot rooftop cupola, which for history and architecture buffs was the proverbial cherry on top. (Bowery Boogie said the board had a "collective boner" for the idea.)

Call it what you will: domed-spire, 50-foot cupola, tempietto or dome. It worked. "We're just so happy you're adding it," one community board member said to the developer's architect, Ron Castellano. Other members of the Landmarks subcommittee lauded the return of the cupola, a defining feature of the lore-laden 1912 building until its removal during a renovation in 1990.

Up until recently, the resurrection of the cupola seemed unlikely. Over a year ago, DLJ presented plans for the historic 12-story building to the Landmarks Preservation Committee that didn't include bringing back the cupola. And even without the iconic pinnacle, their designs were approved. And then, last week, developers revealed that they would, in fact, build the cupola even though it would be very expensive.

Located on Orchard and Canal streets, the building was approved with a few resolutions, or conditions. The board does want Castellano and the developers to make a few tweaks. Since its approval last year, Castellano has made 13 revisions to the building, most of which are minor, like elevating the cooling towers on the roof by 10 inches.

But one aspect of the otherwise lauded restoration did draw grumbles from the board. Castellano is adding a marquee, an architectural term for a sign, onto the southeast side entrance. Yet for all the planning, Castellano doesn't know what would be written in the marquee or what color would be used to illuminate it. So the board wants to know what the sign would say and the color that would be used. Once fulfilled, the revised plans will move along to the Landmarks Preservation Committee once again where they are expected to be approved.

"We should be madly cheering over this," a representative for a local preservationist group, the Friends of the Lower East Side, said about the comeback of the cupola. "Champagne bottles should be bursting open out in the streets."
—Eric Jankiewicz
· Jarmulowsky Bank Building's Signature Feature To Be Restored [Curbed]
· When Jarmulowsky's Bank Helped with Immigrant Boat Passage; Plus the Legend of the Cupola [Bowery Boogie]
· All Jarmulowsky Bank Building coverage [Curbed]