The corner of Canal and Greene Streets may soon see new life. Yesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission re-approved plans for a new Gene Kaufman-designed six-story retail and residential building to rise at 341 Canal Street. This is at least the third time this long-vacant plot of land has come before the LPC. In 2007, Kaufman made a presentation which won the commission's approved. Then why is the site still vacant? The project hit a snag: bankruptcy.
Once financing was re-established, it was too late. The LPC's approval is only valid for three years. So, if you don't build it, you have go before the commission again, and the second time around, in 2012, the commission didn't like the proposal.
That brings us to today and Kaufman's presentation for Colt Equities and Ruby Ventures. He brought new renderings for the proposed six-story building, to hold the address 341 Canal Street. It will have retail on the ground floor and be residential the rest of the way up.
Kaufman felt that this proposal had more depth than the one re-presented two years ago. He pointed out how it is more respectful of the design and height the nearby buildings, appearing nearly flush with its immediate neighbors and matching the height of the building across Greene Street.
The Historic Districts Council conditionally backed the plan. In a statement, the HDC said, "HDC appreciates the overall design of this building, the rhythm of its window openings and the divergent use of materials to clad the two street façades. Concerning the latter feature, the limestone spine along the building's corner seems like a strange way to resolve the intersection of the two façades, and calls out the difference in materials a bit too much. HDC also requests that the applicant work with staff on the use and detailing of the black granite at the base, which seems unusual in this district, where cast-iron storefronts are typical."
The commission largely agreed with Kaufman, the HDC, and noted approval from Community Board 2's Landmarks and Aesthetics Committee, and approved the proposal with the condition that Kaufman work with the LPC staff on a better design for the corner of the building, tweak the granite base, look at the Greene Street piers, and iron out appropriate signage. No date was given for the project's completion. Kaufman presented this undated image to show what the corner used to look like long ago:
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.
· All 341 Canal Street coverage [Curbed]