[Renderings of 498 West End Avenue: to the left, its current height; to the right, its proposed height. All photos by Evan Bindelglass.]
A 12-story building on the Upper West Side is about to get just a bit taller following Tuesday's session of the Landmarks Preservation Commission. 498 West End Avenue, which is located between West 83rd Street and 84th streets (FYI, the latter is actually called Edgar Allen Poe Street), will be getting a reconfigured front entrance and a rooftop addition. Starting at the top, there is already a single-floor appendage on the roof, but it will be built out, with a second floor built on top of it, adding about 4,000 square feet. The rooftop addition will also come with a new cornice for the building. The shocking thing is that a rooftop addition on the Upper West Side was actually approved. (Recall, if you would, the Apthorp bouhaha for a polar opposite case.)
Back on the ground, the existing front stairs will be removed. There will be additional steps added to the existing staircase in the lobby, as well as a lift to make it ADA compliant. The lobby will also get a new light that will harken to the 1912 building's earlier days and it will get a new doorman station. Outside, the front doors will be replaced and the canopy will be restored.
The Historic Districts Council voiced its support for the proposal, but asked that the new floor be removed from the proposal. "HDC gladly supports the proposed restorative work at the lower story, including the installation of historically sensitive light fixtures," HDC said. "The introduction of a rooftop addition could be appropriate on 498 West End Avenue, but HDC finds that the setback second story of the addition adds too much bulk and visibility. The removal of this second story would make the addition much more sympathetic."
A representative of Landmark West also spoke, but was less emphatic about the second floor on the rooftop, calling for it to be more set back. Landmark West also questioned whether a reconfiguration of the primary entrance was necessary and if a secondary entrance could be used to those with physical disabilities.
In spite of these arguments, Community Board 7 backed both the proposed changes to the roof and the entrance, saying, in a statement, they were "reasonably appropriate." CB7 did ask for the rooftop additions to built in a lighter color, and the design team said they are working with CB7 on that.
The LPC commissioners supported the proposal with reactions ranging from "no problem" to "great proposal." The LPC's official ruling, which was unanimous, even noted that the building's current stairs have "no special or decorative features." So maybe this is an improvement?
—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 Landmarks Preservation Commission coverage [Curbed]