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Apthorp Reduces Rooftop Addition But Doesn't Win Crucial OK

After trying in January, Area Property Partners returned yesterday to the Landmarks Preservation Commission to present its revised plans for a penthouse addition to the storied Apthorp building. The re-do was to no avail, since the developers were once again denied permission to add a topper to the landmark building that takes up a full block between Broadway and West End and 78th and 79th streets.

Bill Higgins of the busy preservation firm Higgins Quasebarth & Partners presented the shortened proposal, complete with a new model showing the reduction in size from the January presentation.

Higgins pointed out that most of the previously proposed two-story addition—which neighbors absolutely hated—had been reduced to one story. The new proposal features one-story corner pavilions leading to a two-story center section. He also pointed out that each of the stories had been reduced in height and that setbacks had been increased by as much as seven feet. The new proposal included Indiana limestone, a copper cornice, and bronze windows.

A large crowd showed up at the hearing—typical for the Apthorp, and usually usually a sign of public hatred of a project)—and when Higgins spoke of how "respectful" the design was, chuckles could be heard. A rarity at the LPC!

Up next, the Landmarks commissioners gave their opinions. Frederick Bland said, of concerns about the visibility of the addition from different vantage points on the street, that it's not about that you see something, but what it is that you see. He said the revised proposal was appropriate and honored the original architecture and backed the proposal. But Michael Goldblum said it was a very hard building to add to, noting it is that rare structure which is "perfectly balanced, inside and out." He did admit that the revised proposal was better than its predecessor. Margery Perlmutter described the building as "pristine" just the way it is.

More opinions: Roberta Washington said in her objection that "special love" must be given to a landmark building. Diana Chapin also admitted that the new proposal was a "great improvement" and said that although the fact that there are already penthouses could support the idea of new additions, but didn't like this proposal. She wanted something more symmetrical. Christopher Moore said the addition would be "too visible." Michael Devonshire said of the new proposal that it felt like they were being "asked to purchase a lesser model and like it." LPC Chair Robert Tierney, in his third from final item before the end of his term, did not disagree with the majority of his commissioners.

So the hearing was closed with no action. Area Property Partners' team is invited to try again. They've been trying their darndest to build those penthouses since July of last year, so maybe the one-year mark's the charm?
—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.
· LPC Says Owners Must Redesign, Shorten Apthorp Penthouses [Curbed]
· Covertly Touring The Apthorp's Roof, A Landmarks Battleground [Curbed]
· Four Starchitects Join The Anti-Apthorp Penthouse Party Bus [Curbed]
· Neighbors Give Apthorp Penthouse Addition A Resounding No [Curbed]
· All Apthorp coverage [Curbed]