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Preserve or Demolish: Park Avenue Building Awaits Its Fate

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The Landmarks Preservation Commission is stuck on whether or not to okay the demolition of 807 Park Avenue, a heavily-modified 1899 building that falls in the Upper East Side Historic District, to make room for a new 12-story residential building. The request to demolish comes via developer Aion, who purchased the structure from rapper Puff Daddy for $14.3 million in 2005. After reconfiguring the building into three very expensive four-story condos that failed to rent despite multiple stunts, the developer has crafted a proposal involving razing the existing 12 story building and erecting a new one in its place.

It isn't the proposal's first time in front of the LPC. When last the item appeared in front of the panel, it was suggested that architect PBDW figure out a way to incorporate the original structure's facade—what remains is a five-story fragment along the front side—into the project. To what extent the architect worked with that suggestion remains unseen, as Tuesday's LPC meeting devolved into a debate over whether 807 Park Avenue merits the protection afforded by the Upper East Side Historic District.

Alongside Charles Platt of PBDW, preservation architect Bill Higgins of Higgins Quasebarth & Partners testified that the building, which seems to have garnered the permits for its awkward vertical addition sometime between the designation report and actual designation, is a "quandary." The building that stands today, Higgins said, is representative of 1980s and '90s infill rather than the five-story tenement building that was memorialized in the designation report. Architect Charles Platt argued that the building needs to be brought down because of the "gymnastics" it would require to include the original facade into a new building; window heights would be askew, and the sixth floor would completely be devoid of windows.

The commission is torn over whether to okay the demolition. LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan made of point of noting that the "experiential" quality of the building is marred, that as it stands it doesn't represent what was designated. The sole commissioner who expressed grave disapproval of the demolition was John Gustafsson, who argues that to agree to the demolition would be to reverse the decision of a prior LPC board. However, Gustafsson agreed that eight new stories could be added atop the fragment of the original facade.

Although there was a quarum for a vote on Tuesday, Commissioner Srinivasan concluded the meeting by agreeing that the commission was not ready to vote on the project, and would take more time to mull it over. Had a vote gone through on Tuesday, what now stands at 807 Park Avenue would imminently be but rubble and dust.
· Developer Hopes to Raze 807 Park, Build New 12-Story Condo [Curbed]
· All 807 Park Avenue coverage [Curbed]