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Upper West Siders Calmly Accept Contested Church Conversion

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The road has been long and rocky for the plan to convert the former First Church of Christ, Scientist at Central Park West and 96th Street into 39 condos, but on Tuesday plans were finally approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. Last night, architects updated Community Board 7's Preservation Committee about the revised design. The presentation was short and the reaction—what little there was—was extremely calm. That's a stark contrast neighbors' reactions back in November, when the project got slammed.

Preservation architect Judith Saltzman of Li • Saltzman Architects made the presentation. The chief updates to the proposal since they last presented to CB7 were the elimination of the new windows on the Central Park West façade, the reduction of skylights and the bulkhead structure on the roof, and the retention of more stained glass. She spoke of seeking a home at a museum for the stained glass being removed.

Committee co-chair Gabrielle Palitz said this adaptive reuse was absolutely better than losing the building altogether. Co-chair Jay Adolf asked about the lack of light inside created by the removal of the CPW windows from the proposal. Saltzman said they will "creatively respond" to that. In fact, the next step for the project is CB7's Land Use Committee, since the applicant will be going to the Bureau of Standards and Appeals because it needs waivers for light and air requirements.

The small number of people in attendance—fewer than 12—were allowed the opportunity to speak, but none of them took it. Whither November's vocal opposition? The toned-down design must have placated them, or they've given up the fight—until the next public meeting.
—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.
· Contentious Church-to-Condo Conversion Finally Gets Blessed [Curbed]
· Loathed UWS Church Conversion Is a No-Go at Landmarks [Curbed]
· Detested UWS Church-To-Condo Conversion Plan Gets Refined [Curbed]
· Upper West Side Residents Slam Latest Church Conversion [Curbed]
· All 361 Central Park West coverage [Curbed]