Plans for a new building on Wooster Street in Soho have been in the works for more than seven years, and the road to reality will be longer still. On Tuesday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission could not find its way to approving the eight-story building proposed for 150 Wooster Street between Prince and West Houston streets. While the direction of the design was appreciated, several commissioners wanted more integration of the steel at the base, more detailed windows, and a better resolution of the cornice.
The lot at 146-150 sits within the Soho-Cast Iron Historic District and is mostly vacant, save for a one-story garage. Back in 2011, the LPC approved demolition of the garage and construction of a new building at the site, but that was never built and LPC approvals don't last forever. A lawsuit was even filed over the plans, but the LPC won that fight. Now, after intense outrage over previous proposals, real estate investment firm Kub Capital presented a building that was shorter and more contextual.
This proposal, presented by land use attorney Frank Chaney of Rosenberg & Estis and Daniel Schillberg, Kub's head of design, calls for a building designed by Schillberg with HTO-Architect as associate architect. The building rises almost 99 feet and features punched windows, with a steel, brick, and Indiana limestone facade. It has two retail spaces (each about 3,000 square feet) on the first floor, and several floors have terraces on the rear of the building. There's also a light well to protect the conditions at neighbor 152 Wooster Street. The elevator would stop at the last floor, which means no need for an elevator bulkhead. The developer will be applying to the city for several variances, including one for setback requirements. The pre-application has already been filed with the City Planning Commission.
LPC chair Meenakshi Srinivasan said there were many "intriguing" aspects of the design and she had an overall appreciation for the direction, but asked for the windows to be more detailed. Commissioner Adi-Shamir Baron made a direct point about them not seeming operable, even though they would be. Srinivasan also asked for a better integration of the steel used in the base and that the cornice be better resolved into the building's overall design. Commissioner Michael Devonshire also wanted more detail, calling the proposal "broad brush historicism without the nuance." Commissioner Michael Goldblum also wanted more detail.
Commissioner Frederick Bland said he was a "general fan" of the project, though he said it was "a little odd." He also liked the color tone. Commissioner Diana Chapin said she "like[s] this building quite a bit," as did Commissioner John Gustafsson. But support from the commissioners was not overwhelming, so Kub has to go back and re-work their proposal and try again at the LPC.
Community Board 2, whose Land Use Committee heard the proposal on February 11, sent along a conditional approval, while the Historic Districts Council "[commended] the design of this new building."
—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.
· 'Really Huge' Soho Building Finally Inches Closer to Reality [Curbed]
· All Landmarks Preservation coverage [Curbed]
· All 150 Wooster Street coverage [Curbed]