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Park Slope Theater Condo Conversion Needs 'Refinement'

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The Landmarks Preservation Commission has sent Hidrock Realty's proposal for a five-story residential addition to the historic Pavilion Theater in Park Slope back to the drawing board. The decision followed public testimony by local residents who already disapproved the plan, which will bring 24 condos to the neighborhood, at a community board meeting this July. "Various aspects of the proposal are positive," said LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, praising the adaptive reuse of the theater building, which is part of the Park Slope Historic District and a distinctive building along Bartel-Pritchard Square. "But the comments from the community identify legitimate issues worth exploring."


[The existing theater conditions]

Morris Adjimi Architects slightly changed that proposal since it got a lot of heat at the community board meeting. As Adjmi pointed out to the LPC board, there are now smaller, and less, windows on the facade, plus the color of the brick has changed to a warmer earth tone. But the community members who spoke at the public hearing mostly had objections to the building's height and its lack of context within Bartel-Pritchard Square. "We think the height should be capped at four stories," said CB6 District Manager Craig Hammerman, who pointed out the five-story addition's cornice doesn't match the adjacent buildings along the circle. A rep from the Historic Districts Council thought the addition, and the two-story penthouse on top of the theater, "overwhelmed" the landmark. One local resident went so far as to ask the entire design be scrapped, saying, "The new building is a disaster, visually and contextually."

The commissioners were less harsh but they did take the public comments into consideration, especially concerning the height of the five-story addition. "I think you need to explore other possibilities without removing the fifth floor, but still retaining the four-story scale," said Chair Srinivasan. Commissioner Roberta Washington echoed the sentiment: "A design with the 5th floor setback would read in a more contextual way." Michael Goldblum added, "The circle is very uniform in cornice height, and that should be respected by this addition."

There were also concerns of the two-story penthouse addition on top of the theater, which the architects say was inspired by the rooftop gardens once built out on top of theaters. "You should try to make it feel like one story, not a two-story addition," said Chair Srinivasan." Commissioner Goldblum felt like "the addition is trying to hide itself and is not succeeding," and recommended that the architects give it more purposeful detail in reference to the historic rooftop gardens.

Chair Michael Devonshire summed it up, saying "There's potential for refinement, for texture," he said. He also added praise to architect Morris Adjimi, who has become known for his work in historic districts. "I believe in the work of this architect, and if anyone can make the changes, he can," he said.
· Neighbors Decry Condo Addition to Historic Park Slope Theater [Curbed]
· All Pavilion Theatre coverage [Curbed]