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Pearl Paints residential conversion needs to try again, LPC says

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The Commission had problems with the rooftop bulkheads

Nicholas Strini/PropertyShark

The residential conversion of Pearl Paint’s former Canal Street headquarters is going to have to wait a little bit longer. For the second time in the last five months, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission sent the application back to the drawing board at a meeting on Tuesday.

The application first came before the LPC in November last year. At that time, developer Trans World Properties proposed to add two stories to each of the existing four-story buildings at 308-310 Canal Street. Retail would occupy the ground floor, and two apartments each would be located on floors two-four. Floors five and six would have two duplex apartments for a total of eight apartments for the project.

At that meeting, LPC commissioners found Paul Castrucci Architect’s design to be “overwhelming” and asked that the firm reduce the height on the rooftop addition, the rooftop bulkhead, and distinguish the two rooftop additions.

The previous version is on the left.
Courtesy of Paul Castrucci Architects
The new version is on the right.

The architects obliged on all fronts save one—the bulkhead. The firm reduced the height on 308 Canal Street by 13 feet and by 9.5 feet on 310 Canal Street. Furthermore, they reduced the additions to a single story, and made it so that the rooftop structure would slope downward facing Canal Street and be taller on the Lispenard Street side—the side on which the addition wouldn’t be easily visible.

Commissioners praised them on all these counts, but continued to have problems with the bulkhead. While the floor count and the overall height may have been reduced, the two bulkheads on top were still prominently visible on Canal Street, commissioners argued.

“There are a lot of good things about this building, and we realize that Canal Street is a very difficult area to work with,” Meenakshi Srinivasan, the chair of LPC told the architect Grayson Jordan, the lead on this project. “You need to find a different kind of solution to the top.”

Some of the commissioners suggested that it might have to do with the material of the bulkhead and perhaps having it in brick might make the commissioners think differently. Either way, they agreed that they needed to see a revised proposal before they could sign off on it.

The existing buildings fall within the Tribeca East Historic District and hence need landmarks approval to move forward. The other section of Pearl Paint’s store on Canal Street, at 304-306 Canal Street, has already been converted into pricey rentals courtesy of Vornado Realty Trust (and does not fall within the historic district).

Pearl Paint closed shop nearly three years ago, and the conversion of 308-310 Canal Street was announced last summer. It might still be a while before the conversion actually gets underway, but LPC commissioners seem very close to approving the project.