March 30 marked the beginning of construction for a new apartment building in the Greenwich Village Historic District, designed by Barry Rice Architects with the Toll Brothers as general contractors.
The rendering posted at the site shows a five and a half story rose-mix brick base hugging the property line sidewalks, and a six-story metal and glass curtainwall tower set back from both street fronts, a scheme that was approved on May 6, 2014 at the City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) hearing.
Thanks to vocal community protests against the over-scaled and complicated original proposal, the current plan for a one hundred twenty-one foot high structure is substantially below the height and mass previously sought.
The LPC approval allows the excavating of the backyards, new landscaping, a new arbor structure and a new storage shed, replacing an earlier garage for the adjacent garden, which remains open to the public. The new tower will help the Church pay for expensive townhouse renovations.
The Church officials have stated to our reporters that Beyer Blinder Belle Architects, historic preservation specialists, and the Environmental Simulation Center Ltd., a non-profit lab, developed a master plan for the full block to help the church expand while maintaining their historic buildings.
Their plans include doubling the size and capacity of the independent school, while preserving as much of the courtyard and garden space as possible. They say they need additional funding sources to support a future mission facility for a senior center or health clinic and to host more community programs.
St. Luke in the Fields was established by the Trinity Church here at the northern edge of the Trinity land grant—215 Manhattan acres granted by England’s Queen Anne in 1705.
Trinity has long used land leasing as a means of capitalizing on its real estate holdings in Manhattan, and St. Luke’s, independent since the 1970’s, has arranged a similar deal with Toll Brothers, who will develop and manage the new apartment tower for their 99-year lease. Although the business terms are not public, typically the developer pays a fixed land rent plus a portion of the apartment rents to the landlord, in this case the Church. At the end of the lease, the land and improvements revert back to the landlord.
Church officials say that 20% of the residences will be “affordable” according to a city subsidy program that qualifies participants by income and uses a lottery for final selection. All dwellings enter the same lobby, which will have a large gathering space adjacent to a terrace overlooking the Church garden.
Green planted roofs will cover the setbacks and top deck. The full floor penthouse gets wrapped in windows to enjoy their private terraces and views beyond, at least the views between the taller loft buildings looming over two sides.
With permits in hand, the project is under construction now.