By Robert Widmann
Contrary to indications, and with only nine hours notice, absent the weekend, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), at 10:00 AM Tuesday, July 26th, held a follow-up hearing to that held on June 21st. This time it succeeded in shaking itself loose of the 100-plus neighbors, community members, and opponents to the development at 11 Jane Street of a super-deluxe, six-story-plus condo building to replace a 94-year-old parking garage.
With only six or seven members of the community present to hold placards expressing opposition, the developer’s side was invited to once again rebut some of the community’s most telling points and concerns. This it did by re-running, not once but several times, its original slide show with commentary by the architect, the developer, the presentation manager, and one or two other individuals. The theme was the same as last time: The developer seeks to leverage the 95-foot structure into existence by averaging this structure in with the real estate errors and exploitations of the Village of the past.
The developer’s side was able to find a description from the 60’s LPC of the garage structure as being essentially not worth protecting. This led to some puzzlement on the part of several commissioners as to whether the present commission was bound by such language. It was decided—uh, no—probably not.
Several commissioners did find the proposed building out of scale, but others were chiefly concerned about window treatment (trabeated fenestration) or choice of building materials.
Towards the end of the meeting, community concern about the scale of the proposed structure took a body slam, seemingly from out of nowhere. The Chair, Meenakshi Srinivasan, announced blandly, and with no explanation, “I have no problem with the height,” referring to the street-side height of 61 feet.
Note to Commissioners: Look folks, this is not essential housing or a hospital. It is a super-deluxe structure for just seven owners, their Bentleys and Lamborghinis. At close to 30,000 sq. ft. saleable, does it really have to be so big?