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BY SAM SPOKONY | The owner of a hotly debated Franklin St. site said last week that he is selling the lot to the “most competent” developer to have bid on it.
The 100 Franklin St. site, at Sixth Ave. — which currently exists in the form of two small, triangular parking lots — has been the center of a recent debate over the future of the Tribeca East Historic District.
D.D.G. Partners, the developer that has entered into a contractual agreement to buy 100 Franklin St., has put forth a proposal to build an eight-story, glass-front building on the site, which lies within the landmarked district. Many local residents have come out strongly against the design of D.D.G.’s proposed building, calling it an architectural affront to the district’s many famous buildings, some of which date back to the mid-19th century.
D.D.G. presented its plan for 100 Franklin St. to the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Nov. 12, seeking approval to build on the landmarked lot. An L.P.C. decision on that issue is still pending.
But, of course, D.D.G. does not yet own the site.
The 100 Franklin St. site is currently owned by the Matera Management Company (also known as the Matera Family Limited Partnership), which also owns several Tribeca buildings, including some within the Tribeca East Historic District.
The Matera Management Company was, for four decades, owned and operated by John Matera, Sr., until his death in 2009 at the age of 81. After that, the company was left under the primary control of his son, Peter Matera.
In an exclusive interview with this newspaper Nov. 14, Peter Matera said that 100 Franklin St. has actually been available on the open market since he first offered it for sale in 2007.
“After a long, exhaustive search for the best possible developer for that irregular parcel, I decided that D.D.G. would be the most competent developer, and that they would put up the most appropriate building on that site,” said Matera. He added that he chose the developer particularly because he believes that Peter Guthrie, D.D.G.’s lead architect, has a “strong” track record for putting up “quality” buildings within landmarked districts.
Matera said that numerous developers had expressed interest in the 100 Franklin St. site since it was put on the market in 2007.
“Every active developer in Lower Manhattan wanted that site, based on its location,” said Matera.
He said D.D.G. was not even the highest bidder on the site, and that he rejected at least three higher bids from other developers that he believed would have built less attractive buildings.
In addition, Matera explained that D.D.G. originally expressed interest in the site about 18 months ago. The developer walked away from it at first, but then came back and signed an agreement to buy it, according to the owner.
Matera declined to comment on any of the terms of his current agreement with D.D.G., and did not say when he plans to close the deal with the developer.
Joe McMillan, the chief executive officer of D.D.G., said at a Nov. 7 Community Board 1 that the closing date for his official purchase of the site is “coming up soon.”
McMillan has also not answered any questions about the sale agreement, and declined to tell C.B. 1 members the exact closing date because he said it is “irrelevant.”
McMillan told Downtown Express that he didn’t want to disclose the exact date because, “I don’t want a bunch of people coming to my office to protest on the closing date.”
In addition to L.P.C. approval, D.D.G. will require authorization from other city agencies before it can begin building on the 100 Franklin St. site.