Bond firm adjusts design for new Tribeca building

By Elizabeth O’Brien
with Josh Rogers

A bond-trading firm that wants to move its new office and living space to Tribeca altered the design of a building it plans to construct on Greenwich St. after the community objected to its height and other aspects.

At last week’s full board meeting of Community Board 1, representatives for Samuel A. Ramirez and Co. presented new plans that featured a nine-story design as opposed to the previous, 11-story construction. They also reduced the height of each floor.

Community board members cheered the changes to the building, which is planned for the corner of Greenwich and Hubert Sts.

“It is one of the promptest, fastest—the most clever changes I have ever seen,” said Bruce Ehrmann, co-chairperson of C.B. 1’s Landmarks Committee.

In a meeting two weeks ago of the Landmarks committee, members criticized the original design for being large in scale, poorly proportioned and for having a dull lot-line wall. They drafted a resolution opposing the design, but at the full board meeting Ehrmann recommended tabling that resolution and passing a new one recognizing the firms’ responsiveness.

Among the changes the architects implemented was the addition of windows to the top floor of the north-facing blank wall. In New York City, it is common for walls right on the boundary of the lot line to be windowless. Fire regulations are strict for windows on a lot-line wall, and also a building could be constructed next door that would block the view.

But Landmarks committee members found the original design’s lot-line wall to be “depressing.” They didn’t like the lack of windows or gray fill-in that would stand in their place.

In response, the architects added windows to the top floor of lot-line wall and changed the fill-in to the same reddish brown color as the building’s facade. Also, they added more definition to the arches to give the wall more depth.

“We want to build a building that works from an architectural standpoint and also responds to people’s concerns,” Morris Adjmi, the project’s architect, said later in a telephone interview.

Adjmi said that the first floor will be retail, the next four floors will be office space, and the top four floors will be residential, with two floors devoted to living space for the firm’s two principals, a father and son, and another two for rental units.

The project still needs a variance from the city Board of Standards and Appeals, since its proposed 116 ft.-height, roughly the same as the Globix building across the street, exceeds the zoning limit of 85 ft.

Community Board members wanted the architects to come back to the Landmarks Committee before appearing before the city Landmarks Preservation Commission on May 27, but the architects said they would go forward with their presentation to the city. The city has the ultimate authority to approve the building design, with the community board acting in an advisory capacity.

Ray O’Keefe, a C.B. 1 member who is also president of the Grubb & Ellis real estate firm, said that the board should recognize that firms like Samuel A. Ramirez are often courted by New Jersey, and that the board should praise the firm for committing to remain in Lower Manhattan.


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