Volume 18 • Issue 35 | January 13 - 19, 2006

Rendering of the 50-52 Laight St. building that developer Kengo Watanabe hopes will replace two garages.
Tribeca garages likely to go condo

A pair of garages on Laight St. might soon be transformed into a luxury residential building, if the developer can successfully woo two city agencies.

Developer Kengo Watanabe plans to transform two parking garages at 50-52 Laight St. into a six-story residential building with a two-story penthouse addition. Watanabe will need to secure the support of the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to build anew in the historic district and secure a variance from the Board of Standards and Appeals to expand into the rear lot.

Characteristic of the brick and cast iron buildings emblematic of the neighborhood, the 17,500 sq. ft. structure will be a combination of brick and limestone with fiberglass panels that mimic the historic cast iron panels of the area.

“It’s reminiscent of the buildings in the area,” said architect German Longoria of Suellen Defrancis Architecture and Interiors in Scarsdale. “It’s very simple but very elegant.” He said the homes would most likely be condos.

Although the building’s façade will hark back to the historic character of the neighborhood, the interior will be contemporary, with floor to ceiling windows, Longoria said.

The first floor, a 2,400-sq. ft. space, will be reserved for commercial use.

Watanabe of Laurel Capital Inc. must still secure a nod from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to build in the neighborhood. Watanabe will appear before the commission later this month. Although the 100 ft. tall structure is within the height limits of the neighborhood, Watanabe plans to extend the building into the rear lot, a move that requires a B.S.A. variance.

The developer will present his plans to Community Board 1’s Landmarks Committee this Thursday and the full board Jan. 17. “If it’s as of right and looks like the neighborhood and it’s not going to be some dreadful looking thing, then we have to approve it,” said committee chairperson Carole De Saram, who had not yet reviewed the proposal. “It’ll be a wait-and-see operation.”

— Ronda Kaysen


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