The first permits are up for a mixed-use development in SoHo, at 11 Greene Street, which also goes by 341 Canal. The site’s developer is Thor Equities, and Gene Kaufman is the architect of record.
DOB filings indicate that 11 Greene Street will total 65,924 square feet, including an 11,263 square-foot commercial component. The remainder will be residential, and the building will have 36 units, averaging 1,500 square feet apiece.
Curbed reported on the site’s approval by Landmarks in May, after the building was revised from an initial proposal that was quite terrible. The first design was actually approved back in 2007, which is shocking considering how out of character and unattractive it was. Despite the lapse in judgment, the same plan was disapproved when re-submitted in 2012, which resulted in the current iteration of the project.
The debacle shows one of the key flaws when it comes to Landmarking, which is arbitrary personal taste, and the lack of any established guidelines. The exact same proposal was both approved and denied by the same body, which begs the question of whether its functions can be optimized by removing subjectivity from the equation, and instead relying on set formulae, which would also expedite the often arduous process.
Regardless of bureaucratic inefficiencies, Kaufman’s ultimate plan for the site will become an acceptable addition to the cityscape, though it also illustrates the problems with historic districts. Given that 11 Greene Street is located near the A, C, E, N, Q, R, 1, and 6 trains, perhaps something that is appropriate for the Manhattan of today rather than the island of 100 years ago would be warranted; even ignoring its neighbors, the lot is literally in the shadow of 32 Avenue of the Americas, a 429′ tall building only two blocks away. Despite this, 11 Greene Street will stand six stories tall.
It is easy to wax nostalgic regarding old buildings, but today’s architecture can be just as appealing; the current approval process chokes construction in transit-rich areas of the city while simultaneously restricting supply, which results in astronomical prices. While preventing a towering Kaufman is certainly a positive externality of the current policy, a uniform zoning code that encourages good development and prohibits ugly buildings is what New York needs most.
No completion date for 11 Greene Street has been formally announced, but with permits processing, construction would appear imminent.
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