Arman developer: Bulk is down, sculpture going up
By Albert Amateau
The developer of the vacant Hudson Square lot where the late sculptor Arman turned scrap metal into art has decided to scale down its application for a residential project that exceeds the neighborhoods zoning.
Red Brick Canal L.L.C. told the Board of Standards and Appeals on July 26 that it has revised plans for the triangular lot at 482 Greenwich St., at the northwest corner of Canal St., to conform to current land use rules governing the size of buildings. The building will still be 11 stories and 120 feet tall.
For the past year, Red Brick had been asking the B.S.A. to permit a building with a floor-to-area ratio, or F.A.R., of 7.98 instead of 6.02, the sites currently allowed maximum F.A.R., which was increased to that amount in 2003. F.A.R. refers to the enclosed floor area of a project in relation to the area of the buildings footprint on the lot.
The project is to include a 40-foot-tall brass sculpture by the internationally renowned sculptor Arman, who died last year. David Slaven, a Red Brick partner, described the work, planned for the Canal St. facade of the project, as representing an assemblage of cello parts. The sculptor had agreed to sell the building to Red Brick and remained involved in the development until his death.
Canal West, a neighborhood civic group, has been opposing Red Bricks application for a bigger building, insisting that the developer play by the same rules that governed other neighborhood projects. At an April hearing, B.S.A. Chairperson Meenakshi Srinivasan, indicated the agency was reluctant to grant more floor area than zoning allows.
Red Brick took the hint but also took advantage of a land-use provision that automatically increases the projects F.A.R. from 6.02 to 6.5 by including a 415-square-foot community facility space on the ground floor of the Canal St. side of the building.
A Canal West member, Kate Koster, said this week that the group was grateful that the B.S.A. turned back the first proposal, but she was skeptical about the community facility bonus.
Those so-called community spaces often end up being locked and not available to the community, Koster said. We would be much happier with a 6.02 F.A.R.
Filippo Mancia, president of the condo board at 497 Greenwich St. and a member of Canal West, characterized Red Bricks community facility proposal as a desperate grab for more floor area. He estimated the addition of a 415-square-foot space would allow Red Brick to add more than 1,000 square feet to the project.
Regarding the Arman Buildings community facility space, Red Brick partner Slaven said, We havent signed anyone yet, but ideally it will be a nonprofit arts group.
Although the new plan conforms to existing floor-area ratio, Red Brick is still seeking a B.S.A. variance to allow the project to cover 98 percent of the triangular lot instead of the 80 percent allowed by zoning rules. Red Brick also wants a variance to allow a curb cut to a ground-level parking garage on Greenwich St.
At previous hearings, B.S.A.s Srinivasan said she was not concerned with the lot coverage or parking issues but she was reluctant to grant a variance for a bigger, building.
The B.S.A. may grant variances if developers prove they have an economic hardship because they cannot make a reasonable return on their investment by building a project as of right under exiting zoning rules.
Red Brick Canal has cited the high cost of building on an irregular-shaped lot, and the need for a special foundation for a project on a site above the westbound tube of the Holland Tunnel.
Although the B.S.A. closed the hearing on the project in April, the record was left open for written documents until Aug. 15. In view of Red Bricks new proposal, it is also possible that the agency could reopen the hearing.