Volume 76, Number 17 | September 13 - 19, 2006

Astor Pl. tower is finished, but public plaza’s still closed

By Lori Haught

According to David Wine of Related Companies, the public plaza at 22 Astor Pl. should be opening up “momentarily.”

“Hopefully. this week,” Wine said.

Many community members were concerned that the plaza, which allowed Related Companies a zoning bonus when building 22 Astor Pl. two years ago, would never open.

Jennifer Torres, a City Planning Department spokesperson, said that without the plaza, the building would have been allowed to be 97,632 square feet. With the inclusion of a 4,490-square-foot public plaza, a potential 17,992 square feet could be generated. PropertyShark.com puts the building at a total of 107,378 square feet, meaning that only 9,746 square feet of the bonus — or a bit more than half — was actually used by Related Companies.

“Though the plaza itself has been fully built for months, they have had it fenced off with a no trespassing sign,” Andrew Berman, executive director of the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation, said in an e-mail.

In a letter to Patricia Lancaster, Department of Buildings commissioner, Berman said the work on the plaza has been completed for months and no work has been going on overhead that might have posed a danger.

“It would seem incumbent upon the department to ensure that the building’s owners are required to provide the very modest public amenity they received as a tradeoff for the rather significant bonus of increased development size,” Berman also stated in the letter.

Designed by Gwathmey Siegel, the distinctive-looking, 22-story, luxury apartment building with mirrored-glass sides is 269 feet tall and has 40 units. The plaza is located on the east side of the building, just south of the tower.

“The community largely still has misgivings about the development, which is almost universally recognized as one of the most prominent and ugliest manifestations of the current building boom, and will no doubt go down as one of the great mistakes of early 21st-century New York,” Berman said in his e-mail.

Berman said he is disturbed by the lack of action by the city, especially since the public condemned this project from the start.

“If it is being opened now, it’s probably because people are raising a stink about it,” Berman said on Tuesday.

Torres said someone from City Planning had gone to look into the matter and had been assured the plaza would open yesterday. As of press time, the plaza showed no signs of being open.

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