Modern Top Proposed for Old Seaport Building at 40 Peck Slip

If approved, the 40 Peck Slip renovations, slated for completion by the year’s end, will include building a top-floor conference room and eliminating one of three fire es­capes. Rendering: BKSK Architects

Dec. 30, 2013

Forty Peck Slip turned 200 last year, and if its owners have their way, the old Seaport building will begin a new life soon, restored and half again as tall.

The plan for resurrecting the vacant four-story building, scheduled to go be­fore the city’s Landmarks Preservation Com­mission on Jan. 7, includes the addition of a fifth floor and elevator bulkhead, 21 feet high in all. It would have a terrace and be set back from the front of the building, easily seen from across the wide street.

UPDATE: At its Jan. 7 hearing, the commissioners requested the architect to make modifications to the design and did not take a vote.

The building’s owner, the Superior Officers Council, a branch of the NYPD’s lieutenants’ and captains’ un­ions, is moving its administrative of­fices there.

Last month, the council and its architect on the project, Harry Kendall, presented the plan to Community Board 1’s Landmarks Committee. On the council’s   first try earlier in the year, with a different architect, they had proposed an even taller two-story addition that ap­peared to stand no chance of LPC ap­proval.

Kendall pitched the addition as an architectural benefit to the neighborhood.

“We sort of think this block is dying for another floor here to partially mask this big blank wall,” he explained, showing a rendering of the neighboring building’s “unhandsome” sidewall that protrudes above its rooftop. But the committee saw it differently and voted its advisory disapproval, though calling the design a “major improvement” over the previous plan and lauding other aspects of the restoration, including the new storefront and windows. (The committee’s resolution was later approved by the full board.)

“I think a 40-foot-high building should remain that height in the district,” said committee member Jason Friedman.

Some others on the committee did not object to the height, but didn’t like other facets of the proposed addition. Susan Cole and Megan McHugh both described the top floor’s glass and painted-metal exterior as “stark” next to all the brick. Committee chair Roger Byrom called the terrace’s decorative shading structure, known as a brise-soleil, “a little bit complicated.”

Kendall defended the use of modern materials with the brick. “It’s a wonderful opportunity to promote the style of the old and the new,” he said.

Despite the committee’s unanimous disapproval, Kendall said he would go to the Landmarks Commission with the design.

“If they approve us, then great,” he said. “But if they don’t, we’ll say, okay, we’re going to take all of these comments, and we’re going to work them in­to this sweet little building so you can have the lieutenants and the captains on your block.”