Proposed Landmark Restoration Comes With New Building Towering Above

Left: The landmark 315 Broadway and neighboring 317 Broadway, a former McDonald's, today. Right. Diagram shows plan for the new building, which would appear as separate 14- and 22-story structures, next door and behind the landmark, respectively. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib; diagram: Morris Adjmi Architects

Aug. 07, 2020

A developer is proposing to restore a 19th-century Tribeca landmark on Broadway, along with demolishing the buildings rear half, as part of a plan to build a high-rise residential project around it.

The 5-story, 1861 loft building at 315 Broadway now sits next to a 2-story former McDonald’s building at the corner of Thomas Street. United American Land, which owns some 20 buildings in the area, saw an opportunity to combine the two lots into a single project.

“We bought the McDonald’s building at a considerable cost and we said, ok, we can build something great,” Albert Laboz, a principal in the development firm, told Community Board 1’s Landmarks Committee last month during a presentation on the project.

The proposal shown to the committee calls for an L-shaped building that is designed to look like two buildings: a 14-story beige brick structure on the corner and, behind the landmark, a light-colored, 22-story terrazzo-faced building, with an entrance on Thomas Street. In order to create the taller building, the developer proposes to demolish the rear half of the landmark—50 feet of it—and build 20 feet back onto the rear. Plans for the landmark’s restoration and the new 22-story structure behind it requires Landmarks Commission approval. The 317 Broadway building is not within the commissions purview.

“It’s three distinct volumes,” Nicholas Chalko, from the firm Morris Adjmi Architects, noted about the buildings. “It’s almost a tasting menu. But we have always been thinking about the three of them together.” 

Thirty percent of the apartments would be below market rate, the developer said. The landmark would remain a commercial building.

The committee, which is advisory to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, objected to the demolition of the rear of the building. “You could do something to honor the historic building you say you want to honor without cutting it in half,” said Roger Byrom. 

They also faulted the proposed new construction for its bulk. “I think it overwhelms the landmark building,” said committee chairman Bruce Ehrmann. 

The committee did not pass a resolution, anticipating that the developer may return with a modified proposal. But it’s now believed that the project is headed to the Landmarks Commission as is, said the committee’s co-chair, Jason Friedman. No hearing date has been set. The developer and architect did not respond to requests for comment.

In its 2016 landmark designation report, the LPC called 315 Broadway “an example of the palazzo-inspired commercial store and loft buildings that once lined Broadway and shaped the streetscapes of antebellum New York. It is one of the few store-and-loft buildings from that era to survive on Broadway south of Franklin Street.”