Ridley’s Landmark Restoration and Penthouse Addition on Grand Street OK’d by CB3

Posted on: December 18th, 2015 at 5:00 am by

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The penthouse mockup atop 315 Grand St.

​That orange speck of two-by-fours atop 315 Grand Street (aka 66 Allen) is a prelude of a potential future for the Ridley & Sons department store landmark. A penthouse placement on the rooftop of the five-story former building. What you see is a mockup for illustrative purposes to help sway the Landmarks Preservation Commission into approval; Community Board 3 blessed the plan. However, the penthouse is not the main component of the proposal, merely the proverbial cherry on top.

As previously reported, the current owner and Bromley Caldari Architects hope to restore the building to its original 1886 grandeur. To a time before the department store closed (1901) and the ownership carved up the real estate for other uses.

Since the block-long Ridley’s complex is a certified city landmark, the owner’s representatives, architect, and Building Conservation Associates collectively appeared before CB3 Wednesday night for approval of the Certificate of Appropriateness application. It’s a three-part plan: restoration, zoning conversion to residential use on all five floors, and addition of a penthouse. (As it stands, there is only residential on the fifth floor.)

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The project will be extensive and expensive, with every intention (allegedly) of returning the dignity and former glory of the building. Architects are relying on the limited collection of archival photos to help get it “detailed and original as possible.”

Here are some of the design elements included in the overall proposal…

Grand Street facade. This facade is in pretty good historic condition. Nine of twelve window bays are intact, but unoriginal aluminum windows will be swapped with wooden replacements. Cracked cast-iron will be repaired and reinstalled; the existing fire escape will be removed; a new cast-iron cornice is planned to match neighboring building (319 Grand); stores updated and awnings replaced with stylized “signage bands.”

Allen Street facade. The design acknowledges the relatively modern, and altogether different, exterior on Allen, caused when the building was chopped to accommodate the street widening in 1931. Plans call for keeping the brick and cast-stone nature, but alleviating the “cut” nature of the corner. They’ll remove the “soiling” and stains from the masonry and replace brick where necessary. Building entrance will also receive a makeover – “monumental bronze” door and intercom system are both slated for upgrade.

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As for the 749 square-foot penthouse, the goal is to keep it as “invisible” as possible from street level. It’s billed as a light footprint. Indeed, its not visible standing out front, only when heading westward down Grand. The structure is set back from the cornice, and its plaster composition – bolstered by steel frame – matches the Allen facade.

Architects expressed the hope that owners of the adjoining Pink Building will follow by example. There were reportedly conversations to that effect, but owner Orchard Street Equities (aka Waterbridge Capital), who purchased the other two-thirds of Ridley’s for $27 million, has apparently fallen off the grid.

The CB3 Landmarks panel was impressed and excited about the restoration but did show some reservations about accuracy of the showroom windows on Grand. But that wasn’t enough in itself to impede the unanimous approval of the required Certificate of Appropriateness. Next stop on the tour bus, so to speak, is the LPC on January 5.

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Ownership will presumably return to the Land-use subcommittee at a future date to discuss the zoning change from commercial to residential.

They expect a two-year turnaround if and when work begins. In the meantime, below is the detailed deck for the overall project…

Ridley & Sons Landmark Restoration Proposal

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