Tribeca residents bash Franklin St. condo proposal, but developer remains unfazed

A rendering of the building proposed for the 100 Franklin St. lot.   Courtesy of D.D.G. Partners
A rendering of the building proposed for the 100 Franklin St. lot. Courtesy of D.D.G. Partners

BY SAM SPOKONY | In four days, a developer will go before the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (L.P.C.) to ask for approval to build luxury housing on a parking lot in the Tribeca East Historic District — but he will do so amid fervent opposition from Community Board 1 and Tribeca residents.

The C.B. 1 Landmarks Committee passed a resolution on Thursday night to recommend against the proposal by D.D.G. Partners to build an eight-story, glass-front condo at the site of 100 Franklin St., at Sixth Ave.

Committee Chair Roger Byrom urged Joseph McMillan, D.D.G.’s chief executive officer, to “think of your reputation” before allowing his team to pitch their proposal to the L.P.C. on Nov. 12.

“You’re taking a real risk by going to [the L.P.C.] now,” said Byrom, citing ongoing and passionate arguments by local residents against what they believe to be an architectural affront to their famous and historic neighborhood.

After Byrom repeatedly asked him to at least consider deferring the L.P.C. application to a later date, McMillan said on Thursday that he plans to move forward regardless of the community opposition.

A neighborhood-based online petition against the development proposal currently has over 1,000 signatures, mainly from Tribeca residents but also from people across the United States and even some in Europe.

With that in mind, several residents — some of whom live at 17 White St., which is adjacent to the 100 Franklin St. lot — spoke during the C.B. 1 meeting to oppose the D.D.G. plan, one of them claiming that the glass condos would be an “international scandal” if they were built, and others calling the plan “insulting.”

Meanwhile, McMillan acknowledged on Thursday — after some prodding by the committee — that D.D.G. still does not own the 100 Franklin St. site.

The lot is currently owned by the Matera Family Limited Partnership, according to the city’s Department of Finance online database.

McMillan said that he has scheduled a closing date for the purchase of the site, and told the committee that the date is “coming up soon.”

But he declined to give the exact date.

“It’s irrelevant,” said McMillan, when Byrom asked him to announce the scheduled date of the sale.

After the meeting, McMillan also declined to answer further questions from the press about the sale date.

But a D.D.G. employee approached this reporter outside the meeting and said he believes that residents opposing the development — specifically those who live at 17 White St. — are being disingenuous.

“They’re only worried about keeping their lot line windows,” the D.D.G. rep said of the 17 White St. residents.

He was referring to windows on the east side of 17 White St. — the side that faces the 100 Franklin St. lot. If the D.D.G. development were approved, those windows would be blocked off.

So he was, in essence, claiming that 17 White St. residents who oppose his group’s plan are motivated by personal interest rather than concerns about the architecture of their historic district.

“Absolutely false,” said Eileen Bermingham, a 17 White St. resident, in an email to Downtown Express after Thursday’s meeting. “We are not against construction on the parking lot — we want it to be appropriate and contextual for the Historic District. The D.D.G. design is an affront to our landmarked 1868 building [17 White St.] and two entire blocks of Franklin and White Streets that will lose light, ventilation and egress. This is absolutely not about lot line windows — it is about preserving the authenticity of an architecturally important corner of Tribeca.”

D.D.G. will need the approval of the L.P.C., along with other city agencies, before moving forward with the project.

A D.D.G. representative pointed out, in an email on Friday, that the company has, in the past, designed and completed successful buildings in landmarked districts with community input.

The developer’s buildings at 41 Bond St. in the NoHo Historic District, and 325 W. Broadway in the SoHo Historic District, received L.P.C. approval.