Trinity backs a new look for Wall St., but C.B. 1 resists

Early rendering of the tower Trinity Real Estate proposes to build behind the Trinity Church, although officials said the look may change.
Early rendering of the tower Trinity Real Estate proposes to build behind the Trinity Church, although officials said the look may change.

BY KAITLYN MEADE  |  Trinity Church’s soaring steeple was the tallest point in New York City when it was capped in 1846. It lost that title in 1890 and in 2017, it will be surpassed by the church’s newest project, a 30-plus-story glass tower sprouting from its backyard.

The plans met with disapproval from Community Board 1’s Financial District Committee on Monday night when Rev. Dr. James Cooper and Jason Pizer, president of Trinity Real Estate, presented the chosen design by Pelli Clarke Pelli.

But Trinity agreed to return to the community board with more details as the project progressed, and were commended for their willingness to come before the board even though it is an as-of-right project, meaning that developers have no obligations to do so.

Pelli Clarke Pelli won Trinity’s recent contest with a plan that “brought the inside out and the outside in,” and made the building “more visible and more user friendly,” said Pizer of the design at the Sept. 9 meeting.

The 300,000-square-foot structure was designed to replace two 90-year-old buildings that house Trinity operations at 68 and 74 Trinity Place. Trinity will consolidate its offices to occupy the bottom six or seven floors, but the remaining 175,000 square feet will be residential units. Pizer said that it had not yet been decided how much of the housing would be condos and how much would be rental housing.

The FiDi committee was not nearly as enthusiastic, especially about the look of the glass tower craning above Trinity’s steeple.

“I don’t think it looks like Wall St. and Downtown,” said Joel Kopel. “I think the building should look more, yes updated, but I think the building should be more in tune with the neighborhood… tourists come down here from all over the world and the last thing they need to see is another building that looks like it’s on East 59th St.”

“I think this project is unfortunate for several reasons,” said Megan McHugh, the first being an aesthetic clash with the “majesty” of the iconic view of the church down Wall St.

Another concern was the number of residential units that will go on sale in the next 5-10 years, including Trinity’s 150-175 units, and the worry that city infrastructure will not keep up with development Downtown, especially with a shortage of public school seats in Lower Manhattan.

The 140-seat preschool currently located in the building will be moved to another location “north of the World Trade Center site,” but church leaders were unwilling to disclose the location until a new lease had been signed. They did confirm that the preschool’s size will not change significantly despite the relocation.

Most of the church’s property is in Hudson Square, west of Soho.

Another concern for the neighborhood is a rodent problem that has led the community board to ask all new developers to include an indoor refrigerated storage room for garbage until pickup that would prevent an overwhelming vermin problem, which church leadership said they would consider.

“We want to be a part of the fabric of the community,” said Pizer.