We noticed this particularly insensitive rehabilitation on Broadway a few weeks ago. Even went so far as to take pix with the camera phone. We meant to go back and get real pictures to post here, but newyorkshitty.com beat us to it.
What initially caught our eye was the demolition of the front facade in order to install "Juliette" balconies. From the looks of it, these balconies aren't even large enough to stow a bicycle, rendering them completely useless. What we hadn't noticed (again, thanks newyorkshitty), was the DOB permit and the rooftop addition. It seems that (in yet another Fekete special) they are turning this four story building into a six story building. And if the balconies are any indication of the sensitivity to design and historic fabric, this is not going to be a little Hearst Tower on Broadway.
This is a shame because this building, which probably dates to the 1870s or so, has a twin next door that was just rehabbed. That rehab won't win any preservation awards, but the developer at 154 did a nice job and didn't destroy any historic fabric in the process. In fact, 154 Broadway was the latest of such rehabs up and down the strip of lower Broadway. We would add to that the conversion of the "new" Smith-Gray Building at the corner of Bedford (the "old" Smith-Gray, a landmark, is down the street), the rehab of the former Bedford Avenue Theatre on South 6th Street, and a number of small storefront and building rehabs west of Wythe. Even the Gretsch conversion managed to retain some of the historic character of its industrial past.
Much of Broadway, from Kent Avenue to almost Roebling Street, has the potential to be part of a local historic district. There are already three individual landmarks in that stretch, and at least as many more buildings that could be individual landmarks. Unfortunately, for every Bedford Theatre there is a 152 Broadway - a rehab that not only diminishes the character of the street, but one which diminishes the historic character of the street. Hopefully, the Landmarks Commission will pay attention before its too late.