Frederick Bland’s little sketch grew up Wednesday.
Updated! The Super Architect from Beyer Blinder Belle presented meticulous developed designs for the Louis Cappelli City Center to the Mayor and Common Council that took the Common Council’s breath away. In a presentation every bit worthy of the Cappelli style, he delivered the Beyer, Blinder Belle touch.
Louis Cappelli agreed to pay the city $900,000 for the subterranean and air rights, under and over the new parking structure, for one year, and an option on a second year for another $500,000, protecting his investment.
Mr. Bland’s new schematics show two buildings that are more centered, not as low profile as Bland’s original sketch. The new towers recall echoes of art deco, the French Quarter, contemporary Manhattan, and the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.
The new edifices assert identity and icon try with graduated power, build majestically to the sky, articulating in elegant setbacks, and supple curves of glass, “simplifying in features as they get to the top,” according to Bland. The Towers may be the best Bland has ever done. Speaking to WPCNR after the presentation, Bland was proud, saying he thought the buildings rivaled or surpassed any of the new residential construction being built now in Manhattan.
RECALLING A LUXURY OCEAN LINER, RISING OUT OF CITY CENTER, Frederick Bland’s enhanced twin Cappelli Towers, emerged after 50 sketch design treatments by Bland since September 17, (an average of 6 new treatments a week). The towers present as a slender column presence looking North to City Hall from Martine Avenue and a stately powerful elegant stairway to the sky when viewed from the West. The Martine Avenue Tower will house 293 units. The Main Street Tower, 307 units. This view shows the new parking structure to the right of the Martine Tower, the City Center to the left, with the Main Street Tower in background.WPCNR PHOTO
Mr. Bland said specific design treatment for the street level retail and entrances, and the material selections for the varying surfaces of the buildings, and the critical pinnacles are the next phase of design. He expects the final choices of facing materials, treatment of the street levels (“articulating of the exterior in an architectonic way,” as Bland put it), and the capping structure to be completed by the first of January or sooner.
He said the surface of the central double-window section rising to the penthouses at the top, will consist of white limestone, (the most beautiful building treatment being used today, in Bland’s opinion), with light tan brick being used for the narrower portions of the building.).
First view Council saw in September has grown up
He said he centered the double-floor window central portion of the building to a greater degree, so the two buildings “were not leaning so much into each other. Resorting to architect-talk, Bland said, “The lower base is starting to set an alignment. it is important to come down to the ground experience.”
CENTERING OF THE DOUBLE-WINDOW CENTRAL SECTION RELEASES MAJESTY AND POWER. This side view of the two new Bland Towers design shows the entry/street level retail will consist of two, broad full-length retail windows and curving glass around the corner of Martine and Conroy, and Conroy and Martine, “to bring people into the building,” Bland said. The central double-floor window section will consist of white limestone, the outer portions and north south sections will be single floor windows with light tan brick. (The old Macy’s store was built of white limestone brick.)WPCNR PHOTO
“The Mystery of Penthouse Living.” Five in Each Building
Bland said he became taken by the “Mystery of Penthouse Living,” and the possibilities at the pinnacle of the building. He has designed each tower to provide five penthouse apartments above the central limestone double-window anchoring section. Bland reports he is still working on the interior design of such apartments, allowing possibilities of duplexes and unspecified amenities.
MODEL OF CITY CENTER WITH NEW TOWERS IN PLACE viewed from the West, looking across Mamaroneck Avenue. The Greenpoint Bank building is at the lower left, the Westchester Arts Council building on the lower right. WPCNR PHOTO
The new model of the two towers in place in the City Center complex shows an interesting and striking similarity to the model originally presented by Mr. Cappelli with lower 25 story buildings with step backs rising out of the City Center. The new towers presented Wednesday enhance this original concept.
Cornices at the Pinnacles to “Establish a Wonderful Icon.”
Mr. Bland noted that the cornices capping the building were still in the design stage. He said he wants them “simple but elegant, light-colored with cantilevered “perforated metal” fins. The purpose is to establish wonderful icon and hide all the junk on the top of the building.” He reports they will “glow at night.”
Base very important
Bland is still concentrating on precise treatment of the retail base of each apartment tower. He said he does not believe the look of the apartment building base should duplicate the other three sides of the City Center. “Cities don’t work that way,” he said. The center portion of the first floor floors above the entry/retail-street level, is planned to have French balconies reminiscent of the French Quarter. Bland said the balconies are “a personalized way of making the area very friendly alive and well, (the building) participating in the urban scene.”
ENTRY INTO ELEGANT LIVING shows the evolution of an art deco wrap-around window treatment of the retail, which Bland says “invites” the pedestrian into Conroy Place. Balconies are envisioned above the retail overlooking the City Center Plaza, recalling the French Quarter in New Orleans.WPCNR PHOTO
The presentation ended with a flyby computerization, and a single picture view of the skyline of the city with the new towers computer-inserted looking from the West. To this reporter’s eye, the skyline view did not show the new buildings standing out starkly on the city horizon.
The Council reacts positively, again.
Robert Greer, William King, Benjamin Boykin, and Rita Malmud each commented favorably on the new look.
Mr. Greer said, “I really like it. It makes a great statement for the center of our city.” Greer noted that from the Western view the buildings look almost like one building.
William King, a keen observer of New York architecture, was the most observant critic, positive, but noting that the slender North and South sides should be broken up with limestone treatment, and he wished that double-floor window treatment might be integrated onto the slim profile sides, too. King liked the idea of a step back on the Main Street Tower side, too. Bland said that was under consideration.
MR. BLAND TAKES A BOW. With the look of a slugger who has connected big time, Fred Bland was all smiles at the conclusion of his presentation.WPCNR PHOTO
Rita Malmud expressed great appreciation for the French Balcony effect added to the first four residential floors. She said she did not like “the toothpicks” at the tops of the buildings. Bland said they were working on different ways to hide the antennas. Those were Ms. Malmud’s sole observations.
Ben Boykin observed, “The message I’m getting is (the building) is user-friendly, people-friendly, people-inviting. We’re really getting to that point. The Buildings really do that.”
Subterranean Homesick Blues for Cappelli
During the last two weeks, the city raised an issue with Cappelli brought about by Frederick Bland’s design change of the buildings. Because Bland feels that parking for the Martine Avenue southern tower should be housed in the new parking structure being built for the city center, (using about 200 feet of space on an added lower floor), instead of under the apartment building itself, this requires building another level below the 7-story garage being planned.
THE MAN IN BLACK explains the concept of subterranean and air rights. Louis Cappelli protested that the rights were “worthless,” and wryly complimented the city for finding a way to charge him $2.4 million for them.WPCNR PHOTO
The city told Cappelli that they felt building an extra floor on the garage violated their subterranean rights and air rights above the garage, according to Susan Habel. Deputy Commissioner of Planning Habel reported that Mr. Cappelli who bought into the Bland design had agreed to pay the city $400,000 outright for the subterranean rights to build another floor of the parking garage to house cars of tenants in the Martine Avenue Tower.
Habel added that Mr. Cappelli also agreed to pay the city $500,000 for one year of air rights over the garage to protect his City Center development from the city or another developer building another structure over the garage. Cappelli also has an option to pay $500,000 for a second year in 2003.
At the end of year two,(2003) he may purchase air rights in perpetuity for another $1 million.
Cappelli quietly said that this is a moot point since any building over the garage had to be done in January when he is scheduled to begin the garage. Nevertheless, he has quietly agreed to pay the city $900,000 for the subterranean and air rights for 2002.
Ms. Habel said the Common Council would consider passing the actual legislation articulating this agreement on November 20.
Mr. Cappelli Is Eyeballing the Future with New “Rights.”
The payment for the subterranean rights and air rights, gives Cappelli a unique position should another developer acquire the remaining Main Street property adjacent to the City Center. If Mr. Cappelli wished to acquire the property himself, purchasing the air rights over the garage would free Mr. Cappelli should he want to develop the adjacent Main Street East to North Broadway property himself.
A group headed by A. J. Rotundi and a Palm Beach firm had expressed interest in making a presentation to the Council in September. Ms. Habel advised WPCNR that the group had not gotten their financing and the Planning Department had not heard from them for two months. This can be traced back to when Mr. Cappelli received his approval for the City Center.
Leonard Nadel’s Dream Park Once Upon a Garage Is Discarded
In discussions of the air rights, it was quietly revealed, (virtually by accident in response to a council question), that Mr. Cappelli never seriously considered Leonard Nadel’s suggestion of a green park with fields on the top floor of the parking garage. Cappelli said, “It just doesn’t work, and it would add $4 million to the project.”
This announcement was greeted by quiet puzzlement on the part of the Council.
Cappelli: “I gave him a free hand.”
After the meeting broke up, WPCNR asked Mr. Cappelli how closely he had supervised Mr. Bland’s design development. Cappelli said, “I gave him a free hand.”
Bland himself said when asked if he liked the “Cappelli Speed” style of developing, said “I like to build things” and added he was not happy working on projects which dragged on. Usually, he said an organization that does that does not have an efficient process of decision-making.
Mr. Cappelli’s staff architect, Kathleen Hennesy, said Mr. Bland met with the Cappelli staff at least once a week in the design development process.