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Mills Hotel #3 - 485 Seventh Avenue aka 481-489 7th Avenue and 155-163 West 36th Street - Proposed Designation

WHEREAS, NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission ("LPC") has notified Community Board Five ("CB5") of a Public Hearing to be held October 26, 2010 concerning the Proposed Designation of Mills Hotel No. 3, 485 Seventh Avenue , ( 155-63 West 36th Street) in a letter dated October 4, 2010; and

WHEREAS, a copy this letter was made available to the Landmarks Committee of CB5 October 5, 2010, the same date as its Landmarks Committee Meeting; and

WHEREAS, this extremely late notice did not provide adequate time for members of CB5 to investigate and visit the site proposed for designation; and

WHEREAS, LPC has been repeatedly unresponsive to CB5's previous requests for postponement of hearings when the CB5 Monthly Calendar did not provide appropriate time for CB5 to perform its Advisory role pursuant to Section 25-313 of the Administrative Code of NYC; and

WHEREAS, CB5 regards its Advisory role seriously and was forced to act on this Proposed Designation with the limited information provided by LPC, a brief one page narrative including only one photograph, or be put in the position of not being heard at all by LPC; and 

WHEREAS, 485 Seventh Avenue was the third and largest of three model residential hotels for single working men built by Darius Ogden Mills at the turn of the 20th Century, rising 16 stories in a neo-Renaissance building, with 1,885 single rooms, each with a window opening onto a street or a courtyard; and

WHEREAS, The Mills Hotel No. 3 was described by the New York Times as the "world's biggest hotel" and the "finest for the use of men of limited means" built in 1906-07 by Mills, a banker and philanthropist, especially concerned with the problems of housing the poor; and

WHEREAS, Mills was inspired by the architect, Ernest Flagg, who revolutionized the thinking about low cost urban housing in an article in Scribner's Magazine by calling for a new building type based on a 100-foot wide module, incorporating a central light court which would employ fewer wall enclosures, corridors and partitions than the traditional conventionally-planned tenement, resulting in greater room space, light, ventilation and fire protection; and

WHEREAS, This building and the two other Mills buildings (Mills No. 1, 160 Bleecker Street and  Mills No. 2, Rivington and Chrystie Streets) were the first in the country to realize these ideas and they served as the prototypes for future model tenements; and

WHEREAS, The building originally included amenities such as sitting rooms and lounges, a library-reading room, restaurant, barbershop and laundry; and

WHEREAS, Mills commissioned the architectural firm Copeland and Dole to design the building shortly after the construction of Pennsylvania Station; and

WHEREAS, The building's facades were "intended to present an impressive yet simple appearance," clad with limestone, light-colored brick and terra cotta, featuring some string courses, and cornices, fielded panels, cartouches, lion heads and a richly embellished Renaissance copper cornice; and 

WHEREAS, The architectural configuration, combined with its historic and cultural importance, qualify this building for Landmark status; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, CB5 recommends approval of Mills Hotel No. 3, 485 Seventh Avenue, (155-63 West 36th Street) as a NYC Landmark.

The above resolution passed by a vote of 31 in favor; 3 opposed; 1 abstaining.

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