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485 Seventh Avenue Application for Storefront Modification and Rooftop Additions

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 for the poor; and

WHEREAS, Mills was inspired by 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, 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 application will revert the building to its historic use as a hotel; and

WHEREAS, The applicant proposes to build a visible roof top addition to accommodate hotel amenities; and

WHEREAS, Existing, visible rooftop mechanical units will be removed; and

WHEREAS, The applicant proposes to restore the stone base, storefronts and entryways, including re-establishing the hotel entry to its original location with a re-creation of the 1907 canopy on 36th Street; and

WHEREAS, The Seventh Avenue front will similarly be restored with storefronts, an entry canopy and cast stone base; and

WHEREAS, The applicant is proposing to use modern cast stone which is less desirable than historically appropriate limestone; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the application, while urging the applicant to use limestone at the base of the building at 485 Seventh Avenue and 36th Street.

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