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139-141 West 44th Street, Hudson Theatre, application process

WHEREAS, The Hudson Theatre located at 139-141 West 44th Street is a Broadway theatre built in 1902-04 for Henry B Harris, a top producer of his time, and designed by J.B. McElfatrick & Son; and

WHEREAS, The applicant is proposing to conduct renovations and alterations for the purpose of returning the Hudson Theatre for use as a legitimate theatre; and

WHEREAS, The Hudson Theatre has been used as a conference and event space within the Millennium Hotel; and

WHEREAS, The Hudson Theatre is one of the few designated interior landmarks due to the grandeur of its interior, and that the interior, begun by J.B. McElfatrick & Son and completed by Israels & Harder, is noted in the designation report as “an unusually handsome neo-classical design; that the architecturally significant features in its auditorium and lobby spaces include Tiffany glass domes, elegant plasterwork ornamentation, and unusual light-fixtures”; and

WHEREAS, The architectural press also noted at the time: “... as soon as we enter, the elegance of the building becomes apparent. The vestibule and lobby are exceptionally spacious and are richly furnished in Verde Antique marble, with a coffered ceiling studded with incandescent bulbs.”; and

WHEREAS, The applicant proposes to remove a green Antique Verde marble curved stone wall for access to and from a new elevator, to provide ADA accessibility; and

WHEREAS, The applicant proposes to install acoustic doors with bronze hardware for sound and light barrier between the auditorium and the lobby which is currently only divided by red velvet curtains; and

WHEREAS, The applicant proposes to install a very large bar in the Tiffany lobby which would include an off-white painted wood bar and two translucent glass arched back bars shelving units to be placed in front of three arched mirrors and a fireplace; and

WHEREAS, The applicant proposed to create an opening at the dress circle level, providing a connection to a new lounge; and

WHEREAS, The applicant proposes many other changes to the interior as well as to the exterior but did not present those to Community Board Five due to these being deemed “staff-level” alterations by LPC and therefore not subject to review by this board; and

WHEREAS, The applicant requested that CB5 waive their right to review the application and CB5 declined, and

WHEREAS, Despite CB5 rejection of the waiver, the applicant proceeded with LPC to attend a August 11 2015 hearing at which the matter was reviewed, voted on and approved, and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five is dismayed by LPC’s decision to hear and approve this application without community input despite the request by Community Board Five to postpone until Community Board Five was back in session and able to provide comment; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five is very concerned by LPC’s decision that renovations including signage and alterations to exterior doors be seen as insignificant enough to not require community input; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends denial of the application; and further be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five urges LPC to vacate their decision made on August 11th 2015 to approve the application, and incorporate CB5 comments into their decision making process, including by requesting that the applicant reduces the size of the bar, uses a material that is historically more harmonious and elegant, and finds a way to provide access to the new elevator without removal of significant historic fabric; and further be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five strongly advises that LPC continues to provide Community Boards with an opportunity to comment on significant alterations, rather than granting approvals for such alterations at staff level.

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