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Land Use, Housing & Zoning

Application by the Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) to redesign their proposed new academic building on 28th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues.

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, October 10, 2019, the following resolution passed with a vote of 33 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, The Fashion Institute of Technology (FIT) is a public college part of the State University of New York (SUNY) system located at 227 West 27th Street; and

WHEREAS, In 2009, FIT proposed to build a new academic building, designed by noted architectural firm Shop, on lot 18, block 777 at 220-236 West 28th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues, in a C6-2 zoning district, abutting the Marvin Feldman Center (a/k/a Building C), the main FIT campus building; and

WHEREAS, To accommodate the design, FIT applied for a BSA special permit to construct the proposed building, waiving zoning requirements for height, setback and sky exposure plane; and

WHEREAS, In 2009, the Board of Standards and Appeals granted a special permit, pursuant to ZR §§ 73-641 and 73-03 to permit the construction of a ten-story community facility building that does not comply with the zoning requirements for height, setback and sky exposure plane, contrary to ZR § 33-432; and

WHEREAS, In 2009, Community Board Five unanimously recommended approval of the BSA special permit; and

WHEREAS, The original design was approved by the Public Design Commission on November 28, 2017 and was the recipient of a design award that same year, and

WHEREAS, The original design was found to be too costly when it was put to bid in 2018; and

WHEREAS, FIT is proposing design changes to overcome financial and logistical obstacles that prevented the construction of the building in 2018; and

WHEREAS, The project site remains unchanged and consists of an undeveloped courtyard adjacent to the north of Building C a/k/a the Marvin Feldman Center; and

WHEREAS, The courtyard has approximately 214 feet of frontage on the south side of West 28th Street and has an average depth of approximately 60 feet; and

WHEREAS, The proposed building mass, scale and esthetic expression of the building remain unchanged as a 10 story building with a cellar, built with a straight street wall, glass façade and street level arcade; and

WHEREAS, The redesign will involve revisions to the streetscape design, including a storefront wider glass panels, the addition of columns to create an overhang, the relocation of the entrance bay to increase visibility, and the replacement of steps with a sloped path for ADA accessibility; and

WHEREAS, The redesign will involve a loading dock area with a metal gate replacing a brick wall; and

WHEREAS, The redesign will involve the removal of the green roof (from the previously approved plan) and replacement with concrete pavers; and

WHEREAS, The redesign will involve an increase in the width of the south atrium glass wall and skylight for more natural light; and

WHEREAS, The sub-cellar level has been removed, and structural design amended, resulting in the loss of 15,000 square feet of usable space, including classroom space; and

WHEREAS, The footprint loss is the unfortunate result of fiscal & market driven constraints – one that, combined with the other structural changes, is saving $40MM+ in the overall construction of the building; and

WHEREAS, Fashion Institute of Technology continues to expand and invest in its campus wide green roof initiative; and

WHEREAS, The concrete paver roof will be designed and constructed to allow for retrofitting of a green roof in the future, and FIT expressed strong interest in pursuing this addition as part of said campus-wide initiative; and

WHEREAS, The new academic building is being constructed with the intent to receive LEED Gold status as part of its campus wide sustainability plans; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five continues to support the Fashion Institute of Technology’s mission, educational programming and involvement in the surrounding community and New York City as a whole; and

WHEREAS, Although Community Board Five laments the loss of 15.000 square feet of usable space, it views this redesign to be in keeping with FIT’s adherence and promotion of its mission, programming & involvement; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends approval of the application to the Public Design Commission for a redesign of the Fashion Institute of Technology proposed new academic building on 28th Street between 7th and 8th Avenues.

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