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935 Broadway, application to replace 2 existing clocks, install new signage, flagpoles and new service window along the Broadway façade.

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, January 16, 2020, the following resolution passed with a vote of 32 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, The applicant, Warner Bros d.b.a. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter, is proposing signage and alterations to 935 Broadway; and

WHEREAS, 935 Broadway, also known as the Mortimer building is a six-story Italianate-style store and office building constructed in 1861-62; and

WHEREAS, The building was designed by noted architect Griffith Thomas for prominent real estate magnate Rixhard Mortimer; and

WHEREAS, The building enjoys a prominent place in the Ladies Mile Historic District, with three full facades, fronting Broadway, East 22nd Street and Fifth Avenue, across from the Flatiron Building; and

WHEREAS, The building is a prime example of Italianate architecture with austere and elegant brownstone facades, fluted columns and a dentilled and modillioned cornice; and

WHEREAS, The applicant seeks to increase the signage by installing six flagpoles, two blade signs and three signs over entrances; and

WHEREAS, The applicant seeks to change the mechanism of one of the historic showcase windows into an operable half window for food and beverage purposes; and

WHEREAS, The applicant seeks to remove the two existing clocks to replace them with multi-faced halo lit clocks surmounted by a 3 foot tall fiberglass dragons; and

WHEREAS, The wand style flagpoles and the dragon themed clocks would necessitate numerous penetrations of the original stone facade; and

WHEREAS, The clocks and wand shape flagpoles are so strongly branded that a new tenant would not be able to reuse them, leaving the building vulnerable to even further alterations; and

WHEREAS, Holes done to stones, especially stones 158 years old, are very difficult to patch seamlessly and end up aging very poorly; and

WHEREAS, The proposed new opening would remove significant portions of the bay window and significantly alter the ground floor symmetry as well as the streetscape; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five is concerned with the removal and penetration of historic material on the building, including multiple façade perforations and the replacement of two clocks that existed at the time of designation; and

WHEREAS, In addition to objections to the removal of the clocks, the penetration of historic original fabric and the fenestration alteration, the proposal for signage and non-contextual design for the replacement clocks, instead of a replacement in kind, is objectionable; and

WHEREAS, The branded dragon design surmounting the clocks is too large, is halo lit, is not in keeping with the character of the district, and detracts from the building; and

WHEREAS, Flagpoles, whether one or six, are not appropriate for signage in historic districts; and

WHEREAS, Internal illuminated signs and halo lit signs are not appropriate for the Ladies Mile Historic District; and

WHEREAS, Flag poles and overwhelming signage are inappropriate for buildings in historic districts; and

WHEREAS, Community Board Five is on record as being concerned about the change of opening mechanisms to historic windows; and

WHEREAS, The Flatiron and Ladies Mile Historic District area are growing retail hubs that have provided a vibrant and stable retail environment; and

WHEREAS, The application if approved would set an unfortunate precedent that would entice other retailers to apply for non-contextual, overwhelming signage and alterations that would denature the integrity of the historic district and are not in the interest of the community; therefore be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends denial of the application by Warner Bros d.b.a. The Wizarding World of Harry Potter at 935 Broadway to replace two existing clocks, install new signage, flagpoles, and new service window along the Broadway façade.

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