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Lexington Avenue Armory, Sixty-Ninth Regiment at 68 Lexington Avenue, Application for Renovation of Landmarked Building

At the regularly scheduled monthly Community Board Five meeting on Thursday, September 8, 2022, the following resolution passed with a vote of 38 in favor; 0 opposed; 1 abstaining:

WHEREAS, The Lexington Avenue Armory, Sixty-Ninth Regiment, located at 68 Lexington Avenue on the block bounded by East 25 th and East 26 th Streets and Lexington and Park Avenues, is a five-story building which occupies the majority of the block, with three sides exposed to street thoroughfares; and

WHEREAS, The building was built between 1904-1906, designed by noted architects Hunt & Hunt, and is a National Historic Landmark, a New York City Landmark as designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1983, and is recognized on both the New York State and National Historic Registers; and

WHEREAS, The building is one of the first armories to be built in the Beaux-Arts style, representing a historic departure from the medieval and gothic fortress influences of other armories in the City; and

WHEREAS, The building has been in continuous military use, functioning as a recruiting, training and marshaling center for the Sixty-Ninth Regiment to meet the functional requirements of a National Guard Readiness Center; and

WHEREAS, The New York State Office of General Services and Division of Military and Naval Affairs have applied for a Certificate of Appropriateness to reprogram and rehabilitate the façade, access, and external elements of the building; and

WHEREAS, The proposed renovations include the restoration of the main entrance doors and stairs, the addition of five new access points including two Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) entryways, the installation of four commemorative battle plaques, the replacement of two historic lamp posts, unblocking of an original annex entry, and the restoration of historic windows; and

WHEREAS, The applicant seeks to restore the ceremonial main doors and decorative metal gates with green paint matching the original and historic palette including color, texture, and reflectivity; and 

WHEREAS, The building was constructed in a defensive style, most notably with the ground floor set ten feet above street level, creating challenges for ensuring best practices of equitable design and ADA compliance, and in its current state entry into the building is inaccessible without the use of stairs; and

WHEREAS, The applicant has proposed the addition of a new ADA entrance immediately north of the primary entryway on Lexington Avenue which will utilize an existing window opening with modifications to recess the adjacent brick in a vertical, stepped manner to minimize disruption of the building’s styled symmetry; and

WHEREAS, The applicant has also proposed the removal of an egress staircase on the East 25th Street façade that will be replaced with an overhead roll-up door serving as a vehicular entrance along with a new ADA entrance, both of which will be at street level; and

WHEREAS, This new entryway will interrupt the continuous banded limestone that provides a strong horizontal accent across the building; and

WHEREAS, The applicant’s proposed ADA doors are glass-paned with green framing and metal hardware that are noticeably contemporary in style and detracts from the historic character of the building though the design of the doors are “still evolving”; and

WHEREAS, The proposed renovations include the addition of four new commemorative plaques that will serve to denote achievements and significant historical moments associated with the “Fighting Sixty-Ninth” Infantry Regiment’s evolving history; and

WHEREAS, While the existing plaques have been continually updated with new commemorative inscriptions, new plaques are necessary to continue to document the Sixty-Ninth Regiment’s recent and future military achievements and engagements; and

WHEREAS, Two new plaques will be placed beneath each of the two existing plaques and will be styled consistently, maintaining similar proportion and coloring, and their mounting will be fully reversible and designed such that removal will mitigate any damage or disruption to the existing façade; and

WHEREAS, The proposal includes the replacement of two historic lamp posts on each side of the main entryway that were removed in prior modifications to the building; and

WHEREAS, The applicant’s proposal has incorporated aesthetics of the historical lamp posts and associated fixtures such that the installations will be of similar scale, material, and germane to the previous installations; and

WHEREAS, A metal doorway stylized to mimic the vertical lines of the existing and adjacent window is proposed in order to unblock a bricked annex entryway along the western portion of the 25th Street façade; and

WHEREAS, The applicant proposes to restore historic windows throughout the historic building to match existing fenestrations; and

WHEREAS, The applicant represented that salvaging of materials displaced during the renovation will focus on elements of the exterior finishes, with efforts made to retain as much as possible and in particularly, the brick where possible to optimize matching to precedent; and

WHEREAS, The proposed renovations include upgrades to mechanical systems on the building’s rooftop, the size and placement of which have been determined to not be visible from street-level due to deliberate concentration of equipment and depth of the roof; and

WHEREAS, Guardrails on the roof will also be pushed back for code compliance, further hiding them from view concurrent with mechanical systems installation; and

WHEREAS, Proposed work must maintain force protection and security requirements based on the function of the landmark building; and

WHEREAS, The applicant is undertaking Section 106 in coordination with the State Historic Preservation Office (SHPO) and ensuring compliance with the Secretary of the Interior; and

WHEREAS, The proposed renovations are anticipated to begin in early 2024 dependent on approved funding, with estimated completion in 2027; and

WHEREAS, The proposed renovations have been reviewed by the Landmarks Committee of Community Board Five; and 

WHEREAS, The applicant has engaged in thoughtful research and analysis for the restoration and demonstrated strong adherence to maintaining the historic character and exterior aesthetics of the landmark as the proposed scale, colors, and materials are generally harmonious with the building’s historic elements while furthering accessibility and maintaining respect to the landmark; therefore, be it

RESOLVED, Community Board Five recommends conditional approval of the application by the Lexington Avenue Armory, Sixty-Ninth Regiment, for restoration and renovative work on the façade and exterior of the building with the condition that the applicant provide goodwill consideration to the aesthetics of an alternative style of doors and associated door handle hardware to preserve the integrity and historic character of the building, with particular reference to the two proposed glass-paned ADA compliance entryways on both the eastern and south façades.

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