The building was designed by architects James Carpenter and Randy Gerner and will be LEED-certified, with recycled building materials including “terra cotta, zinc, and perforated metals in a range of subtle grays, along with concrete and glass,” in order to fit with the “industrial origins” of the neighborhood.
“It blends in perfectly with the High Line and its surroundings,” said Mr. Romanoff, noting that the building is shorter than the Standard Hotel in the south, and High Line Building in the northwest.
But preservationists aren’t convinced.
“If every developer in New York City said they faced some challenge in development, and were given variances, we would have no zoning,” said Andrew Berman, executive director of the GVSHP.
He said that citing the High Line as a hardship was a “ridiculous notion,” suggesting that proximity to the landmark was an asset. The addition of another large retailer in the building’s ground floor could also lead to more crowding in the area, he added.
“We’re really worried about the effect it’ll have on the neighborhood,” Mr. Berman said.
He said that the northern wall of the building is also proposed to be windowless, which means it could house a billboard that would be visible from the nearby meatpacking historic district, officially known as the Gansevoort Market Historic District.
On Sept. 9, 2003, the Landmarks Preservation Commission created the historic district. However, it voted to exclude 437-447 13th Street from the final boundaries, according to Elisabeth de Bourbon, spokeswoman for the LPC. Since it was not included in the district, the building was open to further development outside of the LPC’s approval.
But now, preservationists have only one option left.
“The only recourse left to the public is filing a legal challenge. The burden of getting the zoning laws evenly and fairly enforced falls upon the public,” Mr. Berman said. The GVSHP, for its part, generally does not litigate, and such a case would cost “five figures,” he said.