Does Durst Have Big Plans on 57th Street?

the helena Does Durst Have Big Plans on 57th Street?Earlier today Curbed turned up some interesting plans at the Department of Buildings. It looks like the Durst Organization may be making a move on a site it owns way out on 57th Street and 12th, overlooking the Hudson.

The plans call for a five-story commercial building on the site — a rather meager offering, it would seem. The Observer checked with Durst, and it looks like this is a technical maneuver. “We filed some as-of-right plans to maintain participation in a brownfield program,” Jordan Barowitz, the firm’s director for external affairs, said. That would be the state’s brownfield cleanup program, which provides developers with tax credits for cleaning up contaminated sites before they build on them. Without the filing, the credits would have lapsed.

Could those contaminants be from the site’s quirky former tenant? Per Curbed:

The humble Artkraft Strauss Sign Corp. warehouse has faced the Hudson River from across Twelfth Avenue for generations. With its classic hand-painted sign, this is where the old Times Square neon supersigns were built.

[…]

The two-story Artkraft Strauss building at the west end of the site, a colorful chunk of funk that was a favorite canvas of street artists, greets drivers barreling down from the elevated West Side Highway. Inside, artist Dean Radinovsky recently built a cinder block chapel of lights and memorialized it on YouTube.

As for preservationists who might be worried about losing the building, maybe the Dursts will be nice enough to save it like they did with the Henry Miller Theater at One Bryant Park.

Back to that filing. This seems like the last place anyone would want to build a commercial building — especially a tiny one like this, so far from the central business district and good transportation.

Given that this is an as-of-right filing, it seems safe to assume that something different is probably in the works for the future. Just next door, the Dursts rezoned a similar commercial site to make way for the Helena, a super-green, 38-story luxury rental. Maybe they’ve got the same thing in mind for Artkraft Strauss.

Barowitz would not say what the plan was beyond the filing.

While Douglas Durst has previously expressed interest in building a commercial project on the site, the more recent, and it would seem plausible, approach would be the residential route, which was picked up yet quickly set aside two years ago. With nothing much getting built in the city at the moment, the wait continues.

mchaban [at] observer.com | @mc_nyo