A trio of residential buildings is set to change the look of East 13th Street, between Avenue A and First Avenue.
The facelift will be courtesy of two developers, one planning to transform two stubby garages into slender twin condos and another looking to tear down the former post office across the street to make way for an eight-story rental building. Construction-permit applications were filed for all three buildings in recent weeks.
The project involving the two garages is unique in that the developer was able to purchase two very similar properties with just one old-style apartment building in between. The two new structures will look basically the same, said Thomas Vail of Vail Associates Architects, the firm charged with designing the six-story buildings, which will have one apartment per floor.
Right now, the two garages create odd holes in the street’s skyline — like “missing teeth,” as Vail puts it. The old garages, which Vail says were constructed in the 1920s or ’30s, were formerly automobile service stations. Vail said the current owner told him the buildings were being used for electrical repairs, but Vail guesses not much business has been conducted there in the last five to ten years. (The new owner, David Amirian, doesn’t close on the deal until Jan. 15.)
The new buildings will fill in the holes and unit prices are likely to cater to what Vail says is a growing segment of the New York City population: young, professional couples who want a larger home and state-of-the-art amenities while also enjoying the unique experience of living in the East Village. The building will include a back garden and a rooftop gathering space, Vail said.
Construction is scheduled to begin at 436 and 442 13th Street this June and should be completed by 2016. Whether or not the new structures’ modern features (lack of fire escapes, floor to ceiling windows) add up to aesthetic advances or a loss of local charm is up to the eye of the beholder.
Across the street, a much larger new building will take the place of the Peter Stuyvesant post office. The rental apartments slated for construction at 435 East 13th Street will also face 14th Street and will contain seven floors of residential housing and a ground-floor commercial space. At eight stories, it will loom taller than most of the buildings on its block, with the exception of the neighboring A Building, which boasts eight floors of “loft-inspired” condominium apartments.
Representatives of 435 East 13th Street were not immediately available for comment, but a new building application filed with the Department of Buildings on Dec. 12 lists the owner as Richard Kessler. The architect is SLCE Architects, a firm that also recently filed plans to demolish a five-story townhouse near Central Park to put up a new 22-story, 16-unit structure.