A tightly packed row of narrow brownstone homes could end a bitter dispute over a notorious building that was once slated to rise in the famous view corridor between the statue of Minerva in Green-Wood Cemetery and the Statue of Liberty.
The developer of 614 Seventh Ave., which is on the corner of 23rd Street, has asked the Department of Buildings for permission to build 11, four-story, one-or-two family homes where he once envisioned the 70-foot “Minerva Building,” which picked up the derisive nickname during the three-year battle between the owner and neighborhood residents, who argued that the original project would have blocked the unobstructed sightline between the goddess of war and Lady Liberty.
The Board of Standards and Appeals sent owner Chaim Nussencweig back to the drawing board in 2006. Now, Nussencwieg — with new partner, Aron Lebovits, and new architect, Avalon Designs — hopes to finally cash in.
“We’ve waited a long time and we sincerely hope that this time it will work,” said an employee of Lebovits, who declined to give his name out of fear of his Brooklyn neighbors, one of whom broke the news of the brownstone solution in a cynical post on Brownstoner.com.
The Department of Buildings rejected the first set of plans on Wednesday, but Lebovits will resubmit. Neighbors are gearing up for the fight.
One neighbor, Community Board 7 member Aaron Brashear, said that even a “good thing” like a low-rise, brick-fronted development should be done in moderation in the quiet neighborhood of wood-frame houses.
“I am very happy to see something built that doesn’t violate the Minerva view, and single family homes are an excellent idea for the neighborhood,” said the activist. “But I think he is trying to fit too many of them [on the site].”
Brashear said that the garage-fronted homes would “eliminate all the street parking” on the block and violate local zoning law, which mandates 34 feet between each curb cut. He also said the developer was not allocating enough room for the rear yards of the homes, again violating zoning code.