Mammoth Corrective Structure at 14-16 Fifth Avenue

By Brian Pape

THE SITE REFERRED TO AS 14 FIFTH AVENUE, above, has been transformed with enormous bracing structures that almost look like a new structure itself. Photo by Brian J. Pape, AIA.

Last November, when two drilling rigs were beginning work on the foundations of 14-16 Fifth Avenue, located between Eighth and Ninth Streets a block north of Washington Square Park, problems arose and the excavators that were awaiting work in the fall had been removed.
At 10 p.m. on Feb. 22, the Department of Buildings (DOB) ordered the emergency evacuation of the 10 Fifth Avenue residential building, ca. 1848, after large cracks appeared on the exterior. The city posted an emergency full-vacate order, stating: “PREMISES UNSAFE TO OCCUPY DUE TO CRACKS AND SEPARATION OF THE RIGHT SIDE OF THE 5TH AVENUE FACADE.” A second, 10-story building, 12 Fifth Avenue, ca.1902 and built as an apartment hotel, sits in between that damaged building and the construction site. Development air rights from 12 Fifth Avenue are being used to add height to the 14-16 Fifth Avenue project.
Today, the site is referred to as 14 Fifth Avenue and has been transformed with enormous bracing structures that look almost like a new building itself. With those bracing structures, foundation machines are again at work to get stabilizing foundations into place.
10-16 Fifth Avenue sit over the path of the original two-mile-long Minetta Creek, a natural waterway when colonists first arrived. Originating around 10 blocks farther north on Fifth Avenue, the fish-filled watercourse ran down today’s Minetta Lane and into the Hudson River at Charlton Street until the 1820s, when the creek was covered over.
The development site was occupied by two five-story apartment buildings, originally 1848 townhouses, stripped in the 1930s of stoops, door and window framing, and decorative cornices, and turned into tenements.
The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) reviewed proposals to construct the new 19-story condominium building in the Greenwich Village Historic District, designed by Robert A.M. Stern Architects. Hill West is the firm that will be the architect of record. Stern designed the building for Madison Realty Capital, a real estate private equity firm that purchased the 5,255-square-foot plot for $27.5 million in 2015. A split decision by the LPC finally approved the project. CM & Associates Construction Management is the general contractor for the property.