At the July 19 Planning & Zoning commission meeting an application for a final site plan to build a walled patio at 100 West Putnam Ave was discussed.
The patio would be for the sole use of a single tenant with direct access to the patio on the 3.171 acre property.
The applicant, 100 West Putnam Borrower LLC, is registered to 100 West Putnam Acquisition LLC, which is registered to APOLLO NET LEASE CO., LLC.
The applicant was represented by Christopher Bristol, who explained that the applicant was originally one tenant of this multi-tenant building.
“That particular tenant has since purchased the building,” he said. “So now this particular tenant, although this is still a multi-tenant building, also owns the building.”
Bristol said the applicant’s architects had appeared twice before the Architectural Review Committee, and that the committee had “design concerns” in light of the “unique and conspicuous building,” and had left the application open and asked the applicant to appear before P&Z.
“When I first saw the project I knew it would be scrutinized, but I did not know it was going to rise to this level of scrutiny,” Bristol said.
“I knew it was a very important and very well known building, but it is not historical in that it is not plaqued, it’s not recognized as such, although I recognize it is historically significant and important to the streetscape.”
Bristol said the application was compliant in terms of setbacks and lot coverage, and would not create non-conformities.
He described the patio as ‘a tenant amenity’ and said it would be landscaped.
“We thought we were designing something that would be very pleasant in terms of the streetscape and giving the client privacy,” Bristol said.
P&Z commission Chair Margarita Alban said Section 6-15 of the zoning regs for site plan standards refers to ‘a design in harmony with existing and/or proposed neighborhood appearance, as shown by the exterior appearance of the buildings…’
“That was the issue that the ARC was raising, and that is the issue on which we should focus,” Alban said.
P&Z commissioner Nick Macri said the corner of the property where the patio is proposed actually added significant architectural detail to the street.
“Celebrating this building, the shape of this building and its relationship to Benedict (33 Benedict Place), because you pass around the arc of this building and experience the architecture in that manner,” Macri said. “I think that by putting this patio here, with all of this landscape would detract from that experience.”
“I think it really detracts from it,” Macri said, adding that the building offered what many might consider “a historic facade.”
He contrasted the proposed patio to the landscaped terraces at 33 Benedict Place.
“You can still experience the building as you pass by it, both on West Putnam Avenue and Benedict,” Macri said. “The landscaping never overwhelms it.”
“Having a patio that serves the benefit one tenant really detracts – I think what a lot of people in town would consider a historic facade,” Macri continued, adding that he believed the corner provided a “scenic view.”
Commissioner Arnold Welles said he was concerned that if P&Z were to approve the walled patio, a precedent would set.
“My concern is if we approve it here, all the other buildings that have beautiful landscapes, clean lines, everything else – they will end up with a request at the Havemeyer building, one in front of Greenwich Town Hall, and maybe one down at the Hyatt,” Welles said.
“There are a number of beautiful lawns…do we really want to set a precedent where we’re allowing walled patios for a single tenant? I would say no,” Welles added.
Mr. Macri noted that at their June 1 meeting, the ARC’s decision was unanimous that the committee, “does not feel this is the correct place for such a private patio use.”
Ms Alban said that by law the applicant had the right to re-submit a new design to P&Z with a different design, even if ARC were to deny the applicant a second time.
She noted ARC was advisory to P&Z.
Town Planner Katie DeLuca said that ARC’s other issue, beyond design, was about adding “a separate use.”
“The commission is saying, ‘You’re okay on the separate use issue, go get the design sorted out and come back to the commission.’ It’s no more complicated than that,” she said.
Commissioner Peter Levy said the idea for a tenant to be outside was reasonable.
“In this kind of a monumental, modern setting. For a building like this, often what goes on in the landscape is sculpture,” Levy said. “Sculpture is a way of defining the space and creating a counterpoint for the building, a compliment as well. It becomes a nice focal point, but it also becomes a separation between spaces, so you can have a more private space on one side, and the other side is a view preserved and perhaps enhanced.”
“There are things that can be done to create a space, but maybe you need to be a little more creative,” Levy added.
The application was left open.