My first New York clip

Today, my first New York clip was published. It was in the Downtown Express, a paper that covers Lower Manhattan.

‘Jenga’ building doesn’t fly with local residents

The notion of a new high-rise residential building in Tribeca is not sitting well among neighborhood residents.

Nicknamed “Jenga” after the popular puzzle game for its unusual design, the Leonard Street development is poised to become the highest building in Tribeca, standing 800 feet tall at more than 57 stories. Unlike most buildings in the area, the Jenga building is designed as a post-modern structure with a glass-and-steel facade.

But despite the lack of enthusiasm about the building, construction of the city-approved project at 56 Leonard St. has already begun.

Members of Community Board 1’s Tribeca Committee, which saw renderings of the development at its Oct. 10 meeting, reacted negatively to the idea of having such a tall building among the area’s numerous low-rise structures. Committee member Noel Jefferson asserted that the building does not belong in the neighborhood. “We need to make people understand we’re not 57th Street, we’re Tribeca,” she said.

The building’s location at 56 Leonard St. is adjacent to New York Law School, which previously owned the land. A corporation set up for the property called 56 Leonard L.L.C. now owns the building. Real estate company Alexico Group lists the Tribeca property as a new development. Records from the City Register Office’s database show that the Alexico Group received extra financing from the New York branch of Hypothekenbank Frankfurt AG, a German real estate bank.

C.B. 1 documents show that the property is sandwiched between the Tribeca East and Tribeca West historic districts. Since the lot sits just outside of Tribeca’s historic districts, its zoning allows for a high-rise building.

Lynn Ellsworth — founder of the Tribeca Trust, a new, local organization that seeks to preserve the neighborhood’s historic and architectural character — is equally displeased with the proposed high-rise development. Despite the fact that 56 Leonard St. is outside of the historic districts, Ellsworth believes it is too close to those areas. Tribeca, she said, is supposed to be a “livable historic district,” and such a property doesn’t belong in the neighborhood.

“Look at Paris,” she said. “They can’t build anything bigger than the Eiffel Tower.”

(Read more here.)