A few months back, we checked in on 700-04 Chestnut St. in Washington Square West, when we were confused by a zoning permit that allowed for the demolition of what we believed to be a contributing building to the Chestnut Street East historic district. We weren’t sure why this was moving forward, as the contributing designation would require some sort of hardship in order for the demolition to be approved. In fact, we walked by the site the other day just to check on whether or not these buildings were showing any signs of movement.
As you can see, both buildings remain intact as of today. However, we now know that Hightop Development is working with Studio HS4 on this project, and it seems as if they’ve been busy. They submitted new overbuild plans to the Architecture Committee of the Historical Commission, but the committee had some issues with the massing, the materials, and the fact that 704 was still a contributing building. As such, the committee ultimately denied the proposal. The revised submission includes many more details than we had previously.
The chances of this happening in this manner are looking smaller, as the Committee on Historical Designation also had something to say about the plans. The development team submitted a request to have the building at 704 Chestnut St. reclassified as a non-contributing building due to the top two floors being removed and an long-ago adjustment to the first-floor facade. However, after hearing the appeal, the Committee unanimously agreed that the building should remain contributing due to how it relates to the existing character of the street – a historic stump, if you will. This is not official until approved by the Historical Commission, which could happen during their meeting this Friday.
So, what comes next? These situations can be tough to predict, but if we were wagering on it, our guess is we see a new proposal with both buildings sticking around, with an overbuild that steps-back even further from the front and side facades. Is this feasible from a cost perspective? It may have to be if we want to see something happen here anytime soon, or else we may be looking longingly at the empty Jones storefront for a little while longer as we make our way out of Las Vegas Lounge. Let’s hope not, as this stretch of Chestnut Street could certainly use a bit more street life at all hours of the day, and something resembling these proposals would definitely add to the energy in the area.