Officials say adding 2 floors to a historic building on Greenwich Avenue could harm the atmosphere of the street


GREENWICH — The Planning and Zoning Commission is examining with concern a proposal to build three new apartments atop a historic building on Greenwich Avenue.

The old bank building at 125 Greenwich Ave. at Lewis Street, home to the Shreve, Crump & Low jewelry store, is on the National Register of Historic Places which encompasses Greenwich Avenue. Planning commissioners, reviewing the preliminary application for the flats on Tuesday, expressed concern that it could diminish the historic character of the avenue and set a precedent.

“We are looking for the impact on our district of the national register,” said president Margarita Alban. “It is our job to protect this heritage… The protection of the avenue and its historic nature is essential for us.”

The National Register is the official list of cultural resources worthy of preservation across the country. Inclusion provides some protections against demolition and provides funding for restoration. Greenwich Avenue was listed on the register in 1989.

Alban said she wanted more information about what the historic district designation allowed for in terms of new construction.

“We should get an expert to talk about the subject, someone who is an expert on historic neighborhoods and how to preserve them and what happens when you start doing something like that,” Alban said. .

She said she was also concerned about setting a precedent for other developers who wanted to build above properties on Greenwich Avenue: “What else are we opening the door to?

Commissioner Dennis Yeskey added: “What worries us is a slippery slope.”

The proposal of the Walker family, owners of Shreve, Crump & Low, is to build a residential space of 7,274 square feet. The three apartments would be spread over two additional floors. One of the apartments would be considered “affordable” under the state’s Affordable Housing Act.

The lawyer representing the project, Chip Haslun, said he believes a “happy balance” could be struck and the city would benefit from additional housing. Haslun said the design would be “sensitive” to the character of the avenue.

The old bank building, formerly the Putnam Trust Company, was built in 1925.

A formal application is expected to be filed this spring.

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