Landmarks approves GPO rooftop changes

The Bronx General Post Office, a historic landmark on the corner of Grand Concourse and East 149th Street, is set to undergo a monumental renovation.

Slightly re-vamped plans were recently approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

The goal of the project remains the same: revitalize the mostly empty building to create a centerpiece for the community – think a Bronx version of the Chelsea Market in Manhattan.

At present most of the Roosevelt-era building is inaccessible to the public, save for the section in use by the post office on the ground level.

The renovation intends to open up the building to create office space, restaurants and retail stores.

Wall murals from the 1930s will be refurbished on the main floor and a rooftop restaurant will be added on top.

Office and retail will occupy the floors in between, and the United States Post Office will stay put.

The recent changes made to this plan are relatively minor, yet significant.

The addition which will house the rooftop restaurant will now be set much further back on the Grand Concourse side of the roof by approximately 31.5 feet, greatly reducing visibility from the street.

Architect Jay Valgora of Studio V Architecture, who co-presented the revised proposal with Cas Stachelberg, a consultant of Higgins Quasebarth & Partners, said this change was something that the owner elected to do in order to ensure that the space was appropriate.

“We wanted to create the best addition, and felt this was the right size, so we brought it back and I think the sightlines are improved,” said Valgora.

The rooftop addition will no longer feature an exterior of removable glass with zinc cladding, as originally proposed, but instead polycarbonate, the material used to make I-pods.

Valgora says this will create fine profiles and appear like a kind of “silver brick”.

He elected the use of this new material as a way to create a hyrid design between classic and modern.

“I wanted something classic and grand but also of it’s [original] kind, a modern addition not glaringly different,” said Valgora.

When Youngwoo & Associates purchased the building for $19 million in 2014, the developers initially faced negative feedback as the building was sold without community input.

As plans further developed however, the response has been mostly positive.

Jose Rodriguez, former district manager of Community Board 4, told the Bronx Times that board members were looking forward to the developer bringing quality retailers and restaurants in, and stated that the new development will enhance ,,, the area.

“We are looking to make this a wonderful place,” said Valgora, “We want to work closely with the community, with local entrepreneurs, artists, and non-profits….no national chains.”

The exact stores and restaurants which will make this historic building their new home have not yet been disclosed, but Alex Escamilla, project manager at Youngwoo & Associates, has said she is looking to work with local businesses and artists.

The modifications to the initial proposal were received by the Landmarks Preservation commissioners without complaint.

Reach Reporter Madeline Anthony at (718) 260-4591. E-mail her at manthony@cnglocal.com.

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