Next Wednesday, Community Board 3’s landmarks committee will be asked to weigh in on a restoration and modest expansion proposal for 315-317 Grand St. (also known as 66-68 Allen St.) The building, designated as a city landmark in 2012, was part of the legendary Ridley & Sons Department Store.
According to documents filed with the community board and the Department of Buildings, the owners are looking to convert the upper floors from commercial to residential use and to create a penthouse addition on the 6th floor. The project involves installing historically-accurate windows, repairing the facade, installing new wood columns and painting the exterior. The changes must be approved by the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The owner, listed in public records as Edward Kaminsky, will be seeking CB3’s support.
In the second half of the 19th Century, Ridley & Sons was the largest department store on the Lower East Side and one of the biggest stores in New York. The business, founded in 1848, expanded by taking over many different buildings along Grand and Allen streets. The adjoining properties at 315-317 Grand St. and 319-321 Grand St. were commissioned in 1886. When Allen Street was widened in the 1930s, one of the Ridley buildings was demolished, making 315-317 Grand into a corner building. At that time, a new west wall was put up on Allen Street. Ridley’s closed in 1901. In its designation report, the Landmarks Commission praised the buildings as rare examples of cast iron construction and a monument to the LES’s mercantile past.
In the historical photos and drawings posted below, you can see how Bromley Caldari, the architectural firm working on the project, plans to return the building to something close to its original condition. The plans include more than 13,000 sq. ft. for residential units and 2500 sq. ft. for ground-floor commercial space. You can also see the penthouse design, which would be set back from the building facade and only visible from a distance.
One other note. In 2013, Waterbridge Capital and Continental Worsteds bought 57 Orchard St., 59-63 Orchard St. and 319-321 Grand St. — for $27 million. According to public records, they do not own 315 Grand St., even though all of the properties were part of the Ridley’s complex. Earlier this year, renderings surfaced for a 15-story tower at 57 Orchard St. So there’s no shortage of development activity around these historic properties.