CB1 Committee: No to Showier Tracy Anderson, Sweaty Betty Windows

One of seven nearly 12-foot-high windows of 271 Church Street where the building's owner wants to remove the original brass panel frames, or mullions, and replace them with single panes of glass. This window advertises the Sweaty Betty store that is coming to the building. Photo: Carl Glassman/Tribeca Trib

Jul. 17, 2017

Darn those mullions.

They’re the parts of a window that frame its individual panels of glass, and for the owners of 271 Church Street, an Art Deco building also known as 90 Franklin at the corner of Franklin Street in Tribeca, they are a problem.

Premier Equities, landlords of the building’s three commercial spaces, want to remove those original brass features in order to give their three commercial tenants unobstructed picture windows, sheets of glass nearly 12-feet high and eight-feet wide. It would also allow for the replacement of the single-layered panes with insulated, double pane glass. (The ornamental grill above the glass would remain.) But the building lies in the Tribeca East Historic District, so Landmarks Preservation Commission approval is required.

Currently, a Tracy Anderson exercise studio occupies one of those spaces. Slated for a second space is the fitness apparel store Sweaty Betty and, according to the architect on the project, Todd Zwigard, a cold therapy startup called Quick Cryo is going in the third.

“The new use of the space is retail and visibility to the interior of the space is compromised by the mullion pattern,” Zwigard told Community Board 1’s Landmarks Committee last week, while also noting the need for more insulation. The upper three sections of the windows used to open with a manual crank system, he said, but the hardware doesn’t work any more and the windows leak air.

But the committee, which is advisory to the Landmarks Commission, was not sold.

“I miss the panels, you have one big piece of glass,” said committee member Jeff Ehrlich. “I understand that’s better for the stores.”

“Wow, do you really want to have a bunch of guys rip that stuff out of the building?” boomed Jason Friedman, another member of the committee.

Zwigard, referring to the Sweaty Betty clothing store, suggested that maybe just the lowest mullions be removed because it’s at eye level and “probably the biggest detractor for retail. Retail is all about visibility, right?”

“You could put shoes down there,” Friedman suggested.

The committee voted its advisory approval for proposed signage and other aspects of the application, but would not go along with the mullions.

“It’s a practical problem and I see it may not be solvable,” said Ehrlich.

Spokespeople for Tracy Anderson, Sweaty Betty and Premier Equities did not respond to requests for comment. The application is due to go before the Landmarks Commission on Aug. 8.