The Hotel Belleclaire on the corner of 77th street and Broadway won approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission to redesign the Broadway facade, making it look more like it did 100 years ago. The hotel plans to add a new limestone facade, decorative columns and new wooden windows and doors. There would also eventually be another entrance to the Belleclaire on Broadway, according to a rendering. They’re also planning to reconstruct the 77th street side of the building, but the effect will be much less dramatic. The proposed Broadway changes are listed below.
The full plans are detailed in this impressive report that shows pictures of the 1903 Emery-Roth-designed building through the years. It was approved at a Landmarks Preservation Commission meeting in February, according to Sean Khorsandi, the advocacy director for Landmarks West.
“The Architects are going to put the limestone base back on the facade!” he wrote. “It was removed more than 60 years ago and they are using historic photos to reconstruct the former openings, Art-Nouveau glass and lanterns. A replica of the canopy will be created but it will appear at a different bay than the original.”
While Broadway is now a busy commercial block, it had few businesses in the early 20th century; builders mostly had planned to keep commercial enterprises out of the first-floor spaces of grand buildings, according to the New York Times. But as landlords saw the money-making possibilities of renting to businesses, those restrictions were lifted.
Up until recently, the block was bustling with commercial enterprises. The legendary Big Nick’s burger and pizza joint was once in one of the ground floor spots at the Belleclaire, and Bra Smyth just moved out of the corner spot. Mille Feuille Bakery replaced Big Nick’s (or half of it) and there’s still a magazine shop and a West Side Market there.
An employee at the Belleclaire told us that West Side Market, which appears to have been changed into a store named “Finley” in the rendering, isn’t actually expected to go away. The hotel’s general manager didn’t respond to our questions, and neither did the Landmarks Preservation Commission. The plan had received an icier reception when it was presented to Community Board 7 a couple of years ago, but the preservation commission gets the final say.
Top photo of rendering by Meredith Kurz.