The New 396 West Street

New York, NY
Repurposing 396 West Street

To provide a more intimate alternative to all of the new office buildings going up in Chelsea and Hudson Yards, we’re repositioning a client’s landmarked low-rise residential property as an office building, taking advantage of its historic architecture and expansive views of Hudson River.

396 West Street is a handsome neo-Renaissance building dating from 1904. Standing only about 250 feet from the Hudson River, it has uninterrupted views of New Jersey and easy access to river-side parks—but according to FEMA, it also stands within a high-risk zone for flooding. Fortunately, this designation allows Aurora to take certain liberties with 396 that can increase its resiliency: Aurora can remove the street-level retail from floor area calculations and transfer it to a roof structure. Recognizing this as an opportunity, Aurora reached out to our firm to see how we could reposition 396 from a 14,400-sf residential building to a 16,000-sf commercial office building with a penthouse suite, and provide potential tenants with a much more boutique office experience compared to the large-scale office buildings that have been going up in Chelsea and Hudson Yards.

396 West Street Renovations

To bring the building up to snuff for office use, we’ll be treating the floors to a white-box gut renovation, removing interior partitions to leave full floor plates. A new core, complete with a new hydraulic elevator and exit stair tower, will serve all floors; a new secondary stair will provide two means of egress. We’re working with a consultant to gather historical images of the site to solidify a basis of integrity that our exterior renovation must uphold. And since the building lies with the Weehawken Street Historic District, and the penthouse will be visible from multiple view points on the West Side Highway, hearings with the local community board and the NYC LPC will be required in order to gain approval both the new penthouse and building restoration design. The project is scheduled to be complete in May 2022.