Residential Conversion, Enlargement for Great Jones Lumber Building

lumberEvan Bleier

The owner of the building that housed Great Jones Lumber is seeking to add four floors of residential space, with high-profile architect Richard Metsky helming the enlargement.

Joseph Lauto, who owned the lumber business and is now manager of 45 Great Jones Street LLC, which owns the building, told The Local that the ground floor would remain a commercial space; the second and third floors would be converted to residential space and two new floors of apartments would be added. An application filed with the Department of Buildings indicates six new residential units will be added at a cost of $1,138,000.

According to the paperwork filed last week, the conversion is being handled by Richard Metsky of Beyer Binder Belle. The architect has previously worked on a number of large-scale and high profile buildings including Grand Central Terminal, the Empire State Building, and Rockefeller Center.

Mr. Lauto said he wasn’t yet sure what the landmarked Romanesque Revival building would look like after its expansion. “First we have to figure out what Landmarks would be happy to see built,” he said. “Then the developer goes to the Community Board.”

Built in 1893, 45 Great Jones served as the home of Great Jones Lumber Corp. from 1934 to June of 2008, when the company merged with Michbi Doors Inc. of Long Island.

Mr. Lauto began working for the company as a young man in 1949 and eventually became owner in the late 1980s. He said that the changing landscape of NoHo contributed to his decision to move on. “You’re not going to be able to operate the way you always did in a neighborhood that’s up and coming,” he said. “You have to tip your hat to the direction that the neighborhood is going.”

“One of the reasons we merged the businesses was because forklifts and trucks moving lumber had to stop because of baby carriages,” he added. “We never had that before.”

A previous attempt to add four stories and a penthouse to the building ended in a stop work order in 2009. Mr. Lauto said he made the mistake of starting work on the building without a proper plan in place.