The most interesting fact here has nothing to do with the extant public space, a small plaza facing Hanover Square between Water and Pearl Streets, renovated several years ago and principally composed of a languidly curving series of steps leading to a small terrace in front of the main entrance. The “public space” that interests is one no longer in existence, a tiny arcade on Pearl Street now fully subsumed by the building as part of a ground floor renovation. Although that arcade generated a 3:1 floor area bonus of 2,007 square feet from its 669-square-foot size, the building as actually built not only did not utilize that bonus floor area but had enough of a zoning floor area cushion that it could actually increase its total built floor area by the 669 square feet, created by enclosing the arcade into the building square footage, without exceeding the maximum allowable zoning floor area for the lot. Thus, the arcade legally changed its identity from required privately owned public space to private space.
The plaza’s situation on Hanover Square faces an historic part of the city. The square itself was the location of the city’s first printing press, established in 1692 by the Philadelphia printer William Bradford at 81 Pearl Street, as well as the home in the late 1600s to the pirate Captain Kidd, who was later hanged in England. The nearby statue is of Abraham de Peyster, the city’s mayor from 1691 to 1695. Between 1851 and 1854, the ornate Italianate-style India House was completed to provide space for a bank, and was subsequently used for a cotton exchange, a corporation, and a private club.
At a recent site visit, the plaza appeared to be under construction scaffolding.