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A list of HDC’s upcoming events as well as our annual programs, and breaking preservation news.




HDC is always busy, view our Past Events page to see what other evens we’ve held.




Re:Neighborhood Values: NY Post, July 5, 2014

Demolition freeze may cover 80% of the city: Crains, April 14, 2014

The Historic Districts Council says the city’s historic districts are not to blame for the shortage of affordable housing: Daily News, February 26, 2014

Landlords take aim at rampant landmarking: Crains New York,July 11, 2013

Landmark advocates recall Alamo-like efforts: Chelsea Now, November 3, 2012

New York Landmark Status Misused, Says Group Preservationists say New York’s history under attack:Epoch Times, June 21, 2012

Preservationists Issue Rallying Cry, Prepare to Save Landmarks Law from Big Real Estate: New York Observer, June 14th, 2012

  • 11 bills 1 Day: The Threat to the Landmarks Law

Real Estate Bigs Ready Wrecking Ball for Landmarks Laws: Curbed, June 7, 2012

Historians blast landmarking bills; Comrie says LPC wants total control despite best interests of landowners: Queens Chronicle: May 8,2012

A Quiet War on Landmarks, or Fixing the Problems with the Preservation Commission?: New York Observer, May 2, 2012

LPC speaks out against controversial landmarks bills: The Real Deal  New York City Real Estate News, May 2, 2012

Proposed Bill a ‘Deliberate Attack’ on Landmarks Law, Opponents Say: DNAinfo, May 2, 2012

City Council About to Knee-cap Landmarks Preservation?: Curbed,  May 1, 2012

Preservationists upset about series of Landmarks bills to go before City Council: The Real Deal  New York City Real Estate News, May 01, 2012

  • Landmarks Lion 2012:

Preservationists roar approval of new ‘Lion’ Gratz: The Villager, November 15, 2012

Preservation School


Head back to school with HDC

The Historic Districts Council is pleased to present a series of classes that will illuminate the essentials of historic preservation. Whether you live in a historic district, sit on your local community board or just want to learn about the built environment of your city, these classes will provide a knowledge and vocabulary for historic preservation. Classes will cover the basics including an introduction to preservation, zoning and New York City building types. They will also instruct hands-on skills including how to read architectural drawings and how to research and photograph buildings.



Schedule of Classes

northside_president7 Monday

September 8, 2014

6:00 PM

Preservation 101 Join Tara Kelly, Executive Director of Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, for this introductory course on preservation — what is it, what tools are needed, and how you can get involved.


brooklyn-suburbs-nypl Wednesday

October 15, 2014

6:00 PM

Historic Building Research Architectural Historian Gregory Dietrich will guide participants on research strategies and procedures, as well as important repositories and document types. Learn the basics of how to investigate the origins and stories behind historic properties.


View Gregory Dietrich’s presentation

by clicking here 

realestate120709_rowhouse_560 Monday

November 10, 2014

6:00 PM

NYC Architectural Styles This program will focus on common architectural styles found in New York City’s historic built environment. [Speaker] will provide an overview of the city’s building types and distinguishing features.


incarnation-landmark-building-plaque Monday

December 8, 2014

6:00 PM

NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and State/National Register of Historic Places Designation Architectural Historian Kerri Culhane will discuss the process of designation by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission and the State and National Register of Historic Places, highlighting the benefits and differences between the two, as well as their usefulness as preservation mechanisms.


zh_height_factor Monday

February 9, 2015

6:00 PM

Zoning 101 Upzoning, downzoning, Floor Area Ratio, oh my! Participants will learn the basics of zoning vocabulary and policies. Speaker (TBA) will illuminate what zoning and changes in zoning regulations mean for your community’s historic built environment.


SunsetPark-8 Monday

March 9, 2015

6:00 PM

Architectural Photography Join photographer and chair of the Sunset Park Landmarks Committee, Lynn Massimo, in this hands-on session about best practices in architectural photography. Learn tips and tricks for getting the best possible photograph of your building or neighborhood.


DKoepp_NYC_TH Monday

April 13, 2015

6:00 PM

Reading Architectural Drawings Architectural drawings and renderings illustrate the often complicated design and construction plans for proposed building projects. Join architect Brendan Coburn to learn how to understand and evaluate the information that these documents present.


4416779971_5ac0d6a112_z Monday

May 11, 2015

6:00 PM

Building Materials The buildings of New York City are constructed using a wide variety of materials: terra-cotta, brick, brownstone, concrete and much more. Join Dan Allen, preservation architect, to learn how these materials are employed, how to identify them, and “scratch the surface” on their maintenance and conservation.



Classes will take place at:

Neighborhood Preservation Center

232 East 11 Street

New York, NY 10003


Light refreshments to be served


$10 each or $60 for all 8

Scholarships available

please contact Barbara Zay at

Category: Featured · Tags:

Defending Historic Preservation in New York City

The demolition of the Dakota Stables

Although community advocates have achieved some big successes in recent years gaining long-sought landmark designations and thwarting (or at least modifying) destructive proposals to historic buildings, historic preservation as both a strategy and as a philosophy is under attack as never before. Emboldened by years of record growth, the Real Estate Board of New York, the principal lobbyist for organized real estate, has been relentless in its campaign to undermine the Landmarks Law and all community preservation efforts. They are accusing preservation efforts of driving up housing costs, endangering affordable housing, stopping job creation and economic growth, protecting worthless buildings and penalizing home and business owners with costly fees and delays. To hear them tell it, landmark designation will transform New York into a lifeless museum city with a “look but don’t touch” mentality. HDC feels that nothing could be further from the truth. REBNY even pursued a serious lobbying effort to transform and weaken the Landmarks Law through a series of bills which would transform how the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated and regulated historic properties. Through HDC’s mobilization of the preservation community, this specific effort was defeated but the threat to preservation laws and historic buildings is still very real.

Preservation practices empower communities, celebrate our history, drive economic growth and sustain development efforts. Preservation enhances our streetscapes, nurtures tourism, encourages investment and employs local labor. It is a popular, populist movement driven by regular New Yorkers who value their homes and their city. The Historic Districts Council works with community groups throughout the five boroughs on efforts to save, preserve and enhance the special character of New York’s historic neighborhoods. We work with communities from areas as different as the Upper West Side and Bedford-Stuyvesant on the shared goal of empowering the community to have a voice in determining their own future. These two communities are ones whose efforts we honored at the Grassroots Preservation Awards and whose successes have been targeted as “over-reaching” by the real estate lobby.

HDC will continue counter arguing REBNY as long as they continue to release studies based on lies  and misconceptions. The threat that REBNY faces to New Yorker’s is very real. Through HDC’s mobilization and education we have been able to keep the preservation community strong, but we will never be as loud as REBNY. We need all the support of our neighborhood partners, history lovers, and lovers of New York.

Additional Resources:

Preservation and Job Creation



 HDC continues to vigilantly defend New York City’s Landmarks Law and promotes efforts to strengthen protections for historic buildings. This section will be updated regularly with current events regarding this issue.

Secret Lives Tour: E.R. Butler & Co. Decorative Hardware

Posted by on Thursday, January 29, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

Join HDC for a tour of E.R. Butler & Co.’s beautiful Prince Street building and impressive decorative hardware showrooms.

 Prince Street Works600showroom

Behind the doors of many of New York’s most architecturally stunning façades, are equally elegant interiors. E.R. Butler & Co. has been designing, creating and distributing fine architectural hardware and decorative furnishings in the spirit of 19th-century American craft since 1990. Their Manhattan showroom is located in the buildings which were once the home to the legendary Prince Street Works, the silver department of Tiffany & Co. Rhett Butler, founder of E.R. Butler, will guide the tour through the charming cast iron and brick building on Prince Street and into the showrooms which house an archive of more than 25,000 pieces.

Tuesday,  February 24,2015


$35 for Friends of HDC, students and seniors, $45 for general public

Secret Lives Tour: ER Butler & Co. Decorative Hardware


If you have any questions, please contact Brigid Harmon at or 212-614-9107.

The exact meeting location will be emailed to registrants the week prior to the tour. Space is limited.


Category: Event, Featured, Program & Events, Secret Lives Tour, SoHo, tour · Tags: , ,

Preservation Trivia Night

Posted by on Thursday, January 22, 2015 · Leave a Comment 




Wednesday, January 21, 2015

At the beautiful and historic Paris Cafe!




This program is part of NYC Landmarks50 Alliance, the multi-year celebration of  

the 50th anniversary of New York City’s Landmarks Law.   




Category: Event, Program & Events · Tags: , ,

HDC@LPC – January 20, 2015

Posted by on Monday, January 19, 2015 · Leave a Comment 


Item 1

111 Ridge Road, aka 234-33 Ridge Road – Douglaston Historic District

162102 – Block 8045, lot 55, Zoned R1-2

Community District 11, Queens


A Colonial Revival style freestanding house designed by Josephine Wright Chapman and built in 1909. Application is to replace entrance infill and windows, modify window openings, and install vents.

111 Ridge Road-2a

111 Ridge Road-3a

We would like to first disclose that the applicant, Mr. Wolfe, serves on HDC’s Board of Advisers.

The proposed changes to this house appear quite sensitive and appropriate overall, and display a clear understanding of the Douglaston vernacular. Our committee only questions the removal of the entrance sidelights, a nice historic feature of the house’s elegant front door that should not be sacrificed.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 3

367 7th Avenue – Park Slope Historic District Extension

165156 – Block 1094, lot 1, Zoned R6-A/C2-4

Community District 6, Brooklyn


An altered neo-Grec style rowhouse designed by Robert Dixon and built c. 1884. Application is to install storefront infill, signage, awnings, rooftop mechanical equipment and ductwork

367 7th Ave-1a

367 7th Ave-2a

HDC appreciates the effort taken to respect this rowhouse and garage, and applauds this storefront design, especially the replication of the wood doors.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 5

79 Laight Street – TriBeCa North Historic District

164648- Block 217, lot 7501, Zoned C6-3A, C6-2A

Commmunity District 1, Manhattan


A utilitarian style warehouse built in 1853. Application is to replace doors.

79 Laight Street-1a

79 Laight Street-3a

The muscular character of this utilitarian storehouse – the oldest storage building in the district – deserves an equally substantial entrance. While some glazing is appropriate on the door, the amount proposed here seems to gussy up the building, creating a too-modern juxtaposition. A simple wood door would be more respectful and more appropriate. In a similar vein, the proposed lighting fixtures appear quite residential in their style, and not to scale with the building. Our committee also questions the installation of not one but two very large cameras above the entrance, and wonders whether a smaller camera installed on the underside of the entrance arch would serve the same purpose without being so heavy handed.

LPC determination: No Action


Item 6

464 Greenwich Street – TriBeCa North Historic District

163991- Block 224, lot 27, Zoned 6-2A/TMU

Community District 1, Manhattan


A store and loft building designed by Charles S. Clark and built in 1892. Application is to legalize the installation of storefront glazing in non-compliance with Certificate of Appropriateness 10-2766.

464 Greenwich Street-1a

The multi-layered glazing installed on this storefront lends a thickness to the base that is uncharacteristic of this building’s style and age. Our committee felt that the overall aesthetic treatment of the storefront is quite sensitive, but recommends that the applicant should explore other options, such as installing security glazing behind the pre-existing glazing and/or the use of riot glass, which would achieve a similar opacity to what was there without transforming the storefront so dramatically.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 9

260-264 Mulberry Street – Old St. Patrick’s Cathedral – Individual Landmark

164668- Block 509, lot 1, Zoned C6-2

Community District 2, Manhattan


A Gothic Revival style church building built in 1815 and designed by Joseph F. Mangin. Application is to reconstruct windows and install protective glazing, replace brownstone stairs and areaway, and install a barrier-free access ramp.

260-264 Mulberry Street-1a

260-264 Mulberry Street-2a

HDC applauds the restoration of the windows on this very important New York City landmark. Our committee simply asks that all measures be taken to ensure the stained glass will be properly vented. As part of the recent restoration of Grace Church in the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, a fine, stainless steel mesh was installed on the exterior of the stained glass as a protective measure, and it has proven to work very well. Such options should be considered carefully before any work is undertaken.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 10

640 Broadway – NoHo Historic District

165517- Block 522, lot 14, Zoned M1-5B

Community District 2, Manhattan


A Classical Revival style store, loft, and office building designed by DeLemos and Cordes, and built in 1896-97. Application is to construct a rooftop addition.


Item 11

640 Broadway – NoHo Historic District

165517- Block 522, lot 14, Zoned M1-5B

Community District 2, Manhattan


A Classical Revival style store, loft, and office building designed by DeLemos and Cordes, and built in 1896-97. Application is to request that the Landmarks Preservation Commission issue a report to the City Planning Commission relating to an application for a Modification of Bulk pursuant to Section 74-712 of the Zoning Resolution.

640 Broadway-4a

640 Broadway-2a

HDC found the rooftop addition to be sufficiently concealed, and feels that it is a fair project in exchange for the planned restorative work. We are glad to see the return of the balustrade, though the drawings were slightly unclear as to what materials would be used, and we ask that all materials be in-kind. For a truly first-class restoration, however, our committee feels that the storefront should not be overlooked, and recommends that the Commission ask for the restoration of the storefront cornice. The entire building would be greatly enhanced by the introduction of a more finely detailed cornice, as this feature is very visible on Broadway.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 12

145 Wooster Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

156847- Block 515, lot 31, Zoned M1-5A

Community District 2, Manhattan


A Renaissance Revival style office building designed by Louis Korn and built in 1896-97. Application is remove metal shutters, install storefront infill and signage.

145 Wooster Street-3a

While the current storefront lacks visual richness, HDC would prefer to see a proposal that takes this building in a better direction toward historic appropriateness. The aluminum frame and large quantity of glazing does not do the building justice. Without a clear example to follow, perhaps neighborhood precedents could be examined to find a more sensitive storefront design.

LPC determination: No Action


Item 13

402 West Broadway – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District Extension

163509- Block 488, lot 22, Zoned M1-5A

Community District 2, Manhattan


A neo-Grec style store and loft building designed by John B. Snook and built in 1880. Application is to replace storefront infill and modify platforms.

402 W Broadway-1a

Given the quality of the building’s tax photo and the clarity it provides as to what the storefront once looked like, our committee felt that the mullion wall and bulkhead should be restored rather than reinterpreted.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 14

430 Broome Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District Extension

165118- Block 482, lot 7503, Zoned M1-5B

Community District 2, Manhattan


A Queen Anne style store and factory building designed by Julius Kastner and built in 1894-95. Application is to replace storefront infill, alter the façade, and remove basement stairs and areaway ironwork.

430 Broome Street-4a

430 Broome Street-5a

HDC would strongly prefer the applicant’s “Option B,” so as to limit the amount of destruction on the building’s Crosby Street façade. We do recommend, however, two things that could improve the proposed design’s appropriateness. The first would be to keep the areaway ironwork at the southern end of the Crosby Street façade, as its removal would not be necessary under Option B. The second would be to maintain the historic style and size of the storefront cornice. Our committee felt it would blend in better if it wrapped around the storefront, but not extend and protrude out all the way up Crosby Street.

LPC determination: No Action


Item 17

261-263 West 71st Street – West End-Collegiate Historic District Extension

155388- Block 1163, lot 8, Zoned R8B

Community District 7, Manhattan


A pair of rowhouses originally built in 1886-87, combined and altered to an apartment building sometime between 1939 and 1980. Application is to alter the facade.

261-263 W 71st Street-3a

While our committee felt that the proposed design is an improvement on the current façade, we also felt that an opportunity has been missed to introduce something that is both more aesthetically pleasing and more contextual with its surroundings. Replacing a banal stucco building with a slightly less banal stucco building still leaves the block wanting more.

LPC determination: No Action


Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: , , , , , ,

Preservation in the News

Posted by on Monday, January 12, 2015 · 1 Comment 

Down the Block, Deep in the Stacks Nearly 30 Years of Documenting New York

New York Times By 

Michael Sterne, then the Real Estate editor of The New York Times, conceived of the Streetscapes column in 1986, and paid me the compliment of hiring me to write it. Now, with my final column, it may be appropriate to present an apologia for what I hoped to do, and what I have done.

Click here to read the whole article


New York City Landmarks Panel’s Move Upsets Supporters—and Critics

Behind Commission Decision Are Almost 100 Tales of Potential Landmarks

Groups of school children gather a few times a week in front of Catherine and Alfredo De Vido’s 19th-century house on East 85th Street to start a tour about the history of immigrants in the Yorkville neighborhood.

The De Vidos were surprised to learn the city Landmarks Preservation Commission was planning to drop their rare Manhattan wood house from the list of potential landmarks, where it has been lingering since 1966.

Click here to read the whole article


16 Stories o’ Condos Will Replace ‘Plain’ Little Flatiron Building

Curbed by Hana R. Alberts

Even the Historic Districts Council, which veers strongly to the preservation side of preservation vs. development, approved of the demolition, because the existing structure “appeared in pallor compared to the examples provided of the fanciful Ladies Mile-quality buildings in the district.”

Click here to read the whole article


For a Student of the City, It’s Always New

Andrew S. Dolkart: A Chronicler of New York Old and New

New York Times By MATT A.V. CHABAN

If you’re curious about a particular building in New York, odds are that Andrew S. Dolkart knows something about it. Mr. Dolkart, the 62-year-old director of Columbia University’s Historic Preservation program, spends many Sundays wandering the city with his husband, Paris R. Baldacci, 70, a law professor at the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law. Mr. Dolkart, in recognition of his tireless study of New York old and new — he has written dozens of books and essays, and is working on a book about the garment district — will receive the Historic Districts Council’s Landmarks Lion award on Nov. 19.

Click here to read the whole report


Glass Dome Could Rise Over Union Square’s Landmarked Tammany Hall

By Heather Holland

A major renovation is coming to the former Tammany Hall headquarters in Union Square where owners want to put a new glass dome over the landmarked building and demolish a theater to make way for retail and office space, the project’s architects said.

The historic structure at 44 Union Square East, built in 1929 to house the Democratic Party machine, will undergo a major overhaul that will restore the facade, gut the existing theater and add windows and glassier storefronts, according to BKSK Architects which is designing the project.

The most striking change will be a new 30-foot glass dome on top of the building, which will add about 27,000 square feet to the structure and will house office space, according to Harry Kendall, a partner at BKSK.

Click here to read the whole report


Independent Engineer Report Supports Dismantling the Harlem Watchtower

An independent report on the structural integrity of the watchtower atop Marcus Garvey Park supports the Parks Department’s claim that the tower needs to be taken down as soon as possible.

Preservationists called for the report after finding out that an emergency contract to take down the tower did not mention anything about the restoration process.

Both the Parks Department and the Department of Buildings cited a 2009 report by Thornton Tomasetti when saying the tower needed to come down immediately.

Click here to read the whole article


Community plan to unlock south Bronx waterfront recognized by state

The state Department of Environmental Conservation named the Mott Haven-Port Morris Waterfront Plan, which turns six waterfront patches into boat hubs, flood protectors and parks, to a draft of its ‘Open Space Plan.’


South Bronx residents have been demanding access to the waterfront — and it seems that state leaders have heard.

A plan to transform six parcels in Mott Haven and Port Morris into waterfront parks has been nominated for addition to a statewide list of land conservation projects.

The plan — cooked up by South Bronx Unite — would build boat hubs, restore a historic gantry and pier and install a waterfront trail that spans the Harlem River, the Bronx Kill and the East River.

Click here to read the whole report


Frick Opponents Get Organized

“[The local community] regards this as the museum down the block,” said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of HDC, whose organization issued a statement in October opposing the plan. “They regard this as a wonderful amenity to their home. The feel very strongly about it.”

HDC cited the destruction of the Russell Page garden and the size of the addition as its major concerns with the proposal, which, its statement said, would “transform The Frick into an institutional environment.”

The fate of the garden is one of the most visible concerns among critics of the expansion, and its salvation is one of Unite to Save the Frick’s top priorities.

Click here to read the whole article


Historic Districts Council Opposes Frick Expansion

New York Times, By 

The Historic Districts Council, which can influence the city’s decisions but has no official role, has come out in opposition to the Frick Collection’s planned expansion, the council announced on Wednesday.

The council’s public review committee — which examines proposals for work on landmark buildings that are to come before the Landmarks Preservation Commission — said in a statement that the proposed expansion “will destroy the design intent of Thomas Hastings’ residential composition and John Russell Pope’s graceful museum transformation.”

Click here to read the whole article


Redevelopment of Former Indigent Farm Community Proposed

Plan for former Farm Colony would entail the demolition five out of eleven historic structures in the district, create senior housing. On September 30, 2014, the Landmarks Preservation Commission considered an application for the redevelopment of theNew York City Farm Colony-Seaview Hospital Historic Districtlocated in Staten Island in the Castleton area. The 45-acre property, which housed indigent and disabled New Yorkers in exchange for labor, operated roughly from 1898 to 1975, and was developed from 1874 to the 1930s. In addition to being a landmarked historic district, the Farm Colony is also zoned in a special natural area district, which mandates the preservation of any unique natural features. The colony’s buildings have been little maintained since its abandonment.

Click here to read the whole article


How to Turn Your Block Into an Historic District

By Nikhita Venugopal

The surge of future development in Brooklyn has made a group of Sunset Parkers think about its past.

When local residents realized the neighborhood’s notable brownstones could be lost to redevelopment, they banded together to save the buildings through a historic district status.

“Sunset Park is in danger of losing its sense of place,” according to the Sunset Park Landmarks Committee’s website.

Click here to read the whole article


City Planning appoints inaugural COO

Crain’s New York, BY 

After the Department of City Planning pledged earlier this year to streamline operations at the agency, it has created and filled a position specifically for that purpose.

Jon Kaufman, a former partner at consulting firm Bain & Co., was appointed the agency’s first chief operating officer Wednesday. While Mr. Kaufman comes from the private sector, he had already volunteered his time earlier this year at City Planning to help analyze the department’s organizational structure—which the de Blasio administration and City Planning Commission Chairman Carl Weisbrod have pledged to dramatically alter.

“Jon’s appointment underscores the de Blasio administration’s commitment to make our review and approval processes more transparent, more efficient and overall more expeditious,” Mr. Weisbrod said in an email to colleagues announcing the appointment.

Click here to read the whole article


That ‘Temporary’ Frick Garden — It Was Created to Be Permanent

Huffington Post By Charles Birnbaum

This “temporary” idea is an important talking point in the Frick’s justification; the garden’s supposed planned obsolescence is foundational to their argument. There’s only one problem — the Frick created this verdant oasis as “a permanent garden” — at least that’s what the museum’s own February 4, 1977 press release about it states. An anonymous source recently sent me the seven page release (with a note saying “This document is on file at the Frick Art Reference Library”) and directed me to the fourth paragraph on page six — there it is, plain as day: “a permanent garden.”

Click here to read the whole article


Scientists recreate old beer they dug up in Chinatown

New York Post By Natalie O’Neill

A beer bottle from the 1800s was unearthed by archaeologists in Chinatown — inspiring them to revive the rare old brew.

The scientists discovered the glass “California Pop Beer” bottle on Bowery Street near Canal Street, where a popular beer hall, Atlantic Garden, bustled in the 1850s, scientists said.

“It’s a light summer drink, slightly minty and refreshing” said Alyssa Loorya, 44, president of Chrysalis Archaeology, which headed the project.

Click here to read the whole article



Decoding New York: Unearthing Treasures Beneath New York’s Streets


During the dig an old glass bottle was unearthed and the bottle’s label said it had contained ‘California Pop Beer’. Alyssa Loorya followed through and tracked down the original beer patent and then reproduced the beer using a home brewing kit. It’s a beer infused with ginger root, sarsparilla and wintergreen oil and reportedly has quite a kick, see Scientists Recreate Old Beer. You can try it yourself if you do the Historic Districts council ‘Historic Pub Crawl’ to be held Sept 6 at 1.00 pm for just $10. Go here for tickets, Historic Pub Crawl. it’s not everyone who can say they have drunk apart of New York’s past.

Click here to read the whole article


The War on New York’s Waterfront


What we don’t need, in a place whose uniqueness attracts the world, is another sterile development that further reduces Manhattan to an overstuffed version of every other city in the country. It will take time, thought, private investment and, dare we say it, significant public funds. But New Yorkers have done these kinds of bold things before. If you don’t believe us, next time you’re downtown on the East River waterfront, look up. There you’ll see a bridge that somebody managed to sell us.

Click here to read the whole article


As New York City property values surge, historic sites reduced to memories

Reuters By Laila Kearney

As wealthy prospective buyers search for dwindling space to transform into high-end retail or apartment sites, city historians and sentimentalists fear that the shops and restaurants from some of Manhattan’s most notable eras have been marked for extinction.

“New Yorkers are seeing buildings and institutions they thought were going to be there forever disappearing,” said Simeon Bankoff, director of the city’s Historic Districts Council. “It seems to have reached a bit of a fever pitch.”

Click here to read the whole article


Midtown East Steering Committee to Make Everyone Happy

New York Observer by: Tobias Salinger  

Representatives from a mishmash of 11 organizations, including Community Boards 5 and 6, preservation groups like the Historic Districts Council, business organizations like the Grand Central Partnership, urban planning research groups like the Regional Plan Association and the industry’s advocacy group, the Real Estate Board of New York, will figure out a way to jumpstart the 73-block rezoning proposal that died in the City Council last winter.

Click here to read the whole article


Buildings With a Past

Creating New York Apartments From Unlikely Buildings


Land is extremely scarce, they say, and historic districts, which are numerous, make new construction tough. Besides, some old-time structures are far bigger than what zoning would allow on their lots today. Adaptive reuse can also be speedier.

But curb appeal may also have something to do with it. “There’s a general movement now that goes beyond real estate, a reaction to a world that’s become increasingly electronic,” said Toby Moskovits, president of Heritage Equity Partners, which is transforming a church-and-school complex into apartments in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. “People are more comfortable,” she added, “with something that feels authentic.”

Click here to read the whole article


 Readers sound off on landmarks

Daily News By: Arthur Levin, Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

What the Real Estate Board of New York study cited in this article fails to address is that, according to experts, the single largest factor contributing to the increasing unaffordability of our city is the disappearance of existing affordable housing — a fact acknowledged in Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan. Historic districts in fact help preserve and protect thousands of units of affordable housing that might otherwise be lost to demolition.

An objective examination of potential solutions to our city’s housing affordability challenge is not really the agenda of REBNY, a trade association representing developers, which has long lobbied for reducing and eliminating affordable housing protections. The REBNY agenda is to maximize the freedom of its developer members to tear down and build whatever they want, wherever they want.

Click here to read the whole article


Last Night’s Heavy Rainfall Turns Gowanus Canal Into One Big  Toilet Once Again

Pardon Me For Asking

Last night’s heavy rain caused another Combined Sewer Overflow event last night and by 11 PM, much of the waterway was covered with raw sewage.  The smell was unbelievable.  It was too dark to take photos, but I took a walk over both the Union Street and Carroll Street bridges at 6 am this morning, and took some pictures. It was still rather awful and smelly and the bacteria count in the water must have been off the charts.

It is unfathomable to thing that the new residents of the 700 unit Lightstone Group Project at the shores of the canal will have to deal with this every time it rains heavily.

Click here to read the whole article





Save Rizzoli

In the days preceding the ceiling extraction, we had been in communication with Vornado Realty Trust to acquire their permission and insurance requirements for our highly experienced crew to enter the site and remove large portions of the ceiling. By all accounts, they initially supported the endeavor, and everyone appeared to be on board. Our team only awaited the approval of Vornado CEO Steven Roth.

But then on Thursday, as our preservationists prepared to conduct a probe of the ceiling’s material condition, we learned our access to the site had been denied. At the last minute, Steven Roth intervened and thwarted our attempt to preserve the building’s architectural details for posterity.

Click here to read the whole article


Library’s Rose Main Reading Room Closed for Six Months

Plaster Fell From the 52-Foot-Tall Ceiling in May

Wall Street Journal By Jennifer Maloney

The New York Public Library’s Rose Main Reading Room will remain closed for the next six months for inspection and repairs after a plaster rosette fell from its ceiling in May, library officials said Monday.

The reading room is the jewel of the library’s flagship Fifth Avenue building, which draws 2.3 million visits a year. The room’s 52-foot-tall ceilings are adorned with painted clouds and other decorations molded in plaster.

The library Monday didn’t have a cost estimate for the inspection or repairs.

Click here to read the whole article


Mysterious Railroad Relic Unearthed on Governors Island

DNAInfo By Irene Plagianos

A recent dig on Governors Island unearthed a rusty relic of its military history — and island officials aren’t sure what it is.

While working on the island’s sewer systems, excavators found what appears to be part of a railway train car or hand cart once used on the island’s early 20th century railroad system, said Elizabeth Rapuano, a spokeswoman for the Trust for Governors Island.

“It’s a fun surprise — we’ve never found anything like it before,” Rapuano said. “We’re still trying to figure out exactly what it is…we’d love to get responses from the public about [it].”

Click here to read the whole article


Closer look at two significant neighborhoods

This tour was made possible by the Historic Districts Council. It is part of the nonprofit’s “Six To Celebrate,” which offers tours of six areas the group deems worthy of preservation.

“These tours serve to highlight neighborhoods that many New Yorkers are unaware of to shine a light on unknown aspects of their history or built environment,” said Barbara Zay of HDC.

The Forest Close Association its neighborhood for the honor. Forest Close is a group of 1927 rowhouses bounded by 75th Road, 76th Avenue, and Austin Street.

Click here to read the whole article


Ratner wins prize for best … preservationist?

Brooklyn Paper

Preservationists at the Municipal Art Society issued their most prestigious award to Forest City Ratner’s chairman Bruce Ratner and head Maryanne Gilmartin on Wednesday night. Advocates that take exception to the builder’s biggest projects, Atlantic Yards and MetroTech Center, which have replaced and are slated to replace more than a dozen primarily low-slung blocks with hulking skyscrapers and the Barclays Center arena, are fuming at the decision.

“Forest City Ratner Companies has been bulldozing and demolishing huge tracts of land,” said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, a preservationist group that spun off from the Municipal Art Society in the 1980s. “They’re creating these places that are not places at all.”

Click here to read the whole story



Everything Old Is New Again: Conversions of Historic Properties in Lower Manhattan

Historic properties are being reimagined and preserved through significant new investment and changes in use. These projects show that preser­vation and economic development can be powerful partners. As new office space comes online across the district, historic former office buildings are being converted into new retail, hotel and residential spaces fitting for a 21st Century Downtown.

Click here to access the full report.



Brooklyn’s Historic Churches Disappear to Make Way for Condos


Some preservationists and historians say the loss of churches is changing the face of some of borough’s most historic neighborhoods.

“I think it’s a tragedy that we are losing these unique and amazing structures,” said Sharon Barnes, a member of the Society for Clinton Hill. “They are part of the fabric of our streets and to lose so many is heartbreaking.”

But Simeon Bankoff, director of the Historic Districts Council, an organization that advocates for New York City’s historic neighborhoods, said that church to condo conversions are a practical way to preserve the historic nature of the buildings after congregations can no longer afford the upkeep.

“The actual physical character of the buildings is retained even when they are converted to residential use,” he said.

Click here to read the whole article


The Value of Land: How Community Land Trusts Maintain Housing Affordability


Urban Omnibus by Oksana Mironova
Affordable housing is on New York City’s mind. A critical mass of civic organizations, academic institutions, city agencies, advocacy groups, and others are pondering the essential and perennial issue of how to ensure that the city becomes affordable for the extraordinarily diverse population that makes it work. What’s more, the conversation is riding a new wave of perceived political support from the de Blasio administration, which has tapped leading academics and esteemed private and public sector figures to deliver on its ambitious promise to build or preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing in ten years. With the details of the Mayor’s plan due to be released May 1st, we will undoubtedly be hearing a great deal of commentary about policy and implementation – development sites, low-income housing tax credits, preservation, NYCHA reforms – for weeks to come.
Click here to read the whole report


Plan to Honor Big Developer in Brooklyn Is Criticized

NYTimes BY Matt Chaben

The Municipal Art Society is well known for campaigns to save Grand Central Terminal and Lever House and to stop towers that would have cast long shadows over Central Park.

But now the civic organization is the one defending itself, for deciding to award the developer Bruce C. Ratner its highest honor, one named for the very person who led some of those fights.

“We claim no ownership of the Onassis name, though we do draw on her spirit,” said Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, a citywide preservation group. “To honor Forest City Ratner with an award named for someone so well known for fighting to preserve New York’s neighborhoods is just too much.”

Click here to read the whole story


An economic defense of old buildings

Washington Post By Emily Badger

“For a long time, preservationists have been making the the cultural argument that these places feed our soul, and they connect us to our past,” says Stephanie Meeks, the president and CEO of the National Trust of the National Trust. “But this is the first time we’ve had empirical data to show that these places perform better economically and on many livability factors, as well.”

The report divided each city into a grid of 200-by-200-meter squares to allow comparison across neighborhoods (city blocks tend to be different sizes even across the same city, making that unit a poor measure).

Click here to read the whole article


State will not move forward with historic district designation of Gowanus due to overwhelming opposition

Daily News BY 

The state Historic Preservation Office has decided not to pursue the designation of a large swath of the neighborhood, an area that would have covered 422 properties near the notoriously polluted Gowanus Canal

“It’s very disturbing that people went door to door . . . bullying people to go against this and giving them misinformation,” said Linda Mariano, co-founder of Friends and Residents of Great Gowanus, a citizens group that has pushed for the creation of a historic district since the early 2000s.

Click here to read the whole story


This Is New York Now: Starbucks, Frozen Yogurt and Juice Bars

We’ve been waiting for the other shoe to fall for months now, ever since Bleecker Street Records was pushed out of its longtime home at 239 Bleecker Street in August by a massive rent increase that would have required the record store to pay $27,000 a month. What purveyor of luxury goods would fill the home from which the vinyl mecca drew its name? (Miraculously, Bleecker Street Records found a space around the corner at 188 West 4th.)Now we know, h/t Grub Street: a Starbucks will be moving in.

Click here to read the whole article



New Yorkers, Take Back Your City


The old-school gentrification of the 20th century, while harmful, wasn’t all bad. It made streets safer, created jobs and brought fresh vegetables to the corner store. Today, however, what we talk about when we talk about gentrification is actually a far more destructive process, one that I prefer to call hyper-gentrification.

Unlike gentrification, in which the agents of change were middle-class settlers moving into working-class and poor neighborhoods, in hyper-gentrification the change comes from city government in collaboration with large corporations. Widespread transformation is intentional, massive and swift, resulting in a completely sanitized city filled with brand-name mega-developments built for the luxury class. The poor, working and middle classes are pushed out, along with artists, and the city goes stale. Urban scholar Neil Smith wrote extensively about the phenomenon, calling it “a systematic class-remaking of city neighborhoods.”

Click here to read the whole article


Public Library Is Abandoning Disputed Plan for Landmark


In a striking about-face, the New York Public Library has abandoned its much-disputed renovation plan to turn part of its research flagship on Fifth Avenue at 42nd Street into a circulating library and instead will refurbish the nearby Mid-Manhattan Library, several library trustees said.

“When the facts change, the only right thing to do as a public-serving institution is to take a look with fresh eyes and see if there is a way to improve the plans and to stay on budget,” Anthony W. Marx, the library’s president, said on Wednesday.

The renovation of the flagship, the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, would have replaced the book stacks under the building’s main reading room with the new lending library. The project was to be paid for with $150 million from New York City and proceeds from the sale of the Mid-Manhattan Library, at Fifth Avenue and 40th Street, and the Science, Industry and Business Library in the former B. Altman building, on Madison Avenue at 34th Street.

Click here to read the full story


New York Public Library Scraps Redesign Plans

The Controversial Renovation Plan Prompted Three Lawsuits


The New York Public Library has scrapped a controversial renovation plan that would have gutted century-old book stacks from its landmark Fifth Avenue building.

Its decision came amid three lawsuits and skepticism from Mayor Bill de Blasio, who was under pressure from his supporters to claw back $150 million in city funding for the project.

The library on Wednesday said that an independent cost analysis it commissioned showed that the renovation of the Stephen A. Schwarzman building would have cost significantly more than the $300 million it originally projected.

“When the facts change, the only right thing to do as a public-serving institution is to take a look with fresh eyes and see if there is a way to improve the plans and to stay on budget,” Anthony Marx, the library’s president, said.

Click here to read the full article



City unveils 200K-unit, $41B housing plan



Mayor Bill de Blasio hails his effort as “literally the largest and most ambitious affordable-housing program” in the history of the nation. He promised to work collaboratively with the real estate industry but vowed to “drive a hard bargain.”

The mayor did not identify specific neighborhoods that would be targeted for aggressive development, however City Planning Commissioner Carl Weisbrod said the Planning Commission would initiate a “dozen” planning studies in the months ahead to start that process. His plan calls for additional building atop rail yards, such as with Atlantic Yards in Brooklyn and Hudson Yards in Manhattan, but does not identify specific locations.

Public housing will be a component of this plan, though likely not the building of new public housing, as Mr. de Blasio noted that funding from the federal government was essentially “frozen.” Asked if new legislation will be required from Albany to help entice developers or protect rent regulated apartments, Mr. de Blasio responded vaguely that his administration expected the full cooperation from both the federal and state governments.

“We insist on real involvement,” he said.

Click here to read the full story


Mayor de Blasio’s Plan to Build More Cells

In considering ways in which space can be arranged to accommodate New York’s poor, the new plan is not the most sensible one. By 

Does anybody care about the quality of housing? Apparently not, or at least not in New York. How and where you live is only a numbers game, as Mayor Bill de Blasio’s announcement of a plan to “spend” up to $40 billion to create “affordable” housing in the city makes clear.

Click here to read the full story


The Giant New Building That Is About to Overshadow the Cathedral Church of St. John the Divine — And How the City Ought to Step In

New York Magazine By 

There’s a better way: negotiate. What matters most to the cathedral’s majesty is its presence on the street, not the height of its still-nonexistent central tower. So if Mayor de Blasio moves fast, before construction has actually begun, he can still broker a compromise:

Click here to read the full article



Architects Newspaper By: Alan G. Brake

One of New York’s leading preservation groups names winners of its first awards program

The Historic Districts Council, one of New York’s leading historic preservation organizations, has announced the winners of its first annual design awards. The goal of the awards program is to “broaden perceptions of the possibilities of design in historic settings,” according to a statement from the organization. AN served as a media sponsor for the awards, and I served as a juror for the awards along side jury chair James Stewart Polshek; Leo A. Blackman, principal, Leo A. Blackman Architects; Jean Caroon, principal, Good Clancy; Andrew Scott Dolkart, director of the Historic Preservation program at Columbia; and Adam Yarinsky, principal at ARO. Drawing over 70 entries from within the five boroughs, the award winning projects exemplify the power of contemporary design to engage with history and enrich the life of the city.

Click here to read the full article


Supporters of Closing Rizzoli Bookstore Call for Reforms to City’s Landmarks Process

News 1

Supporters say the century old Rizzoli Building, which houses the Rizzoli Bookstore, deserves protection through landmark status, despite a rejection by the Landmark Preservation Commission. They say the commission’s process is slow and lacks transparency.

“We’re here today to ask that LPC immediately study those remaining buildings on West 57th street, particularly those on this block, to identify and landmark those that represent the best of their eras, so we don’t have any more Rizzoli situations,” said Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer.

Click here to read the full story



Demolition freeze may cover 80% of the city


Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s bid to protect buildings over age 50 frightens developers, construction unions and housing activists.

Crains By Joe Anuta

A politician’s proposal to protect the thousands of older buildings in New York that face demolition each year has triggered a backlash not just among powerful developers, but also among construction unions and advocates for affordable housing who fear the measure could drastically curb residential construction in the city.

The storm began on April 4 at a protest outside the stately, likely-to-be-razed Rizzoli bookstore on West 57th Street, when Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer pledged to do more to prevent such losses in the future. She offered to introduce a bill that would require a 30-day review by the Landmarks Preservation Commission of any demolition permit filed for a building over 50 years old. The measure would apply to nearly 80% of the city’s structures and 91% of those in Manhattan, according to city data.

 Click here to read the full story


Museum fears plaster disaster from next-door hotel project

The Villager by Sam Spokony

  To the dismay of advocates for the historic Merchant’s House Museum, the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission finally approved a plan for the construction of an eight-story hotel next to the museum, in a six-to-one vote on April 8.

The planned 27 E. Fourth St. hotel — which would sit immediately to the west of the 29 E. Fourth St. museum — had twice been rejected by L.P.C., after first being introduced in 2012 as a nine-story structure. But the final design’s slightly smaller scale, along with other exterior changes, apparently led the commission to allow it to go forward.


Merchant’s House-Neighboring Hotel Approved by Landmarks

Curbed by Jeremiah Budin

The only Commissioner to vote against the proposal, Margery Perlmutter, called it “drab on so many levels.” “I feel likewe’ve been exhausted into saying yes to this proposal, so I’m saying no,” she said.

The hotel proposal has been a subject of controversy not just because of its underwhelming design, but also because of the neighboring Merchant’s House, which preservationists fear will be harmed by the construction. The developers have promised to take extensive measures to ensure that the almost-two-century-old structure will not be harmed, and the Commission had basicallysigned off on that aspect at the last hearing, so there was no further discussion of the museum. It’s supporters, wearing stickers urging the LPC to say no to the hotel, left quietly and dejectedly.

Click here to read the full article



LPC Likely to Protect Ladies’ Mile Buildings From Demolition


Chelsea Now by Scott Stiffler

A developer’s plan to demolish two landmarked 19th-century buildings on West 19th Street was met with stiff resistance by the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), following similar opposition by community leaders and preservationists.

Although no official vote was taken at the April 1 hearing, the commissioners were nearly unanimous in their belief that Panasia Estate, the owner of 51 and 53 West 19th Street (between Fifth and Sixth Avenues), should focus on restoring the buildings — which lie within the Ladies’ Mile Historic District — rather than replacing them with a proposed 14-story residential building.

Click here to read the full article


“Everybody Has Been Bought Off”: Brewer, Neighbors Protest Imminent Rizzoli Bookstore Demolition

Gothamist by Ben Miller

A coalition of preservationists and community leaders held a rally and press conference today in front of the soon-to-be-demolished Rizzoli Bookstore, which has already been defaced, at least on the outside, by the developers who hope to tear it down and put up more glassy condos.

Click here to read the full article


Sunset Park Leading Grassroots Effort to Preserve Its History

NY1 by Jeanine Ramirez

“We’ve got letters from all those homeowners saying that they are in support,” said one person.

On Wednesday, the community board voted unanimously in favor. It will now write a resolution to the Landmarks Preservation Commission.

Board members emphasized that the effort is not to make the working-class community more expensive, but to maintain its architectural significance.

“That character is one of affordability, said Daniel Murphy, the chair of Community Board 7. “We were never a bourgeois neighborhood. We want to preserve as much as that as we can.”

Click here to read the full article


COOKFOX Wins Award for Front Street; BK Heights Tour

Curbed by Zoe Rosenberg

The Historic District Council has awarded an inaugural design award to Historic Front Street at South Street Seaport. Designed by COOKFOX Architects, the project infilled a number of empty sites along the stretch.

Click here to read the full article


A Landmark Restored, From Mosaic Marble Floor to Grand Dome

Michael Nagle for The New York Times

Sandstone walls were painted white. Decorative walnut and mahogany woodwork was painted green. The hand-cut mosaic floors of the two banking halls were badly damaged, as were floors of encaustic tile elsewhere in the building. Most of the decorative hardware was gone. The bird-cage elevator was stilled.

Dust had accumulated so exactly along the lines of the framework behind the dome that Mr. Perez San Martin thought the dark spokes were part of the original mural. A cleaning and restoration by Sandra Spannan of See Painting revealed otherwise.

New encaustic tiles were ordered from the English firm Craven Dunnill & Company, which still had the molds and colors necessary to match the existing floors, Mr. Perez San Martin said. The walls and woodwork were stripped and restored.

Click here to read the full article


Preservation Pays! REBNY’S Campaign Against Landmark Protection Is Misguided

By opposing preservation, REBNY and its allies oppose the will of the people


Imagine New York City without a landmarks law protecting historic neighborhoods and buildings. Actually, one does not have to imagine. There are examples aplenty across the five boroughs. From urban renewal sites to the apartment towers rising in Williamsburg and Long Island City, from “McMansions” replacing older homes in Forest Hills and Kew Gardens to new construction breaking up an intact block of row houses in Sunset Park, there is evidence anywhere you look.

The Real Estate Board of New York has launched an aggressive media campaign against historic preservation. There are too many landmarks, they wail, and many of those are unworthy! They argue that historic districts impede growth and development. Their evidence on all fronts is slim to misleading. Here’s why.

Follow us: @newyorkobserver on Twitter | newyorkobserver on Facebook

Click here to read the full article


Mayor de Blasio’s Brooklyn housing plan is building big worries



The fears crystalized Wednesday when the Planning Board approved a $1.5 billion project on the site of old Domino sugar plant in Williamsburg. It will have towers as high as 55 stories, or about 20 stories more than zoning on the site normally allows.

Permission for the taller buildings was granted in return for the developer setting aside 537,000 square feet, a quarter of all space, for 700 units of affordable housing.

That’s compared to 20% under a less dense 2010 plan.

Click here to read the full article

Cities Mobilize to Help Those Threatened by Gentrification


Newcomers, whose vitality is critical to cities, are hardly being turned away. But officials say a balance is needed, given the attention and government funding being spent to draw young professionals — from tax breaks for luxury condominium buildings to new bike lanes, dog parks and athletic fields.

“We feel the people who toughed it out should be rewarded,” said Darrell L. Clarke, president of the Philadelphia City Council, which last year approved legislation to limit property tax increases for longtime residents. “And we feel it is incumbent upon us to protect them.”


Argument Over a Brownstone Neighborhood

The Case for and Against a Bed-Stuy Historic District

 By /New York Times

Supporters contend that a designation would preserve an architecturally and historically significant part of the city while also rewarding residents who had stuck with the neighborhood during tough times, in part by increasing the value of their homes and preventing unwelcome new development.

Opponents predict that a designation would bring heftier renovation costs and a tangle of regulations for homeowners seeking to improve their properties, along with higher rents and sale prices that would force out the largely low-income minority residents who form the area’s core. Opponents also argue that most Bed-Stuy residents weren’t adequately informed about the proposal.

Click here to read the full article


 Renovation, restoration the trend in Midtown East

By /Real Estate Weekly

With Midtown East’s controversial rezoning currently on hold for the foreseeable future, owners of properties in the district are taking a second look at extant buildings — and many like what they see.

125 Park Avenue

Numerous major renovations and restorations had already been launched in the area prior to the rezoning’s tabling, from SL Green’s swanky 2008 renovation of 125 Park Avenue, a 1923 Romanesque Revival office building directly adjacent to Grand Central, to a current restoration of 501 Fifth Avenue by Abramson Brothers, Inc., which will restore the 1916 Beaux Arts skyscraper’s original limestone façade.

In the wake of these are a slew of similarly ambitious projects, including RFR’s “reimagined” 285 Madison Avenue, a gut renovation and new ground floor at the equally impressive 292 Madison just across the street and a burnishing of 501 Madison Avenue that promises to bring a tarnished Art Deco jewel back to its original luster.

Click here to read the full article


HDC’s Simeon Bankoff Talks About Life on the Preservation Front Lines

City Land Profile

Advice for the Uninitiated. Mr. Bankoff described HDC’s work as tripartite: education, advocacy, and community outreach. In addition to his ubiquitous presence at Landmarks, City Council, and community boards in support of preservation, HDC hosts lectures and tours, often in response to requests from civic groups. Mr. Bankoff likes to bring together civic groups with government representatives from Landmarks, Buildings, and Council, providing the agencies with an opportunity to meet communities in a neutral situation, and the communities with different perspectives on the designation process.

Click here to read the full article


Potential Historic District Supported by Elected Officials and Community Boards

By: Jesse Denno/City Land

Representatives of Council Members Daniel Garodnick and Ben Kallos testified in support of the designation. A representative of Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney voiced her “full-throated support” of “this iconic area of our city,” and a representative of State Senator Liz Krueger testified that “threats to this section of Park Avenue are not merely theoretical.” Representatives of Manhattan Community Boards 8 and 11 also recommended designation.

Click here to read the full article




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Six to Celebrate 2015 Party

Posted by on Monday, January 12, 2015 · Leave a Comment 




February 3: Six to Celebrate 2015 Party

For more information and to register go to our Six to Celebrate page here 

Category: Featured, Six to Celebrate, Six to Celebrate 2015 · Tags:

HDC@LPC – January 6, 2015

Posted by on Monday, January 5, 2015 · 2 Comments 

Item 1

70 Willow Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

16-5466 – Block 224, Lot 16, Zoned R6

Community District 2, Brooklyn


A Greek Revival style residence constructed in 1839. Application is to replace front doors and ironwork, remove sills, strip paint, alter the side and rear facades, excavate the rear yard, install a shed, pool, and paving.

70 Willow Street (5) crop

70 Willow Street (4) crop

HDC does not support this application, which is a renovation, not a restoration. The current approach seems to be a shopping spree for period architectural elements.  HDC found the changes inappropriate simply because of the fact that this is a simple brick house, not a high-style Victorian brownstone as the proposed elements suggest. The loss of the arched entry is regrettable, almost as much as the historic door, which is pictured extant in the 1922 photograph. The end result here is an overly decorated pastiche, when the goal should be an intelligent restoration of style. The purchase of a home like this is not just an acquisition of property, but also an inheritance of history; of culture. To that end, HDC was startled to learn that the porch used and referenced by literary luminary Truman Capote will be demolished. The Committee asks that the rear porch be retained and adapted into this building’s new ownership, and that this proposal be revisited.

 LPC determination: NO ACTION


Item 2

45 Remsen Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

16-3782 – Block 247, Lot 7, Zoned R-6 & LH-1

Community District 2, Brooklyn


An Italianate style rowhouse built in 1861-1879. Application is alter the rear façade and ell and construct a 3-story deck.

48 Remsen Street (2) crop

HDC welcomes a rear yard deck, but could not concede that the elaborate iron work is appropriate. While the material is quite lovely, of quality, and found in other historic quarters of the country—New Orleans’ Vieux Carre came to mind—the Committee agreed that such a style does not fit in Brooklyn Heights. The applicant provided an example of a historic porch in their presentation, and the Committee strongly suggests following this example. HDC does not object to the new window openings in the el, but wonders if the multi-storied bay is the correct way to address the fenestration.

 LPC determination: APPROVED


Item 3

863 St. Marks Avenue – Crown Heights North Historic District

16-2298 – Block 1222, Lot 67, Zoned R6

Community District 8, Brooklyn


A residential building built in 2006. Application is to alter the facade and construct rooftop and rear yard additions.

863 St. Marks Ave crop

863 St. Marks Ave (2) crop

The current appearance of 863 St. Mark’s Place is not only insensitive, but a detraction from the elegance that encompasses it. This is a rare case where adding stucco and an additional story helps blend a building into the background, where in this case, it belongs. The proposed color downplays this intervention, while the added story and setback weave it quietly into its neighbors. In the rear of the building, however, the Committee felt that in regards to both materials and design, the current strategy should be revisited.



Item 5

41 West 11th Street – Greenwich Village Historic District

16-1705– Block 575, Lot 70, Zoned R6

Community District 2, Manhattan


A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in the mid-1840s. Application is to demolish the
existing rear yard addition and construct rooftop and rear yard additions, install a
pergola and planters at the roof, and modify the areaway.

41 West 11 Street crop

HDC finds the rooftop addition acceptable, as care was taken to conceal its visibility and preserve the low scale experience of West 11th Street. While the proportions of the rear façade are appealing, the Committee resolved that smaller masonry openings on the rear may be a more successful composition and we suggest reducing the amount of glazing.

 LPC determination: APPROVED


Item 8

1006 Madison Avenue – Upper East Side Historic District

16-3359 – Block 1392, Lot 58, Zoned C5-1

Community District 8, Manhattan


A French Second-Empire style residence designed by G. E. Knowlde and built in 1870,
altered with a two-story commercial extension in the early 20th century. Application
is to replace storefront infill.

1006 Madison (3) crop1006 Madison (2) crop

HDC urges the Commission to deny this application, which will erase one of Madison Avenue’s historic storefronts. In the early twentieth century, Madison Avenue became a retail corridor, with the first and second stories of townhomes transformed into storefronts distinct from the architectural style of their host buildings. 1006 Madison is such a building, as it is sleek and Art Moderne-inspired, yet it rests within a Second Empire residence. To ensure the preservation of these significant 1920s and 1930s storefronts, the Madison Avenue Storefronts Master Plan was created in 1981, and each property’s storefront was assessed and assigned a color. 1006 Madison is delineated as a category red property, the most significant classification in the Plan. A category red assignment requires the retention and restoration of the historic storefront. This proposal seeks to do the contrary, which is to remove this entire storefront. This removal would include its curvilinear glass, literally flattening the flavor of what makes this building and Madison Avenue distinct.

 LPC determination: NO ACTION

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: , , , , ,


Posted by on Tuesday, December 23, 2014 · Leave a Comment 







Tour of EverGreene Architectural Arts Studio


Tour of Loew’s Valencia Theatre

Dear Friend,

2015 marks the 50th Anniversary of New York City’s Landmarks Law. That’s half a century of the City acknowledging that preserving historic buildings and neighborhoods is vital to New York,  but just acknowledging something is not enough.  Since 1970, the Historic Districts Council has worked to ensure that historic preservation remains a strong voice in determining the city’s future. From local concerns to citywide issues, the HDC is the only citywide group working with local neighborhood partners to advocate for our city’s irreplaceable historic buildings. Our efforts have brought success over the decades, but much still remains to be done. Please make an end of year gift now and help us continue our crucial work.

We’ve been busy all year – from a film series in Tribeca to bus tours of Staten Island to talks on historic murals and antebellum swine, it’s almost too much to recount. Two programs we’re really proud of have been our new Preservation School, a new monthly series of talks on topics such as reading architectural drawings and conducting building research that’s been so popular we’re looking at offering additional sessions and our Six to Celebrate tours exploring neighborhoods such as Forest Hills and Madison Square North. We’ve brought people to the former Loew’s Valencia Theatre in Jamaica, Queens and Roosevelt Island, gone on historic pub crawls and sampled authentic 19th-century bitters! In total, we had 20 tours and two dozen other programs attended by over 2,500 participants – and there is more to come in 2015!

Next year promises to be a time of celebration and challenge.  New York City’s Landmarks Law is one of the strongest preservation tools in the country and something which all New Yorkers should be proud of.  The Law has strengthened communities, preserved value, created jobs, and enriched the city for fifty years. HDC will highlight the law which protects our city through events in each of the five boroughs throughout the year.

HDC is able to offer this wide range of events thanks to the

support of our friends. Making a Friendship donation will ensure you receive early notice of and discounts to all of these exciting events. More importantly, your contribution will enable HDC to continue our work safeguarding and supporting all the community efforts which preserve New York. 


Happy holidays, and we look forward to seeing you again in 2015!





Simeon Bankoff

Executive Director

Historic Districts Council



Historic Districts Council |


 232 East 11th Street New York, NY 10003


Category: Blog, E-bulletin · Tags:

Update from Professor Glaeser and Friends: Historic Preservation is bad for a city’s health.

Posted by on Friday, December 19, 2014 · Leave a Comment 

In September, the National Bureau of Economic Research published Preserving History or Hindering Growth? The Heterogeneous Effects of Historic Districts on Local Housing Markets in New York City , a new working paper by economist Edward Glaeser of Harvard University and four co-authors: Vicki Been (now Commissioner of Housing, Preservation and Development in the De Blasio administration, formerly of the Wagner School of NYU), Ingrid Gould Ellen (Wagner School of Public Service, NYU), Michael Gedal (Federal Reserve Bank of New York), and Brian J. McCabe (Georgetown University). [You can access the paper here:]

The authors conclude with scientific certainty that historic district designations in Manhattan have a negative impact on property values. This is an argument that Professor Glaeser has been pushing for years, but now he has buttressed his argument with rock solid mathematical proof.

The authors have reduced the city, its historic neighborhoods, and its quality of life to a mathematical formula. The variables they plug into their formula include aesthetics and demand, prices and “historic amenity values,” building heights, redevelopment costs, and more. And what result does running this formula produce? “Designation raises property values within historic districts, but only outside of Manhattan. In areas where the value of the option to build unrestricted is higher, designation has a less positive effect on property values within the district.”

Underlying this argument is nothing more than an assumption that only unfettered real estate development is the engine of economic prosperity. And the way to reach that conclusion is to conclude that real estate is operating on a tabula rasa. In this article, the authors elide that assumption by introducing such variables as “aesthetic value,” as in “the optimal aesthetic value of new building given buyers’ preferences,” or “minimum possible aesthetic level given current regulations and technology.” Really, those are the supposedly quantifiable variables the authors plug into their formulas to reach conclusion like this: “Preservation districts will raise unit prices if the initial aesthetic level of the area is higher than the typical level for new construction, but will lower prices otherwise. This statement looks only at the value of units for use, and doesn’t consider that unit prices also capture the option of rebuilding … if initial aesthetics are sufficiently low, preservation also destroys total value. If initial aesthetic levels are higher, preservation can increase value when initial heights are sufficiently low, at least relative to the maximum build-out that is possible in New York.”

If I may attempt to translate: some historic districts are not pretty enough to merit designation and the city would be better off if the areas were developed to the maximum allowable. Otherwise, historic districts are destroying value, pure and simple.

Tellingly, Glaeser and friends offer no concrete examples. They do not apply their pseudo-scientific formulae to any specific historic district. So we must ask: which historic district suffers from such low aesthetic values that it a drag on urban dynamism, and which districts are blessed with the high aesthetic levels that enhance value?

One has to wonder whether the real target is zoning. At present, each historic district is built out close to the allowable zoning. Development potential of perhaps 10 percent remains. So are we to believe that landmark designation is responsible for the lack of new construction? Even if the historic district designation was magically removed, zoning restrictions would remain. Tear down the buildings in Chelsea or Greenwich Village or Ladies Mile or Park Slope or Sunnyside Gardens and you would not be allowed to build anything much bigger.

But the word zoning does not enter their argument. The very concept of zoning is absent. In their analysis, only historic district designations impede the realization of the city’s bigger and taller destiny. Stripped of all the mathematical symbols, formulae, and logical propositions, Prof. Glaeser and his colleagues have offered a familiar and, to many New Yorkers, discredited message: historic districts are bad because they prevent maximum build-out. The Historic Districts Council and generations of New Yorkers beg to differ.


Jeffrey A. Kroessler

December 18, 2014

Category: Designation · Tags: , , , , , , ,

HDC@LPC – December 16, 2014

Posted by on Monday, December 15, 2014 · Leave a Comment 

Item 6


56-58 Warren Street – Tribeca South Historic District Extension


14-5913 – Block 136, Lot 12, Zoned M-15


Community District 1, Manhattan



A Renaissance Revival style store and lofts building designed by Elians and James R. Brevoort and built in 1880-1881. Application to replace the sidewalk.

56-58 Warren Street cropped


HDC is pleased that the applicant is preserving the granite sidewalk, which is called out as a site feature in the designation report. This is a good example of putting a historic and quality material back and not conceding to a lesser, inappropriate option, like concrete. We hope that future applications in this district, where paving materials are often replaced, follow this example.

LPC determination: APPROVED


Item 7


1 White Street – Tribeca East Historic District


16-3455– Block 178, Lot 21, Zoned C6-2A


Community District 1, Manhattan




A Federal style building built in 1807 and altered in 1857. Application is to construct a barrier-free access ramp, roof bulkhead and railings, and replace storefront infill and windows.

1 White Street cropped

Considering the scope of this project, it is paramount to move all of its components in the correct direction. To begin, the windows proposed match inappropriate windows. HDC suggests a consistent window treatment that adheres to a historic configuration illustrated in the tax photo. Next, the Committee suggests a better-detailed storefront; this current proposal seems a little too “off the shelf.” Finally, the rooftop bulkheads overwhelm this little building on a corner lot. While the Committee was comfortable with the visibility of the railing, we strongly suggest finding a better solution to the bulk.

LPC determination: APPROVED


Item 8

58 Bleecker Street – NoHo Historic District


16-0052 – Block 533, Lot 31, Zoned M1-5B


Community District 2, Manhattan



An altered carriage house built c. 1825-27. Application is to legalize rooftop HVAC equipment installed without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

58 Bleecker

This Federal-style intact dwelling and carriage complex is a surprising treat along Crosby Street. HDC suggests moving the dunnage and HVAC equipment off of the carriage house and to the rear of the adjacent building’s roof to minimize visibility.

LPC determination: APPROVED


Item 10


239-243 11th Avenue – West Chelsea Historic District


16-4393 – Block 670, Lot 70, Zoned M1-5


Community District 4, Manhattan



An Industrial neo-Classical style warehouse and freight terminal designed by Maurice Alvin Long, and built in 1912-13. Application is to establish a Master Plan governing the future alterations to the ground floor, and for the installation of infill, canopies, platforms, windows and louvers.

239-243 11th avenue cropped

HDC supports the master plan for the former Baltimore and Ohio Railroad Freight Terminal. This monumental concrete structure deserves a unified and thoughtful treatment. We do suggest, however, that the muntin configuration of the second floor windows be extended to the first floor. The divided lights on the ground floor will appear more authentic and enhance the retail experience by giving this nouveau-industrial look its finishing touch.

LPC determination: APPROVED


Item 11


8-10 West 17th Street – Ladies’ Mile Historic District


16-3857 – Block 818, Lot 57, Zoned C6-4A


Community District 5, Manhattan



A mid-20th Century Commercial style office and warehouse building designed by Belfatto & Pavarini and built in 1961-63. Application is to demolish the building and construct a new building.

8-10 west 17 cropped(1) 8-10 west 17 cropped

Unlike recent demolition applications like 807 Park Avenue, HDC finds it acceptable to replace this building with another building. The Committee was swayed to consider replacing this building because of the photographic essay submitted with its application. 8-10 West 17th Street appeared in pallor compared to the examples provided of the fanciful Ladies Mile-quality buildings in the district. Further, it is demonstrated that this building is not a colleague among the urbane, Modern buildings completed by architects Belfatto and Pavarini. With an array of exquisite architecture researched as part of this proposal, HDC agreed that the current design for the new building left something to be desired. The Committee suggests looking to the examples that were provided, determining what made them successful works of architecture, and drawing inspiration to create a more refined design for this new building.

LPC determination: APPROVED with modifications

Item 12


820 Park Avenue –Upper East Side Historic District


16-2780 – Block 1377, Lot 7501, Zoned R10


Community District 8, Manhattan



A neo-Medieval style apartment building designed by Henry Allen Jacobs and built in 1926-27. Application is to replace windows.

stained glass cropped

The Committee agreed that there are many options short of discarding beautiful, historic windows. These windows have survived many decades and add to the charm of this residence. HDC suggests re-leading the stained glass and setting them within new frames, as they are far from beyond repair.

LPC determination: APPROVED

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

South Street Seaport CB1 Preservation Committee Statement of the Historic Districts Council

Posted by on Thursday, December 11, 2014 · 8 Comments 

Statement of the Historic Districts Council

Community Board 1 Manhattan

December 10, 2014


The Historic Districts Council is the advocate for New York City’s designated historic districts, individual landmarks and structures meriting preservation.  We thank you for this opportunity to voice our opinions on the future of the South Street Seaport, one of the city’s oldest and most distinctive neighborhoods.

Schermerhorn Row

Built in 1810-12, Schermerhorn Row represents the earliest commercial-style architecture in New York City.  Commerce in New York City began here, and for over two centuries, this group of buildings has survived as the heart of the Seaport.  HDC is disturbed by the proposal to convert these rare spaces into housing of any type—affordable or not. Home to the South Street Seaport Museum, this conversion would effectively divorce the museum from its history, including the time capsule gem: the Fulton Ferry Hotel spaces. Not long ago this remarkable collection of buildings received expensive and publicly funded interior renovations to be able to operate commercially and as a museum. This functional use remains relevant and constructing a new building for the museum is unnecessary. Residential conversion will erase these spaces and leave behind only a shell.

Tin Building

Together, the Tin Building and the New Market Building are the city’s last remaining riverfront market halls. With only two buildings of this type left in New York City, the redevelopment and adaptive reuse of the Tin Building should preserve it in its original form, unadulterated. Accretions to the Tin Building are not merited as there is abundant space, both in the historic existing buildings and in the impending new construction. Further, HDC feels that moving a landmarked structure compromises its context:  this building type is characterized by its location along the shore’s edge – directly over the water on piles.

The buildings and context of the South Street Seaport have precedence over what is proposed to exist, just as the public’s demands have precedence over the profit-making ambitions of the latest lease-holder.  It is important to remember that most of the district, including the buildings in question, are not private property.  They are owned by the City of New York, and its citizens have the right to help determine their future.

Category: Blog, Manhattan, South Street Seaport · Tags:

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