Defending Historic Preservation in New York City

Harrison Street

Historic preservation as both a strategy and as a philosophy is under attack as never before.

Although community advocates have achieved some big successes in recent years by gaining long-sought landmark designations and thwarting (or at least modifying) destructive proposals to historic buildings, the Real Estate Board of New York (“REBNY”), the principal lobbyist for organized real estate, has been relentless in its campaign to undermine the Landmarks Law and all community preservation efforts.

Emboldened by years of record growth, REBNY is 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. 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 designates and regulates historic properties. To hear them tell it, landmark designation transforms New York into a lifeless museum city with a “look but don’t touch” mentality.

The Historic Districts Council (“HDC”) feels that nothing could be further from the truth. 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.

HDC 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.

The threat to preservation laws and historic buildings is still very real. HDC will continue counter arguing REBNY as long as they continue to release studies based on lies  and misconceptions. 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

Press

 

 

 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.

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

 

Events:

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

Programs:

 

News:

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

Annual Preservation Conference: Open to the Public

Attendees will set the agenda at our second participant-driven conference on

Saturday, March 3, 2018

9:30 AM to 3:30 PM

New York Law School – 185 West Broadway, New York, NY 10013


Join the Historic Districts Council for our Participant-Driven Preservation Conference:

 Open to the Public !

This day-long Conference will dive into a range of topics and of-the-moment campaigns to preserve communities and sites throughout the city, with sessions led by the participants themselves.

 

Host a public discussion about a preservation issue or campaign you care about, attend open sessions to learn what other grassroots activists and professionals are doing to protect our historic city, and peruse the Preservation Fair to meet and mingle with other members of NYC’s preservation community!

 

Attendees wishing to lead a session with visuals should bring materials on a flash drive, and all leaders must sign up by 10:00 am.


What’s a “Participant-Driven Conference”?

Unlike traditional conferences in which attendees listen to panel discussions or lectures from experts, topics in a participant-driven conference are suggested and led by the attendees themselves. While some may choose to come prepared with a topic for discussion, all attendees should be prepared to be active participants, meeting new people, sharing ideas and helping to shape the discussions they’re in. This way, the event will truly reflect the interests and ideas of all attendees, not just a few pre-determined speakers.

 

How does it work?

All attendees are invited to lead 45-minute sessions on any topic of their choice related to historic preservation in New York City. Those who sign up to lead sessions may do so in any format of their choice: Power Point presentation, round-table discussion, game, you name it! Leaders are also invited to bring a buddy to co-lead a session or assemble a panel of a few people willing to speak on a given topic.

 

On the morning of the Conference, leaders will sign up for their proposed session – including their name, session title and format – on a large board in the main event space. You must post your session by 9:30AM for it to be included in the roster. After brief opening remarks and a keynote address, attendees will then vote for the sessions they find most interesting. The sessions with the most votes will be arranged on a grid, which will form the schedule for the day’s events.

 

There will be 12 possible sessions: 4 timeslots in 3 classroom spaces. Each attendee will be able to attend 4 sessions – one in each timeslot. However, if you’re not happy with the discussion or wish to move around from room to room, you’re welcome to do so. There are no rules!

 

Will I have a chance to mingle with other attendees?

During registration, coffee and pastries will be offered as attendees get settled, sign up to lead sessions and/or find their seat for the opening remarks and keynote. The event will also feature an hour-long buffet lunch in the middle of the day, during which attendees can mingle, socialize and keep the conversations going.

 

During breaks from the sessions, civic groups from across the five boroughs will participate in the annual Preservation Fair – a fun way to meet people and learn more about preservation campaigns in specific neighborhoods across the city.

 

Are there other associated events with the Conference?

HDC hosts a series of walking tours highlighting Conference themes. This will be a fun way to reconnect with other Conference attendees and to learn more about preservation efforts in our historic city! Dates and more information will be available soon. 

 

Got other questions?  We’ve got answers.

Feel free to reach out to us for feedback about your proposed session topic. While we can’t guarantee that your session will be picked on the morning of the Conference, we’re happy to help you brainstorm!

Call us at 212-614-9107 or email us at hdc@hdc.org

 


 

Support is provided in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by the New York State Council on the Arts and the New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support is provided by City Council Members Ben Kallos, Rosie Mendez, Mark Levine, Inez Dickens, Vincent Gentile, Corey Johnson, Stephen Levin, Margaret Chin, Daniel Garodnick and Rafael Salamanca, and by New York State Assembly Members Deborah Glick, Richard Gottfried and Daniel O’Donnell.

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HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on February 13, 2018

Posted by on Monday, February 12, 2018 · Leave a Comment 

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.

 

Designation Testimony

Statement of the Historic Districts Council

Designation Hearing

February 13, 2018

Item 1 LP – 2595 BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN

RICHARD WEBBER HARLEM PACKING HOUSE, 207-215 East 119th Street, Lot 5 in part

HDC featured this building in our Six to Celebrate walking tour brochure in 2015, and we always include it as a stop during the many tours we’ve conducted in East Harlem. We are thrilled that it will soon become a designated landmark. This six-story, brick and stone building was constructed for the Webber Meat Market. Richard Webber, an English immigrant, opened his butcher business in 1877 on East 120th Street, expanding with the construction of this imposing building in 1895. Upon his death in 1908, The New York Times described Webber as “one of the largest retail butchers in this city if not in the United States.” The tripartite façade features grand arches, monumental pilasters with Corinthian capitals and a bracketed cornice. Perhaps its most charming feature is a pair of cow head reliefs, evidence of the building’s use, peering down to the street from the second floor. Despite what East Harlem may become, buildings like this one illustrate the neighborhood’s multifaceted past. In this case, it survives to tell a story of an industry and one immigrant’s success story; his American Dream. This edifice was constructed to exude pride for its former industry and has lasted well over a century because of its quality construction. Designation will ensure that despite neighborhood change or market forces, this building is here to stay.

While all neighborhoods in New York constantly change; change is expedited by city-mandated upzonings. East Harlem has evolved several times during the past century, but lost swaths of its fabric during the urban renewal period more than any other neighborhood in Manhattan. As urbanists, we now collectively reflect and agree that those changes were not beneficial for the city or the people who live there. Changes to cities are made for people, and with that in mind, HDC implores the Commission to protect more buildings in East Harlem for the people who call this neighborhood home. The effects of the recent rezoning will be tantamount to a second urban renewal, and this neighborhood will be lost and unrecognizable after this second wave of development. In what is considered a predominant tenement neighborhood, it is with dismay that there are no tenement blocks currently under consideration for LPC protection. With 96 blocks freshly rezoned, there is certainly room for many more landmarks.

 

Statement of the Historic Districts Council

Designation Hearing

February 13, 2018

Item 2 LP – 2599 BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN

PUBLIC SCHOOL 109 (now El Barrio’s Artspace), 215 East 99th Street 

Public School 109 was designed by C. B. J. Snyder, superintendent of school buildings for the Board of Education from 1891 to 1923. Roughly 400 schools were constructed during his tenure, when the city’s population was growing and new laws mandated children’s education. Snyder was a great innovator, incorporating advances in fireproofing and air circulation, as well as laying out buildings in an H-plan, like P.S. 109, to increase light and air to classrooms and provide opportunities for recreation. With its many decorative details, the Collegiate Gothic style building is a great example of Snyder’s emphasis on the power of aesthetics in architecture.

Unfortunately, the school was closed and decommissioned in 1995, with the fate of the building left very uncertain. Concerned community members kept watch on the property and raised the alarm as the building deteriorated. In 2000, for HDC’s inaugural Grassroots Preservation Awards, we honored the Coalition to Save P.S. 109 (which included among its members the late Teri Slater) for their work and advocacy on this property. The building was placed on the State and National Register of Historic Places the same year, with the nomination being sponsored by our colleagues at the New York Landmarks Conservancy, who did remarkable work in saving the building, with its water-damaged but elaborate details, from demolition at the hands of the School Construction Authority.

The property was mothballed for future use and, in 2007, was included in the Bloomberg Administration’s signature planning document, PlanNYC, as the only specific historic preservation initiative out of 127 initiatives listed. Unfortunately, it was also one of the last items to be acted upon, being noted in the de Blasio’s Administration’s 2014 progress report as being “in progress”. Now that the project is complete and the building is tenanted, with 89 units of affordable live/work space and 10,000 square feet for arts organizations, the time has come to ensure that this remarkable building remains a fixture of East Harlem for the generations to come.

 

Statement of the Historic Districts Council

Designation Hearing

February 13, 2018

Item 3 LP – 2596 BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN

BENJAMIN FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL (Manhattan School for Science & Math), 260 Pleasant Avenue

The Benjamin Franklin High School was originally constructed by the NYC Board of Education after designs by Eric Kebbon, architect and superintendent of school buildings from 1938-51. The school was founded by educational theorist Leonard Covello, the nation’s first Italian-American high school principal, who piloted a philosophy which he termed “community-centered education” at this school, which brought diversity directly into the curriculum and lives of students. While common to learn about or uphold one another’s culture now, this educational approach was ground-breaking in the mid-twentieth century. At the school’s dedication, it was stated that “[Benjamin Franklin] is interracial in character and community-wide in the scope of its work…. It can truly be said that this great building is indeed a monument to democracy in education.” Covello, himself an immigrant from Italy, believed that all immigrant groups should be treated according to their culture, instead of being forced into American values and assimilating. This school consciously celebrated the contributions of immigrants and advocated for the retention of their cultures and languages, and frequent school assemblies celebrated all nationalities and races enrolled there for the collective betterment of society.

At that time, the school’s population was largely made up of Italian immigrants, Puerto Ricans and African Americans, and the school became an important touchstone for Covello’s theories as clashes between these cultures came to an apex. Despite the school being a beacon of integration in theory, in practice, it became the stage of a substantial altercation involving African Americans and Italians in 1945. This quarrel prompted a long and substantial social campaign by Covello to heal the differences in the neighborhood and promote tolerance. The finale of the campaign was a visit to the students by Frank Sinatra, one of the most famous Italian-Americans at the time. It was during this time that Sinatra was involved with many anti-prejudice organizations, and made thirty appearances in 1945 alone promoting anti-racism. Sinatra called on the students for “unity and solidarity” and asked them to be “neighborhood emissaries of racial good will.” Sinatra sang the reconciliatory song Aren’t You Glad You’re You?, which upholds self-acceptance and toleration.

This school’s legacy is an important lesson in American history as a well-intentioned vehicle for integration and tolerance during the post-war period when cities first began to struggle economically. Its curriculum was ahead of its time, and its core values are now the basis of our education and workplace systems. For these reasons, this building is just as much a cultural landmark as it is an impressive architectural edifice.


Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

Item 1

233-25 38th Drive – Douglaston Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #181711

A vacant lot created by a sub-division. Application is to construct a new building and install a curb cut.

While HDC is pleased with the overall approach of this proposed new house, there are a few issues of scale that could easily be rectified to make this a more appropriate addition to the historic district. In examining the floor-to-floor ceiling height, the front door appears to be too tall, and the front porch too grand for the building. Similarly, the front path is quite wide, giving it the appearance of a driveway, rather than a footpath. While this is unrelated to the issue of appropriateness, we do wish to point out that this lot is a landfill and is prone to flooding, so extra precaution should be taken in the design process to avoid future damage.

 

Item 3

93 Remsen Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1915372

A Greek Revival style house built in 1840. Application is to replace the sidewalk.

HDC is glad to see that the applicant plans to salvage and reuse the existing bluestone pavers along parts of this sidewalk, but we can’t help but wish this application would take one step further toward being restorative by installing new bluestone pavers instead of concrete for the rest. Historic paving is a contributing feature in our historic districts, and HDC feels that the Commission should encourage its preservation and, in this case, its return. This sidewalk, like many in Brooklyn Heights, contains a mix of materials, but its repair would go a long way toward incrementally improving the overall condition of the district’s sidewalks. It is great to see the work being done on the tree pits, which will go a long way toward detering illegal parking, and thus, potentially the need for installing concrete in this location.

 

Item 5

444 West 22nd Street – Chelsea Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1914589

A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1835-36. Application is to replace windows, modify the areaway, relocate the areaway fence, and re-finish the stoop and elements of the façade.

While HDC finds the work at the areaway to be acceptable, we found other elements of this proposal to be questionable. The third floor windows appear to be quite clunky, with the frame dimensions being 4 3/8 inches on either side and in the middle, amounting to roughly 13 inches of frame for a 32 inch window. We wonder if a more elegantly proportioned window might be found to recall the historic condition. We also question the decision to apply a limestone finish to the base and window surrounds of the house, as it is unclear what this will actually consist of, and ask that the Commission make sure that the white paint color is not too bright or inconsistent with the style of the house.

 

Item 6

505 West End Avenue – Riverside – West End Extension I Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1920380

A Renaissance Revival style apartment house with alterations, designed by Gaetan Ajello and built in 1920-21. Application is to replace windows.

Six over one windows were a distinctive feature of this handsome Renaissance Revival style building, and one that was unfortunately removed prior to designation. However, the building’s landmark status affords the opportunity to be thoughtful about moving the building in the right direction. Because the building’s present windows will all certainly begin to fail like the ones proposed for replacement today, we ask that the Commission urge the building’s owners to consider a Master Plan for six over one windows, rather than allowing for a piecemeal approach that misses the chance to right a past wrong.

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on February 6, 2018

Posted by on Monday, February 5, 2018 · Leave a Comment 

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.

 

Item 1

276 Lafayette Avenue – Clinton Hill Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1920411

An Italianate style rowhouse built c. 1868. Application is to modify rear windows.

While HDC does not take issue with modifying the configuration of this bottom floor, we do wish to suggest that the brick piers on the second floor be extended down so that the new windows line up with the ones above. This slight tweak to the design would make the overall impact more sensitive and proportional.

 

Item 2

156 Lafayette Avenue – Fort Greene Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1916595

An Italianate style rowhouse built c. 1857 with later 19th century alterations. Application is to alter the façade of the free-standing associated garage.

Overall, HDC finds this approach sensitive to the existing garage, but would suggest that the applicant consider leaving the north façade’s door intact and adding a window wall that lines up with the underside of the front façade’s garage door lintel. The existing north façade is a handsome utilitarian design. Introducing a new window while keeping the door would be a more appropriate intervention into the fabric. We would also suggest that the window wall material match that of the existing garage door.

 

Item 3

452 Henry Street – Cobble Hill Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1918027

An Italianate style rowhouse built in 1855. Application is to construct a bulkhead and rear yard addition.

While we found the front façade work to be commendable and the bulkhead innocuous, HDC finds several elements of the rear composition to be questionable. The parlor floor windows are strangely proportioned and seem too tall, while the substitution of French casements for double hung windows makes the rear façade look out of place with its neighbors.

 

Item 4

565 9th Street – Park Slope Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1919405

A neo-Renaissance style rowhouse designed by Benjamin Driesler and built in 1902-03. Application is to alter a rear extension.

Given the fact that this pristine block has all of its rear bay windows intact, HDC objects to removing the bay – an architecturally significant feature – on number 565. This house is part of a row of twelve houses that were built for the same owner and designed by the same architect as the rowhouses back-to-back with them on 8th Street, thus making this entire donut very cohesive. Our committee surmised that perhaps this house featured a rear extension because it was built for the developer himself. In any event, its placement was intentional and its bay is part of the overall cadence of bay windows on this block, so we urge the Commission to insist on its retention and restoration, not demolition. The rear wraparound deck is also not very well detailed or sensitive to the aesthetic of the rear, and we ask the Commission to check whether its bulk is even allowed in an undersized backyard such as this one.

 

Item 5

1015 Grand Concourse – Grand Concourse Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #195793

A Moderne style building designed by H. Herbert Lilien and built in 1941. Application is to legalize alterations to the secondary facades in non-compliance with Certificate of no Effect 17-8326.

HDC found the provided wall section to be insufficient in providing evidence that the applied stucco is, in fact, waterproof. If the stucco is vapor impermeable, it will hasten the deterioration of the masonry underneath, so we ask that the Commission check this with the applicant.

 

Item 8

1 Perry Street – Greenwich Village Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1913719

A late Greek Revival style building built in 1844-45. Application is to modify and paint the ground floor and install a storefront, signage, awnings and HVAC equipment.

HDC finds the proposed scheme to be a missed opportunity to return this building’s commercial base to its historic appearance. Given the ample photographic documentation of the clever and beautiful historic storefront that used to exist here, we would advocate for an approach that honors that. We also question the proposed painting of the ground floor in grey, which would unnecessarily set it apart from the rest of the building.

 

Item 9

5-7 Mercer Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1913435

A warehouse designed by John B. Snook and built in 1861. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and enlarge the elevator bulkhead.

Item 10

5-7 Mercer Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1920348

A warehouse designed by John B. Snook and built in 1861. 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 Use and Bulk pursuant to Section 74-711 of the Zoning Resolution.

HDC does not take issue with the proposed rooftop addition and enlarged bulkhead, but given the scope and scale of the renovation, as well as the Modification of Use and Bulk that the applicant seeks, we feel that extending the fire escape up to the roof – and obscuring the cornice in the process – should not be allowed. Instead, the fire escape, which is not particularly decorative, should be removed entirely and egress should be resolved inside or at the rear of the building.

 

Item 11

495 Broadway – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #187470

A Beaux-Arts style store and loft building designed by Alfred Zucker and built in 1892-1893. Application is to replace storefronts and windows, and install signage and lighting.

While the storefronts, windows and lighting seem like sensitive changes, in this historic district we question the installation of an illuminated blade sign, which would evoke a garage, rather than a store and loft building.

 

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on January 16, 2018

Posted by on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 · Leave a Comment 

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.

Item 1

811 Walton Avenue – Grand Concourse Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1914250

A Renaissance Revival style apartment building designed by Franklin, Bates & Heindsmann, and built in 1926-27. Application is to establish a master plan governing the future replacement of windows.

While this window master plan is moving in the right direction in terms of replicating the historic six-over-six window configuration, HDC was unable to determine any details about these windows from the drawings. There was no information regarding the brick molds; what manufacturer will be producing them; or what material they will be made from. HDC suggests utilizing an aluminum-clad window, which can closely replicate the profiles of the original windows.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 2

192 Prospect Park West – Park Slope Extension Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1918495

An altered commercial building built in 1922-1923. Application is to alter the facades, install signage and rooftop bulkheads.

It seems that sometimes we can have nice things. HDC is particularly thrilled about this stunning project, as we actively campaigned for the inclusion of this block in the long-awaited Park Slope HD extension because of fears of what the future might bring. The theater and this small building, only two years ago, were slated to be expanded and substantially modified, in our judgment to its detriment. Today, the theater will remain in its original footprint and reopen as a Nitehawk, and this little building will return to an appearance of a kinder time. HDC thanks the applicant for locating extremely informing documentation about this building’s past lives over the years, and for basing their proposal on the most attractive historic condition. This is a reminder that with the right combination of ownership and regulation, even long-neglected sites can be returned to their former selves.

LPC determination: Approved


 Item 4

75 Broadway – Trinity Church — Individual LandmarkCERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1920321

A Gothic Revival style church designed by Richard Upjohn and built in 1846. Application is to install a canopy, ramps, and new paving, replace doors, fences and gates, perform excavation, alter the landscape, replace windows and extend an existing loggia.

HDC understands the conservation and programmatic priorities of a church of this age, and we found the proposal to be well thought out with much attention to detail. There are some design choices regarding the outside of the building, however, that we felt could be modified to best augment the church and its unique landscape. Trinity Church is a rare treasure in Manhattan, whose presence on this small plot of land has persisted in various forms since 1697. It is this situation of the bucolic survival of land within one of the densest places in the world that makes alterations to this unique environment be examined with the utmost scrutiny.

It was not clear from the submitted drawings why there is a programmatic need for an awning that will run the length of the entire façade of the sanctuary. This building and its architect, Richard Upjohn, are known for the hallmark brownstone buttresses, executed in a free rendering of English Gothic. The canopy competes and obscures these massive forms, and its design appears as a Modernist expression which HDC feels does not fit alongside an ecclesiastical structure. If the awning is not an absolutely necessary amenity, we strongly recommend its removal to keep this landscape as simple and uncluttered as possible.

In a similar vein regarding the outside perception of the landmark, our committee suggests that the hardscape design of the Western Terrace further be examined. While bluestone pavers are the correct and appropriate choice, the flags of the pavers are much too small. The paving appears as tiled as opposed to laid, and HDC suggests paving this area with bluestone the sizes of ones found within the graveyard, which is contextual with the existing environment and historically sensitive. Similarly, the construction of the curbing and benches could benefit greatly from materials that have been quarried and hewn, as opposed to the current veneered appearance. Like the canopy, the design changes proposed for the terrace appear too clean and modern for their context, with sharp edges and angular compositions. HDC suggests exploring wooden benches with iron elements, and more natural materials executed in a traditional fashion to convey an authentic flavor for this bucolic respite.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 7

11 Riverside Drive – West End Collegiate Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1911795

A Modern style apartment building designed by Sylvan Bien and built in 1949-1950. Application is to establish a master plan governing the future installation of windows and air conditioning units.

HDC appreciates the effort to regularize the fenestration and AC units on this Modern style apartment building. The Committee noticed many existing through-wall AC systems in place and wondered why this route wasn’t pursued for the entire building, as opposed to adding more window units. In the proposed window unit configuration, all ACs require support brackets beneath each unit, adding further clutter to the façade. As the current condition does not have these brackets, HDC suggests eliminating them from the master plan and keeping the façade as simple as possible, in keeping with the clean lines that its Modernist style is characterized for.

LPC determination: Approved


 Item 8

102 Greene Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1912869

A store and loft building designed by Henry Fernbach, built in 1880-81, and altered in 1941. Application is to relocate artwork, install signage, and construct a rooftop addition.

The proposed rooftop bulk is completely appropriate and adequately set back—set back enough so that the William Tarr sculpture will be permanently out of public view. With the recent designation of 827-831 Broadway in recognition of the residence and studio of the de Koonings, the Commission last week debated how the cultural significance of art could best be manifested in a rooftop addition. At 102 Greene Street, the physical artwork itself is a part of the architecture, with no need to interpret it in an abstract way. As an artifact, this piece should be left in situ as a valuable layer of SoHo’s streetscape as a tangible narrative to the neighborhood’s artistic past. Additionally, under Chair Tierney, the LPC determined that the artwork should remain in the bay as part of this building’s Modification of Use agreement in 2013, and moving it out of the public realm is unacceptable.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

 

 

 

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Category: HDC@LPC, Park Slope · Tags: , , ,

HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on January 23, 2018

Posted by on Tuesday, January 23, 2018 · Leave a Comment 

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.

Item 1

128 Greenpoint Avenue – Greenpoint Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1918175

A one-story commercial building. Application is to replace storefront infill and install signage, lighting, and fencing

Given the recent proposals to demolish smaller buildings in the Greenpoint Historic District, HDC applauds the adaptive reuse of this utilitarian building. The proposed colors, neon signage, and door are all tasteful and welcome improvements which will aid in making this restaurant an attractive destination.


 Item 4

375 West Broadway – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1918587

An Italianate style store and loft building designed by J.B. Snook and built in 1875-76. Application is to install a rooftop pergola.

HDC understands that the rendering was not completely correct in the drawings packet which was available to the public prior to this hearing. From what we were able to see, the proposed trellis appears like an elevated subway line behind the roof of the low rise building. This building’s height makes visibility issues inevitable, and while HDC usually does not have strong feelings about pergolas or trellises, we were unable to determine what is being proposed because there was no rendering of a finished product.


 Item 5

90 Grove Street – Greenwich Village Historic DistrictCERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1909479

A Federal style house built in 1827 and remodeled by Carrere and Hastings in 1893. Application is to legalize the removal of a cornice and paint from the façade without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

Carrere & Hastings’ radical alteration of this Federal rowhouse chose to retain portions of the dentilled cornice and this design choice worked quite well. A composition isn’t complete until all of its parts are in the right places, which is why the broken cornice should be returned as soon as possible.


Item 7

41 East 70th Street – Upper East Side Historic DistrictCERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1920244

A neo-Georgian style town house designed by Aymar Embury II and built in 1928-29. Application is to alter the front façade at the ground floor, and to modify fenestration on secondary facades.

Overall, HDC found this project to be sensitive and we applaud the use of high-quality materials. Since the applicant will be receiving much more light through the new windows being proposed for the secondary façade, we strongly suggest that the original wooden fans on the front façade be retained, and not replaced in glass. This is original, historic fabric and the design intention from 1929 is still intact and would be a shame to lose now. Similarly, since the research is already well-documented, we were curious as to why the original configurations of the fans on the rear façade are not being proposed, and instead being proposed as a simple divided light configuration.


 Item 8

449 Convent Avenue – Hamilton Heights/Sugar Hill Extension Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1915103

A vacant lot, formerly the site of a Renaissance Revival style rowhouse designed by Jno. Scharsmith and built in 1896-1897 and demolished by HPD in 2011 after an emergency declaration of unsafe conditions. Application is to construct a new building.

This building defers to its historic neighbors and doesn’t compete with them, but rather takes all of its design cues from them. Since this building identifies as a background building replicating a historic condition, we would like to see some of these details refined. These include configuring the top story’s windows so that they do not sit within the cornice, but rather below it, and providing details about the cornice’s profile & design. Further, this building’s side elevation faces an alley, rendering it completely visible. Taking this public view into consideration, this elevation could be designed in some way other than cladding it completely in EIFS. This is a total substandard construction material for an historic district and we are not confident about its longevity. This large wall of EIFS will be a barren detraction to the streetscape. Given that this will be a residential building with several units, the return on the investment should definitely grant a higher quality material than what has been proposed.

Category: Greenpoint, Greenwich Village, HDC@LPC, SoHo, Upper East Side · Tags: ,

2018 Six to Celebrate Launch Party

Posted by on Thursday, January 18, 2018 · Leave a Comment 

Come celebrate the new Six to Celebrate! Wednesday, February 8- Metropolitan College of New York

Thursday, February 8, 2018

6:00 p.m. – 8:00 p.m.

Metropolitan College of New York

 60 West St, New York, NY 10006

 



Arthur Avenue, The Bronx

Elmhurst, Queens

Lower West Side, Manhattan

Prospect Heights Apartment House District, Brooklyn

Westchester Square, The Bronx

Cultural Landmarks, Citywide

Category: Six to Celebrate · Tags:

Trivia Night!

Posted by on Thursday, January 18, 2018 · Leave a Comment 

Feb.21, 6:30-9:oo p.m. Please join us for trivia night in SoHo. Prizes will be awarded to the top teams!

FREE- Space is limited, registration is required

REGISTER

 

What do you need?
At least 1 team member with an iPhone (iOS 10.0+)
Urban Archive App (download here)

Schedule
6:30 – 7:00pm: Registration
7:00 – 8:00pm: Trivia!
8:00 – 9:00pm: Scoring, prizes and drinks

Category: Event, Featured · Tags: ,

Introducing the 2018 Six to Celebrate!

Posted by on Tuesday, January 16, 2018 · 5 Comments 

~These six groups from all five boroughs will be priorities for HDC’s advocacy over a yearlong period~

 

Six to Celebrate annually identifies six historic NYC neighborhoods that merit preservation. These will be priorities for HDC’s advocacy and consultation over a yearlong period.

 

Arthur Avenue, The Bronx

Arthur Avenue, the long-time home of The Bronx’s Little Italy, has been a haven for Italian-Americans, Italophiles and curious tourists seeking an authentic shopping and dining experience for generations. In a city that is constantly evolving, its family-run businesses offer consistency, quality and a connection to the past on a storied and historic street. To capture the essence of this place, the Belmont Business Improvement District will undertake a series of oral histories with key constituents and develop an official tour of the area. These place-making initiatives will serve to enhance the public’s experience of and appreciation for Arthur Avenue, as well as ensure that its history is not forgotten. The group also seeks to investigate zoning tools to protect the character and scale of the neighborhood.

 

Elmhurst, Queens

This community in western Queens boasts many charming, yet unprotected, residential, commercial and religious structures, as well as a number of historic burial grounds that are at risk of damage due to poor stewardship and lack of awareness. The Elmhurst History and Cemeteries Preservation Society, Inc., a newly-formed and first-of-its-kind civic organization in Elmhurst, is working to document the neighborhood’s treasures and pursue appropriate preservation tools to ensure their survival. In addition, the group is working to foster local pride in Elmhurst’s heritage through robust public programming, including walking tours and signage.

 

Lower West Side, Manhattan

Prior to the construction of the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel and the World Trade Center, the area from roughly Liberty Street to Battery Place west of Broadway was host to a vibrant immigrant neighborhood called the Lower West Side. Initially populated by Irish and German immigrants, it later became a Middle Eastern enclave (known as the “Syrian Quarter” or “Little Syria”) and was subsequently home to a large Slavic population. The area’s major redevelopment in the mid-20th century nearly wiped the neighborhood off the map, but several buildings still exist to tell the story, and the Friends of the Lower West Side is determined to make sure this history is not lost. The group will appeal to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to protect a small area of significance, as well as expand its oral history program, publish a written history and offer walking tours to raise awareness.

 

Prospect Heights Apartment House District, Brooklyn

Constructed on a lost fragment of the original footprint of Prospect Park, now in southern Prospect Heights, is a concentration of 82 apartment buildings dating from 1909-1929. This development, boasting a cohesive design vocabulary and scale, was promoted by the Prospect Park Commissioners to attract high quality construction to complement the nearby Park, Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Brooklyn Public Library. The buildings, representative of a period in Brooklyn history when building patterns shifted to accommodate a rising middle class, remain exemplary for their architectural integrity and as housing stock for a diverse population. The Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council and the Cultural Row Block Association on Eastern Parkway are working to garner local support and submit a proposal for historic district status from the LPC.

 

Westchester Square, The Bronx

Westchester Square, now a major transportation hub in the northeast Bronx, was once home to a critical location in the birth of our nation. Hidden in plain sight, sites such as Saint Peter’s Episcopal Church and the Westchester Creek were crucial to American victory in the Revolutionary War. Other sites such as the Huntington Library and above-ground subway station serve as vestiges of the early 20th century innovation and architectural character that continue to anchor the neighborhood today. The Westchester Square Business Improvement District is working to rebrand the area with a focus on its rich history. This public awareness campaign will involve formally documenting its history and commemorating important events through the installation of plaques in and around the Square.

 

Cultural Landmarks, Citywide

Working in partnership with the New York Preservation Archive Project and the NYC LGBT Historic Sites Project, HDC will undertake a campaign to shine a light on sites of cultural significance throughout the five boroughs. In recent years, the LPC has designated several landmarks based largely on their cultural impact and has expressed that such designations are a priority for the agency. Through the formation of a diverse coalition of stakeholders, HDC hopes to broaden the conversation about preservation tools for culturally significant sites and to create an action plan for their proper stewardship.


 

 

 

 

Support for Six to Celebrate is provided in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support is provided by New York City Council Members Margaret Chin, Daniel Garodnick, Vincent Gentile, Corey Johnson, Ben Kallos, Peter Koo and Stephen Levin.

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

HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on January 9, 2018

Posted by on Monday, January 8, 2018 · Leave a Comment 

HDC regularly reviews every public proposal affecting Individual Landmarks and buildings within Historic Districts in New York City, and when needed, we comment on them. Our testimony for the latest items to be presented at the Landmarks Preservation Commission is below.

 Item 1

855-869 11th Avenue – IRT Powerhouse — Individual Landmark

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1919666

A Beaux-Arts style industrial building designed by McKim, Mead & White and built in 1904. Application is to establish a master plan governing the future installation of rooftop mechanical equipment and garage doors, and window, façade and stack modifications.

HDC is thrilled that the IRT Powerhouse is now a designated NYC Landmark, ensuring its survival in the wake of construction on the far West Side of Manhattan. Once the most monumental building in the area, it is now the only low-rise structure which inherently poses challenges for minimizing visibility of necessary future rooftop accretions. HDC is hopeful that the renderings presented of potential rooftop bulk displays a concept of last and worst-case scenario solution. Occupying an entire city block, we encourage that equipment be stored inside the enormous structure as a first option. When, and if, the time comes for substantial machinery to be located outside the structure, we ask that the Commission consider a 50-foot setback from 59th and 60th Streets, as opposed to the 20 feet as proposed. Finally, we ask that a provision be made in the master plan for the commission and staff to carefully work with the applicant on the details of the window details as they come forward.

LPC determination: Approved


 Item 2

520 Clinton Avenue – Saint Luke and St. Matthew Episcopal Church- Individual Landmark

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1919357

A Northern Italian Romanesque style church building designed by John Welch and built between 1888-1891. 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 74-711 of the Zoning Resolution.

HDC has serious reservations about the amount of bulk requested because the applicant has not yet contracted a firm to complete the restoration work presented in the application. We fear that the proposed scope of restoration and declared intentions could change as the project progresses or if the budget fluctuates. HDC would like to see a scope of work as clearly documented as 462 Broadway, another 74-711 which will be presented later this afternoon.

The applicant conducted thorough studies about deference to the church’s belfry to satisfy a harmonious relationship with the landmark site. The low-scale corner achieves this, but in scale only. The proposed building’s design echoes that of the Brutalist FBI Headquarters in Washington, D.C. and appears severe in its context. The material choice of pre-cast concrete is not harmonious with the dominant earth materials of the church and the block, which are composed of sandstones and brick. While the material choice may have been an intentional, deliberate departure from the historic materials of its surroundings, the composition comes across as stark to a fault. With the new construction of Atlantic Yards on the horizon which was exempt from public design review, it is paramount that this building offer something back to the community in terms of aesthetics. As pre-cast concrete’s hue is synonymous with drab, HDC is not convinced that an inspiring aesthetic is achieved here.

LPC determination: NO ACTION


 Item 5

70 Franklin Street – TriBeCa East Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1912141

An Italianate style store and loft building built in 1860-61. Application is to alter the sidewalk and streetbad, and install bollards.

The applicant can create their desired new entrance without removing the historic arch, which is present in the 1940 tax photograph. While the arch is an anomaly, it has historic interest and this bay could either be converted into a window or simply left locked to prevent confusion as an entrance.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


 Item 6

11 East 51st Street – Individual Landmark

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1919495

An Italian Renaissance style rowhouse designed by John H. Duncan and built in 1904-06. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions, and alter the façade.

While this is a substantial and visible rooftop addition, HDC agreed that the thicket of high-rise buildings of midtown aids to neutralize the portions that are visible from the public way. That being said, the water tank enclosure is especially bulky and this facility would fare better if it was simply left as a water tower, which is less imposing and more attractive than what is proposed.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 7
23-25 West 20th Street – Ladies’ Mile Historic DistrictCERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1916740

A 20th Century Utilitarian style parking garage designed by Matthew Del Gaudio and built in 1926-27. Application is to modify the ground floor façade, install storefront infill and signage, and replace windows.

HDC is pleased to see that this former garage building will have a new life as a commercial building, therefore storefronts are imperative. The storefronts’ austere design is in harmony with the simplicity of the building, however, HDC would like to see a design element retained on the façade. In the center bay is a simple panel designed in brick which is proposed to be removed and blown out with glazing and we suggest that this design element be preserved.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 8

220 East 42nd Street – Daily News Building — Individual and Interior Landmark

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1912293

An Art Deco style skyscraper designed by Raymond Hood and built in 1929-30. Application is to replace storefront infill and install signage.

The reason the proposed storefront seems so at odds with the building itself is because it deviates substantially from the instated storefront master plan. While the existing storefront is non-historic, it is compliant with the master plan and therefore harmonious. The Daily News Building is a design statement in and of itself and the proposed storefront appears sterile and alien within it. Some effort should be made to retain some element of a granite water table here, and a projecting sign band is inappropriate because the storefront entry is already recessed, negating the need for an overhang. This projection overpowers the decorative Art Deco banding immediately above it, and the signage should be flush with the façade.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


 Item 935 East 76th Street – Upper East Side Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1919674

An Art Deco style hotel building designed by Sylvan Bien and built in 1929-30. Application is to replace a greenhouse structure on a terrace.

HDC applauds this tasteful removal of a large greenhouse; its absence restores the perception of the building’s signature Art Deco massing. Several additions in the past year have been proposed for Art Deco landmarks, including One Wall Street, the AT&T building and Rockefeller Center. This application for removal of bulk demonstrates how impactful additions are to set backs on buildings of this style and why it’s a good idea to not allow them. Additionally, the new design of the retained greenhouse spaces is attractive and a welcome improvement.

LPC determination: Approved


 Item 13

462 Broadway – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1917501

A French Renaissance Revival style store and loft building designed by John Correja and built in 1879-80. Application is to request that the Landmarks Preservation Commission issue a report to the City Planning Commission relating to a Modification of Use pursuant to Section 74-711 of the Zoning Resolution.

HDC supports the modification of use in exchange for what appears to be a well-documented, researched and thorough restoration of this building. This application is a fine example of how 74-711 conversions can benefit both the historic building and the enterprises within them, and in turn, the entire city.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 14

75 Washington Place – Greenwich Village Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1918058

A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1847. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions, and excavate the cellar and rear yard.

This application proposes to add nearly identical bulk and alterations as completed to its twin neighbor at 73 Washington Place, which was approved with modifications by the Commission in 2015. During the public hearing for the neighbor, the Commission was ensured by both the LPC staff and the applicant that the rooftop bulk would not be visible from a public thoroughfare. Because the project has not been constructed yet, it is difficult to determine if this is actually true. Regarding no. 75, there will be substantial visibility, and we ask that the Commission be consistent and ensure that there will be no visibility here as well, as these are the only remaining intact Greek Revivals on the block.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


 

Item 17

827-831 Broadway – Individual Landmark

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #1918646

A pair of Italianate style commercial palaces with neo-Grec style elements, designed by Griffith Thomas, and built in 1866-67. Application is to construct rooftop additions, and install storefronts and signage.

HDC thanks the Commission for the miraculous and swift designation of these two architecturally and culturally significant buildings which have been an attractive and familiar sight on Broadway for 150 years. Appropriate adjectives to describe the form include “glitzy” and “glittery” which HDC concurred is fundamentally at odds with the nature of the buildings, especially in relation to the cultural significance of the artists’ occupation of them.

Actually, during the time artists used these spaces the buildings were quite derelict, forgotten, and without basic utilities. For this reason we cannot philosophically bridge the divide from the bold glamour as proposed to the raw art that it is supposed to channel. The core issue here is that if the objective of the new construction’s design is to in some way communicate a past legacy of abstract expressionism, that connection is lost and unclear to the passerby in its current inception. HDC found this type of design unprecedented atop cast-iron buildings and likened its design to that of 10 Jay in DUMBO, or possibly non-designated new construction in the Meatpacking District. In conclusion, HDC is of the opinion that the design, while attractive, should be reconsidered for this particular location and be set back more from the street as well. Finally, it was wise to retain the storefront of no. 827 which, while not historic, is attractive and an asset to the Broadway streetscape.

LPC determination: NO ACTION

 


Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

Greater Gotham book talk with author Mike Wallace

Posted by on Thursday, January 4, 2018 · Leave a Comment 

 The sequel to Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898 FREE- Friday, January 266:00-8:00 p.m.
Image result for greater gotham

Friday, January 26

 6:00-8:00 p.m.

Neighborhood Preservation Center – 232 East 11th Street

Join HDC and author Mike Wallace for a talk about the his new book, Greater Gotham: A History of New York City from 1898 to 1919, which is a sequel to Gotham: A History of New York City to 1898. Greater Gotham examines New York City’s history from the 1898 consolidation, the point where Gotham ends, to just after World War One, when New York became the world’s financial capital.

A reception will follow where books will be available for purchase.

This event is full

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Category: Event · Tags: ,

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The Historic Districts Council (HDC) is the advocate for all of New York City's historic neighborhoods. HDC is the only organization in New York that works directly with people who care about our city's historic neighborhoods and buildings. We represent a constituency of over 500 local community organizations.

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