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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:

  • 2015 Conference- Landmarks @ 50 Honoring Our Past Imagining Our Future

 

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

  • 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

Defending Historic Preservation in New York City

PS 31 - The Castle

PS 31 – The Castle

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

Press

  • Articles and Media Coverage: Preservation and the Battle to Preserve It

 

 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.

Why City Council’s Proposed Bill Intro 775 is Detrimental to Landmarks

Below is a memo in opposition to Intro 775, the bill which aims to halt landmarks designations.  There will be a hearing on Wednesday, September 9th at  11am in the City Council Chambers at City Hall. We urge you to attend and testify on this bill as it has the potential to affect all future designation activities of the LPC.

In the memo is the latest list of those groups who have signed on in opposition – including our colleagues at the National Trust for Historic Preservation. If you have responded and do not see your organization named, my apologies – please respond to this email and I will correct the list.  If you want to add your organization’s name to the list, please respond to this email and tell me  – we are listing only organizations only at this time.

BE SURE TO SCROLL DOWN OR CLICK HERE TO LEARN WHICH HISTORIC DISTRICTS MIGHT NOT EXIST IF THIS BILL WERE ALREADY LAW. 

 

August 26, 2015

Re: Intro. 775

Dear Council Member,

We write to express our serious concerns about Intro. 775. We share the desire for a swift, predictable and transparent landmark designation process and have given much consideration to how the current process could be improved to accomplish those goals. However, the bill as currently written would achieve the exact opposite. It would discourage the consideration of complicated or controversial sites and encourage obstruction rather than designation. In fact, if the provisions of Intro. 775 had been part of the Landmarks Law, some of our city’s most cherished and valued landmarks and historic districts would not have been designated (see below). Furthermore, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) would have been prohibited from considering them again for a period of five years, during which time they would likely have been compromised or destroyed.

Intro. 775 is unnecessary.

The impetus for this bill appears to be the 95 sites currently on the LPC’s backlog which were calendared more than five years ago without a final decision yet rendered by the Commission. The LPC has committed to a plan to hear and make final decisions on all of these sites by the end of 2016, thus making this bill superfluous.

Our research shows that the LPC has a solid track record of timely designation, if not within the strict limits described by Intro. 775, then nonetheless within a reasonable period of time.

Intro. 775 makes an existing problem worse.

In the instances where LPC has failed to act within the proposed limits, this failure has been in part a result of the Commission’s limited resources. Designations require heavy investment of staff time towards extensive research, in-depth examination of boundaries, a full airing of all information and viewpoints on a subject, and the production of highly-detailed reports.

Intro. 775 would do nothing to expand the resources of the Commission, New York City’s smallest agency charged with regulating more than 33,000 structures. Nor would it make complicated designation proposals easier or less time-consuming to vet. Instead, it would force LPC to make decisions about boundaries before they have fully considered all issues. It would prevent LPC from dedicating adequate time to complete the highly-detailed designation reports requested by property owners. At minimum, it would force LPC to make decisions before all information has been contemplated and all discussions have taken place. Far worse, LPC may simply avoid considering sites with complicating factors that might not allow a final decision within the prescribed timeframes.

Intro. 775 creates a new problem.

Intro. 775 would also encourage an owner who is strongly opposed to designation to seek delays in the process in the hopes of “running out the clock” and avoiding landmark designation. The owners of some of our city’s most prized landmarks , from Grand Central Terminal to the interior of Radio City Music Hall, opposed designation and likely would have exploited this “do or die” timeframe.

In summary, Intro. 775 as currently written should not be approved because:

 

Sincerely, (signed) LIST IN FORMATION

FRIENDS of the Upper East Side Historic Districts

Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation

Historic Districts Council

LANDMARK WEST!

  1. 29th Street Neighborhood Association
  2. Bay Improvement Group
  3. Beachside Bungalows Preservation Association
  4. Bowery Alliance of Neighbors
  5. Brooklyn Heights Association
  6. Carnegie Hill Neighbors
  7. Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation
  8. Coalition for a Livable West Side
  9. Defenders of the Historic Upper East Side
  10. East Harlem Preservation, Inc.
  11. East Village Community Coalition
  12. Fiske Terrace-Midwood Park Historic District
  13. Four Borough Neighborhood Preservation Alliance
  14. Friends of Brook Park
  15. Friends of Petrosino Square
  16. Friends of Steinway Mansion
  17. Friends of Terra Cotta
  18. Friends of the Lower East Side
  19. Greater Astoria Historical Society
  20. Greenwich Village Community Task Force
  21. Historic Park Avenue
  22. Jackson Heights Garden City Society
  23. Kew Gardens Civic Association
  24. Lower East Side Preservation Initiative
  25. Morningside Heights Historic District Committee
  26. National Trust for Historic Preservation
  27. New York Preservation Alliance
  28. Park Slope Civic Council
  29. Preservation Greenpoint
  30. Queens Preservation Council
  31. Save Chelsea
  32. Save Harlem Now!
  33. Senator Street Historic District
  34. Society for the Architecture of the City
  35. Sunnyside Gardens Preservation Alliance
  36. Tribeca Trust
  37. Victorian Society of New York
  38. West End Preservation Society

———————————————————————————————————

Analysis of the Effects of

Intro. 775 on Landmark Designation 

As proposed, Intro. 775 mandates for the consideration of historic districts the LPC has:

• 12 months from a vote to calendar to hold a public hearing

• 12 months from the public hearing to vote to designate or the district cannot be acted upon for five years.

While the City Council’s own dataset shows that only 20% of historic districts have exceeded the thresholds proposed by Intro. 775 since 1998, a look back to the creation of the Landmarks Law 50 years ago demonstrates that more than one third (38%) of all districts would not have made it through the proposed timeline. Particularly troubling is the breadth and diversity of the historic districts which would have been rejected – or, at best, deferred for five years.

Under Intro. 775, the following historic districts could not have been designated when originally proposed:

  1. Bedford-Stuyvesant /Expanded Stuyvesant Heights
  2. Bertine Block
  3. Boerum Hill
  4. Carnegie Hill
  5. Carnegie Hill Expansion
  6. Carroll Gardens
  7. Central Park West – 76th Street
  8. Central Ridgewood
  9. Chelsea
  10. Clay Avenue
  11. Clinton Hill
  12. Cobble Hill Extension
  13. Crown Heights North Phase III
  14. Fieldston
  15. Fiske Terrace/Midwood Park
  16. Gramercy Park
  17. Gramercy Park Extension
  18. Grand Concourse
  19. Greenpoint
  20. Greenwich Village
  21. Hamilton Heights
  22. Henderson Place
  23. Hunters Point
  24. Jackson Heights
  25. Ladies’ Mile
  26. MacDougal-Sullivan Gardens
  27. Morris Avenue
  28. Morris High School
  29. Mott Haven
  30. Mott Haven East
  31. Mount Morris Park
  32. Park Slope
  33. Ridgewood South
  34. Riverdale
  35. Riverside Drive-West 80th- 81st Street
  36. Riverside Drive-West 105th Street
  37. Riverside Drive-West End
  38. Riverside Drive-West End Extension I
  39. Riverside Drive-West End II
  40. SoHo-Cast Iron
  41. South Street Seaport Extension
  42. St. Mark’s
  43. St. Mark’s Extension
  44. Stuyvesant Heights
  45. Tribeca East
  46. Tribeca North
  47. Tribeca South
  48. Tribeca South Extension
  49. Tribeca West
  50. Tudor City
  51. Upper East Side
  52. Upper West Side/Central Park West West 71st Street
  53. West End – Collegiate Extension

Further analysis suggests that larger, more expansive historic districts take the longest for the LPC to consider for designation as they require more community education, architectural research and consensus-building. These 53 historic districts encompass more than 17,900 buildings, approximately 54% of the total number of buildings currently protected by the Landmarks Law.

If Intro. 775 had been in effect since 1965, half of New York City’s landmark properties would not be protected and New York City would be infinitely poorer for it.

CONTACT YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER ABOUT INTRO. 775:  http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml

TESTIFY ON WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9th AT 11:00 A.M.

Analysis of the Effects of Intro. 775 on Landmark Designation

Posted by on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

As proposed, Intro. 775 mandates for the consideration of historic districts the Landmarks Preservation Commission has:

• 12 months from a vote to calendar to hold a public hearing

• 12 months from the public hearing to vote to designate

or the district cannot be acted upon for five years.

While the City Council’s own dataset shows that only 20% of historic districts have exceeded the thresholds proposed by Intro. 775 since 1998, a look back to the creation of the Landmarks Law 50 years ago demonstrates that more than one third (38%) of all districts would not have made it through the proposed timeline. Particularly troubling is the breadth and diversity of the historic districts which would have been rejected – or, at best, deferred for five years.

Under Intro. 775, the following historic districts could not have been designated when originally proposed:

  1. Bedford-Stuyvesant /Expanded Stuyvesant Heights
  2. Bertine Block
  3. Boerum Hill
  4. Carnegie Hill
  5. Carnegie Hill Expansion
  6. Carroll Gardens
  7. Central Park West – 76th Street
  8. Central Ridgewood
  9. Chelsea
  10. Clay Avenue
  11. Clinton Hill
  12. Cobble Hill Extension
  13. Crown Heights North Phase III
  14. Fieldston
  15. Fiske Terrace/Midwood Park
  16. Gramercy Park
  17. Gramercy Park Extension
  18. Grand Concourse
  19. Greenpoint
  20. Greenwich Village
  21. Hamilton Heights
  22. Henderson Place
  23. Hunters Point
  24. Jackson Heights
  25. Ladies’ Mile
  26. MacDougal-Sullivan Gardens
  27. Morris Avenue
  28. Morris High School
  29. Mott Haven
  30. Mott Haven East
  31. Mount Morris Park
  32. Park Slope
  33. Ridgewood South
  34. Riverdale
  35. Riverside Drive-West 80th- 81st Street
  36. Riverside Drive-West 105th Street
  37. Riverside Drive-West End
  38. Riverside Drive-West End Extension I
  39. Riverside Drive-West End II
  40. SoHo-Cast Iron
  41. South Street Seaport Extension
  42. St. Mark’s
  43. St. Mark’s Extension
  44. Stuyvesant Heights
  45. Tribeca East
  46. Tribeca North
  47. Tribeca South
  48. Tribeca South Extension
  49. Tribeca West
  50. Tudor City
  51. Upper East Side
  52. Upper West Side/Central Park West West 71st Street
  53. West End – Collegiate Extension

Further analysis suggests that larger, more expansive historic districts take the longest for the LPC to consider for designation as they require more community education, architectural research and consensus-building. These 53 historic districts encompass more than 17,900 buildings, approximately 54% of the total number of buildings currently protected by the Landmarks Law.

If Intro. 775 had been in effect since 1965, half of New York City’s landmark properties would not be protected and New York City would be infinitely poorer for it.

CONTACT YOUR COUNCIL MEMBER ABOUT INTRO. 775:  http://council.nyc.gov/html/members/members.shtml

TESTIFY ON WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 9th AT 11:00 A.M.

Category: Blog, landmarks law, Landmarks Preservation Commission · Tags: , ,

“A Proven Success: How the New York City Landmarks Law and Process Benefit the City”

Posted by on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

Report Assesses Value of Landmark Preservation 50 Years After Passage of New York City Landmarks Law

Rebuts Claims From Real Estate Board of New York as Self-Serving

a proven success

720 Madison Avenue (left)
New construction that replaced a vacant lot,
Upper East Side Historic District.
Beyer Blinder Belle Architects & Planners LLP, 1996
Gregory Dietrich, photographer, 3/9/14

A Proven Success – CECPP Report

 

Opening Letter from HDC President Leo Blackman

A new report shows how landmark designation by the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission positively affects such vital civic concerns as community stabilization, affordable housing, sustainability, job creation and tourism. The study, prepared by the Citizens Emergency Committee to Preserve Preservation and released by the Historic Districts Council, details how the 1965 New York City Landmarks Law establishing the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission has helped improve the city over nearly fifty years.  Entitled “A Proven Success: How the New York City Landmarks Law and Process Benefit the City(hdc.org/ A-Proven-Success-CECPP-Report.pdf) responds to an anti-landmarking campaign  mounted by the Real Estate Board of New York.

“The success of New York City’s Landmarks Law and the Landmarks Preservation Commission has been validated by the extensive benefits accruing to New York City, its residents and visitors,” said Leo Blackman, president of the Historic Districts Council, the citywide advocate for New York’s historic neighborhoods.  “Preservation has stimulated a series of neighborhood revitalizations that have boosted multiple sectors of the economy, while also ensuring that the city is a better place to live and work. Beyond economics, New York City’s preservation law and agency have yielded social benefits ranging from preserving neighborhoods to promoting sustainability,” said Blackman.

The study analyzes the Landmarks Law and its economic, social, and environmental impact on the city. It specifically responds to allegations by the Real Estate Board of New York about the regulation of historic properties in New York City.  “REBNY has opposed the Landmarks Law since Mayor Wagner signed the legislation in 1965, and they have been wrong about it ever since. They were wrong about designating the Broadway theatres, wrong about Ladies Mile, and now they are wrong about the supposed evils of preservation. This report sets the record straight,” said Dr. Jeffrey Kroessler, Chair of the Citizens Emergency Committee.

Seeking to exploit the de Blasio’s administration’s emphasis on affordable housing, REBNY has most recently blamed historic district designations for the lack of it. The report counters that “because the Landmarks Preservation Commission does not regulate use, historic district designation does not prevent the development of new and/or affordable housing or impede the redevelopment of a designated property into affordable housing units….[Moreover]  New York City’s affordable housing crisis is more pronounced in its outer boroughts, where there has been minimal designation.”  Within Manhattan, the report notes, “there is no direct correlation between affordability, availability, and historic districts within [its] exorbitant real estate market” and “there are comparable sales prices and availability in both designated and non-designated neighborhoods.”

The report concludes that “REBNY’s record of opposition to landmarks is matched by its even longer history of opposition to affordable housing by advocating for higher rents on rent-regulated apartments, de-regulation, and vacancy decontrol,” and to claim that historic districts are to blame for “the lack of affordable housing in Manhattan … trivializes a very complex and serious issue.”

The 72-page report also addresses and clarifies issues such as gentrification, sustainability, and job creation, noting especially the jobs stimulated by historic preservation among small construction, restoration and architectural businesses.  “There is great deal of misinformation and disinformation being circulated about the process and impact of historic preservation, and this report illustrates through extensive research that landmarks law has generated far-reaching economic, social, and environmental benefits,” says Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director of the Historic Districts Council.

There are property owners and real estate developers who understand the financial returns that follow investments in designated properties.  Highly successful districts like Ladies’ Mile and SoHo are picked out as proof that designation is not a barrier to economic development but instead an inducement for all the company and store owners who are drawn to these commercial areas for the same reasons residents, workers and shoppers are, because of their aesthetics, stability and history.

The report concludes that “New York City’s Landmarks Law has demonstrated that historic preservation not only plays a vital role as a municipal planning tool, but also yields significant benefits to its citizenry and to the world-at-large. It is a proven success.”

Category: Affordable Housing, Blog · Tags: ,

HDC & Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s solution to the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Back list of Considered Properties

Posted by on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

Support HDC & Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer’s solution

to the

Landmarks Preservation Commission’s Back list of Considered Properties

Dear Friend,

The public has the opportunity to provide feedback on the LPC’s proposed Administrative Action to eliminate the agency’s back list of Calendared properties but we have to act soon. We have until May 1, 2015 to contact the Landmarks Commission with suggestions on how best to consider this back list. HDC remains gravely concerned that the agency might still issue No Action Letters for these properties at a single Public Meeting, as originally proposed in November 2014. This strategy would be terrible public policy and completely unacceptable.

HDC has joined with Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and a coalition of preservation groups to formulate an action plan to fairly and transparently consider all the properties currently on the LPC’s back list in a timely manner. Our plan, which has been communicated to LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan, is as follows:

• Items on the calendar for 5+ years should be brought to a Public Hearing with public testimony, with 60 days notice;

• Public notice must include address, block, lot, community district and prior date(s) of public hearings at minimum; where possible, the LPC’s official statement of significance, record or public support or opposition from original hearings;

• Items for consideration should be grouped geographically – preferably by Community District – with a minimum of 2 hearings held for Brooklyn, Manhattan, Staten Island and Queens;

• Public Hearings for these items can occur during regularly scheduled Public Hearings;

• After the Public Hearing, at the following session, the LPC should vote on the record to a) designate an item; b) keep an item on the calendar for one year for more study and a decision; c) not designate after hearing public testimony and LPC staff presentation or d) issue a “no action” letter.

Please take this opportunity to have your voice heard and tell the Landmarks Commission how to proceed with their back list.

Email LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan at comments@lpc.nyc.gov by May 1, 2015.

Learn more about these properties – Landmarks Under Consideration

Read Borough President Gale Brewer’s Proposed Action Plan to the LPC here.

What do these points mean?

In pursuit of true transparency and public participation, HDC and Borough President Brewer ask that a 60-day public notice and comment period prior to a public hearing for any property on this “backlog.” We also ask that the LPC consider these properties at a Public Hearing, which will include public input, ensuring that these properties will be evaluated in the same manner as more recently proposed properties. All of these properties have been judged to be worthy of consideration as New York City landmarks and they deserve that consideration, based on their merit, be given to them. Anything less would not be appropriate.

Most of these properties were calendared and first considered before mass-communication technology existed for the dissemination of information about these landmarks. In the interest of the public, the extensive research compiled by LPC’s predecessors, including initial hearings’ files and statements of significance should be made publicly available at the beginning of the 60-day window. Given the length of time and the rising interest in landmark designation since the 1960’s, we feel it should be a requirement to hear public testimony.

In acknowledgment of the LPC’s limited resources, we propose holding these Public Hearings not on individual properties, but rather geographically. Hearing clusters of properties in the same or neighboring community districts will conserve time while allowing advocates from specific communities to speak up about their resources. The LPC regularly allows lengthy presentations by private applicants to landmarked properties. We feel the same courtesy should be extended to this finite list and the LPC should make time to hear these items on regularly scheduling Public Hearing days. After the Public Hearing, at the following session, the LPC must vote on record in the same manner to designate a new property or keep an item on the calendar for a maximum of one year.

Let’s celebrate the 50th Anniversary of the Landmarks Law by demonstrating the growth and evolution of the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s dedication to its landmarks, the Law itself, and its transparency.

Proposed to be de-calendared:Woodbrook (The Jonathan Goodhue House) 304 Prospect Avenue,Staten IslandLast heard at Public Hearing September 13, 1966

Proposed to be de-calendared:
Woodbrook (The Jonathan Goodhue House) 304 Prospect Avenue,
Staten Island
Last heard at Public Hearing September 13, 1966

Category: Blog, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Six to Celebrate 2015 · Tags:

HDC Statement- Zoning for Quality & Affordability Scoping Session

Posted by on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

Cover image-sm

March 25, 2015

Statement of the Historic Districts Council

City Planning Commission

Zoning for Quality & Affordability

 

The Historic Districts Council is the citywide advocate for New York’s historic neighborhoods.  We represent over 500 neighborhood-based group dedicated to preserving the physical character of their communities. Many of our constituents have spent years working with property owners, Community Boards, City Planning and elected officials to enact contextual zones in order to better protect the character of their neighborhoods and encourage appropriate new development which enhances where they call home. It is on their behalf that we address our very strong concerns about this proposed citywide zoning text amendment.

Frankly put, this amendment as it is proposed, takes the context out of contextual zoning.  It arbitrarily raises height limits and diminishes yard requirements across the board according to a mathematical nicety, not based in the actual built fabric of our city’s neighborhoods. Contextual zones came to fruition after years of effort by community-driven, carefully examined, neighborhood-specific studies. New York thrives because of the diversity of its neighborhoods, yet this proposal’s approach will deal with each neighborhood as the same, with a one-size-fits-all approach.  HDC requests that the environmental review include an actual study of the median street wall and set-back height and yard coverage of all the potential areas affected. A calculation of potential growth based on a model is not the same as actual development, especially when one considers the diversity of New York’s built environment. This amendment will affect a lot–approximately 10.4% of properties, according to our calculations. This potential impact on these properties must be studied carefully before being executed.

This is a plan without prescription. It should be prescribed that only units constructed for affordable or senior housing receive height bonuses, which would incentivize construction of the housing stock that is the genesis of this proposal and that the City so desperately needs. At this moment, the proposal incentivizes all development, without any guarantee that it will actually house New Yorkers who are rent-burdened.  In fact, a point could be made that this might incentivize demolition of existing housing in order to replace it with new development utilizing the proposed as-of-right height limits. This could increase displacement while only adding more market-rate housing to the pool. Bigger buildings do not equal lower rents, if that were the case, West 57th Street would be Manhattan’s newest neighborhood for the middle class.

There is also no explanation of how building higher will mandate construction of quality buildings like the examples in the proposal. Interestingly, the new construction that City Planning aspires to create is found in historic districts in all five boroughs, as these buildings are designed from a human perspective and new development is carefully scrutinized to meet its context. It is outside of the city’s historic and contextual districts where true banality dwells and quality design is an elusive sight.

Further, HDC is concerned that this proposal has not taken into consideration the undue burden on contextually zoned properties that fall under the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s (LPC) purview.  LPC is hard-pressed regulating property for “appropriate” development in instances when the as-of-right base zoning allows substantially more potential building mass than what is actually built – relief of this pressure is one reason why contextual rezonings are often paired with historic district designations. By raising the height limits and lessening the yard requirements to landmark properties, the development expectations are increased and the LPC is given the unenviable task of having to resist policy enacted by a sister city agency.  This could result in hardship claims, legal challenges and undue pressures on the LPC to act outside of its own mission.

Finally, we ask that special attention be paid in the environmental review to the effects the proposed changes might have to designated landmark  properties, as well as properties determined eligible for or included on the New York State or National Register of Historic Places (as is required by municipal and state law regardless). With these concerns in mind, we feel that this proposal is myopic, hasty, and created without New Yorkers or their neighborhoods in mind.

 

To view the proposal click here 

 

Category: Blog, News, Newsfeed, Upzoning · Tags: , , ,

Landmarks Lion Award 2015-Pride of Lions

Posted by on Tuesday, September 1, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

pride_of_lions 068

 

As you are hopefully aware, it’s the 50th Anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law, one of the oldest and strongest historic preservation laws in the country. For the past 25 years, the Historic Districts Council has honored individuals and organizations who have shown unusual devotion and aggressiveness in protecting New York City’s landmarks and historic districts as Landmark Lions. On the occasion of these anniversaries, we invite you to join in honoring the remarkable record of preservation activism in New York and some of the Landmarks Law’s fiercest champions.  On November 10th, we hope you can join us at the Loeb Boathouse in Central Park to celebrate all 26 of the Landmarks Lions in a single evening!

The Pride of Lions ranges from television stars to grassroots organizers, well-known authors to government workers and famous architects to community board members.  They are historians, architects, lawyers, engineers, teachers, and above all, advocates for the preservation of New York City’s historic buildings and neighborhoods. Together, they have saved literally thousands of historic buildings – the New York we love would not exist without them. Please help us make this a truly extraordinary occasion by becoming a member of the Pride of Lions Benefit Committee.

The Pride of Lions celebration and dinner will take place starting at 6:30pm on Tuesday, November 10th at The Loeb Boathouse in Central Park.  Owing to the number of deserving Lions over the years, there will a presentation of a special commemorative film during the reception highlighting their amazing achievements – benefit committee members will be listed as a “producer” in the film as well as the invitation and program. See the enclosed form for more details or give us a call at 212 614-9107.  Most importantly, your participation will enable the Historic Districts Council to continue our work protecting and preserving New York City’s historic buildings and neighborhoods.

ALL COMMITTEE MEMBERS WILL BE LISTED IN THE “PRIDE OF LIONS” FILM

Thank you for all your support and look forward to seeing you in November!

Click here to join the Benefit Committee 

Benefactor Table for 10, complimentary inside cover full-page program journal ad  $10,000.00
Supporter Table for 10, complimentary full-page program journal ad $5,000.00
Sponsor Dinner for 1, Benefit Committee listing $2,500.00
Patron Dinner for 1, Benefit Committee listing $1,000.00
Friend Dinner for 1, Benefit Committee listing $500.00
Supporter- No Ticket Benefit Committee listing, inside cover, full-page program journal ad (no tickets) $5,000.00
Sponsor- No Ticket Benefit Committee listing, full-page program journal ad (no tickets) $2,500.00
Patron-No Ticket Benefit Committee listing, half-page program journal ad (no tickets) $1,000.00
Friend- No Ticket Benefit Committee listing, quarter-page program journal ad (no tickets) $500.00

Back of Benefit Letter - Lion List-BZ

Category: Event, Featured, landmark lion, Program & Events · Tags: ,

Secret Lives Tour: Church of the Intercession and Trinity Cemetery

Posted by on Tuesday, August 25, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

snow pic

 

Church of the Intercession and Trinity Cemetery

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

11am-1pm

Historic Districts Council will host an exclusive tour of Church of the Intercession and Trinity Cemetery on Wednesday, October 28 from 11am-1pm. Celebrate Halloween early with an excursion uptown to Manhattan’s last active cemetery and a neighboring Gothic Revival church, both at the border of Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights.

One of the genuine masterpieces of religious architecture in New York City, Church of the Intercession is considered by many to be amongst the finest examples of the Gothic Revival style. Walk the halls of this privately owned Landmark parish 1846 and learn about its rich cultural history. Director of Music William Randolph, Jr. will lead an organ demonstration on The Great Aeolain Skinner Organ, which has served the parish since 1968. Bertram Goodhue’s tomb and the high alter will be pen for exploration in addition to the spectacular Crypt Chapel.

Following the Church tour, join Eric Washington on a walk through Trinity Church Cemetery. Steeped in civic and social history, this 24-acre garden cemetery is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and is the archetype of New York City’s eventful past and its cultural melting pot. Notable interments here include John James Audubon, naturalist; New York City Mayors Cadwallader D. Colden, Fernando Wood, A. Oakey Hall and Edward I. Koch; Madame Eliza Jumel, adventuress; John Jacob Astor, merchant; Clement Clarke Moore, poet; Philip Ernst, flutist; and David Hosack, doctor and New-York Historical Society co-founder. Urban development frames this modest natural landscape, which forms the only active cemetery on Manhattan island.

General Admission $20, Friends $15

Click here to purchase tickets.

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Secret Lives Tour: Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center

Posted by on Thursday, August 20, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center Tour

1155-1205 Manhattan Avenue

Tuesday, October 6, 2015

11-12:30 pm

Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center Tour

Join the Historic Districts Council and Preservation Greenpoint for a tour of the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center’s private flagship building (1155-1205 Manhattan Avenue) on Tuesday, October 6 from 11-12:30pm. This extraordinary place has a rich history as one of the last surviving and only active manufacturing buildings along the industrial North Brooklyn waterfront.

The 8-building, 360,000 square feet manufacturing complex was constructed between 1887 and 1903 by Chelsea Jute Mills, a rope manufacturing company. The complex functioned as a textile factory between the 1930s and 1950s until it began leasing space to small woodworking and other manufacturing businesses by the 1970s. After narrowly escaping demolition by the City in the 1980s, the complex now functions as an industrial center for 75 small and mid-sized manufacturing businesses. The tour will include a walkthrough of the building’s interior in addition to a glimpse inside the workshops of three businesses. Cassandra Smith, GMDC project director, will lead the tour and discuss the building’s history and adaptive reuse.

After the tour of the Greenpoint Manufacturing and Design Center, continue your exploration of historic Greenpoint with a walking tour led by Matthew Coody, co-founder of Preservation Greenpoint. The brief walk will focus on Franklin Street, the neighborhood’s original commercial core. This area still features wonderful examples of commercial, residential, and industrial architecture despite rapid changes to the neighborhood. Highlights will include the Astral Apartments, the Eberhard Faber Pencil Factory, and the Art Moderne Harte & Company Building.

Friends of HDC $15 General Public $25

Click here to purchase tickets.

Co-sponsored by Preservation Greenpoint

 

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

Penn Station: From Beaux-Arts to Bulldozed

Posted by on Monday, August 17, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

McGrath Print C
September 17, 2015
6:30 pm
SohoPhoto Gallery
15 White Street, New York, NY 10013

Join the Historic Districts Council to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of New York City’s Landmarks Law at Soho Photo Gallery on September 17th at 6:30pm. View exclusive photos of Penn Station’s demolition and a dramatic reading of The Eternal Space, a new play about the building’s tragic bulldozing. Photos of destruction and other related subjects documented by Norman McGrath, Aaron Rose, and Mike Scully serve as a stunning backdrop to the Off-Broadway production’s dialogue and will be displayed for one night only.

As wrecking crews began pulling apart Penn Station in October 1963, photographers and activists swarmed the scene in an effort to stop the slated takedown. The preservation movement was born, and the Landmarks Law was passed two years later despite failure to save this 1910 Beaux-Arts architectural marvel. Set against the photographic catalogue of Penn Station’s razing, The Eternal Space charts an unlikely friendship across the social and cultural upheavals of the mid-1960s.

A brief panel discussion including the photographers and play’s creative team will be held after the exhibition and reading. Refreshments will be served.

 

Friends of HDC $40

General Admission $50

Two Ticket Discount $75 for 2 tickets

Please click here to purchase tickets.

 

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

HDC Testimony for LPC Hearing on August 18, 2015

Posted by on Friday, August 14, 2015 · 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 2

17 Leonard Street – TriBeCa West Historic District

171637 – Block 179, lot 50, Zoned C6-2A

Community District 1, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A utilitarian commercial building, built in 1855-56. Application is to modify the roof; construct a rooftop addition; redesign the rear of the building; alter the front façade; and excavate the cellar.

17 Leonard

HDC appreciates the restorative approach taken with the historic structure, but asks that the applicant go a step further by restoring the brick piers at the first floor and the “hoist door” on the third floor, a nice feature that speaks to the manufacturing history of Tribeca. Concerning the rooftop addition, HDC asks that further study be undertaken to bring down the floor to ceiling heights and set the addition back so that it recedes completely from view. We would also suggest the installation of an elevator whose machinery can be housed in the cellar, in order to bring down the height of the bulkhead.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 5

32 West 76th Street – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District

173088 – Block 1128, lot 51, Zoned R8B

Community District 7, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A Renaissance Revival style rowhouse designed by G.A. Schillinger and built in 1891. Application is to alter the rear facade, and excavate the cellar and rear yard.

32 W 76

The houses’ top two floors are nicely intact most of the way down this row, making this alteration lamentable. There is no precedent for the amount of glazing proposed on the rear, and we feel that a better proportion of masonry to glass should be explored here. The 14-foot excavation is quite significant, warranting extra care for this building and this row.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 6

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

173153 – Block 1230, lot 61, Zoned R10A

Community District 7, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A Renaissance Revival style apartment building designed by George F. Pelham and built 1927-28. Application is to establish a master plan governing the future installation of windows.

470 WEA

Considering that there is very good technology now for convincing synthetic divided lights that are not significantly costly, HDC feels that six-over-one windows should be required on this apartment building. Window muntins are a big part of the rhythm and texture of this building and the historic district, and their loss would be unnecessary and detrimental.

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 7

328 West 108th Street – Riverside – West End Extension II Historic District

174022 – Block 1892, lot 62, Zoned R8B

Community District 7, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A Renaissance Revival style rowhouse designed by Janes and Leo and built in 1898-99.  Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions.

328 W 108 St

HDC feels that the top two floors should remain intact on the rear and a more appropriate ratio of masonry to glass should be investigated. The addition should also not exceed the height of its neighbor.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 9

11 East 89th Street – Carnegie Hill Historic District

171128 – Block 1501, lot 10, Zones R8B

Community District 8, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A neo-Renaissance style townhouse designed by Arthur C. Jackson and built in 1912-1913. Application is to construct a rooftop addition, install fencing, replace windows, alter the entry and install security doors.

11 E 89

HDC objects to the very visible proposed fence on the roof, as it detracts from the copper mansard and strays too far from the architectural language of the house and its sister to the west. We ask that more effort be made to set it back and bring down the height so that it will not be visible from the public way.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 10

314 Cumberland Street – Fort Greene Historic District

171253 – Block 2118, lot 36, Zoned R6B

Community District 2, Brooklyn

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

An Italianate style rowhouse designed by Thomas Skelly and built c. 1859. Application is to construct a rear yard addition.

314 Cumberland

HDC finds that while the addition’s punched window openings are a nice reference to the historic rear fenestration, the preservation of the top of the rear would be more appropriate. The proposed full height addition would turn the reading of this house into that of a larger apartment building. Instead of this precedent-setting change, an addition up to the second floor would still read as an addition and would respect this house more fully.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 12

543 Halsey Street – Bedford Stuyvesant/Expanded Stuyvesant Heights Historic District

171569 – Block 1661, lot 74, Zoned R6B

Community District 3, Brooklyn

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A neo-Grec style rowhouse designed by Amzi Hill and built c. 1884. Application is to legalize the installation of a lamp post and security cameras without Landmark Preservation Commission permits.

543 Halsey

HDC finds the security cameras to be sore thumbs on this very well preserved façade. If they are necessary, we would suggest the installation of black cameras that could be strategically hidden in the cornice or other locations that would not detract from the building.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 13

145 Gates Avenue – Clinton Hill Historic District

145362 – Block 1965, lot 74, Zoned R6B

Community District 2, Brooklyn

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A vacant lot. Application is to construct a new building.

145 Gates

While HDC does not object to the choice of a historic style for this new building, we do find that if this is the chosen route, more rigorous study of the details is needed. The bay window on the side elevation gave our committee pause, as the proportions and details are not quite accurate, and the bay should be square, rather than angled. On the rear, our committee felt that the cornice should line up with that of its neighbor, whose corbelled brick details and lintel and sill design should also be replicated or referenced here.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 14

108 Montague Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

141301 – Block 248, lot 28, Zoned R7-1

Community District 2, Brooklyn

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A brownstone rowhouse built in the 19th century and later altered for commercial use at the lower floors. Application is to legalize roofing installed without Landmarks Preservation Commission permits.

108 Montague

The scalloped slate shingles on this mansard roof are an important feature of 108 Montague Street, a very visible building on this heavily trafficked commercial street. Our committee urges the Commission not to approve the asphalt shingles, and asks that attention be paid also to the cornice profile, which appears to have also been altered. The restoration of the dormers back to their original design would also go a long way toward improving and celebrating this building.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 15

42 Remsen Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

165867 – Block 251, lot 27, Zoned R6

Community District 2, Brooklyn

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1844. Application is to construct a rooftop addition.

42 Remsen

HDC generally feels that adding mansard roofs at this late date is not appropriate. A modern addition that is set back so as to be invisible from the street would be a better choice for this house. In considering the proposed design, however, we felt it was worth mentioning that the proportions of the roof pitch, and the fact that there are three dormers instead of two, would create only a quasi-historical cap on this intact Greek Revival structure.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 16

187-191 Prospect Park West – Park Slope Extension Historic District

169249 – Block 1103, lot 37, Zoned R8B, R

Community District 6, Brooklyn

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A neo-Renaissance style movie theater, designed by Harrison G. Wiseman and Magnuson & Kleinert Associates and built circa 1928; and a commercial building, built in 1922-1923. Application is to demolish the commercial building; construct a new building and a rooftop addition; modify and create masonry openings; install storefronts, signage, a marquee, mechanical equipment, and a garage door; replace windows and a marquee; remove fire escapes; and create a curb cut.

Pavilion

HDC has many concerns with this proposal for the conversion of the Pavilion Theater in Park Slope. Designed by Harrison G. Wiseman, a very skilled architect and one of the foremost theater designers in New York City in his day, the Pavilion Theater should be respected for its historic contribution to the streetscape and the district, rather than stripped of its defining details and dwarfed by monstrous accretions on all sides. HDC feels that more effort needs to be made to retain and restore the theater building itself. While it is understood that windows need to be added to the side elevation to accommodate the building’s new use, the fire stairs are too important to throw away. This would be an extremely unnecessary measure, both on the front and side of the building. Allowing them to remain, even if only as a wall sculpture on the side elevation, would not impede one’s ability to use or see out of the windows on that façade. Concerning these new windows, HDC asks that the window bay closest to the corner be restudied in order to integrate more masonry. One fewer window, or no windows on that bay would give the corner a more solid appearance and help to create a transition between the theater’s façade and the newly residential language on the side façade. On the front, the 1949 sign above the marquee should be either restored or a replica of the building’s original 1925 sign should be installed. The destruction of this type of signage is rapid in New York City – its loss on designated structures is not justifiable. Considering the photo evidence that exists for this building, more attention should also be paid to restoring the storefront, rather than obliterating historic fabric.

Bartel-Pritchard Circle, at the southwest entrance to Prospect Park, is described in the designation report for Prospect Park as a formal, classical space, which is “in contrast to the picturesque naturalism of Olmsted and Vaux” and “inspired by the Chicago World’s Columbian Exposition of 1893 which led to the “City Beautiful” movement and the use of classical architectural elements as a tool of urban planning.” This formal space also creates a ceremonial gateway into the district bordering the park. It is a sort of exterior room in the urban tableau, meant to elevate the pedestrian and vehicular experience. The curved buildings encircling this street pattern are all the same height, forming a continuous street wall, another classical motif. The proposed new building adjacent to the theater ignores this rhythm entirely. A more contextual contribution would hold the same cornice line as its neighbors and set back the rest of the proposed height, if it is needed at all. In fact, lowering the building by one floor would be far more appropriate. On the new building, HDC also finds the swooping brick cornice line to be without precedent in this district.

Considering the huge amount of bulk being added here, HDC can not support the additional rooftop structure, which would be visible from all vantage points. If the excessive floor heights were restudied and brought down, this would make a big difference in terms of visibility. We also question the barn-like profile of the uppermost portion of the rooftop addition, which is meant to reference historic rooftop open-air pavilions, but falls short with its massive aluminum sheets and lack of details. Further, this theater never featured a rooftop pavilion or garden, making this addition even less appropriate.

Overall, we ask that further study be required to more accurately preserve this historic theater and honor its context.

LPC determination: No Action

 

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The Historic Districts Council 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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