The Historic Districts Council’s Summer Mixers!

Raise a Glass and Lend Your Voice to

The Historic Districts Council’s Summer Mixers!

Join fellow preservationists and activists in your neighborhood for a spirited meet-up to share the latest in district development and preservation news.

Summer in New York is typically the time when large-scale plans are proposed, and this Summer is no different.  The City Planning Commission’s proposal for “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” is making its way through the public review process as a number of neighborhoods are studied for housing development and the Landmarks Preservation Commission is still studying its proposal to deal with the 100 properties awaiting action.

We’re hosting community parties in every borough for concerned advocates to catch up, discuss happenings in their neighborhoods, and plan ahead in order to strengthen the voice of their community.

Bring news, petitions and information about what’s going on in your area! The program is free, but reservations are required.


 To RSVP for a Summer Mixer click here 

 Bronx and Manhattan



Manhattan: Thursday 7/30 at 6pm (Morris-Jumel Mansion: 65 Jumel Terrace, Manhattan)



Bronx: Monday 7/ 27 at 6pm (The Bronx Museum of the Arts: 1040 Grand Concourse, Bronx)

Staten Island: Sunday  7/12 at 11am (Alice Austen House: 2 Hylan Boulevard, Staten Island)

Brooklyn: Thursday 7/ 16 at 6pm (Akwaaba Mansion: 347 MacDonough Street, Brooklyn)

Queens: Tuesday 7/21 at 6pm (Flushing Town Hall: 137-35 Northern Boulevard, Flushing)

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



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


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



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


  • 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.

HDC Testimony for LPC Hearing on July 21, 2015

Posted by on Monday, July 20, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

Item 1

Proposed Mount Morris Park Historic District Extension

Borough of Manhattan LP-2571


Mount Morris Park 120The Mount Morris Park Historic District in Harlem was calendared and heard in 1966, just one year after the Commission’s creation, and designated five years later.  It is a prime example of the overly cautious boundaries set during the early years of the LPC, excluding the area west of Lenox Avenue, not reflecting the traditional extent of the neighborhood and leaving unprotected many buildings of the same character, scale, style and architects as those in the district.

Development began in the area in 1872 when the elevated train was extended north to Harlem.  Some of the most elegant rowhouses in the neighborhood were constructed on the blocks around and between Central Park and Mount Morris Park.  Like the existing Mount Morris Park Historic District, the proposed extension consists primarily of handsome late 19th- and early 20th-century rowhouses whose Romanesque Revival, neo-Grec and Queen Anne styles inspired by the World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago of 1893.  Larger apartment buildings with similar styles and details can also be found here.

In 2011, HDC chose the first class of our “Six to Celebrate”, New York City’s only list of preservation priorities selected directly from the communities. Placing Mount Morris Park on that list was an obvious choice, given the architectural quality of the neighborhood, the significance of its history to New York City and the strength of its community. The district boundaries set by the National Register of Historic Places in 1973 were expanded in 1996 to include adjoining streets in Mount Morris Park. Recognition and protection of these architecturally significant blocks should be afforded by the city as well.

LPC determination: Will come to a vote Sept. 22, 2015


Item 1

3531 Richmond Road – Moore-McMillen House
(originally Rectory of the Church of St. Andrew) Individual Landmark

16-8798- Block 2281, Lot 155, Zoned R1-2

Community District 2, Staten Island


A Federal style house, built in 1818. Application is to construct an addition.

Richmond beforeRichmond afterHDC is concerned about this proposal to significantly alter this “dignified example of a Federal style country residence.” Survival of Federal era architecture is rare, and what’s more, the presence and stewardship of landmark structures in Staten Island is sorely lacking. The addition of this wing will eliminate original window openings and also the reading of the chimneys, which we consider a considerable loss of historic fabric. While the addition is gracefully done, it will make the building a false version of itself by creating this symmetry.  The landmarked Abraham Wood house was referenced in the drawings as an example of a symmetrical Federal style house. This is false, as the Wood House is much later (1840) and is Greek Revival, a style which relies on symmetry. HDC suggests constructing the desired square footage on the lot, possibly as a separate building, or in some other way which would differentiate itself and preserve the envelope of the original 1818 structure.

LPC determination: No action


Item 3

363 Carlton Avenue – Fort Greene Historic District

16-8884 – Block 2120, Lot 8, Zoned R6B

Community District 2, Brooklyn


An Italianate style rowhouse built c. 1860. Application is to construct a rear yard addition.

363 Carlton

HDC suggests choosing another brick color for this rear façade. While dark spotted brick is attractive as a component of pattern brick, it is unsympathetic to the simple, utilitarian aesthetic of rear rowhouse facades.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 6

227 4th Avenue – Public Bath No.7-

Individual Landmark

17-2810 – Block 955, Lot 1, Zoned R8A

Community District 6, Brooklyn


A neo-Renaissance style bathhouse designed by Raymond F. Almirall and built in 1906-10. Application is to create an at-grade entrance, install signage, lower a parapet, and install mechanical equipment and railings at the roof.

227 4th Ave

HDC is pleased with this sensitive restoration and the very modest alterations, allowing this building to keep its description of “most ornate public bath in Brooklyn.” The Committee also is relieved to see that this building will remain intact as a single entity, as opposed to being chopped into several units, which may have resulted in less sympathetic alterations to the façade.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 9

Governors Island – Building 111, 112 and 114 -

Governors Island Historic District

17-3112 – Block 1, Lot 10, Zoned R3-2

Community District 1, Manhattan


A neo-Georgian style Officers’ Quarters (Buildings 111 and 112) and Fort Jay Nurses’ Quarters (Building 114) designed by Rogers & Poor, and built in 1934. Application is to install pools, pathways, fencing, mechanical equipment, lighting, signage and barrier-free access lifts.

Gov Island planGov Island pool

HDC believes this is a terrific adaptive reuse of former military buildings. The creation of a spa in a remote area only accessible by boat will no doubt enhance the user experience, and the pools surrounded by grass and hedges will be lovely. The historic buildings will remain, for the most part, untouched and the Committee hopes that such an interesting use will draw many people to the Island.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 10

574 6th Avenue, aka 57-59 West 16th Street – 574 6th

Avenue Building Individual Landmark

16-8658- Block 818, Lot 1, Zoned C6-2A

Community District 5, Manhattan


A commercial palace designed by Simeon B. Eisendrath and built in 1903-04. Application is to replace windows.

574 6th Ave

As an Individual Landmark, the Knickerbocker Jewelry Building deserves new wooden windows. The current replacement proposal will result in a loss of much detail and dinension, which will flatten the façade.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 13

270 West 77th Street – West End –Collegiate Historic District

16-8293 – Block 1168, Lot 160 , Zoned R10A

Community District 7, Manhattan


An eclectic rowhouse with Elizabethan Renaissance style references, designed by Clarence True, and built in 1891-92. Application is to construct rooftop additions, modify the rear façade, and raise the grade level of the rear yard.

270 W 77

HDC finds the massing overwhelming both on the top and the rear facades of this building. The bulkhead should be set back, and the rear expansion should not be both full length and full width. The Committee would like to see the upper floors’ original openings retained, as attempt to preserve some sense of scale and historic fabric in this row. The Committee also found the reflective blue glass railing choice to be peculiar, even windshield-like, and these will be visible through the block from 76th Street.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 14

925 Park Avenue – Park Avenue Historic District

16-8852- Block 1509, Lot 1, Zoned R10

Community District 8, Manhattan


A Renaissance Revival style apartment building designed by Delano & Aldrich and built in 1907-08. Application to establish a master plan governing the future installation of windows.

925 Park Ave

HDC reiterates our position for the master plan just heard at LPC last week for 911 Park Avenue: that the original configuration should be the end goal. To lessen the cost, aluminum is an appropriate material and can be extruded for custom brick molds, frames and muntins. We hope the Commission will take a consistent stance and direct the applicant to achieve the best possible future outcome for this building’s fenestration.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 15

950 Park Avenue, aka 948-954 Park Avenue and 72

East 82nd Street – Park Avenue Historic District

17-0303 – Block 1493, Lot 37, Zoned R10

Community District 8, Manhattan


A Renaissance Revival style apartment building designed by J.E.R. Carpenter and built in 1919-20. Application is to replace windows.

950 Park

This is a prominent building designed by a distinguished architect. Unfortunately, this façade has been simplified by years of inappropriate window replacement. This is one of the primary benefits of designating a historic district, in that the LPC has the opportunity to correct years of inappropriate alterations and return this landmark to a divided light configuration, which was originally 10-over-10 and 8-over-8.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

Preservation in the News

Posted by on Monday, July 13, 2015 · 1 Comment 

New owner shells out $20M for Williamsburgh Savings Bank retail with plan to attract major brand to iconic Brooklyn tower


“The interior of the space is truly fantastic,” said Simeon Bankoff of the Historic Districts Council. “It’s this glorious cathedral to thrift. A lot of very successful retail spaces operate out of landmarked buildings — like Grand Central Terminal. I’m excited that people will actually be using this space again.”

Click here to read the whole article


Frick Museum Abandons Contested Renovation Plan

NY Times By 

The Frick Collection has yielded.

Facing a groundswell of opposition to a proposed renovation that would have eliminated a gated garden to make way for a six-story addition, the museum — long admired for its intimate scale — has decided to abandon those plans and start over from scratch.

“It just became clear to us that it wasn’t going to work,” said a museum official who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the board had not yet made the decision final with a vote.

Click here to read the whole article


Revisiting Brooklyn’s Abandoned Admiral’s Row Before It’s Gone

Curbed by Nathan Kensinger

Many abandoned landmarks around the city have been swept up in the current development boom, and Admiral’s Row, while never declared an official New York landmark, is part of this wave of projects. The Brooklyn Navy Yard Development Corporation announced in May that almost all of the 11 structures along the row would be replaced with a 74,000-square-foot Wegmans grocery store, the first in New York City. For community activists, it is the end of a long battle, with no reprieve in sight.

Click here to read the whole article


What’s Next for New York City’s Many Abandoned Landmarks?

Curbed by Nathan Kensinger

The landmarking process, however, does not guarantee a permanent safe harbor for buildings, and over the years many designees have been lost to decay, demolition, and legal maneuvering. Today, a surprising number of official New York City landmarks are abandoned, having been left to rot for decades, and are in danger of becoming victims of demolition by neglect.

Click here to read the whole article


Despite cries of foul, Seaport building appears headed for the wrecking ball

Downtown Express

Because of the Tin’s precarious state, Hughes had proposed carefully dismantling it and restoring it close to its original state, so the latest news presumably should not change those plans, although not everyone is sure.

“It seems clear to me that the reason the Landmarks application for the Tin Building is not proceeding is because E.D.C. is intending to demolish both it and the New Market building,” Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the Historic Districts Council, wrote in an email to Downtown Express. “The people making decisions are acting in bad faith with regard to the public process and the historic buildings of the Seaport.”

His group, Community Board 1’s Seaport Committee, Save Our Seaport, and others have recently signed onto a draft letter to Mayor de Blasio criticizing the overall Seaport process for ”an egregious absence of transparency.”

Click here to read the whole article


Howard Hughes: Here Comes The Tower

The fight that preservationists and Seaport residents have undertaken to stop the Howard Hughes Corporation’s plan to build a 494-foot hotel/condo tower has just suffered what appears to be a major setback, as the city has declared that two buildings that were part ofthe old Fulton Fish Market, the New Market Building and the landmarked Tin Building, are in danger of collapsing and must be demolished. Efforts to stop the development have, up until this point, focused on the preservation of those two buildings, but now that the Economic Development Corp. has issued a statement saying that they “are supported by piles that have deteriorated to the point that they cannot hold the structures above it,” they could be razed next month.

Click here to read the whole article


Julian Niccolini on the Future of the Four Seasons Restaurant

Forbes by Karla Alindahao

One of New York’s legendary restaurants—the Four Seasons—is in its last season at the Seagram Building. This spring, real estate mogul Aby Rosen, who owns the iconic Mies van der Rohe tower (which has been home to the restaurant since it opened in 1959) filed plans to renovate the Philip Johnson-designed space with the local Landmarks Committee—without informing Four Seasons owners Julian Niccolini and Alex von Bidder.

Click here to read the whole article


Council bill would give landmarks agency something new: deadlines

Legislation aims to prevent commission from keeping properties in limbo for decades

Crain’s New York By 

Should the bill pass, it would require the commission to hold a hearing on a structure or property within 180 days of receiving a request to consider it for historic status. The commission would then have another 180 days to vote. If an entire district is being considered, the commission would have a total of two years to make a call. In each case, if no action were taken, the property or district would be removed from the list and could not be resubmitted for five years.

Click here to read the whole article


 Simeon Bankoff: Taking the Context out of Contextual Zoning

City Land

Since their introduction almost 25 years ago, many communities across New York City have looked to contextual zoning to help protect the character of their neighborhoods and encourage appropriate new development which enhances where they call home. These are not fly-by-night efforts; frequently volunteers spend years in meetings with community stakeholders and decision-makers, carefully crafting zoning regulations which correspond with the existing built neighborhood.  More often than not, professional planners and consultants are hired to guide the process, facilitate collaboration with all stakeholders and work with the Department of City Planning to determine if local plans can align with the agency’s citywide mandate.

Click here to read the whole article


‘Citywide Rezoning Plan Would Benefit Developers, Hurt Neighborhoods’


Gotham Gazette by Andrew Berman

The mayor’s ‘Zoning for Quality and Affordability’ plan is not without good points, and its stated goals are worthy of support. But substantial modifications are needed to protect neighborhood character and benefit average New Yorkers before it can live up to its lofty premise, and before it should be considered for adoption.

Click here to read the whole article



‘Zoning Changes Made in Haste Makes For Bad Government’


Sixteen years ago, the Chelsea Plan became a reality. It took years of grinding effort to accomplish. The idea began with Rowena Doyel, founder of the Council of Chelsea Block Associations, and Ed Kirkland, Chair of Community Board 4’s Chelsea Planning and Preservation Committee (now called the Chelsea Land Use Committee), and the originator of the (now-disbanded) Landmarks Committee. Tom Duane, then a CB4 member and Co-chair with Kirkland, was tireless in his efforts to guide the Plan to success.

Click here to read the whole article



‘Zoning Process Too Fast For CB4′


“This is a citywide initiative that is being rammed through with not enough time to make even the most basic consideration of what [the department] should be studying,” Compton said.

Click here to read the whole article


Record $71.9 million spent on lobbying New York City officials in 2014: report

Power players are spending more cash than ever to influence city government officials through lobbying, a new city report shows.

Lobbyists brought in $71.9 million to target city government in 2014, a record high, according to the report by the city clerk’s office covering the first year since Mayor de Blasio and the new City Council took office.

Click here to read the whole article


Woodlawn group fights for historical district status

News 12 Bronx

One Bronx neighborhood has made the Historic District Council’s “Six to Celebrate” list.

Woodlawn, which sits in the north central part of the borough, is full of history that many don’t know about. It’s an old neighborhood that started as a community as a direct result of Woodlawn Cemetery.

The group Women of Woodlawn is behind getting Woodlawn chosen for the “Six to Celebrate” program as it strives toward getting the neighborhood recognized for its rich history.

Click here to read the whole article and watch the video of the Women of Woodlawn being interviewed


Op-Ed: No Tower on the Seaport


The mayor said: “We are not embarking on a mission to build towering skyscrapers where they don’t belong. We have a duty to protect and preserve the culture and character of our neighborhoods, and we will do so.”

That’s exactly the point we’ve made in our forceful opposition to the inappropriate 494-foot residential tower that the Howard Hughes Corporation has proposed to build in the heart of the South Street Seaport, one of the city’s most uniquely historic areas. While we’re committed to revitalizing the neighborhood, it’s true that we have a duty to protect the historic fabric of the Seaport—a low-rise area ever since it became active three centuries ago—from this kind of irresponsible development proposal.

Chin is the City Council member representing District 1 in Lower Manhattan; Brewer is the Manhattan borough president.

Click here to read the whole article


Next TREASURES OF NEW YORK to Mark 50th Anniversary of NYC Landmarks Law, 2/3

On the occasion of the 50th anniversary of the Landmarks Law, the hour-long documentary Treasures of New York: The Landmarks Preservation Movement, premiering on Tuesday, February 3 at 7 p.m. on WLIW21 and Sunday, February 8 at 8 p.m. on THIRTEEN, will explore the history and the future of the wide-scale preservation efforts of New York City’s Landmark Commission to protect thousands of culturally and historically significant sites.

Click here to read the whole article


Park Avenue Is About to Get Something It Hasn’t Seen in 40 Years

After decades in deep freeze, New York’s sacred avenue is about to get a new skyscraper

Bloomberg Business By 

he 893-foot (272-meter) tower will rise amid Manhattan’s biggest rush of skyscraper construction since the 1980s, with millions of square feet of offices in such projects as Hudson Yards on the far west side and the World Trade Center downtown. Levinson is building “on spec,” meaning without any tenants signed up. It’s a gamble on the staying power of today’s accelerating demand for space, and a practice that’s had a checkered history in the city, said Lawrence Longua, a retired real estate professor at New York University.

Click here to read the whole article


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

New York Times By 

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

Behind Commission Decision Are Almost 100 Tales of Potential Landmarks

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

Curbed by Hana R. Alberts

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

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

New York Times By MATT A.V. CHABAN

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

Click here to read the whole report


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

By Heather Holland

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole report


Independent Engineer Report Supports Dismantling the Harlem Watchtower

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


Community plan to unlock south Bronx waterfront recognized by state

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


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

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

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

Click here to read the whole report


Frick Opponents Get Organized

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


Historic Districts Council Opposes Frick Expansion

New York Times, By 

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


Redevelopment of Former Indigent Farm Community Proposed

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

Click here to read the whole article


How to Turn Your Block Into an Historic District

By Nikhita Venugopal

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


City Planning appoints inaugural COO

Crain’s New York, BY 

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

Huffington Post By Charles Birnbaum

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

Click here to read the whole article


Scientists recreate old beer they dug up in Chinatown

New York Post By Natalie O’Neill

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole article



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


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

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The War on New York’s Waterfront


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

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

Reuters By Laila Kearney

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

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

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Midtown East Steering Committee to Make Everyone Happy

New York Observer by: Tobias Salinger  

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

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Buildings With a Past

Creating New York Apartments From Unlikely Buildings


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

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

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 Readers sound off on landmarks

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

Pardon Me For Asking

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

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

Click here to read the whole article





Save Rizzoli

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


Library’s Rose Main Reading Room Closed for Six Months

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

Wall Street Journal By Jennifer Maloney

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

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

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

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Mysterious Railroad Relic Unearthed on Governors Island

DNAInfo By Irene Plagianos

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

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

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

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Closer look at two significant neighborhoods

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

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

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

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Ratner wins prize for best … preservationist?

Brooklyn Paper

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

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

Click here to read the whole story



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

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

Click here to access the full report.



Brooklyn’s Historic Churches Disappear to Make Way for Condos


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

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


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


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


Plan to Honor Big Developer in Brooklyn Is Criticized

NYTimes BY Matt Chaben

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole story


An economic defense of old buildings

Washington Post By Emily Badger

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

Daily News BY 

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

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

Click here to read the whole story


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

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

Click here to read the whole article



New Yorkers, Take Back Your City


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

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

Click here to read the whole article


Public Library Is Abandoning Disputed Plan for Landmark


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

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

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

Click here to read the full story


New York Public Library Scraps Redesign Plans

The Controversial Renovation Plan Prompted Three Lawsuits


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

“We insist on real involvement,” he said.

Click here to read the full story


Mayor de Blasio’s Plan to Build More Cells

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

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

Click here to read the full story


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

New York Magazine By 

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

Click here to read the full article



Architects Newspaper By: Alan G. Brake

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

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

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

News 1

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

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

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Demolition freeze may cover 80% of the city


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

Crains By Joe Anuta

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

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

 Click here to read the full story


Museum fears plaster disaster from next-door hotel project

The Villager by Sam Spokony

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

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


Merchant’s House-Neighboring Hotel Approved by Landmarks

Curbed by Jeremiah Budin

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

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

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LPC Likely to Protect Ladies’ Mile Buildings From Demolition


Chelsea Now by Scott Stiffler

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

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

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

Gothamist by Ben Miller

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

Click here to read the full article


Sunset Park Leading Grassroots Effort to Preserve Its History

NY1 by Jeanine Ramirez

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

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

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

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

Click here to read the full article


COOKFOX Wins Award for Front Street; BK Heights Tour

Curbed by Zoe Rosenberg

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

Click here to read the full article


A Landmark Restored, From Mosaic Marble Floor to Grand Dome

Michael Nagle for The New York Times

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

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

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

Click here to read the full article


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

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


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

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

Follow us: @newyorkobserver on Twitter | newyorkobserver on Facebook

Click here to read the full article


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



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

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

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

Click here to read the full article

Cities Mobilize to Help Those Threatened by Gentrification


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

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


Argument Over a Brownstone Neighborhood

The Case for and Against a Bed-Stuy Historic District

 By /New York Times

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

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

Click here to read the full article


 Renovation, restoration the trend in Midtown East

By /Real Estate Weekly

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

125 Park Avenue

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

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

Click here to read the full article


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

City Land Profile

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

Click here to read the full article


Potential Historic District Supported by Elected Officials and Community Boards

By: Jesse Denno/City Land

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

Click here to read the full article




Category: Featured · Tags: , , ,

HDC Testimony for LPC Hearing on July 14, 2015

Posted by on Monday, July 13, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

Item 3

911 Park Avenue – Park Avenue Historic District

16-4713 – Block 1508, Lot 72, Zoned R10, R8B

Community District 8, Manhattan


A Renaissance Revival style apartment building designed by Schwartz & Gross and built in 1925-26. Application is to establish master plan governing the future installation of windows.

911 Park

Since this is a master plan, HDC requests that the original six-over-six window configuration be the ultimate goal here. The appearance of buildings this size completely changes when the fenestration is altered, as much of the building’s aesthetic relies on its intended configuration. Only correcting the bottom stories isn’t an appropriate solution, as Park Avenue is comprised of adjacent high rise buildings where the upper stories are visible from hundreds of neighboring windows. With the abundance of windows that need to be corrected in the proposed material of aluminum, it would be inexpensive on a per-window basis to produce custom extrusion of the historically correct brick molds and muntins.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 5

Watch Tower, Marcus Garvey Park – Watch Tower – Individual Landmark

17-2188 – Block 1719, Lot 1, Zoned Parkland

Community District 10, Manhattan


A cast iron fire watch tower attributed to the foundry of James Bogardus and built c. 1855. Application is to reconstruct the tower and install fencing.

Fire Watch Tower

HDC is thrilled to be able to comment on the Watch Tower today and we applaud the Parks Department for adhering to the timeline that advocates discussed this past fall. This beloved 1857 Individual Landmark is the only known structure of its kind in the United States, and early technology such as this provided the prototype for the steel frame that supports the modern day skyscraper. Its importance as a New York City landmark cannot be overstated.

This restoration is long overdue and HDC eagerly awaits the return of this landmark to its home atop the acropolis in Marcus Garvey Park. Until then, the Committee has some minor suggestions regarding its restoration. Most notably, HDC would like to see a different solution for the new stainless steel reinforcements. These foreign additions, while necessary, visually undermine the cast iron structure. As cast iron is a hollow material, we suggest exploring a way to conceal the steel within the iron work itself to solve this problem. The choice to restore the roof to its original size is commendable, but we felt that restoring the watch room’s glass enclosure would take this restoration one step further. Enclosing this space as it appeared originally would speak to the functionality of this structure and also restore a crucial visual element which has been erased.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 6

155 Noble Street – Greenpoint Historic District

16-1964 -Block 2566, Lot 51, Zoned C4-3A

Community District 1, Brooklyn


A neo-Gothic style clubhouse designed by Gustave Erda and built in 1924. Application is to construct rooftop bulkheads, install a barrier-free access lift and alter the entry landing.

155 Noble

HDC found the rooftop bulkheads minimally visible, but was puzzled as to why the more elegant fence will be replaced with a banal fence. Extending the current fence in its configuration could add an additional visual screen from the ADA intervention.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 7

6 Pierrepont Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

17-1132 – Block 241, Lot 22, Zoned R6

Community District 2, Brooklyn


An Eclectic/Romanesque style house built in the 1880s. Application is alter the roofline and install railings.


It is unfortunate that a desired interior configuration will have negative consequences for this lone, gable-fronted rowhouse. Adding height will obscure this building’s fanciful roofline, and we ask that the interior program be revisited to avoid any alteration to the façade, which in this case, is also the building’s termination.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 8

298 Dekalb Avenue – Clinton Hill Historic District

16-8561- Block 1931, Lot 19, Zoned R6B

Community District 2, Brooklyn


An Italianate style rowhouse built in 1876. Application is to replace windows and construct a rear yard addition.

289 DekalbRegarding the window replacement, HDC asks that the configuration match the tax photo, which reflects a one-over-one configuration. The rear addition could be improved by choosing a less off-the-shelf sliding glass door design, which currently has no sense of scale that relates to the other openings.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 9

120 Kingston Avenue – Crown Heights North Historic District

16-5101 – Block 1222, Lot 40, Zoned R6

Community District 8, Brooklyn


A Renaissance Revival style flats building designed by Axel Hedman and built c. 1900-1902. Application is to replace ground floor infill; modify and create masonry openings, and install signage, light fixtures, security cameras, a fence and a rooftop bulkhead.

Kingston Lounge oldKingston Lounge new

 HDC appreciates the intention of choosing a design to reflect a historic configuration, but wonders why the applicant is working from derivative images of moderne design when all of the evidence is in front of them. HDC suggests restoring this storefront using both the historic images and working with what physically remains of it: parts of the real thing are still here and it should be brought back to life. Finally, this is an exceptional case where the original name of the business will be reinstated, so why would you discard this storefront’s greatest asset, which is its neon signage?

LPC determination: No action


Item 13

749 5th Avenue – Weir Greenhouse – Individual Landmark

17-2558 – Block 655, Lot 31, Zoned M1-MD

Community District 7, Brooklyn


A greenhouse building designed by Mercein Thomas and built in 1880 and altered by George Curtis Gillespie in 1895. Application is to demolish ancillary structures, excavate and construct an addition, and construct a new building on part of the landmark site.

Greenwood 2 Greenwood

The greenhouse that dominates the corner of 5th Avenue and 25th Street speaks to another era, and is the soft segue before one enters Green-Wood Cemetery. HDC is glad to see that this Individual Landmark will be lovingly restored and become a permanent piece of Green-Wood Cemetery’s marvelous collection of structures.

Despite its secure future, HDC is concerned about the landmark’s identity and the integrity of this landmark site. The committee feels that the new construction overwhelms the low-scale greenhouse and erodes the corner. While the west facade will be exposed as intended, the roofscape will no longer read clean against the sky, and instead be wrapped in the new construction’s roof.

HDC asks that the Commissioners discuss an alternative solution for this site, which would treat the greenhouse as the focal point, not an inconvenient landmark location, such as the Coignet Building in Gowanus. We especially would like to see an actual adaptive reuse of the space, not a lonely, empty greenhouse. Perhaps if a use in program is moved to this space, it could reduce square footage elsewhere.

LPC determination: No action


Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC Testimony for LPC Hearing on July 7, 2015

Posted by on Monday, July 6, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

Item 5

168 Bleecker Street,
aka 187-191 Sullivan Street, and 187-201 Thompson Street -South Village Historic District

17-0925 -Block 525, Lot 7501, Zoned R7-2

Community District 2, Manhattan


An Italian Renaissance Revival style tenement building with commercial ground floor designed by Ernest Flagg and built in 1896. Application is to modify masonry openings and display windows at the Sullivan Street facade, and install a barrier-free access ramp.

168 Bleecker

HDC supports this proposal. The new storefronts and entries’ design is creatively adapted from the historic photographs and it is pleasant to see this corner relieved of its awning. Further, we more than often see clumsy applications of ADA ramps, and this is an example of an elegant solution that blends into the architecture and the street.

LPC determination: APPROVED


Item 8

30 Jane Street -Greenwich Village Historic District

16-9427–Block 615, Lot 62, Zoned R6

Community District 2, Manhattan


A stable building built in 1870. Application is to install an awning.

30 Jane

HDC suggests installing a bracket sign with metal armature similar to the adjacent coffee shop. A sign, rather than a marquee, seems more appropriate for this little stable building and Jane Street.

LPC determination: APPROVED


Item 9

255 Bleecker Street, aka 36-42 Cornelia Street -Greenwich Village Historic District Extension II

16-8077 -Block 589, Lot 10, Zoned C1-5

Community District 2, Manhattan


A one-story commercial building designed by E. Jerome O’Connor and built in 1941, and altered by He Gin Lee in 2003. Application is to paint facades, replace ground floor infill, and install signage and lighting.

255 Bleecker

This structure has had numerous inappropriate additions to its façade, including a pagoda, faux wood paneling, and faux stone. The Committee was glad to see these materials removed and the historic brick façade revealed. HDC suggests wood, rather than metal for the infill, as the metal makes the building appear industrial.

LPC determination: APPROVED with modifications


Item 12

525 West 26th Street -West Chelsea Historic District

17-1860 -Block 698, Lot 18, Zoned M1-5

Community District 4, Manhattan


A vernacular style factory building designed by Paul C. Hunter and built in
1904-05. Applicationis to remove an exterior stair and replace a metal panel
and door with a window.

525 West 26The historic photograph reveals an interesting fenestration pattern. If and when this building undergoes a serious restoration, it would be unfortunate to have lost this original fabric. HDC asks that the lintel be retained in this proposal to preserve the appearance of the original openings on this façade.

LPC determination: APPROVED


Item 13

460 Brielle Avenue -New York City Farm Colony/Seaview Hospital Historic District

15-0096 -Block 955, Lot 100, Zoned R3-2

Community District 2, Staten Island


A complex of hospital and dormitory buildings designed for Tuberculosis patients by Ramond F. Almirall and Renwick, Aspinwall & Tucker and built in 1905-1917, with later buildings constructed in 1928-1934 designed by Robert J. Reiley, Francis Delaney Robinson, Charles B. Meyers, and Sibley & Fetherson.  Application is to construct a new building.

460 Brielle Ave

There is precedent for adding buildings to this complex, as several buildings were completed in 1928-34. Despite the varying styles of the then-new construction, which includes Spanish Mission, Neo-Gothic, and even modernistic, the district retains a readable cohesion between the old and the new. HDC feels that the proposal today is a departure from the unity of the existing historic structures.  The new construction ignores the ample precedent of its surroundings in regard to design, scale, materials, and siting.

The proposed office park concept feels very stale and corporate, and while Staten Island is suburban, this historic district is not. The LPC approved work in this historic district in Fall of 2014, which consisted of adaptive reuse of the historic buildings and some new construction. This application was approved largely due to the fact that the new construction was referential to the older buildings.  HDC presses the applicant to consider adaptive reuse as a priority, and then re-study the context and submit a design worthy of this unique setting.

LPC determination: NO ACTION

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

Stonewall Inn, Designation Testimony – June 23, 2015

Posted by on Monday, June 22, 2015 · Leave a Comment 


Item 1
Stonewall Inn, 51-53 Christopher Street, Manhattan
Landmark Site: Manhattan Block 610, Lot 1 in part consisting of the land on which the buildings at 51-53 Christopher Street are situated
Community District 2
HDC supports the designation of the Stonewall Inn as an Individual Landmark. While the structure itself is already protected as part of the Greenwich Village Historic District, this designation would more intentionally acknowledge and honor this site’s cultural and historical significance to our city and, indeed, the world.

We do not need to state the many-layered importance of historic architecture to the urban experience in this forum, except to say that this agency’s hard work in designating buildings for their architectural merits has served to safeguard this vital aspect of the urban experience. However, sites designated principally for their cultural and historic value, such as the recent designation of Tammany Hall, are a rarer breed. Advocates across the city are constantly pushing for landmark status for sites of cultural and historical importance, including 40 and 42 Bowery, two Federal houses dating back to 1807, significant for their age, but also as the location where the politically charged and impactful Dead Rabbits Riot of 1857 began. Another such site is Tin Pan Alley, the birthplace of American popular music, whose merits, despite widespread public support, have not been recognized with landmark status as of yet.

In this 50th anniversary year, the preservation community is often reflecting on ways to enhance and improve the scope of the Landmarks Law. Sites such as the Stonewall Inn, famous as the birthplace of the Gay Pride movement, are crucial to the story of our city. Protecting the physical spaces that embody history, like Stonewall, is a crucial, if less traditional, task with which the Landmarks Commission is charged. In a perfect world, the agency would also have the power to protect the characteristics that support and define the significance of such sites – like ensuring that the Stonewall Inn remains a public gathering place in perpetuity. Perhaps the strengthening of the law by introducing this type of regulation is something we can work toward and celebrate at the centennial of New York City’s Landmarks Law.



Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC Announces the De-calendaring Items as a 2015 Six to Celebrate

Posted by on Friday, June 19, 2015 · 1 Comment 


The Landmarks Preservation Commission has agreed to hold hearings for each property on the calendared list! This was first reported in the Wall Street Journal on June 18, 2015.



In November 2014, the Landmarks Preservation Commission announced a plan to remove 96 previously considered sites and properties from its calendar. Although the agency chose not to take immediate action on the plan, there remain over 150 sites under consideration that are unprotected. Over the coming year, HDC will document, publicize and conduct community outreach for these sites to increase public awareness and gather support to move their designations forward, while simultaneously aiding the LPC in managing its backlog.

Visit the  Six to Celebrate Website 



HDC is thrilled to announce that the New York City  Landmarks Preservation Commission will not be holding a hearing to remove 96 sites from landmark consideration on Tuesday, December 9. We’ve said plenty of times – nobody likes a backlog. HDC is committed to working with LPC to remedy this situation in a transparent, appropriate and equitable way.

THANK YOU everyone who made their voices heard. This belongs to all of you.

For more information, see  The New York Times article by Matt A.V. Chaban, “Landmarks Panel Drops Proposal to Trim List“.


Click on the titles for more information about each site

de-calendar Bronx

6 Ploughmans Bush Building-edit 1. 6 Ploughman’s Bush Building  Bronx, NY, 10471



65 Schofiled House-flickr-no rights to use2. 65 Schofield Street aka 240 William Avenue Bronx, NY 10464



Immaculate Conception RC Church Complex-edit3. Immaculate Conception Church of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Convent, & Priests’ Residence



First Presbyterian Church of Williamsburg_2-edit4.  First Presbyterian Church of Williamsbridge & Rectory



5. Samuel Babcock House

de-calendar Brooklyn


183-195 Broadway Building1. 183-195 Broadway Building



Coney Island Pumping Station_12. Coney Island Pumping Station


greenwood3. Greenwood Cemetery


Holy Trinity Cathedral_Ukranian Church in Exile-edit4. Holy Trinity Cathedral/Ukranian Church in Exile



Lady Moody's House5. Lady Moody-Van Sicklen House



St. Augustines RC Church (2)-edit6. St. Augustine’s R.C. Church and Rectory



St. Barbaras RC Church7. St. Barbara’s R.C. Church



de-calendar manhattan


2 Oliver Street1. 2 Oliver Street House



57 Sullivan Street2. 57 Sullivan Street House



3. 138 Second Avenue House

143 Chambers Street 14. 143 Chambers Street



150 East 38th Street5. 150 East 38th Street House



315 Broadway-16. 315 Broadway



7. 412 East 85th Street House

8. Bergdorf Goodman

9. Broadway Theaters

10. Excelsior Power Company Building

11. Hotel Renaissance/Columbia Club


IRT Powerhouse12. IRT Powerhouse



13. James McCreery & Co.

Kaufmann14. Kaufman Conference Rooms Interior



Loew's 175th Street Theater -edit15. Loew’s 175th Street Theater



16. Mission of the Immaculate Virgin

 17. Osborne Apartments Interior


CAA-house18. President Chester A. Arthur House



19. Sire Building

Church of St. Joseph 401 West 125th Street20. St. Joseph’s Church



St. Michael's Episcopal Church Complex21. St. Michael’s Episcopal Church Complex




22. St. Paul’s Church & School

St. Pauls Rectory 117th Street23. St. Paul’s Rectory



24.Union Square Park


Harlem YMCA Jackie Robinson Youth Center 125. YMCA, Harlem Branch



Yuengling Brewing Complex26. Yuengling Brewery Complex (6 items)




de-calendar queens

Ahles House1. Lydia Ann Bell and William J Ahles House



Bowne Street Community Church2. Bowne Street Community Church



39-18 Douglaston Parkway_Douglaston Extension.- smjpg3. Douglaston Historic District Extension


Fairway Hall 34. Fairway Apartments



First Reformed Church of College Point (2)-edit5. First Reformed Church and Sunday School of College Point



Old Calvary Cem Gatehouse6. Old Calvary Cemetery Gatehouse



Pepsi Cola Sign7. Pepsi-Cola Sign



Spanish Tower Homes-sm8. Spanish Towers (10 Items)




de-calendar si


12-92 Harrison Street1. 92 Harrison Street House



122 Androvette Street House2. 122 Androvette Street House



3833 Amboy Road House3. 3833 Amboy Road House



5466 Arthur Kill Road House4. 5466 Arthur Kill Road House



5. 6136 Amboy Road House


Brougham Cottage6. Brougham Cottage



Crocheron House7. Crocheron House



76 CunardHall58. Cunard Hall, Wagner College



CurtisHouseLarge9. Curtis House



10. Dorothy Day Historic Site

11. Fountain Family Graveyard

garner mansion12. Garner Mansion



Lakeman-Courtelyou-Taylor House13.  Lakeman-Courtelyou-Taylor House



14. Muller House

15. Nicholas Killmeyer Store and Residence


photo 4 (3)16. Princess Bay Lighthouse and Keeper’s House



17.Richmond County Country Club

Sailors Snug Harbor18. Sailors’ Snug Harbor Historic District



19. School District No. 3 Building

 20. St. John’s P.E. Rectory

St. Mary's Church, Rectory and Parish Hall21. St. Mary’s Church, Rectory and Parish Hall



St. Mary's R.C.Church and Rectory22. St. Mary’s R.C.Church and Rectory



23. St. Paul’s M.E. Church

24. Sunny Brae House


Vanderbilt Mausoleum Moravian Cemetery25. Vanderbilt Mausoleum Moravian Cemetery



26. Woodbrook/Goodhuse House


Category: Blog, Brooklyn, Featured, Historic House, landmarks law, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Special Blog · Tags:

URGENT: Proposed Riverside-West End Extension II On The Chopping Block By LPC !

Posted by on Thursday, June 18, 2015 · 1 Comment 

Skulls indicate approximate locations of buildings to be removed by the LPC from the originally proposed Riverside-West End Extension II map boundaries, heard at LPC Public Hearing on Oct. 25, 2011. 
June 18, 2015Meenakshi Srinivasan, Chair
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
One Centre Street
New York City, New York 10007

Dear Chair Srinivasan,

The Historic Districts Council (HDC) has several serious concerns about how the Landmarks Preservation Commission is choosing to proceed with its deliberations over the designation of the Riverside-West End Historic District Extension II.  The process, as we understand it, is that the LPC will hold a vote on Tuesday, June 23rd at a Public Meeting concerning the district.  This district was previously heard by the LPC at a Public Hearing on October 25th, 2011.  We understand from speaking with LPC representatives, elected officials and advocates that the agency recommendation to the Commissioners will be to designate a smaller area than what was presented at the earlier meeting.  Recently, furthermore, agency staff has characterized the heard but not designated area as a “study area”.  The same “study area” term has also been used in reference to the pending Bedford Stuyvesant Historic District, whose boundaries have also been proposed by the agency to be contracted.

There are now several elements of this hearing/process that are troubling for the city’s landmark procedures and its preservation community.  In the past, changing the boundaries of a proposed historic district after it has been heard at a Public Hearing has been a very rare occurrence.  It has principally happened because of mapping reasons involving improperly surveyed property lot lines[1]or because of existing building alteration permits that would potentially negate the benefits of landmark designation[2].  In the latter case, regarding existing building permits, the Commission has more often included these sites in the newly designated district than excluded them[3].  As far as HDC knows, neither of these instances is the reason behind the proposed contraction of these historic districts.

Given the LPC’s stated concerns about the previously considered properties on the agency’s backlog, and the constructive conversations that these concerns fostered, it would seem only fair and equitable to bring this modified proposal back to a Public Hearing so that community stakeholders can be better involved with this public process.This is especially appropriate in this instance.  As many of the present commissioners were not on the LPC at the time of the previous hearing, they did not have the opportunity to hear the information and support that the community shared with the LPC. At this juncture, it seems improper for these commissioners to deliberate on changes to the plan without having had the opportunity to gain primary information from the people it directly affects.

HDC is also gravely concerned with the newly emerging naming policy and assertion that makes properties that are pending designation implicitly – “study areas”.   While we understand that LPC authority over considered but undesignated properties is much weaker than over designated properties, in practice and under existing municipal procedure, once a property or site is scheduled for consideration as a potential landmark, the agency becomes a party to public and private land-use decisions affecting that property.  This is a power that HDC supports and applauds.  Indeed, we have in the past proposed institutionalizing this safeguard into the City Charter as we feel that it is a useful tool in fulfilling the agency’s mission to identify and protect New York City’s historically significant buildings. Regardless of its current status as an inter-agency agreement, it would seem that this power elevates properties under consideration to a rank or standing greater than “study areas”, which is an accepted land-use planning term implying merely observational status.  Perhaps we are reading too closely into a simple phrase, but it is troublesome, as “study areas” in land-use planning also indicates a process and a scope which city planning rarely exceeds and usually only refines.

As you are aware, designation of a New York City historic district is a complex and very-involved planning process that takes years and engages a vast array of stakeholders.  By the time the LPC officially acts to calendar a proposed historic district for a Public Hearing, a great deal of outreach and groundwork has already been done by the agency.  Public information meetings have been held, private owners have been consulted, official notice to all property owners have been sent out, site visits have been made and a great deal of preliminary building research has been done and accumulated – and that is only on the agency side.At the present juncture, to think of the current proposals put before the Commissioners for a vote to proceed as mere “study areas” disregards all that preliminary work.Thus, if this is a change in the LPC designation procedures, then that should be made clear to all parties.

Moving forward, all proposals to potentially designate historic districts should continue to be heard with the full public engagement of all the participants at the Landmarks Commission meetings.  If the meetings are kept open to the public, the boundaries of the “study areas” can be discussed and refined.Through this methodical open process, one might imagine that the boundaries of such “study areas” can be introduced and discussed so as to encompass the totality of an historic neighborhood, which could then be better refined, rather than the carefully-drawn, property-by-property boundaries which current practice introduces for votes to be calendared.

Regardless of any proposed future changes, this is not how currently pending historic districts were considered, and it should not be the one under which they are processed.  Fundamentally, HDC believes that if the LPC is considering shrinking the boundaries of the heard but not designated Riverside-West End Historic District Extension II, that the public hearing should be reopened and that public testimony by permitted on this new proposal.Thus, moving forward, HDC requests that the Landmarks Preservation Commission should continue to make its designation process transparent and open to public engagement in an equitable and accountable manner.

Thank you for your consideration of this matter and for all the important work you do for the City of New York.


Simeon Bankoff
Executive Director

CC: Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer
CM Rosenthal, District 7, Manhattan
Peg Breen, The New York Landmarks Conservancy
Josette Amato, West End Preservation Society
Claudette Brady, Bedford-Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation

[1]  East Village/Lower East Side Historic District (2012).
[2]  Madison Square North Historic District (2001).
[3]  NoHo Historic District Extension (2008), Upper East Side Historic District Extension (2010), and East 10th Street Historic District (2012).

The Reach of the Landmarks Law: A Balancing Act
Thursday, June 18 at 6:30pm

When New York’s landmarks law took effect 50 years ago, it forever changed the course of the city’s history. But has its proponents’ full vision been realized this past half century? In some cases, the law may have in fact been surpassed by newer legislation in other cities. Could ours be strengthened, or are additional preservation tools needed to complement the law? At this panel, preservation experts will discuss these and other questions exploring the possibilities, limitations, and challenges of the landmarks law. This program delves into the themes of our exhibition Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarkson view through September 13.

Reception to follow!

  • Alison G. Greenberg, HDC Board Memeber, Partner, Calcagni & Kanefsky
  • Leonard Koerner, Chief Assistant Corporation Counsel, NYC Law Department, Office of the Corporation
  • Paul W. Edmondson, Chief Legal Officer/General Counsel, National Trust for Historic Preservation
  • Sami Naim, Vice President, Law and Policy, Municipal Art Society of New York
  • Michael T. Sillerman, Partner, Kramer Levin Naftalis & Frankel
  • Meredith J. Kane (moderator), Partner, Paul Weiss

Co-sponsored by Bryan CaveBryant Rabbino, and Carter Ledyard & Milburn

1.5 LU AIA CES will be offered for attending this event.


Free for Museum members; $12 for students/seniors; $16 for general public.

Register Here

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Category: Blog, E-bulletin, LPC · Tags: ,

HDC Testimony for LPC Hearing on June 16, 2015

Posted by on Monday, June 15, 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 1
178-15 Murdock Avenue – Addisleigh Park Historic District
144604 – Block 10301, lot 62, Zoned R2

Community District 12, Queens

A free standing Tudor Revival style house with attached garage, built c. 1932. Application is to legalize façade alterations and the installation of a fence without LPC permit(s).

178-15 Murdock Avenue

178-15 Murdock Avenue-2

HDC feels that the work performed on this house is a good example of the kind of intervention that landmarking is meant to prevent. The LPC issues emergency permits for situations such as this, but the work performed goes beyond necessary repairs and introduces inappropriate elements to this building’s style. HDC is opposed to the removal of the stone at the base, and finds the brick replacement to be alien to the building’s character. The introduction of a bay window and modification of the front door are also unnecessary and non-restorative changes. Additionally, the half-timbering on this house is a fine, original feature, one that would greatly enhance and honor the house’s Tudor Revival style if repainted.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 3
65 Broadway – American Express Company Building – Individual Landmark
168495 – Block 21, lot 4, Zoned C5-5

Community District 1, Manhattan

A neo-Classical style office building designed by James L. Aspinwall of Renwick, Aspinwall and Tucker and built in 1916-17. Application is to alter entrances.

65 Broadway-1

65 Broadway-2

The proposed entrance provides a discreet way to provide ADA access. However, rather than replicating the treatment of the existing storefront sign band on the southern bay, which is too big, perhaps the central bay could provide a better model for both.

LPC determination: No Action


Item 6
837 Washington Street – Gansevoort Market Historic District
171645 – Block 645, lot 25, Zoned M1-5

Community District 2, Manhattan

A Moderne style market building designed by David M. Oltarch and built in 1938. Application is to install storefront infill and signage.

837 Washington Street

HDC finds the changes to the storefront to be appropriate, but asks that the large illuminated sign be brought down in scale. Given its massive size and the fact that it stands off the face of the building, its impact would be excessive for this historic district.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 7
59 East 2nd Street – East Village/Lower East Side Historic District
167917 – Block 443, lot 16, Zoned R8B

Community District 3, Manhattan

A Gothic Revival style religious building designed by J.C. Cady & Company and built in 1891. Application is to install signage.

59 East 2nd Street-1

59 East 2nd Street-2

HDC finds the proposed sign to be tasteful and sensitive to this lovely building. We would ask, though, that every effort be made to preserve the fragile stone by ensuring that the anchorage points for the sign are at the mortar joints only. That way, if the sign were to be removed at a later date, the stone will not be damaged.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 8
125 Fifth Avenue – Ladies’ Mile Historic District
169606 – Block 848, lot 4, Zoned C6-4M

Community District 5, Manhattan

A neo-Gothic style dwelling built c. 1850-51, and altered c. 1921-23 by Irving Margon. Application is to modify an elevator bulkhead built in non-compliance with Certificate of No Effect 09-3964, and to construct a rooftop addition.

125 Fifth Avenue

In addition to disrupting the character of this building and its distinctive roofline, the proposed rooftop addition is extremely visible from up and down this architecturally magnificent stretch of Fifth Avenue. We ask that more effort be made to pull it back from the street wall.

LPC determination: No Action


Item 11
347 West 84th Street – Riverside – West End Extension I Historic District
168073 – Block 1246, lot 14, Zoned R6B

Community District 7, Manhattan

A Queen Anne style rowhouse designed by Joseph M. Dunn and built in 1888-89. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions.

347 West 84th Street-1

While HDC finds the designs of the rooftop and rear yard additions to be generally thoughtful in their approach, we would ask that more masonry be introduced on the rear façade, especially on the second floor. The windows along the lot line are somewhat odd, lending a “fish bowl” effect to the addition, which would not be in keeping with the neighborhood.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 12
55 West 90th Street – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District
168466 – Block 1204, lot 109, Zoned R7-2

Community District 7, Manhattan

A Queen Anne style rowhouse designed by William F. Burroughs and built in 1885-86. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions.

55 West 90th Street

The peaked roofs on this row of houses are an important and distinctive feature, and should not be obstructed. As such, the proposed rooftop addition should be made completely invisible, including the guard rail, which is visible behind the roof peak in the mock-up photographs. Perhaps the addition could be pulled back a few feet to rectify this.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 13
188 Columbus Avenue – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District
168840 – Block 1140, lot 32, Zoned C1-8A

Community District 7, Manhattan

A neo-Grec style tenement building designed by Babcock & McAvoy, and built in 1885-86. Application is to legalize the installation of storefront infill without Landmarks Preservation Commission permits.

188 Columbus Avenue

HDC feels that this storefront was suffering to begin with, but the proposed design does nothing to improve it. A less banal storefront would be most welcome in bringing this building in the right direction.

LPC determination: Denied


Item 14
132 West 75th Street – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District
161479 – Block 1146, lot 48, Zoned R8B

Community District 7, Manhattan

A Renaissance Revival style rowhouse with Queen Anne style elements designed by Gilbert A. Schellenger and built in 1890. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions, alter the rear façade, and excavate the rear yard.

132 West 75th Street

Our committee finds the proposed rear façade, with its varied fenestration pattern, to lack internal organization. This jumble of windows would be a disrespectful imposition on the character of the block. The rooftop addition appears to be invisible from the street, though our committee could not quite determine this without the proper documentation.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 16
18 East 63rd Street – Upper East Side Historic District
170928 – Block 1377, lot 160, Zoned R8B

Community District 8, Manhattan

A neo-Grec style rowhouse designed by Gage Inslee and built in 1876. Application is to alter the windows and window surrounds.

18 East 63rd Street-existing

18 East 63rd Street-previously approved

Some regrettable changes have been made to this building’s fenestration over the years. Absent a full restoration, HDC feels that reintroducing the fourth floor window sills to align with the neighboring rowhouse would improve the harmony of the façade. We would, therefore, prefer that the previously approved condition, rather than either Option A or Option B, be approved once more.

LPC determination: Approved



Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: , , , , , ,

The Frick Collection Rethinks Its Expansion Plan

Posted by on Thursday, June 4, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

Birds eye view

Last night, it was announced that the controversial plan to expand the landmark Frick Collection has been withdrawn by its Board of Trustees.  The Historic Districts Council vigorously opposed this plan, believing it to be a myopic solution which would compromise the museum’s unique character. We are very pleased that the leadership of the Frick Collection has chosen to rethink this move and we look forward to seeing a new proposal.
We would further like to thank the institution, which has been forthcoming with presentations and participated in a lively, well-mannered public discussion.
While this issue might seem extraordinarily local, it has important lessons for all New Yorkers who care about their neighborhoods. On the one hand, there was an institution which was open about its plans and welcomed community comment before seeking governmental approvals, which is a rare and welcome circumstance. On the other, there was a well-organized coalition of neighbors and concerned citizens who calmly and diligently gathered public and critical support while seeking viable alternative solutions that could solve the identified institutional concerns. 
HDC is proud to be part of this effort and we look forward to continuing the important conversation about how the Frick Collection can continue to prosper.  We further hope that other New York City institutions follow their lead and engage New Yorkers in a real public conversation when making plans for their future. 

Image courtesy of NYC&G 

Category: Blog, E-bulletin · Tags: , , ,

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