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

 

Events:

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

Programs:

 

News:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Defending Historic Preservation in New York City

PS 31 - The Castle

The since-demolished P.S. 31, “The Castle of the Grand Concourse”

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

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

Emboldened by years of record growth, REBNY is accusing preservation efforts of driving up housing costs, endangering affordable housing, stopping job creation and economic growth, protecting worthless buildings and penalizing home and business owners with costly fees and delays. REBNY even pursued a serious lobbying effort to transform and weaken the Landmarks Law through a series of bills which would transform how the Landmarks Preservation Commission designates and regulates historic properties. To hear them tell it, landmark designation transforms New York into a lifeless museum city with a “look but don’t touch” mentality.

The Historic Districts Council (“HDC”) feels that nothing could be further from the truth. Preservation practices empower communities, celebrate our history, drive economic growth and sustain development efforts. Preservation enhances our streetscapes, nurtures tourism, encourages investment and employs local labor. It is a popular, populist movement driven by regular New Yorkers who value their homes and their city.

HDC works with community groups throughout the five boroughs on efforts to save, preserve and enhance the special character of New York’s historic neighborhoods. We work with communities from areas as different as the Upper West Side and Bedford-Stuyvesant on the shared goal of empowering the community to have a voice in determining their own future. These two communities are ones whose efforts we honored at the Grassroots Preservation Awards and whose successes have been targeted as “over-reaching” by the real estate lobby.

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

Additional Resources:

Preservation and Job Creation

Press

 

  • 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.

Fort Independence Park Nominated for State and National Register District

Fort Independence Historic District June 27 PR

City Council Moving Forward to Hamper Landmark Designation

Posted by on Thursday, June 23, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

Write to your council member today and ask them to amend the Landmarks timeline bill, Intro 775.

for Intro 775- 6.2.2016-3

Update: City Council passed the Intro. 775a on June 8, 2016

 We have one more chance to end this if we can get Mayor de Blasio to veto the law. Write to Mayor de Blasio and ask that he

veto Intro 775a.

Write to Mayor de Blasio today

Intro 775, the Landmarks Timeline Bill, is coming to a vote at City Council as early as Tuesday, June 7th!

The bill, sponsored by Council members David Greenfield and Peter Koo, will impose deadlines on the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s ability to protect historic buildings. Although the proposed moratorium on designation has been removed, the proposal still contains provisions that would make existing problems with the landmark designation process worse.

How would Intro. 775 make the landmark designation process worse?

The bill requires that the Landmarks Preservation Commission must make decisions on potential historic districts within two (2) years or they will be automatically withdrawn from consideration. Rather than speed up the LPC’s process, this would probably discourage the consideration of large, complicated or controversial districts.

Moreover, the bill does not include protection for properties under consideration nor has Council committed to expand the staff or funding of the Commission.  Intro 775 presents an unfunded mandate which would lead to the automatic denial of protection for historic properties. By not providing the agency with any additional means to safeguard properties under consideration, Intro. 775 creates new hurdles to protection.

At its only public hearing last September, over 100 community groups, individuals and elected officials opposed the proposal, expressing strong concerns that the bill would stifle community-driven preservation activity throughout the city and hamper rather than help agency decision-making. The only supporters of the bill represented business and real estate interests, and mostly spoke about the lack of transparency in the designation process.

The Historic Districts Council has analyzed the Landmarks Commission’s designation activities since 1965 and found that 40 out of 138 historic districts and extensions (approximately 30%) were considered by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for longer than 2 years before being designated. Here’s the full list of designated historic districts, both large and small, which would have been automatically disqualified under the new proposed guidelines:

Bronx: Fieldston • Morris Avenue • Mott Haven • Riverdale

Brooklyn: Bedford •  Bedford-Stuyvesant/Expanded Stuyvesant Heights •  Boerum Hill •  Carroll Gardens •  Clinton Hill •  Cobble Hill •  Cobble Hill Extension •  Crown Heights North Phase III •  Park Slope •  Park Slope Extension 2 •  Stuyvesant Heights

Manhattan: Carnegie Hill •  Central Park West – 76th Street •  Chelsea •  Expanded Carnegie Hill •  Gramercy Park Extension •  Greenwich Village •  Hamilton Heights •  Henderson Place •  Ladies’ Mile •  Mount Morris Park •  Riverside Drive-West 105th Street •  Riverside Drive-West End •  Riverside- West End Extension II •  SoHo-Cast Iron •  St. Mark’s •  Tribeca East •  Tribeca North •  Tribeca South •  Tribeca South Extension •  Tudor City •  Upper West Side/Central Park West •  West 71st Street •  West End – Collegiate Extension

Queens: Central Ridgewood • Jackson Heights

In many instances these designations required time for the Landmarks Commission to reach out to the widest possible community and perform the in-depth research necessary to properly regulate the area. In other cases, external schedules such as municipal elections and changes in city administration affected the agency’s ability to expeditiously consider designations. Landmark designation is a permanent change in legal status and there are many examples where allowing the agency extra time to complete its process (if necessary) makes sense in helping to ensure equitable and transparent decision-making.

HDC feels strongly that any bill to revise the Landmarks Law must serve to strengthen it. This current proposal must be amended at the very least to allow the LPC to publicly vote for an extension period for additional consideration for individual landmarks and historic districts and to protect the public interest, this extension provision must not be subject to owner consent. Additionally, City Council should commit to drafting legislation to help protect those properties which are currently calendared and under consideration and pledge to ensure that the agency has enough resources to practically fulfill this new mandate. Anything less must be viewed for what it will be; a new roadblock to the efforts of communities trying to save their neighborhoods.

We depend on your support to protect New York. Can you donate today?

Category: Landmarks Preservation Commission, Legal · Tags:

Veto Intro 775a

Posted by on Thursday, June 23, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

Intro 775a was passed by City Council. Please join HDC and ask Mayor de Blasio to veto Intro 775a today

Intro 775a was passed by City Council on June 8, 2016.

We have one more chance to end this if we can get Mayor de Blasio to veto the law. Write to Mayor de Blasio and ask that he veto Intro 775a.

Write to Mayor de Blasio today


Why HDC and countless others are staunchly against this bill:

The bill requires that the Landmarks Preservation Commission must make decisions on potential historic districts within two (2) years or they will be automatically withdrawn from consideration. Rather than speed up the LPC’s process, this would probably discourage the consideration of large, complicated or controversial districts.

 

Moreover, the bill does not include protection for properties under consideration nor has Council committed to expand the staff or funding of the Commission.  Intro 775 presents an unfunded mandate which would lead to the automatic denial of protection for historic properties. By not providing the agency with any additional means to safeguard properties under consideration, Intro. 775 creates new hurdles to protection.

 

At its only public hearing last September, over 100 community groups, individuals and elected officials opposed the proposal, expressing strong concerns that the bill would stifle community-driven preservation activity throughout the city and hamper rather than help agency decision-making. The only supporters of the bill represented business and real estate interests, and mostly spoke about the lack of transparency in the designation process.

 

The Historic Districts Council has analyzed the Landmarks Commission’s designation activities since 1965 and found that 40 out of 138 historic districts and extensions (approximately 30%) were considered by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for longer than 2 years before being designated. Here’s the full list of designated historic districts, both large and small, which would have been automatically disqualified under the new proposed guidelines:

Bronx: Fieldston • Morris Avenue • Mott Haven • Riverdale

Brooklyn: Bedford •  Bedford-Stuyvesant/Expanded Stuyvesant Heights •  Boerum Hill •  Carroll Gardens •  Clinton Hill •  Cobble Hill •  Cobble Hill Extension •  Crown Heights North Phase III •  Park Slope •  Park Slope Extension 2 •  Stuyvesant Heights

Manhattan: Carnegie Hill •  Central Park West – 76th Street •  Chelsea •  Expanded Carnegie Hill •  Gramercy Park Extension •  Greenwich Village •  Hamilton Heights •  Henderson Place •  Ladies’ Mile •  Mount Morris Park •  Riverside Drive-West 105th Street •  Riverside Drive-West End •  Riverside- West End Extension II •  SoHo-Cast Iron •  St. Mark’s •  Tribeca East •  Tribeca North •  Tribeca South •  Tribeca South Extension •  Tudor City •  Upper West Side/Central Park West •  West 71st Street •  West End – Collegiate Extension

Queens: Central Ridgewood • Jackson Heights

 

In many instances these designations required time for the Landmarks Commission to reach out to the widest possible community and perform the in-depth research necessary to properly regulate the area. In other cases, external schedules such as municipal elections and changes in city administration affected the agency’s ability to expeditiously consider designations. Landmark designation is a permanent change in legal status and there are many examples where allowing the agency extra time to complete its process (if necessary) makes sense in helping to ensure equitable and transparent decision-making.

 

HDC feels strongly that any bill to revise the Landmarks Law must serve to strengthen it. This current proposal must be amended at the very least to allow the LPC to publicly vote for an extension period for additional consideration for individual landmarks and historic districts and to protect the public interest, this extension provision must not be subject to owner consent. Additionally, City Council should commit to drafting legislation to help protect those properties which are currently calendared and under consideration and pledge to ensure that the agency has enough resources to practically fulfill this new mandate. Anything less must be viewed for what it will be; a new roadblock to the efforts of communities trying to save their neighborhoods.


Read HDC’s joint letter with Greenwich Village Society for Historic PreservationLandmark West!Friends of the Upper East Side Historic Districts, Municipal Art Society, and the New York Landmarks Conservancy

 

Read the letter from the Professional Archaeologists of New York City, Inc.


We depend on your support to protect New York. Can you donate today?

Category: Featured, Landmarks Preservation Commission, Legal, Special Blog · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on June 21, 2016

Posted by on Monday, June 20, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

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

Item 2
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN
185199- Block 1907, lot 139-
108 West 123rd Street – Mount Morris Park Extension Historic District

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

HDC found the circulation which reads on the exterior too pronounced. This slab, especially next to an open lot, does something to the streetscape which is not inviting, and seems especially tall. HDC understands that there are several examples of new construction in this immediate vicinity built prior to designation, but a new building here should aim for cohesion and scale, even less foreign materials, to complement the district.

108 W 123

108 W 123 alt

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 4
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN
186335- Block 819, lot 26-
21 West 17th Street and 16 West 18th Street – Ladies’ Mile Historic District

A mid-20th century Commercial style converted dwelling built in 1850, and modified by Irving Kay in 1949, and altered in 1999; and a Utilitarian style converted stable built in 1867, and altered in 1910. Application is to demolish the existing buildings and to construct a new building.

HDC would like to thank the applicants for making a courteous, special presentation to our organization and stakeholders. In general, we found the proposed new construction appealing and of quality materials. While sound arguments were presented for justification of demolishing these buildings, the resounding argument here is that these buildings were chosen by your Commission to be included in the historic district.  Even more, this Commission did not find it appropriate to demolish 16 West 18th Street in 2005 because of its contributing and irreplaceable fabric to this district.  We are not arguing that these buildings are the highest or best examples of architecture, but their scale is represented by only 16 other buildings in the district.

There is a large swath of unprotected fabric not far in the Madison Square North area, which, after the community there was denied landmark status, is full of potential development sites that could produce such a building as the one proposed. In general, there has been an increasing, predatory trend in historic districts citywide to identify low scale buildings and reinterpret their significance, which is not the best preservation practice.  In conclusion, in our role as New York’s only citywide advocate for historic neighborhoods, we cannot support this application.

Ladies Mile existing

Ladies Mile proposed

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 5
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN
186334- Block 819, lot 56-
23-27 West 17th Street – Ladies’ Mile Historic District

A neo-Renaissance style store and loft building designed by George H. Anderson and built in 1906. Application is to install storefront infill and signage.

Overall, this is a vast improvement, as a storefront enhances the street much more than sheet metal. That said, HDC found the artwork proposed to be kitschy, and this storefront would succeed similarly if treated in frosted glass or some other obscured treatment.

23-27 W 17 St existing

23-27 W 17 St mural

LPC determination: Approved
Item 7
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN
186476- Block 96, lot 1-
11 Fulton Street – South Street Seaport Historic District

A contemporary market building designed by Benjamin Thompson and Associates and built in 1983. Application is to amend Commission Binding Report 16-3334 for the installation of signage.

The advent of big box retail is on full display in the plans for signage, which is inappropriate in the South Street Seaport. The ancient street grid in this location negates the need to see signage from so far away, as this district, and much of the city, operates quite well from a pedestrian level. We urge the LPC to implore the applicant to think outside of the big box, and reduce the scale of this signage.

11 Fulton

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 10
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN
185468- Block 214, lot 12-
11 Hubert Street – TriBeCa West Historic District

A garage designed by Dietrich Wortmann and built in 1946, with a two-story addition built in 1989-90. Application is to alter the facades and construct additions.

While HDC found the proposed scale to be appropriate, four stories of glass applied to the corner is not contextual with a mostly masonry streetscape. The 1989-90 alterations seem to work well here, almost appearing Bauhaus with its strips of ribbon windows and glass block. HDC suggests working from this regularized design to enlarge this building, as opposed to adding many different sized openings on this facade, which gives it an appearance of a block of Swiss cheese.

11 Hubert existing11 Hubert proposed

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 13
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN
185336- Block 616, lot 32-
11-19 Jane Street – Greenwich Village Historic District

A garage building constructed in 1921. Application is to demolish the existing building and construct a new building.

HDC does not support the demolition of this low-rise garage in the Greenwich Village Historic District. The garage fits seamlessly into this block, offering texture and scale, and lending a history to the automobile, which was a new feature on New York’s streets at the time of its completion. What was only 40 years old at time of designation is now nearly a century old, and worthy of preservation. What’s more, this building is remarkably intact. With only three percent of the entire city landmarked, HDC finds it appalling that low scale buildings like this one are proposed for demolition, despite their landmark status. The building proposed for this site is the antithesis of what Greenwich Village looks and feels like, and the fact that an historic building would be lost to make way for it makes it even worse.  

11-15 Jane existing11-15 Jane proposed

LPC determination: No action

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on June 14, 2016

Posted by on Monday, June 13, 2016 · 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
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN
183466- Block 2569, lot 58-
218 Guernsey Street – Greenpoint Historic District
A frame house built c. 1870 and later altered. Application is to alter the front facade.

This house is proof that with sensitive stewardship, even the most altered historic fabric can be reconfigured into a work of art. HDC would like to commend this applicant for conducting a probe, finding historic fabric and making a case to replace it in kind, as opposed to using decay as justification for a non-sympathetic intervention. Landmark designation in this district will ensure that over time, one by one, these less fortunate wooden houses will be restored. This property definitely sets an idyllic example.

218 Guernsey St existing

218 Guernsey St proposed

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 4
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN
177428- Block 1227, lot 73-
815 Prospect Place – Crown Heights North II Historic District
A Colonial Revival style semi-attached house designed by Axel S. Hedman and built c. 1907. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions, alter window openings and perform excavation.

This application is asking for a tremendous amount without submitting enough historic evidence. If the intention is to restore the facade in exchange for the apartment building that this house has sprouted above and behind it, it should be determined if the columned porch existed here like its neighbor. This presence of a driveway at this property lends a high degree of interest and visibility toward the rear, where this mass, complete with large balconies, will present itself. This condition, coupled with the visibility of the rooftop, is inappropriate. This is a rowhouse-scaled block, with semi-detached houses. Development of this scale and density is inappropriate on this particular street, in this midblock location, and is exploitative of a diminutive house.

815 Prospect existing

815 Prospect rear

815 Prospect rooftop

LPC determination: No action
 Item 5
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN
174918- Block 496, lot 40-
75 Spring Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Extension Historic District
A Romanesque Revival style store building, design by Robert Lyons and built in 1898. Application is to replace windows.

There are a number of reasons why HDC finds this application inappropriate. First and foremost, original wooden windows are being proposed to be replaced in aluminum, which we all know is subpar for this building, its use and its location. Secondly, these round arched windows are special windows and careful consideration is supposed to apply to them. If not, why bother classifying architectural features as special? Third, the windows being replaced occupy only one floor which is the top story. An argument could be made, that, since these windows are so high up, their material may not be discernible. However, replacement in aluminum here will most certainly set a precedent for the rest of the building’s future replacement plans.  With these concerns in mind, HDC asks that these windows be repaired or replaced in wood so that they can last another century.

75 Spring

LPC determination: Approved
Item 6
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN
172990- Block 1201, lot 23-
7 West 87th Street – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District
A Renaissance Revival style rowhouse designed by Henry F. Cook and built in 1894. Application is to alter the basement level entrance.

Unfortunately, the ground level of these stately row houses has seen better days, including many alterations and a utilitarian appearance. This proposal does not do anything to ameliorate these conditions, and instead cuts a disproportionate hole into the block. If this entry is absolutely programmatically necessary, then HDC suggests making this entrance distinguished in some way, with a frame or other demarcation.

7 West 87

LPC determination: Approved
 Item 7
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN
178237- Block 1382, lot 49-
30 East 68th Street – Upper East Side Historic District
A neo-Renaissance style apartment building designed by F. B. and A. Ware and built in 1924-25. Application is to create and enlarge masonry openings.

Symmetry and proportion are essential to classically-inspired architecture, but this proposal takes original design choices and discards of them through their very large proposed new window openings.  HDC found that turning the corner with the storefront was an appropriate choice, but adding perfunctory openings and removing muntins which are distinguished features is another matter, which we deem as ill-advised and even as far as poor in appearance.

30 East 68 exisiting30 East 68 proposed

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on June 7, 2016

Posted by on Monday, June 6, 2016 · 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 8
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN
179537- Block 823, lot 75-
60 West 22nd Street – Ladies’ Mile Historic District
A converted dwelling built in 1853 and redesigned in a late 19th century commercial style by Jordan & Giller in 1891. Application is to remove vault covers and install paving.

HDC does not support this application. In the past, diamond plate was used as a place holder solution because vault lights manufacturing became obsolete.  Now, these round relics are being produced again and we strongly encourage the restoration of vault lights whenever we have the opportunity. Pouring concrete here will eradicate any opportunity in the future to put this lovely feature back.  The fact that vault lights are not readily found in the Ladies’ Mile makes their existence here all the more interesting.

60 W 22

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 9
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN
180868- Block 208, lot 317-
190 Columbia Heights – Brooklyn Heights Historic District
An Italianate style rowhouse built in 1856. Application is to legalize the installation of windows without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s), and to modify HVAC units installed without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

This promontory location serves as the first glance of Brooklyn Heights from the waterfront. The rear facades here are arguably not secondary in terms of normal measurements of appropriateness because of their visibility. HDC holds that tilt-turn windows are not a permissible feature in this historic district, and found that the AC units clutter this façade. We suggest that the applicant explore placing these units on the rooftop.

190 Columbia Heights

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 11
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN
181772- Block 252, lot 22-
34 Grace Court – Brooklyn Heights Historic District
An Italianate style rowhouse built between 1861 and 1879. Application is to remove a bay window and to construct a rear yard addition.

The prescriptive all glass rear façade seems like a lot of demolition work for little gain. The bay, while likely not original, is charming and should be incorporated somehow into the rear façade.

34 Grace existing

34 Grace Court proposed

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 12
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN
180715- Block 253, lot 13-
89 Joralemon Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District
An Anglo-Italianate style rowhouse built in 1861-79. Application is to replace windows, alter the rear faзade, excavate the rear yard and install rooftop mechanical equipment and a bulkhead.

HDC found the choice of materials inappropriate for Brooklyn Heights. Black, stacked bricks are an unusual choice of color and bond, and choosing an earthly colored brick would be more harmonious. The proposed palette, coupled with steel railings, has the appearance of new condo construction, not the rear of a Civil War era house.
89 Joralemon

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 16
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN
182255- Block 200, lot 6-
14 Old Fulton Street – Fulton Ferry Historic District
A one-story gas station. Application is to construct a mechanical shed addition, and install new infill, signage, lighting, awnings, rooftop mechanical equipment, and paving.

HDC found it refreshing that this defunct building will be adaptively reused without demolishing and/or substantially enlarging it. This popular, but small, district is the pedestrian pathway to the Brooklyn waterfront, and unlike neighboring DUMBO, this strip has retained its scale and avoided the infiltration of glass boxes. Projects like these help keep its character.

old fulton historicold fulton proposed

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 18
CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS
BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN
185667- Block 1206, lot 7501-
327 Central Park West – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District
A neo-Renaissance style apartment building designed by Nathan Korn and built in 1928-29. Application is to replace windows.

What is the point of regulating windows if individual apartments in skyscrapers each have a different window? If anything, these types of applications should move in the direction to correct inappropriate fenestration, not further confound it. There is certainly such a thing as precedent, and this is a glaring example. Further, the application purports that this is not visible from a public thoroughfare. Is Central Park not the largest public park in Manhattan?

327 CPW

LPC determination: Approved

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

Preservation in the News

Posted by on Friday, June 3, 2016 · 1 Comment 

New Research on How Historic Districts Affect Affordable Housing

City Limits By

There’s new evidence in the long-running debate over whether historic landmarks promote or paralyze the development and preservation of affordable housing in New York City.

The take-away from studies released in May by the Landmarks Conservancy and the Historic Districts Council is that historic districts don’t matter very much when it comes to housing affordability, a finding that would refute landmarking opponents who say the designations harm affordability.

Click here to read the whole article


A new study from the Historic Districts Council shows that historic districts are not the enemy of affordable housing

Architects Newspaper By AUDREY WACHS

Timed to the 50th anniversary of the New York City Landmarks Law, The New York Landmarks Conservancy, NYU’s Furman Center, and Historic Districts Council (HDC) issued independent studies that analyzed the impact of historic preservation on theeconomy, environment, and housing affordability in New York City.

The idea that historic districts drive up housing prices—and drive out poorer residents—is baked into conventional narratives of urban development. This month, the HDC, one of the city’s oldest grassroots preservation advocacy organizations, released an analytic report that shows a different side of the story.

Historic district designation, crucially, didn’t prevent the development of government-subsidized housing, nor did designation reduce the number of subsidized units at a rate greater than non-designated areas.

Click here to read the whole article


Celebrate East New York’s Historic Architecture on a Walking Tour This Weekend

East New York’s historic architecture — little of which has been landmarked — is being recognized as part of the Historic Districts Council’s Six to Celebrateprogram this weekend with a Six to Celebrate Tour.

Longtime neighborhood resident Farrah Lafontant will lead the tour, sharing the history of area gems like the Holy Trinity Russian Orthodox Church, a Magistrates Court, the former East New York Savings Bank site, Maxwell’s Bakery, and the Empire State Dairy Company factory complex.

Click here to read the whole article


History in the taking! Landmarks OKs Park Slope Historic District expansion, but preservationists want more

Brownstoner by Hannah Frishberg

Brooklyn Paper: BY ANNA RUTH RAMOS

“It took a long time but we’re pleased its finally happened,” said Simon Bankoff of preservation advocacy group the Historic Districts Council, which championed the plan primarily driven by the Park Slope Civic Council. “We look forward to the rest of Park Slope being protected.”

Click here to read the whole article


Pepsi-Cola Sign in Queens Gains Landmark Status

New York Times: By

Other properties from the backlog agenda that were designated on Tuesday were: the mid-19th-century William H. Schofield farmhouse on City Island in the Bronx; the Fort Hamilton Parkway entrance to the Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn and the Green-Wood Cemetery Chapel; the 18th-century Van Sicklen House in the Gravesend neighborhood of Brooklyn; the main sanctuary, parish house and rectory of St. Michael’s Episcopal Church on the Upper West Side of Manhattan; an early 19th-century Federal-style house at 57 Sullivan Street in Greenwich Village; the Second Empire-style Ahles House in Bayside, Queens; and the Vanderbilt Mausoleum on Todt Hill in the New Dorp section of Staten Island.

Click here to read the whole article


Preservationist titan Otis Pearsall opposes the landmarking of Green-Wood Cemetery

Brooklyn Daily Eagle By:Lore Croghan

The renowned preservationist told the city Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) at a hearing Thursday that officials at the celebrated 19th-Century cemetery do an outstanding job of caring for the historic 478-acre graveyard.

He questioned whether it would be a wise use of  the agency’s limited resources to monitor the preservationist efforts of this institution with its history of impeccable behavior.

Click here to read the whole article


 

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

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS BY KATHERINE CLARKE

 

“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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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 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

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‘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

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‘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

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‘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

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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

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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

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Op-Ed: No Tower on the Seaport

Strausmedia BY MARGARET CHIN AND GALE BREWER

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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.’

NEW YORK DAILY NEWS, BY 

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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

 

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

Click here to read the whole article

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The War on New York’s Waterfront

New York Times By PAUL GREENBERG, ROLAND LEWIS and JOAN K. DAVIDSON

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

Click here to read the whole article

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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.”

Click here to read the whole article

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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.

Click here to read the whole article

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Buildings With a Past

Creating New York Apartments From Unlikely Buildings

NYTimes By C. J. HUGHES

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

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

Click here to read the whole article

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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

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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

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RIZZOLI CEILING SOON TO PERISH

 

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

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Library’s Rose Main Reading Room Closed for Six Months

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

Wall Street Journal By Jennifer Maloney

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole article

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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].”

Click here to read the whole article

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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.

Click here to read the whole article

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Ratner wins prize for best … preservationist?

Brooklyn Paper
BY MATTHEW PERLMAN

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

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DOWNTOWN ALLIANCE RELEASES REPORT

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.

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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

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

By 
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

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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

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Public Library Is Abandoning Disputed Plan for Landmark

NYTimes By ROBIN POGREBIN

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

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New York Public Library Scraps Redesign Plans

The Controversial Renovation Plan Prompted Three Lawsuits

WSJ By JENNIFER MALONEY

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

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

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

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

Click here to read the full article

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

 

Crains BY ANDREW J. HAWKINS

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

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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 Aaron Betsky

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

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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

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HONORS> HISTORIC DISTRICTS COUNCIL DESIGN AWARDS

Architects Newspaper By: Alan G. Brake

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

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

Click here to read the full article

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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.

Click here to read the full story

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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

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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.

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Merchant’s House-Neighboring Hotel Approved by Landmarks

Curbed by Jeremiah Budin

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

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

Click here to read the full article

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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.

Click here to read the full article

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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

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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

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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

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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

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

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

BY JEFFREY A. KROESSLER/New York Observer

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

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

BY / NEW YORK DAILY NEWS

 

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
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Cities Mobilize to Help Those Threatened by Gentrification

By TIMOTHY WILLIAMS/New York Times

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.”

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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

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 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

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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

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Potential Historic District Supported by Elected Officials and Community Boards

By: Jesse Denno/City Land

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

Click here to read the full article
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Category: Featured · Tags: , , ,

Secret Lives Tour- Grace Church

Posted by on Tuesday, May 31, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

Join the Historic Districts Council for a special Secret Lives Tour or Grace Church- Wed, June 29, 2016

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

11:00 am

Grace Church interior

Join the Historic Districts Council for a special Secret Lives tour of Grace Church, led by The Reverend J. Donald Waring, Rector. One of the most famous and recognizable religious structures in the city, Grace Church has commanded views from both sides of Broadway’s distinctive bend at 10th Street since 1846. Designed by James Renwick, Jr., the church, together with Richard Upjohn’s design for the new Trinity Church in the same year, heralded the arrival of the Gothic Revival style in New York City. In fact, upon its completion, the church, with its pointed arches, magnificent rose window, and elegant spire, became one of the finest examples of Gothic Revival architecture in the country. The structure and its adjacent Rectory were designated as Individual Landmarks in 1966, one year after the Landmarks Law was enacted. The church is also a National Historic Landmark and is on the National Register of Historic Places. The tour will include highlights of the church’s magnificent sanctuary, as well as a peek inside the Honor Room and the Chantry.

 

$50 Friends/Seniors

$75 General Admission

Click here to register 

Category: Featured, Secret Lives Tour · Tags:

Letter from Assembly Member Daniel J. O’Donnell – Designate Morningside Heights

Posted by on Thursday, May 26, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

Morningside HTSDear Neighbor,

Did you know that historic Morningside Heights is not protected?

For the past 20 years the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee and I have called on the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) to give Morningside Heights historic designation. A historic district would protect our neighborhood’s architectural history and sense of place that so many admire.

I have also called for the rezoning of Morningside Heights so that new developments will not be allowed to build taller than the natural landscape of the neighborhood. Current zoning laws allow developers to build as tall as they want without restrictions.

Unfortunately, inaction by the LPC and the city has resulted in many non-contextual, luxury developments that mar the history and beauty of our neighborhood.

Now I am asking YOU to stand up for the cause and join us in asking for protection of our neighborhood. Only a historic landmark and rezoning can save the grandeur of Morningside Heights for generations to come.

Tell Mayor de Blasio and the LPC that Morningside Heights needs historic designation and rezoning now by signing the petition.

Join #HistoricMorningside

 

 

Very Truly Yours,

 

Daniel J. O’Donnell

Assembly Member

Category: Designation, Six to Celebrate · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on May 24, 2016

Posted by on Monday, May 23, 2016 · 1 Comment 

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

Item 2

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

BOROUGH OF BROOKLYN

175212 – Block 2099, lot 20

39 South Elliott Place – Fort Greene Historic District

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

HDC urges the Commission to demand a higher quality design for this site, this block and this district. The proposed house is very clumsy in its proportions, neither working from the dimensions of its former twin, number 37 South Elliott Place, nor ignoring those dimensions completely in favor of a contemporary approach. Even if the applicant wanted something contemporary, the design should at least reference the grid and height established by number 37, as the site’s relationship to that existing house is immediately discernible by virtue of their unique and shared narrow width. Ignoring that relationship would effectively create a permanent “elephant-in-the-room” situation.

Regardless of how number 39 does not attempt to take cues from number 37, including its window placement and its stark and overpowering roofline, there are proportional issues even if it were a stand-alone house. Its lack of a stoop and door surround misses an opportunity to give the façade some depth, and makes the door appear proportionally tiny when compared with the façade’s very large windows. There are other awkward proportions on the front façade, as rendered, including the different widths between the windows on each floor and the fact that the front door and the window next to it on the ground level do not line up.

HDC also wishes to make a plea for better materiality. It appears that the façade is to be clad in stucco to mimic limestone, which is problematic for obvious reasons. Even if the applicant proposed to clad the house in limestone, there is no precedent for limestone facades – or rustication – on this block. Our committee also finds the stepping of the rear façade to be a form that is too fussy and not justified in this context. We ask that the overall design of the proposed house be rethought and dramatically refined, as is expected in our historic districts.

LPC determination: No Action

 39 S. Elliott-tax photo
39 S. Elliott-proposed

Item 5

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

BOROUGH OF MANHATTAN

183594 – Block 1505, lot 63

16 East 94th Street – Carnegie Hill Historic District

A rowhouse built in 1891-92 and altered in the neo-Federal style c. 1925. Application is to alter the neo-Federal style front façade, and construct rear yard additions.
It is well established that 1920s neo-Federal and neo-Georgian alterations are a character-defining attribute of the Upper East Side’s townhouses. As architectural historians have noted, they mark a significant phase in the district’s history that should be respected. For this reason, HDC opposes the proposed alterations to the front façade of 16 East 94th Street. On first glance, the changes may seem innocuous, but this building’s austere, neo-Federal charm is evident already and not in need of gratuitous tinkering with historic fabric. HDC also finds that although the rear has been altered, the original masonry openings are still visible and the brick cornice lines are intact. It would be a shame to lose these historic details.
LPC determination: Approved

16 E. 94th-existing

16 E. 94th-proposed

 

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: ,

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