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



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




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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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



  • 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.

Secret Lives Tour- Morgan Library-psot


225 Madison Avenue at 36th Street

December 8, 2016


Pierpont Morgan’s 1906 library is among the great treasures of New York. Deputy Director Brian Regan will give an insider’s look at the Morgan’s splendid architecture, including the designated McKim, Mead & White library and annex and the Renzo Piano expansion, now celebrating its tenth anniversary. Attendees can also view the designated Phelps Stokes – J. P. Morgan Jr. House which now houses the gift shop and cafe.


Meeting location provided upon registration

Category: Event · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Designation and Permit Testimony for Hearing on December 6, 2016

Posted by on Monday, December 5, 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
LP – 2585
1047 Amsterdam Avenue – Cathedral St. John the Divine and the Cathedral Close
Despite three hearings in 1966, one in 1979, and one in 2002, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine nor its Close has ever been designated an official landmark site. HDC has long supported the Morningside Heights community and its decades-long wishes to designate the cathedral and its close. The close is such an integral part of this ecclesiastical complex that the community did not want the cathedral designated without the inclusion of the close, and for good reason. As HDC testified in 2002,
“There may be room in the cathedral close for additional structures, but those structures must be designed and sited so that they do not compromise the Cathedral itself.  These decisions, we feel, are best made by the Commission, after adequate public review.  Without designation of the entire site, and with designation of the Cathedral alone, we are troubled by the possibility of the designated landmark being hemmed in to the extent that its preservation is in name only.”
It is unfortunate that the condominium developments within the close have been completed far ahead of the cathedral’s own repairs and completion.  These two high-rise condominiums now occupy the close, which are out of scale, clash in materials, and have troubling proximity to the old cathedral.

It remains the largest Gothic cathedral in the world and its sheer mass, made of solid stone, is a nod to the cathedrals of the Old World. Just like its European predecessors, which often took hundreds of years to build, this cathedral has entered its third century unfinished. It is comforting knowing that future work to this monument and its campus will benefit from the Landmarks Preservation Commission’s oversight, and be spared of any more aesthetic erosion.

Item 2
LP – 2584
The Historic Districts Council enthusiastically endorses the designation of the Morningside Heights Historic District. Local residents and preservationists have been advocating for a district for over 20 years. HDC named the neighborhood one of its Six to Celebrate in 2012, and is proud to have worked closely with the Morningside Heights Historic District Committee to strategize for its successful designation.
While the neighborhood may be best known for its world famous institutions of higher learning, none of which are included within the district boundaries before you today, this is only one part of its fascinating story and architectural character. Its eastern and western borders consist of two designated scenic landmarks, the Olmsted-designed Morningside and Riverside parks, while all around is a fine mix of early 20th century residential architecture, from single-family rowhouses to Beaux-Arts style apartment buildings. With the exception of two churches, this district focuses entirely on the neighborhood’s residential story, but that story is well worth telling. Even before zoning laws were introduced to regulate land use, developers in Morningside Heights constructed rowhouses and modest apartment buildings on the side streets and grand apartment houses on the avenues, with particularly monumental examples on Riverside Drive, Claremont Avenue and Cathedral Parkway, and mixed-use commercial buildings along Broadway, giving the neighborhood a heterogeneous yet cohesive character. Its sense of place is derived from the confluence of this residential developmental trend paired with that of the development of its institutions, just steps away from one another.

In addition to steering clear of the neighborhood’s large institutions, it is regrettable that the proposed district also cuts out quite a number of buildings included in proposals by locals and elected officials, including sections of the neighborhood stretching up to its northern boundary at 125th Street. In particular, HDC finds the omission of Morningside Drive, the neighborhood’s eastern boundary and with which it shares its name (both were named after the park), to be a questionable decision. The less opulent apartment houses on Morningside Drive, constructed for a middle class clientele due to relative distance from the subway, play a role in telling the story of the neighborhood and deserve to be protected. Additionally, the promenade on Morningside Drive features observation platforms, imposing stone steps and a statue of social reformer Carl Schurz, all with a view down to the park below. As one of the neighborhood’s most picturesque places, HDC urges the Commission to include it in another phase at some point in the not-too-distant future.

Item 1

404 Grand Avenue – Clinton Hill Historic District


An Italianate style rowhouse built in the 19th Century. Application is to construct a rear yard addition and install rooftop mechanical equipment.

This project proposes to align with its neighbor, no. 406. To accomplish this, the work would entail a four-story demolition of its rear facade, sparing only the primary facade as original historic fabric. The drawings demonstrate that this demolition on the upper two floors would only gain mere feet. What’s more, in terms of appropriateness, this building should remain in plane with the row it is actually a part of, not its neighbor which belongs to a different rowhouse group. Aligning with its own row would allow for the retention of the upper two floors, which should be preserved.

Item 3

30 Middagh Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District


A frame house built in 1824. Application is to alter the roof and replace windows.

The 1920s roof alteration does not lay the groundwork for a full on flattening of a Federal roof, because this alteration still preserved a pitch, which is one of the most character-defining features of this early building typology.  The proposed ceiling heights in the top floor are a generous 9’6″ which could be reduced to produce a ceiling height that is livable but also provides a slope which nods to the building’s condition as a Federal rowhouse. In terms of the rear design, this house retains original openings, most significantly the squashed top story windows. HDC asks that some rationalization of this facade be proposed, other than inserting a disproportionate Juliet balcony in the center of historic openings.

Item 4

150 Bergen Street – Boerum Hill Historic District


A Greek Revival style rowhouse, constructed c. 1849-50. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions and replace windows.

While not listed in the docket, the doors proposed are inappropriate, especially the hardware which is modern and out of character with the facade. There are many original doors in Boerum Hill and the examples provided of other replacement doors in the district are unsatisfactory as a basis of comparison. The elevator mass is extremely visible, which is not surprising because it is an over scaled feature for a modestly sized 3-story building. There is not rooftop present anywhere else within this entire block, which is pristine. Regarding the rear yard addition, it is of a scale that is unprecedented in the block, and the upper two stories should be preserved. Collectively, these features as proposed are alien to the block, and the proportions take advantage of the house for an egregious outcome.

Item 2

135 Plymouth Street – DUMBO Historic District


A factory complex built from 1879 to c. 1900, consisting of an Altered Vernacular style factory building, designed by J. Irving Howard, built in 1879, and expanded in 1886, and in 1904; a Romanesque Revival style factory building designed by William B. Tubby and built in 1891; and a Romanesque Revival style drafting room, and office building, designed by Rudolphe L. Daus and built in1900-1904. Application is to replace windows.

In exchange for these aluminum windows, HDC asks that the wooden brick molds in the areas of the special windows be repaired, maintained, or restored.

Item 5

201 MacDonough Street – Stuyvesant Heights Historic District


An Italianate style rowhouse built in 1872-73. Application is to legalize the installation of windows without LPC permit(s).

HDC is unclear how the owner was unaware that this building was landmarked. It’s particularly vexing that there is a lack of awareness of historic district status, given the early date of designation and the wide-spread and well-reported community interest in landmarking. Regardless, historic districts are attractive for a reason: enforcement. Ultimately this aesthetic beauty convinced this owner that buying this property was a good investment. Now, there are aluminum windows which failed at fitting the actual shape of the windows, at first with ignoring the arch tops and then again by ignoring the parlor floor and rigging a transom to force them to fit. This illegal work should not be permitted. HDC would also like to bring to the lpcs attention that many original details have disappeared from this house since its designation in the 1970s when compared with the 1980 tax photo, including the stoop railings and newel posts and the door. Allowing the windows to go will further degrade this property.

Item 8

615 Eastern Parkway – Crown Heights North II Historic District


A Chateauesque style rowhouse built c. 1899 by Frederick L. Hine. Application is to construct an addition, modify the entrance and install a canopy.

While overall a handsome solution to adding a new building to an old one, there are some design decisions which should be modified to become more appropriate. The new addition tries to take a design approach which defaults to the old, such as its simplification of details and its toned-done composition, which is an appropriate gesture to the existing, older and much larger building. However, the connector piece which is partially recessed should set back entirely, including its large spandrels which occupy the same plane as the historic building. Similarly, this design element is repeated at the entrance of the historic building, applying the new design onto the old. This should be eliminated, and instead, the historic porch should be considered as a solution as it was attractive and fits this house and the adjoining opulent houses on the block. Instead of attempting to unify these structures, this composition would be more successful if they were disparate from one another, with the connector serving as a reveal and transition between the historic and the contemporary.

Item 7

118 Rutland Road – Prospect-Lefferts Gardens Historic District


A neo-Renaissance style townhouse designed by Benjamin Driesler and built in 1911. Application is to construct a bay window, rear yard addition and mechanical equipment.

HDC supports this project. It is rare that there is an application which proposes to beautify a rear facade in an historically appropriate manner. The proposed design of the rear porch seems equal to the quality of details and craftsmanship of the early 20th century. This alteration doesn’t simply respect the house, it elevates it.

Item 9

55 Gansevoort Street – Gansevoort Market Historic District


A store and loft building designed by Joseph M. Dunn and built in 1887. Application is to remove the fire escape, replace the canopy, raise the roof, construct a rooftop addition, and install wind screens and mechanical equipment.

There are programmatic issues which make this proposal difficult to not be a glaring distraction along the streetscape. The desire to have two pools atop this irregular roof plan is driving the 7′ tall wind screens along the perimeter, which is not set back. The flatiron nature of this corner makes the appearance of the many angles of the coalescence of this screen even more noticeable, as if the cornice has suddenly sprouted glass. HDC suggests setting back the screens, and therefore the pools, to rectify this problem. The hot tub feature could also be constructed on a platform further back on the roof, instead of wedged into a triangle at the edge of the building.

HDC understands that the former owner illegally removed the vault lights from this property, which were supposed to be retained, and now they are history. We prefer that this feature be reincorporated. With all of the work proposed for the property, most of which focuses on selling itself, a feature like vault lights could be a positive move for business and attracting people to the building. Finally, we are curious to hear commissioner comments on the proposed milk glass globe light fixtures proposed at the canopy. While attractive, we would like to see either a precedent in the district or an explanation of why this design was chosen, other rather than  a showcasing of company wares.

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Designation and Permit Testimony for Hearing on November 29, 2016

Posted by on Monday, November 28, 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.


Statement of the Historic Districts Council

Designation Hearing

November 29, 2016

Item 1

LP – 2586



The Historic Districts Council wholeheartedly endorses the designation of the People’s Trust Company Building at 181 Montague Street. Not only was the building omitted from both the Brooklyn Heights Historic District and the Brooklyn Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District, but it directly abuts a celebrated Individual and Interior Landmark, the Brooklyn Trust Company Building. These two structures, side-by-side, could easily be mistaken as holding the same protected status, given their equally dignified presences at the corner of Montague and Clinton Streets. The People’s Trust Company Building pre-dates the Brooklyn Trust Company Building by roughly ten years, and likely played a role in York & Sawyer’s design process for that later addition to Bank Row. The People’s Trust Company Building represents a purer devotion to Classical design, both in its temple form and meticulous proportions, while the Brooklyn Trust Company Building interprets and adapts Classical design to architectural trends in the early 20th century and the needs of its client. These complementary buildings, together, stand as reminders of the once bustling Bank Row on this section of Montague Street, and given their design quality and integrity, both still read very clearly as banks and continue to function that way today.

Of course, the building is most commonly known for its Classical façade on Montague Street, designed by Mowbray & Uffinger and built in 1903-06. Its lesser known, but still noteworthy addition on Pierrepont Street is not being considered today as part of the landmark site, which HDC thinks is an unfortunate oversight. The addition was designed by Shreve, Lamb and Harmon, who were contiguously working on designs for the Empire State Building. Its monumental Art Deco door surround is the highlight of that block and deserves protection along with the rest of the structure. [Photo: LPC]



Statement of the Historic Districts Council

Designation Hearing

November 29, 2016

Item 2

LP – 2587



The Historic Districts Council is pleased to testify in favor of the designation of the National Title Guaranty Company Building at 185 Montague Street. Along this stretch of Montague Street, also referred to as Bank Row, are a number of majestic bank buildings in a variety of styles – a characteristically diverse New York streetscape – and this Art Deco skyscraper is an important part of the ensemble. Its rich sculptural details, especially at the base, as well as its setback massing at the upper stories, help it to stand out, while its beige brick and limestone material palette help it to fit in nicely with the earlier buildings to its west. Together with the Brooklyn Trust Company Building and the hopefully soon-to-be-designated People’s Trust Company Building, the three form a striking group on a very visible corner and busy commercial corridor.

As HDC testified for The People’s Trust Company Building next door, this building, despite being on the fringe of two historic districts, has been lacking in legal protection. As the Commission will certainly remember, another building nearby and also just outside of both district boundaries, the former Brooklyn Gas Light Company Headquarters at 180 Remsen Street, was unfortunately demolished in 2005 due to its lack of protection, highlighting just how easy it can be to lose treasured buildings like these without landmark status. We are grateful that the Landmarks Preservation Commission is taking action to rectify that situation and to ensure that this building continues to play a vital role in contributing to its historic context for many years to come. [Photo: LPC]



Statement of the Historic Districts Council

Designation Hearing

November 29, 2016

Item 3 LP – 2590



The Historic Districts Council fully supports the designation of the Sullivan-Thompson Historic District. The proposed district has a distinct character from the cocoon of historic districts surrounding it. It most notably demonstrates New York City’ s evolution of housing development spanning two centuries, as well as manufacturing, institutional and commercial historic buildings. Moreover, this neighborhood was home to a large African American population in the mid-19th century, and later many European immigrants. The area is notorious for its cultural and artistic associations, as well.

In short, this neighborhood is the picture of all of the attributes that a historic district should have, despite some alterations and examples of insensitive construction that has occurred in recent years. We hope that as the owners of historic buildings in this new district apply for permits, the Commission evaluates any proposed changes in light of the district’s cultural importance, as this area has already suffered the loss of such cultural landmarks (with a lower case ‘l’) as the Circle in the Square Theater and the Sullivan Street Playhouse.

While this neighborhood contains buildings in an array of ages and styles, the tenement is the dominant building type to the pedestrian eye. If the Commission is interested in protecting tenement neighborhoods, we would encourage consideration for the designation of portions of the Lower East Side, which even more powerfully conveys the city’s diversity of tenement architecture and whose links to the immigrant experience in New York City is of local, national and international significance. While HDC is happy that the majority of Manhattan Community District 2 now enjoys landmark status, other historic sections of lower Manhattan are rapidly disappearing. [Photo: LPC]



Certificate of Appropriateness Hearing:

Item 1

811 Walton Avenue – Grand Concourse Historic District


A Renaissance Revival style apartment building designed by Franklin, Bates & Heindsmann, and built in 1926-27. Application is to replace windows.

Since the windows on this building have nearly all been replaced, HDC asks the Commission and the applicant to consider a strategy, such as a Master Plan, to bring back this building’s six-over-six window configuration, even if only applying synthetic divided lights.

Architect: Charles H. Henkels, Architects

LPC Determination: Approved



Item 2

233-33 38th Drive – Douglaston Historic District


A vacant lot created by a sub-division. Application is to construct a new house.

HDC finds the proposed new house to be a strong first draft for what could be a nice new addition to the Douglaston Historic District, given a few crucial tweaks. Our committee’s main concern has to do with proportions. Given the large size of the house, the roof appears quite squat. It would help tremendously if the slope of the roof were increased, perhaps bringing down the cornice a bit to achieve this. The dormers would benefit from further study to avoid cutting off the windows at the bottom, though another option might be to remove them entirely, opting instead for skylights installed at the rear of the roof to get light to the attic space. Our committee found the front porch to be too wide for the house, and suggests pulling the columns in closer to the front door.

Some of the details on the house would work better if simplified, including the balustrades on the porch, the heavy cornice and the unnecessary caps on each of the house’s windows. We also question whether quoins are an appropriate feature in this district, and ask that the applicant look again at the surrounding houses for cues in this direction. While the garage roof might, like the roof of the house, benefit from a steeper pitch, we applaud the garage’s freestanding configuration, which is typical in Douglaston, and thus makes an important gesture toward contextual appropriateness.

Architect: Architects Rule, P.C.

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications



Item 3

177-15 Murdock Avenue – Addisleigh Park Historic District


A free-standing Tudor Revival style house with Colonial Revival style alterations, built c. 1925. Application is to construct an addition, replace windows, and install shutters and fencing.

HDC has several concerns about this application. While we find the massing and proportions of the side addition to be appropriate, the small windows on its side façade appear too modern for this house. Considering that this façade is visible from the street, the applicant should instead make an effort to replicate the design and window configuration on the side façade of the house’s other side wing, which matches the rest of the house. Additionally, since there is no historic evidence that there were shutters on this house, HDC asks that the applicant work with the LPC staff to determine whether or not they are appropriate.

Architect: BOLT Design Group, Inc.

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications




Item 4

112-40 175th Place – Addisleigh Park Historic District


A Medevial Revival style house designed by H. Fogary and built in 1931. Application is to replace windows.

HDC feels that this house would certainly benefit from the installation of either wood or aluminum-clad wood windows, which would be much closer to its historic window profiles.

Architect: not listed

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications




Item 8

308 Canal Street – TriBeCa East Historic District


An Italianate style store and loft building built in 1864-65. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and bulkheads, replace windows, install storefront infill and signage, and remove a fire escape.

Item 9

310 Canal Street – TriBeCa East Historic District


A neo-Grec style store and loft building designed by John J. Devoe, Jr. and built in 1879, and an Italianate style store and loft building designed by William H. Hume and built in 1867-68. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and bulkheads, replace windows, install storefront infill, a ramp and signage, and new windows on the lot line façade.

While the window replacements are a vast improvement, HDC finds much of this application to be troubling. Though currently in poor shape, much surviving historic material exists at the storefronts to provide a road map for a more sensitive approach. Our committee felt that at the very least they should include more substantial bulkheads and that it would be best to avoid floor-to-ceiling glass. While we could imagine a one-story rooftop addition being acceptable here, the proposed addition is way too big for this building, making the entire façade appear quite top-heavy in the renderings. A better choice of materials would also go a long way toward making the addition more acceptable.

Architect: Paul Castrucci Architect

LPC Determination: No Action





Item 11

4 St. Marks Place – Individual Landmark


A Federal style townhouse built in 1831. Application is to install storefront infill and construct rooftop and rear additions.

As HDC often testifies, Federal townhouses are rare and treasured examples of Manhattan’s early dwellings that should be respected, not mutilated. The removal of the house’s roof and rear, including its dormer windows, which provide important evidence of the Federal style and the house’s date of construction, would severely compromise its integrity. Our committee, however, found the alteration to the storefront to be acceptable.

Architect: SWA Architecture

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications





Item 15

34 Dominick Street – Individual Landmark


A Federal style rowhouse build in 1826. Application is to construct a rear yard addition, excavate the rear yard, and construct a rooftop bulkhead, deck and railings.

As we testified earlier today for a proposal at 4 St. Mark’s Place, another individually landmarked Federal townhouse, we are troubled by the amount of historic fabric to be removed here. The proposal for this Individual Landmark calls for taking out a massive amount of historic material in the rear and putting a visible addition on its roof, both of which would irreversibly alter this survivor. HDC urges the Commission not to approve.

Architect: Ben Herzog Architect, P.C.

LPC Determination: Approved





Item 20

464-480 Hudson Street – Greenwich Village Historic District


An apartment house designed by Renwick, Aspinwall, & Tucker and built in 1925-26. Application is to legalize the installation of signage and alterations to the storefront without permit(s) and to install mechanical units in the side alley.

HDC finds the illegal storefront to be banal in its design and choice of materials, and feels that infill of higher quality would be required if this item had come before the Commission in the first place. We ask that the storefront be corrected according to historic documentation for this building.

Architect: The Sustainable Space Architecture

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications



Item 21

771 Washington Street – Greenwich Village Historic District


A garage building built in 1924-25. Application is to construct a rooftop addition, demolish portions of the building, raise the parapet, and replace windows and ground-floor infill.

HDC applauds the applicant on this very sensitive rooftop addition. The restoration of the stepped parapet is a vast improvement and the setback and modest height of the addition is deferential to the historic structure and its context. Our only suggestion would be to match the windows’ multi-sash configuration on the proposed doors in order to avoid breaking the continuity of the facades’ texture.

Architect: BKSK

LPC Determination: No Action



Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: , , , , , ,

Ask Governor Cuomo to prevent zoning immunity for MTA

Posted by on Tuesday, November 22, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

An opportunity to repeal a provision that would allow the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) to develop their properties without any local zoning or public review is nigh. Please call 518-474-8390 or click to tell the Governor to sign Senate Bill 8037 and Assembly Bill 10421.

NYC has enough controversial development issues with our prescribed zoning. Allowing the MTA to develop city-owned property which would be immune to local zoning ordinances is wrong and antithetical to how growth in New York is supposed to work. As it currently stands, this provision would eliminate the public process from important land use issues, and these properties could also be exempt from taxes. As NYC has seen with Economic Development Corporation (EDC) owned properties–like the South Street Seaport and its private lessees–public input is paramount in shaping a city for all New Yorkers, especially when the properties owned are by city agencies funded with public tax dollars.

What’s worse, the public was not able to comment on this proposal as it was slipped in at the last minute without public vetting. Please click or call now to ensure this ill-conceived provision is eliminated from the legislation so that the MTA has to play by the same rules as every other property owner in New York City.

Bottom line: bad public policy is especially apparent when the public is eliminated from important decision-making, contact Cuomo today.



Category: Zoning · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Designation Testimony for November 22, 2016

Posted by on Monday, November 21, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

Statement of the Historic Districts Council

Designation Hearing

November 22, 2016


Item 1

LP – 2588

BOROUGH OF Manhattan






HDC is thrilled that the Landmarks Preservation Commission is considering Roche and Dinkeloo’s United Nations Hotel post-modern interiors for landmark designation. Interior landmarks are rare, much like this period of history’s representation among the protected spaces and structures in NYC. The main lobby’s cavernous, octagonal ceiling features graduated layers in a dark mass punctuated with tiny illuminations, almost like a night sky.

Exiting from this space, guests move through a verdant corridor and sitting area, where the floors, stairs and columns have a generous dark green marble application, which is reflected over and over by the space’s many mirrors. Collectively, along with green plantings, these elements work to produce an environment of openness and greenery, similar to that of a lushly planted atrium in Midtown Manhattan, which is, perhaps, a nod to the firm’s nearby 42nd Street Ford Foundation. This room is bisected by columns, with a sitting area on one side and a ramp on the other.

HDC urges Commissioners to reconsider the cut out of the sitting area portion of the lobby. The circulation of the lobby naturally leads to this mirrored oasis, which offers a sunken vantage point from which to view and enjoy the space. The visitor is naturally drawn to it for the opportunity to ponder the intricate geometries of the mirrored ceiling and walls. The ramp provides a different experience of the space since it is designed to move you through it, rather than allow you to exist for a moment within it. Both are valid and should be protected equally. Furthermore, the sitting area retains all of the same special features as the ramp, such as decorative columns, mirrored panels and ceilings. This is because they exist in the same, well-designed room. To divorce one from the other would be tantamount to designating a half of the same space.

The Grill area replaces greenery with a classic and clean black and white palette; its geometric floors are mirrored in the light fixtures on the ceilings. HDC hopes that with the Commission’s oversight, the space’s original light features might be returned to their intended transparency and reflectivity. Despite this alteration, the Grill retains a distinct character not found elsewhere in New York. Finally, HDC questions why the connector hallway between the lobby and the Grill is not included in the designation boundaries. This hallway speaks the same, very particular, language as these two great spaces, and if modified, would do a great disservice to their design continuity. Why not reserve the right to preside over any proposed amendment to the entire ensemble, which includes the hallway, into the future?


Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

Pictures From the 2016 Landmarks Lion

Posted by on Monday, November 21, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

Landmarks Lion 2016: Honoring Nancy Pearsall and Francis Morrone

Wednesday, November 9 at 6:30 PM


Battery Gardens

Category: landmark lion · Tags:

Preservation and the Presidency

Posted by on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

The protection and preservation of our shared built environment is – and must be – a shared civil right for all (Continue Reading)

A Message From Executive Director Simeon Bankoff

Landmarks Lion 2012

Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director of HDC


November 15, 2016

Dear Friends and Allies,

The 2016 presidential election has shaken the entire country.

As things begin to settle in Washington, the possible effects on the core issues of the historic preservation community and movement are concerning. The Historic Districts Council (HDC) believes that the protection and preservation of our shared built environment is – and must be – a shared civil right for all people, guided by community consensus and aided by government action.

2015-11-24 -- Dan Allen Listening
An HDC supporter discusses preservation priorities with President Dan Allen

The incoming administration has made government deregulation a priority – going as far as to suggest that for every new governmental regulation proposed, two should be removed.

Relying solely upon private efforts to protect our country’s historic places and neighborhoods is like trying to hold back the tide with your hands. It takes collective effort, private investment, political capital AND government support to secure and maintain a positive future for our historic buildings.

Without any one of those elements present, the task is twice as hard. Without governmental support – or worse, with government opposition – protecting already designated landmarks is hard and saving non-designated historic buildings is almost impossible.

The Clay Avenue Historic District (Bronx, New York)

While the strongest preservation tools are local ordinances, they rest on a federal foundation of laws and legal decisions, both of which could be reversed or ignored by an administration which seems dedicated to stimulating economic development at any cost.

HDC pledges to work closely with our local, state and national colleagues to monitor any and all situations originating from the national level which might affect local community preservation concerns.

Moreover, we will alert all our supporters and friends about these situations as they arise, so that we can make our collective voices heard by the people who represent us at all levels of government.

In solidarity,

Simeon Bankoff
Executive Director
Historic Districts Council

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Category: Alert, Featured · Tags:

Free Monthly Land Use Clinics!

Posted by on Tuesday, November 15, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

On Thursday, November 17th, the Historic Districts Council and the Office of Councilman Vincent Gentile launched our new monthly Land Use Clinics in Bay Ridge!

Do you have questions about creating landmarks and historic districts, working with the Landmarks Commission and Department of Buildings, or common zoning and land use issues? Join us for free monthly land use clinics on the third Thursday of each month to get your questions answered! Call Councilman Gentile’s office at 718-748-5200 to reserve your appointment.

Councilmember Vincent Gentile:

Third Thursday of Every Month • 3 – 4 PM
(2016: 11/17, 12/15 2017: 1/19, 2/16, 3/16, 4/20, 5/18, 6/15)

8018 5th Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11209
(Between 80th and 81st Streets)
R train to 77 St • B63 to 81 St

Reserve An Appointment: (718) 748-5200

Councilmember Ben Kallos

Second Thursday of Every Month • 5 – 6 PM
(2016: 12/8 2017: 1/12, 2/9, 3/9, 4/13, 5/11, 6/8)
244 East 93rd Street, New York, NY 10128
(SW Corner of Second Avenue)
6 train to 96 St •  M15 SBS to 86 St (Uptown) / 88 St (Downtown)
Reserve An Appointment: (212) 860-1950

Category: Featured, HDC · Tags:

HDC@LPC Testimony for LPC Hearing on November 15, 2016

Posted by on Monday, November 14, 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.



LP – 2137



Thank you for hearing public testimony today. HDC wishes to reiterate its support for the designation of the former Bowne Street Community Church, both expressed during the Backlog95 proceedings and in 2003, when the building was first calendared. At that time, HDC was concerned about rapid development in this section of Queens, and stated in a letter to then Chair Robert Tierney dated July 17, 2003, that “In addition to its deep connection to the area’s religious history, the [Bowne Street Community Church] itself is a visible remembrance of a historic Flushing that is becoming increasingly difficult to find.” Also at that time, robust discussions took place concerning the parking lot on the eastern side of the church and its potential as a development site. The Commission has encountered the issue of deleterious effects of giant developments looming over or attached to Individual Landmarks many times in the past, including Park Avenue Christian Church, the Dime Savings Bank, the Long Island Coignet Stone Company Building and the Long Island City Clock Tower.

HDC asks the Commission to consider its role in regulating this structure in the years ahead, and thus, to take the time now to carefully draw boundaries that respect this building. HDC does not wish to restrict the church’s ability to expand or allow for construction next door, but the construction of a tower right up against the building would obscure this beautiful façade and its magnificent Tiffany windows, and would surely be a permanent change. Providing for a sufficient buffer – a matter of several feet even – on the building’s eastern edge would go a long way toward ensuring that the agency can do its best to protect the building and allow it to be read as a freestanding, suburban church as intended, in perpetuity.

(Photo by Dan Rubin)


Item 2

237-02 Hollywood Avenue – Douglaston Historic District


A Mediterranean Revival style house built in 1927. Application is to replace windows.

HDC asks that any change to the window configuration be based on historic precedent and documentation for this house.

Architect: John Stacom Architectural Design P.C.

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications



Item 5

67 Hanson Place – Brooklyn Academy of Music Historic District


An apartment house designed by W.T. McCarthy and Murray Klein and built in 1929. Application is to replace windows and install through-window AC units.

HDC applauds the applicant for proposing a building-wide replacement of this structure’s non-historic windows, but wishes to make a plea for thermally broken rolled steel windows, rather than aluminum. In the end, the proposal is a big improvement, but would be even better if executed in the original material.

Architect: Heritage Architecture

LPC Determination: Approved


Item 6

36 Schermerhorn Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District


A house built in 1852 and altered prior to 1940. Application is to construct a rear yard addition and alter the front and rear façades.

While our committee laments the fact that this 1940 alteration will be wiped away completely, given its rather intentional and thoughtful details, we also appreciate the desire to return the house to a style that might be considered more in keeping with the 19th century character that prevails in Brooklyn Heights, and for which the neighborhood is principally known. However, HDC is concerned that this proposal does not go far enough in restoring the house to its 1852 appearance, and cautions against erasing the historic alteration without doing some homework first. If the Commission determines a historic reconstruction to be appropriate, we ask that it be undertaken carefully, following historic precedents for this house and this district. It appears that certain details need to be further refined, especially the ironwork at the stoop, which looks too simple. Concerning the rear, we would ask that more effort be made to retain at least some historic fabric, as it appears as though the entire rear façade and roof are being unnecessarily demolished.

Architect: Ensemble Architecture, DPC

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications, in part


Item 10

576 Vanderbilt Avenue – Prospect Heights Historic District


A Romanesque Revival/Renaissance Revival style store and flats building designed by Timothy Remsen and built c. 1891. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and install mechanical equipment, enclosures, and a railing at the roof.

This very prominent corner structure has a beautiful roofline and a gracefully curving corner bay. Its location, unfortunately, would make any addition on the roof extremely visible, so HDC opposes this proposal for not only a large addition, but one whose modern, glassy style would be particularly out of place and extremely deleterious in this historic context.

Architect: OPerA Studio Architecture

LPC Determination: No Action.


Item 12

1901 Emmons Avenue – Individual Landmark


A Spanish Colonial Revival style restaurant building designed by Bloch & Hesse and built in 1934. Application is to legalize façade, roof and site work performed without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s) and install a marquee.

The Historic Districts Council does not support this application to legalize these violations on their merits because this tenant has a dedicated habit of ignoring the Landmarks Law. In 2009, this applicant conducted illegal work which the Sheepshead Bay/Plumb Beach Civic association described as a “desecration of [the] landmark.” At that time, the applicant stated that they were unaware of the building’s landmark status.

In 2011, HDC testified against another legalization application to the LPC for installing mechanicals and altering the sidewalk, which the LPC ultimately approved. In 2015, this property was before the City Planning Commission and City Council for operating in violation of the Sheepshead Bay Special District, and yet again, this owner was given a pass in breaking the law, and the City yielded to one tenant as opposed to upholding its own vision of the district. HDC testified against the text amendment in both instances.

The tenant has consistently displayed illegal action and poor stewardship of the individual landmark, Special District, and the law. We urge the LPC to approach this application with this background information in mind, and to also be aware that this is Sheepshead Bay’s only designated landmark, and the surrounding southern Brooklyn vicinity has very few landmarks and no historic districts. If this one landmark cannot be properly regulated, then what is the point of having it designated? Additionally, the effects of this proposal would project a very skewed idea of what a landmark is and should be in an area with so few examples. The reason this applicant continuously flouts the law is because there has been, up until this point, no consequences for defacing this building. Cumulatively, all of these alterations are making their mark, and we are confident that there will be more.

Architect: NSC Architecture, PC

LPC Determination: No Action


Item 19

537 Broadway – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District


A store building designed by Charles Mettnam and built in 1868-69. Application is to enlarge a rooftop bulkhead.

HDC asks that the applicant work with LPC staff to find a way to avoid this very large and visible encumbrance on the roof, perhaps investigating other solutions, like a hydraulic elevator, to bring down the height of the bulkhead.

Architect: Stone Engineering, P.C.

LPC Determination: Approved


Item 22

558 Broadway – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District


A store building built in 1860 and altered in 1920. Application is to construct an addition at the streetwalls with additional setbacks and bulkheads, alter the facades, replace windows, install storefront infill and signage, and remove a fire escape.

Rather than analyzing the intricacies of the proposed design, HDC wishes to make a plea for the denial of this application in favor of retaining the low-rise, historic character of both 558 Broadway and 94-96 Crosby Street. Both this section of Broadway and Crosby Street are defined by their mix of heights, creating interesting urban tableaux that would be unfortunately marred by filling in the air space above this building’s two facades. The loss of so many small-scale buildings in historic districts is an unfortunate trend that diminishes the dynamism of our historic streetscapes and dilutes the pedestrian experience that is so often touted as one of the great benefits of historic district designation. The addition of, perhaps, two floors on the Crosby Street side would have some precedent and allow the building’s massing to still read as low-rise, but four additional stories would be especially deleterious to Crosby Street.

Architect: BKSK Architects

LPC Determination: Approved


Item 24

212 Fifth Avenue – Madison Square North Historic District


A neo-Medieval style office building, designed by Schwartz and Gross, and built in 1912-13. Application is to install a painted wall sign at a secondary façade.

While on first glance it might seem acceptable to replace the existing painted sign with a new one, our committee ultimately felt that a sign in this location is quite awkward to begin with, and should, perhaps, be allowed to fade away if not removed completely. The sign is not mentioned as a significant feature of the south façade in the designation report. Further, most painted wall signs are found on secondary, undeveloped facades, but this façade is not only very prominent, but its window pattern is intentionally designed. In fact, this building came before the Commission back in April of this year for a Certificate of Appropriateness to, in part, redesign the south façade’s fenestration, and HDC testified to advocate for the refinement of some of those changes due to the importance of the façade. At that time, the applicant argued that the south façade is secondary, but the Commissioners unanimously disagreed, requiring that the façade’s intentionally symmetrical fenestration be retained, with some referring to that façade as “formal”. In renderings for that April proposal, the applicant removed the painted sign, which seems like the most appropriate choice for a façade that the Commission undertook considerable effort to respect. HDC asks for the same level of scrutiny today.

Architect: Helpern Architects

LPC Determination: Approved


Item 26

44 West 95th Street – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District


A Renaissance Revival style rowhouse designed by James S. Post and built in 1886-87. Application is to construct rooftop and rear addtions.

As always with applications for rear yard additions, HDC asks that the height be brought down in order to retain a record of the rear façade’s original plane and fenestration. This would also necessitate setting back the rooftop addition in order to reduce its impact from the rear. Our committee was unsure of the visibility of the proposed rooftop addition from the front due to the limited amount of visibility studies included in the packet, so asks the Commission to be vigilant in this regard.

Architect: Eric Safyan Architect, PC

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications


Item 28

5243 Sycamore Avenue – Riverdale Historic District


A neo-Colonial style residence designed by Roland A. Gallimore and built in 1937-38. Application is to install a pool and fencing.

HDC questions the removal of the mature tree immediately adjacent to the proposed patio and swimming pool. Landscaping is not only mentioned in the designation report for Riverdale as a significant and character-defining feature, but Riverdale is also protected by the Riverdale Special Nature Area District. The LPC rules indicate that the Commission has the authority to “regulate any modification to the landscape of the Riverdale Historic District which involves the installation of any permanent fixture or the construction of any structure or paved area or which would cause the demolition of, or have an impact on, any significant landscape improvement,” which includes “any change which affects or impacts upon a hedge or Mature Tree.” The Zoning Resolution also includes language related to regulation of natural features, including mature trees, so we ask that the Commission both consider its own power to regulate such changes and to notify the City Planning Commission, if necessary.

Architect: Building Studio Architects

LPC Determination: Approved


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

Preservation in the News

Posted by on Monday, November 14, 2016 · 1 Comment 

We must protect historic preservation

Times Ledger By Simeon Bankoff
As things begin to settle in Washington, the possible effects on the core issues of the historic preservation community and movement are concerning. The Historic Districts Council (HDC) believes that the protection and preservation of our shared built environment is—and must be—a shared civil right for all people, guided by community consensus and aided by government action.
Click here to read the whole letter

Developer still has a chance to save beloved church

New York Post By Steve Cuozzo

Preservationists are appalled.

Simeon Bankoff, executive director of the nonprofit Historic Districts Council, said, “It’s a crying shame when the developer and the community are trying to work together on a mutually advantageous solution and the city is what’s standing in the way.”

He added, “The street wall regulation is a good rule, but this is a situation where an exception should be made.”

Click here to read the whole article

31 floors of the Waldorf-Astoria are being turned into apartments

Time Out New York By David Goldberg

As one well-known NYC landmark becomes the target of protests, another is getting turned into condos. Anbang, the Chinese investment group that purchased the Waldorf Astoria in 2014, has officially filed plans to convert most of the iconic hotel into residential spaces. The billion-dollar effort will turn over 31 floors of 500 guest rooms into “exclusive” apartment units. The remaining 300–500 units will remain hotel rooms, though they’ll likely get some souped-up features. The base of the Waldorf will feature a fitness room, shopping center and restaurants.

Click here to read the whole article

American Museum of Natural History’s Studio Gang expansion gets the green light


The American Museum of Natural History’s ambitious $325 million expansion plan gained unanimous approval from New York City’s Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday, greenlighting the 142-year-old institution to realize the Richard Gilder Center for Science, Education and Innovation.

Click here to read the whole article


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



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

Click here to read the whole article


Frick Museum Abandons Contested Renovation Plan

NY Times By 

The Frick Collection has yielded.

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

Curbed by Nathan Kensinger

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

Curbed by Nathan Kensinger

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

Downtown Express

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


Howard Hughes: Here Comes The Tower

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

Click here to read the whole article


Julian Niccolini on the Future of the Four Seasons Restaurant

Forbes by Karla Alindahao

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

Click here to read the whole article


Council bill would give landmarks agency something new: deadlines

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

Crain’s New York By 

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

Click here to read the whole article


 Simeon Bankoff: Taking the Context out of Contextual Zoning

City Land

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

Click here to read the whole article


‘Citywide Rezoning Plan Would Benefit Developers, Hurt Neighborhoods’


Gotham Gazette by Andrew Berman

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

Click here to read the whole article



‘Zoning Changes Made in Haste Makes For Bad Government’


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

Click here to read the whole article



‘Zoning Process Too Fast For CB4’


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

Click here to read the whole article


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

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


Woodlawn group fights for historical district status

News 12 Bronx

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

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

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

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


Op-Ed: No Tower on the Seaport


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

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

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

Bloomberg Business By 

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

New York Times By 

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

Behind Commission Decision Are Almost 100 Tales of Potential Landmarks

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

Curbed by Hana R. Alberts

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

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

New York Times By MATT A.V. CHABAN

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

Click here to read the whole report


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

By Heather Holland

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole report


Independent Engineer Report Supports Dismantling the Harlem Watchtower

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


Community plan to unlock south Bronx waterfront recognized by state

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


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

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

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

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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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.

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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.

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The War on New York’s Waterfront


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

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

Reuters By Laila Kearney

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

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

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Midtown East Steering Committee to Make Everyone Happy

New York Observer by: Tobias Salinger  

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

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Buildings With a Past

Creating New York Apartments From Unlikely Buildings


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

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

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 Readers sound off on landmarks

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


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

Pardon Me For Asking

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

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

Click here to read the whole article





Save Rizzoli

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


Library’s Rose Main Reading Room Closed for Six Months

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

Wall Street Journal By Jennifer Maloney

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

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

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

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Mysterious Railroad Relic Unearthed on Governors Island

DNAInfo By Irene Plagianos

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

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

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

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Closer look at two significant neighborhoods

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

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

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

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Ratner wins prize for best … preservationist?

Brooklyn Paper

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

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

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

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

Click here to access the full report.



Brooklyn’s Historic Churches Disappear to Make Way for Condos


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

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole article


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


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


Plan to Honor Big Developer in Brooklyn Is Criticized

NYTimes BY Matt Chaben

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

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

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

Click here to read the whole story


An economic defense of old buildings

Washington Post By Emily Badger

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

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

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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.

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

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

Click here to read the whole article



New Yorkers, Take Back Your City


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

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

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Public Library Is Abandoning Disputed Plan for Landmark


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

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

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

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New York Public Library Scraps Redesign Plans

The Controversial Renovation Plan Prompted Three Lawsuits


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

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

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

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

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



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

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

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

“We insist on real involvement,” he said.

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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


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:

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Architects Newspaper By: Alan G. Brake

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

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

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

News 1

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

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

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Demolition freeze may cover 80% of the city


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

Crains By Joe Anuta

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

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

 Click here to read the full story


Museum fears plaster disaster from next-door hotel project

The Villager by Sam Spokony

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

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


Merchant’s House-Neighboring Hotel Approved by Landmarks

Curbed by Jeremiah Budin

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

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

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LPC Likely to Protect Ladies’ Mile Buildings From Demolition


Chelsea Now by Scott Stiffler

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

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

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

Gothamist by Ben Miller

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

Click here to read the full article


Sunset Park Leading Grassroots Effort to Preserve Its History

NY1 by Jeanine Ramirez

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

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

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

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

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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.

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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


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

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


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

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

Follow us: @newyorkobserver on Twitter | newyorkobserver on Facebook

Click here to read the full article


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



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

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

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

Click here to read the full article

Cities Mobilize to Help Those Threatened by Gentrification


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

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


Argument Over a Brownstone Neighborhood

The Case for and Against a Bed-Stuy Historic District

By /New York Times

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

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

Click here to read the full article


 Renovation, restoration the trend in Midtown East

By /Real Estate Weekly

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

125 Park Avenue

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

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

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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.

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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.

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

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