HDC Testimony for LPC Hearing on April 21, 2015

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 3

32-11 Douglas Road – Douglaston Historic District

164552 – Block 8162, lot 120, Zoned R1-2

Community District 11, Queens

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A vacant lot. Application is to construct a house.

32-11 Douglas Road-1

32-11 Douglas Road-2

Douglaston is characterized by its suburban setting, with freestanding homes in various vernacular styles situated in a park-like setting. There have been several new houses built in Douglaston that honor the neighborhood’s character, and this proposal could benefit from further study of such examples. What is proposed here neither blends in, nor seeks to respectfully introduce a new and inventive idea. It seems to ignore its surroundings with its clunky proportions and irrational window pattern. Romantic rooflines are a common feature in Douglaston, but the proposed house’s peaked roof is negated by the presence of large dormers that flatten the roofline, giving the house a box-like silhouette. The cedar cladding is an appropriate material choice, but our committee questions the gloomy, grey stain color. HDC would ask that the applicant be required to come back with a more inspired or referential design.

Our committee also felt that the landscaped berm, meant to cover up the septic system, is a major interruption to the streetscape. The berm looms up from the low, flat upland edge of Udalls Cove, which is a strange juxtaposition with the flat landscape of the adjacent properties.

 

Item 4

5001 Fieldston Road – Fieldston Historic District

153796 – Block 5829, lot 3601, Zoned R1-2

Community District 8, Bronx

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A Dutch Colonial Revival style house designed by Dwight James Baum and built in 1918-19. Application is to replace windows.

5001 Fieldston Road-1

5001 Fieldston Road-2

HDC would much prefer that the proposed windows and doors be wood, rather than aluminum, and asks that the rails and stiles proposed for the French casement doors match the existing profiles.

 

Item 5

350 West 246th Street – Fieldston Historic District

164012 – Block 5810, lot 430, Zoned R1-2

Community District 8, Bronx

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A Tudor Revival style house designed by Louis Kurtz and built in 1934-35. Application is to replace windows.

350 W. 246th Street-3

350 W. 246th Street-2

Steel windows are a crucial feature of the Tudor Revival style in Fieldston. Since thermally broken steel casement windows are available, HDC asks that these be considered instead of the proposed wood windows.

 

Item 6

442 Henry Street – Cobble Hill Historic District

167644 – Block 322, lot 41, Zoned R6

Community District 6, Brooklyn

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

An Italianate style rowhouse built in the 1850′s. Application is to construct a rear yard addition.

442 Henry Street-1

HDC finds the proposed design to be a major change to what is and should remain a very simple rear façade. Our committee found the lack of design consistency from floor to floor to be jarring, and with no neighborhood precedent for a bow-fronted deck, finds this part of the proposal to be an odd choice. We would ask that the proposed design of the bottom floors work better with the existing upper floors.

 

Item 11

212-222 East 16th Street – Stuyvesant Square Historic DistrictUpper

168072 – Block 897, lot 16, Zoned R7B

Community District 6, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

Three Anglo-Italianate style rowhouses built in 1852, and a four-story school building designed by Chapman, Evans, and Delahanty and built in 1963-65.  Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions, combine the rowhouses and construct a multi-story atrium behind the front facades, demolish the rear facades, alter the areaways, and install flag poles.

212-222 East 16th Street-5

212-222 East 16th Street-6

212-222 East 16th Street-7

HDC finds this proposal to be gratuitous and insensitive to both the Friends Seminary complex and the Stuyvesant Square Historic District as a whole. The colossal additions proposed for above the 1850s rowhouses and the 1960s school building are extremely visible from all angles. Even worse, their scale overwhelms, when, in fact, it should be subservient to this block’s wonderful assemblage of historic buildings. When viewed from Stuyvesant Square, the grey zinc cladding of the easternmost rooftop addition is not only an inappropriate material, but also lacks detail, rendering the addition a distracting mass that hovers over the complex. On the front of the rowhouses, we would like to add that the introduction of three new flagpoles seems like an unnecessary obstruction.

HDC is opposed to the complete destruction of the historic material and configuration of the rear facades of the 1850s rowhouses, and feels that at least the top floors should be left alone in order to retain a record of the original design, as the Commission customarily requires. If the rowhouses are to be completely gutted and repurposed, HDC feels that better solutions should be found to solve the problems created by previous additions, rather than exacerbating the situation to the detriment of this historic complex and district.

 

Item 12

27 East 62nd Street – Upper East Side Historic District

168419 – Block 1377, lot 24, Zoned C5-1, R8B

Community District 8, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

An apartment building with neo-Renaissance style details designed by Lawlor and Haase and built in 1912-1913. Application is to construct additions.

27 East 62nd Street-3

HDC wishes to applaud the applicant on a very sensitive front façade restoration, including the reintroduction of the cornice in sheet metal and the cleaning and repairing of masonry. On the west elevation, the applicant is proposing to push the wall forward without changing the character of that façade – a refreshing and sensitive approach.

 

Item 14

316 West 88th Street – Riverside – West End Historic District

162993- Block 1249, lot 57, Zoned R8

Community District 7, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

An Elizabethan Renaissance Revival style rowhouse designed by Clarence True and built in 1890-91. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions, reconstruct a missing stoop, and excavate the areaway.

316 West 88th Street-1

HDC appreciates the restoration of the missing stoop, but finds the proposed additions to be a massive intervention. In the rear, our committee feels that the building’s relationship to the others in the row should be maintained by limiting the two-story addition to the same height as the adjacent house’s rear addition, as well as keeping the existing configuration of the top two floors and the corbelled brick cornice at the roof. Our committee also questioned the visibility of the rooftop railing, which was not clear from the application materials.

 

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

Historic District Council

2015 Annual Preservation Conference Series

Landmarks at 50: Honoring Our Past, Imagining Our Future

March 2015

 

~Tour Locations will be sent to registered participants a week prior to the tour~

 

 

Brooklyn Army Terminal: A Public Institution Transformed

Saturday, March 7, 2015, 12PM

BAT-Atrium_Rail-Line

Once the largest military supply base in the United States, Sunset Park’s Brooklyn Army Terminal has transformed over the past 30 years from a campus of warehouses, offices, piers, and docks to a vibrant commercial hub, home to local artisans, manufacturers and cultural institutions. Designed by Cass Gilbert and completed in 1919, the Terminal’s Building B and its 52 acres of floor space was once the largest concrete structure in the world. Join guide Andrew Gustafson as we tour the massive complex, view the spectacular atrium of Building B and highlight the use, preservation and reuse of this former bustling hub of military industry as a new commercial center and part of the revitalized Brooklyn waterfront.

See photos from the tour here

 

East Harlem Histories

Saturday, March 14, 2015, 1PM

IMG_2392

As East Harlem, also known as “El Barrio” or “Spanish Harlem,” transitions into becoming known as “SpaHa,” this tour will focus on some of the neighborhood’s diverse cultural and ethnic past. Join urban historian Justin Ferate to view delightful architectural treasures and cultural landmarks reflecting the neighborhood’s varied histories –from recent years and from generations past. Over its long history, East Harlem has been home to Cuban, Italian, Puerto Rican, African American, Jewish, Irish, Dutch, English, German, Haitian, Dominican, West African, Salvadoran, Greek and Mexican cultures – among others. Each group has left imprints on the community, but some of East Harlem’s touchstones are potentially endangered in the current reinvention of the neighborhood. Discover handsome civic structures such as the rustic brownstone Park Avenue Viaduct, the impressive Harlem Courthouse and religious edifices  Learn of important cultural treasures, contemporary housing and vest-pocket parks created by Bette Midler’s New York Restoration Project. View enterprises such as the Julia de Burgos Latino Cultural Center. Learn of people associated with East Harlem such as Langston Hughes, Piri Thomas, Tito Puente, Celia Cruz, Vito Marcantonio, Paul Robeson, Fiorello LaGuardia, Manny Vega, Al Pacino, James de la Vega, and Melissa Mark-Viverito.

Friend- $10

General- $20

 

 

Village Institutions

Saturday, March 21, 2015, 11AM

Public Theater

Over the years, Greenwich Village has attracted an evolving roster of cultural and philanthropic organizations. Join architectural historian Matt Postal for a walking tour that considers the unique structures that these groups commissioned and ways in which these distinguished historic buildings have been thoughtfully adapted to contemporary purposes. Of particular interest will be the pioneering work of architect Giorgio Cavaglieri, who during the 1960s breathed new life into both the Astor Library (1853-81) and the Jefferson Market Courthouse (1874-77). Participants will learn about the history of these institutions and how specific structures have been preserved and re-imagined as schools, libraries, residences and performing art centers. Likely stops include Public School 16 (begun 1869), the Village Community Church (1847), the Mercantile Library (1890) and the original Whitney Museum of American Art (1838/1931).

Friend- $10

General- $20

 

Classical Culture at Carnegie Hall

Saturday, March 28, 2015 11AM

Carnegie

Skip the practice and get to Carnegie Hall with the Historic Districts Council! Arguably the most famous performance venue in the world, Carnegie Hall is an architectural gem inside and out. Designed by William Burnett Tuthill and completed in 1891, the building was funded by philanthropist Andrew Carnegie as part of his massive cultural endeavors. Join Carnegie Hall historians to tour the heart of this cultural icon, the iconic Isaac Stern Auditorium, home to world class music since the 19th century and named after the famous violinist whose efforts worked to save the building from demolition in the 1960s. We will also peek into the beautiful and newly created Resnick Educational Wing, home to the Weill Music Institute’s diverse educational programming.

Friend- $10

General- $20

SOLD OUT

 

DUMBO and Fulton Ferry

Saturday, April 11, 2015, 11AM

5-7 Front street

When the Fulton Ferry Historic District was designated in 1977, the small district, with its 15 buildings of mostly low-scale commercial and residential structures, recognized not only classic mid-19th century architecture, but also the pivotal part this area played in the early development of Brooklyn. Exactly 30 years later in 2007, Fulton Ferry’s neighbor DUMBO was designated, recognizing one of New York City’s most significant surviving industrial waterfront neighborhood. In contrast to Fulton Ferry, DUMBO consists of over 90 buildings, most of which were heroically-proportioned manufacturing structures and warehouses, epitomizing the late-19th- and early-20th-century industrial character of the Brooklyn waterfront. Join HDC board member and Director of the DUMBO Neighborhood Alliance Doreen Gallo for a walking tour of these diverse adjacent neighborhoods and a discussion of the current battles to maintain their historic integrity.

Friend- $10

General- $20

 

Preserving West Chelsea

Saturday April 18, 2015, 11AM

Auto showrooms  on West 26th Street2

Between 1970 and 2009, three small but significant historic districts were designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission in West Chelsea.  Led by architectural historian Matt Postal, participants will walk through each district, tracing their shared history and evolution. While the Chelsea Historic District (and its extension) emphasized rows of fine-looking brick town houses and religious buildings that stood on property that was once owned by scholar and real estate developer Clement Clarke Moore, the later districts contain structures connected to the abolitionist movement and the Civil War, as well as the Hudson River’s evolution into a major mercantile center at the start of the 20th century. Highlights will include Cushman Row (1840), the General Theological Seminary (1838-1900), Empire Diner (1943), R.C. Williams Warehouse (1927-28), and a segment of the former New York Central Freight Railway (1929-34) now better known as the High Line.

Friend- $10

General- $20

 SOLD OUT 

 

 Click here for information about the Keynote and Reception

 

and the Conference Panels 

 

 

The title “Landmarks at 50: Honoring Our Past, Imagining Our Future” was created by Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, Chair of the NYC Landmarks 50 Alliance, and is used with permission.

Support is provided in part by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council and by the New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew Cuomo and the New York State Legislature. Additional support is provided by City Councilmembers Margaret Chin, Inez Dickens, Matthieu Eugene, Daniel Garodnick, Vincent Gentile, Corey Johnson, Ben Kallos, Stephen Levin, Mark Levine, and Rosie Mendez.

Six to Celebrate Spring/Summer Walking Tours

STC_Logo_Web

 

For more information about the walking tours go to our Six to Celebrate website 

 

 


Prince Bay Lighthouse-640Landmarks Under Consideration – Staten Island Bus Tour- 
Saturday, June 13 at 1:00PM   
Tour led by Barnett Shepherd

 

 

 

 

 

159-171john_st_looking_west2

South Street SeaportThursday, June 18 at 6:00PM  
 Tour led by Francis Morrone

 

 

 

 

 

 


673 St  M (2)Crown Heights North- 
Saturday, June 20 at 11:00AM
Tour led by Suzanne Spellen

 

 

 

 

 

ClockTower_29-27_Queens_Plaza_NorthLong Island City – Tuesday,  June 30 at 6PM

Tour led by: Richard Melnick

 

 

 

 

 

 

For more information about the tours and to register click here 
Tours are $10 for Friends of HDC and $20 for general admission

Simeon Bankoff: Taking the Context out of Contextual Zoning

Posted by on Tuesday, April 14, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

City Land 04/14/2015

Simeon Bankoff, Executive Director of the Historic Districts Council

In March 2015, the City Planning Commission announced a proposal called Zoning for Affordability and Quality, which broadly calls for three principal changes in the current citywide zoning resolution. The plan proposes to change and enlarge definitions of senior housing to include more types of housing providers than currently permitted. It also proposes to increase buildable space for senior housing in some instances. The proposal also seeks to lessen or some instances no longer mandate parking requirements for designated affordable housing units or senior housing based on their proximity to mass transit. Finally, the proposal recommends raising the streetwall and building height limits from 10 – 20% within medium- and high-density contextual residential zones. The agency rationale for the proposal is to provide better development opportunities within the city which more fully utilize sites full allowable bulk. The agency further explains that by loosening building envelope and parking regulations especially for senior and quality housing developments, more housing inventory will be created to help address the city’s need for these kinds of housing. The City Planning Commission is accepting comments on the draft scope of the environmental review for the proposal until April 30 2015 and, according to the agency’s projected timelines, hopes to bring the final proposal forward for public review and discussion in the early Fall.

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. Usually there is a great deal of compromise in all these negotiations and many community-driven proposals never came to fruition because of irreconcilable differences between the stakeholders and the city. It is actually uncommon for a community-driven plan to be adopted by City Planning. To rearrange the ground rules on a citywide basis as this proposal does, ignores the long effort, careful study and strong investment of community members and planning professionals.

Frankly put, this plan as it is proposed, takes the context out of contextual zoning.  It arbitrarily raises height limits and diminishes yard requirements across the city according to a mathematical nicety, not based in the actual built fabric of our city’s neighborhoods. New York thrives because of the diversity of its neighborhoods, yet this proposal’s approach will deal with each neighborhood as the same, with a one-size-fits-all approach. A calculation of potential growth based on a model is not the same as actual development, especially when one considers the diversity of New York’s built environment. The department has not released any information to show that studies of the median street wall, set-back height or yard coverage of all the potential areas affected will be done. This amendment will affect a lot of properties – approximately 10.4% of New York City, according to our calculations. The potential impact must be studied carefully before being executed.

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

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

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

Truly, this is a plan which was not formulated with New York’s neighborhoods or the people who love them in mind.

 

Simeon Bankoff is the Executive Director of the Historic Districts Council.

Category: Blog, Upzoning · Tags: , , ,

HDC Testimony for LPC Hearing on April 14, 2015

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

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

 

Item 2

212 Fifth Avenue – Madison Square North Historic District

166089 – Block 827, lot 44, Zoned C5-2

Community District 5, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A neo-Medieval style office building designed by Schwartz and Gross and built in 1912-13. Application is to construct a rooftop addition, install storefront infill and a canopy, modify and add window openings and replace windows.

212 Fifth Avenue-10-crop

212 Fifth Avenue-11-crop

212 Fifth Avenue-2

HDC found several aspects of this proposal distressing, especially due to the prominence and visibility of the building. While we are glad to see that decorative details and the grand cornice of this building will be restored, we would prefer that these terra-cotta elements be replaced or restored in terra-cotta, rather than GFRC and cast stone. The stark dark green color of the building’s window frames calls attention to itself, especially since the original frames were more of a mid-tone color that was less prominent. The removal of the pivot windows also gave us pause, as this function is a rare species in New York. It would be a shame to lose them.

Our committee felt that more effort is needed to achieve an appropriate storefront design. The number of AC louvers seems excessive and the opacity on these should be no more than is necessary. The choice of aluminum for both the louvers and the too-simple bulkheads does not do the building justice. Our committee also questions the storefront windows’ thin structural elements, especially when juxtaposed with the very thick mullions in the windows above. Carrying the windows’ verticals through to the storefront would lend consistency to the overall design.

Regarding the south elevation, which is very visible from Madison Square, our committee had several comments. The pattern of the windows, as well as the decorative brickwork, is very specific on this façade. By eliminating so many windows, that pattern gets lost. Since blind windows are proposed for both the elevator shaft and the stairwell, we wondered whether the windows could be retained on the stairwell, thus keeping as much glass as possible. On the other necessary blind windows, we would suggest a darker brick in order to retain the façade pattern. Enlarging the windows on the end bays also changes the reading of that façade pattern. Finally, on the south façade, the removal of the central window mullions on the new aluminum windows would be a shame for a building of such strong verticality.

 

Item 7

65 Jumel Terrace – Individual and Interior Landmark

166237- Block 2109, lot 106, Zoned Parkland

Community District 12, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A Georgian style mansion built in 1765, and remodeled in 1810 in the Napoleonic Empire style with Federal style details. Application is to install a condenser unit and enclosure within Roger Morris Park and floor vents in the Octagon Room.

65 Jumel Terrace-2

65 Jumel Terrace-1

HDC questions the number of proposed floor vents to be installed in the Octagon Room, and wonders why six are necessary. Our committee would also suggest further investigation into styles and types of available floor vents, as the wide border on the proposed vents makes them appear quite clunky. A vent with a more elegant grate design would have a more honest presence in the room.

 

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: ,

View All

Posted by on Tuesday, April 7, 2015 · 3 Comments 

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

 

Events:

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

Programs:

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

 

News:

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

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

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

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

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

HDC: Proposed Legislation Would Undermine the Landmarks Preservation Commission: City Land, October 5, 2012

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

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

  • 11 bills 1 Day: The Threat to the Landmarks Law

Real Estate Bigs Ready Wrecking Ball for Landmarks Laws: Curbed, June 7, 2012

Historians blast landmarking bills; Comrie says LPC wants total control despite best interests of landowners: Queens Chronicle: May 8,2012

A Quiet War on Landmarks, or Fixing the Problems with the Preservation Commission?: New York Observer, May 2, 2012

LPC speaks out against controversial landmarks bills: The Real Deal  New York City Real Estate News, May 2, 2012

Proposed Bill a ‘Deliberate Attack’ on Landmarks Law, Opponents Say: DNAinfo, May 2, 2012

City Council About to Knee-cap Landmarks Preservation?: Curbed,  May 1, 2012

Preservationists upset about series of Landmarks bills to go before City Council: The Real Deal  New York City Real Estate News, May 01, 2012

  • Landmarks Lion 2012:

Preservationists roar approval of new ‘Lion’ Gratz: The Villager, November 15, 2012

Category: 19th Annual Preservation Conference: Preservation Now!, Architect Panel, conference, Event, News, Newsfeed, Program & Events · Tags:

HDC Testimony for LPC Hearing on April 7, 2015

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

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

 

Item 1 – Research Department

BROOKLYN PUBLIC LIBRARY, STONE AVENUE BRANCH

581 Stone Avenue, aka 581-591 Mother Gaston Boulevard; 372-382 Dumont Avenue, Brooklyn

LP – 2568

Landmark Site: Brooklyn Block 3794, Lot 18

16- Stone Avenue-exterior

The Historic Districts Council enthusiastically supports the designation of the Brooklyn Public Library’s Stone Avenue Branch. In 2009, HDC initiated a survey to document the existing Carnegie libraries throughout the city, and an architectural historian is currently conducting the research necessary to complete a thematic National Register of Historic Places nomination for them. The fundraising effort for this final phase of the project was one of the accomplishments of naming the city’s public libraries as one of HDC’s 2014 Six to Celebrate. This Carnegie library was originally the Brownsville Children’s Library, built to alleviate overcrowding at the nearby Brownsville Branch at a time when the neighborhood was growing rapidly. It is said to be one of the world’s first public libraries devoted to children.

The Carnegie libraries were planned to relate to one another stylistically, as most were designed by a few selected architects in variations of the Classical Revival style. William B. Tubby, a prominent Brooklyn architect responsible for many of the Pratt Institute buildings and Pratt family mansions, previously designed three other Brooklyn library branches, including the landmarked Dekalb Branch. For the Brownsville Children’s Library, Tubby eschewed the prevailing Classical style to appeal more directly to the library’s intended users. While his design followed certain characteristics of the suburban Carnegie library type, including its freestanding orientation, brick and limestone materials palette and large windows to allow an abundance of light into the reading rooms, it stands out from the others for its Jacobethan-style façades, which render it a sort of hybrid between library and fairytale castle. Though not part of this designation proposal, the interior embraces a child-appropriate scale and features beloved details, like carved rabbits on the benches. The library, which opened to all ages after World War II, remains well-loved by its community, evidenced by the fact that a renovation to celebrate its 100th anniversary was completed just last year.

HDC applauds the LPC’s continued recognition of the Carnegie library building typology, and looks forward to the designation of the Stone Avenue Branch, a historically and culturally significant landmark whose whimsical design still reflects the building’s original intent to encourage children’s education and literacy.

 

Item 1

Pearl Street at York Street – DUMBO Historic District

168169 – Block 7777, lot 77, Zoned M1-5/R9-1

Community District 2, Brooklyn

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A street grid laid out c. 1830. Application is to create a pedestrian island.

Pearl at York-2

Pearl at York-3

One of the character-defining features of the DUMBO Historic District is its industrial past reflected in such details as its early utilitarian paving. Pouring more concrete into this intersection will not provide a significant or appealing pedestrian amenity, but would be a major gesture toward homogenizing the street.

LPC determination: No Action

 

Item 3

10 Remsen Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

166577 – Block 251, lot 10, Zoned R6, LH-1

Community District 2, Brooklyn

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A Greek Revival style rowhouse built c. 1840. Application is to alter the facade and excavate the areaway.

We would like to first disclose that the applicant, Brendan Coburn, serves on HDC’s Board of Advisers.

Our committee felt that the work on this rowhouse is sensitive and appropriate, but is concerned about the unification of the flower box shelf. As there is no precedent for it, we would prefer to see separate shelves below each window.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 5

188 Columbia Heights – Brooklyn Heights Historic District

167680 – Block 208, lot 318, Zoned R6

Community District 2, Brooklyn

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

An Italianate style house built in 1870. Application is to install an HVAC unit at the rear façade.

188 Columbia Heights

HDC feels that, given the visibility from the Brooklyn Heights Promenade and the bad precedent it would set, another solution should be sought for installing this HVAC unit. Our committee would prefer either an under-the-window condenser or a rooftop unit.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 6

220 Carlton Avenue – Fort Greene Historic District

166343 – Block 2089, lot 44, Zoned R6B

Community District 2, Brooklyn

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

An Italianate style rowhouse designed by John Doherty and built in 1863-64. Application is to alter the rear facade and construct a rear yard addition.

220 Carlton-1

220 Carlton-2

HDC finds this rear yard addition to be too heavy an intervention. The proposed window and door openings appear quite busy in their variety, appearing as if there are multiple ideas and designs being attempted at once. The retention of more of the existing windows would help this rear façade to be more understated and appropriate.

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 7

140 Broadway – Individual Landmark

166653 – Block 48, lot 1, Zoned C5-5

Community District 1, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A mid-20th century modern office tower designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, and built in 1964-68. Application is to install storefronts and alter the base of the building.

140 Broadway-2

HDC finds the proposed materials and proportions of the new doorways to be appropriate, but feels that the proposed recesses break up the plane more than necessary. We urge the Commission to require that these new entrances be flush with the rest of the base. The easternmost bay on Cedar Street presently has a doorway that is flush with the base, and would provide an ideal model for the four new doorways.

LPC determination: No Action

 

Item 8

71-73 Franklin Street – TriBeCa East Historic District

146038 – Block 174, lot 28, Zoned C6-2A

Community District 1, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

An Italianate/Second Empire style store and loft building in 1859-61. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and alter the ground floor.

71-73 Franklin-1

Tribeca’s rooftop cornice lines are an integral and character-defining feature of the neighborhood. The proposed rooftop addition is quite large, very visible and starkly modern in contrast to Franklin Street’s historic cornices. We ask that the addition be brought down in height and be set farther back in order to minimize its impact. Our committee is also concerned about the proposed removal of historic material on the storefront in order to install setback planes of glass, which would also, incidentally, reduce the amount of usable interior square footage. We ask that the Commission require further study of these elements, as well as the proposed use of vault lights to ensure their appropriate placement.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 9

272-274 Canal Street – TriBeCa East Historic District

164707 – Block 196, lot 11 & 12, Zoned M1-5

Community District 1, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

Two Utilitarian and neo-Grec style store and loft buildings, one designed by John B. Snook and built in 1885 and the other designed by Alfred B. Ogden and built in 1883. Application is to install storefronts, alter the facades and to create a double-height ground floor space.

272-274 Canal Street

HDC finds the proposed storefront to be quite divorced from the rest of the building. Its lack of rhythm seems to ignore the existing fabric and fenestration above. Our committee felt that a horizontal element above the storefront would go a long way in helping to differentiate the storefront, and there does seem to be some evidence of an entablature existing there at one time. We also felt that the bulkhead at the base could help to differentiate the storefront if it were made of a material other than flat brick.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 10

37 Harrison Street – Individual Landmark

165987 – Block 142, lot 17. Zoned C6-4

Community District 1, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A Federal style townhouse built in 1828. Application is to legalize the removal of shutters without Landmark Preservation Commission permits and enlarge the rear dormer.

37 Harrison Street

These Federal townhouses are remarkable survivors that exist today largely due to the LPC’s important effort to protect them from a nearby urban renewal project in the mid-1960s. They are wonderfully intact and collectively comprise a charming and surprising corner of Manhattan. Dormers are character-defining features of the Federal style townhouse, and HDC is opposed to any intervention that modernizes them. Our committee also felt that the shutters should be brought back based on historic documentation, especially if the staff finds them to be significant to the history of the building and the group.

LPC determination: SHUTTERS: Approved with modifications; DORMER: Denied

 

Item 12

70 Bank Street – Greenwich Village Historic District

167781 – Block 623, lot 29, Zoned R6

Community District 2, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

An altered Greek Revivial style rowhouse designed by Baldwin & Mills and built in 1839-42. Application is to alter the front facade, construct a stoop, rooftop bulkheads, and a new rear facade and excavate the rear yard.

70 Bank Street

HDC finds the bronze façade and the change to the rhythm of the openings in the rear to be drastic interventions that are out of place in the Greenwich Village context. We would recommend retaining more of the brick on the rear. We also ask that the elevator be restudied in order to bring down the height on the roof. Because the bulkhead is close to the edge of the building, it would be quite visible from the street.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 13

753, 755-757 Greenwich Street – Greenwich Village Historic District

167844 – Block 634, lot 48 & 49, Zoned C1-6

Community District 2, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

Three Greek Revival style rowhouses, built in 1836-37 and altered in the 19th century. Application is to install a cornice, enlarge chimneys, and install a deck, stair-bulkhead, HVAC equipment, railings and planters at the roofs.

753-757 Greenwich Street-1

753-757 Greenwich Street-2

HDC asks that effort be made to bring down the height of the rooftop platforms in order to reduce visibility from the street. Our committee suggests that lower decks be installed on either side of the roof peak, rather than raising the height across the entire roof.

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 14

311 West 4th Street – Greenwich Village Historic District

165836 – Block 615, lot 6, Zoned R10-H

Community District 2, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1836. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and modify a rear yard addition.

311 West 4th Street-1

While HDC found the proposed rear addition to be somewhat unusual, we did appreciate the fact that the structure will allow for visibility of the newly restored rear façade. The rooftop, however, is problematic, as it is very visible from the front. We would suggest further consideration of the interior plan in order to avoid the visible bulk on the roof and the corresponding extension of the chimney.

LPC determination: Approved

 

Item 19

353 West 20th Street – Chelsea Historic District

163465 – Block 744, lot 10, Zoned R7B

Community District 4, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A transitional Greek Revival/Italianate style row house built in 1852-53. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions, and to excavate the rear yard.

353 West 20th Street-1

353 West 20th Street-2

HDC finds the rear extension on this mid-19th century rowhouse to be out of keeping with the building and the rest of the row in its scale and materials. A more sensitive approach would leave the top floor intact in order to show the original fenestration pattern. Our committee feels that since there are other ways to introduce more glass to the rear without such a heavy-handed, steel surround, the rear should be restudied. This is especially important due to the visibility of this rear façade through the playground across the street.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

 

Item 20

212 Fifth Avenue – Madison Square North Historic District

166089 – Block 827, lot 44, Zoned C5-2

Community District 5, Manhattan

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS

A neo-Medieval style office building designed by Schwartz and Gross and built in 1912-13. Application is to construct a rooftop addition, install storefront infill and a canopy, modify and add window openings and replace windows.

212 Fifth Avenue-10-crop

212 Fifth Avenue-11-crop

212 Fifth Avenue-2

HDC found several aspects of this proposal distressing, especially due to the prominence and visibility of the building. While we are glad to see that decorative details and the grand cornice of this building will be restored, we would prefer that these terra-cotta elements be replaced or restored in terra-cotta, rather than GFRC and cast stone. The stark dark green color of the building’s window frames calls attention to itself, especially since the original frames were more of a mid-tone color that was less prominent. The removal of the pivot windows also gave us pause, as this function is a rare species in New York. It would be a shame to lose them.

Our committee felt that more effort is needed to achieve an appropriate storefront design. The number of AC louvers seems excessive and the opacity on these should be no more than is necessary. The choice of aluminum for both the louvers and the too-simple bulkheads does not do the building justice. Our committee also questions the storefront windows’ thin structural elements, especially when juxtaposed with the very thick mullions in the windows above. Carrying the windows’ verticals through to the storefront would lend consistency to the overall design.

Regarding the south elevation, which is very visible from Madison Square, our committee had several comments. The pattern of the windows, as well as the decorative brickwork, is very specific on this façade. By eliminating so many windows, that pattern gets lost. Since blind windows are proposed for both the elevator shaft and the stairwell, we wondered whether the windows could be retained on the stairwell, thus keeping as much glass as possible. On the other necessary blind windows, we would suggest a darker brick in order to retain the façade pattern. Enlarging the windows on the end bays also changes the reading of that façade pattern. Finally, on the south façade, the removal of the central window mullions on the new aluminum windows would be a shame for a building of such strong verticality.

LPC determination: To be presented on 4/14

 

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags: , , , , , ,

Letter from 26 Elected Officials to Chair Weisbrod in responce to the Zoning for Quality and Affordability Text Amendment

Posted by on Friday, April 3, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

March 25, 2015
Carl Weisbrod, Chair
City Planning Commission
22 Reade Street
New York, NY 10007

Re: Zoning for Quality and Affordability Text Amendment – CEQR No. 15DCP104Y

Dear Chair Weisbrod:

We write today to express our concerns with the proposed citywide text amendment entitled “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” and the Draft Scope of Work for its associated environmental review. As elected officials representing the Borough of Manhattan, we share the administration’s goal of producing quality affordable housing for all New Yorkers. Every neighborhood in our borough is facing an acute affordability crisis and we hear every day from constituents who are rent burdened or who are at risk of losing their homes. We thank this administration and your agency for putting forward plans that could help ease this burden. We fear, however, that in the rush to solve the problem of housing supply we are both leaving behind the principle of sound neighborhood planning and forgoing an opportunity to fix the voluntary Inclusionary Housing program without truly gaining affordable units.

This proposal seeks to spur new housing development across the city, but it is important to prevent an unintended cost of that new development: the loss of rent stabilized units. From 2002 to 2012, Manhattan lost nearly 100,000 rent stabilized units – almost 20 percent of its rent stabilized housing stock.1 While the proposed zoning text will make it easier to create new apartments in contextual districts, there is a real concern this will create development pressure on existing buildings. In order to build those new, market-rate units, rent stabilized tenants may have to be displaced, resulting in a net loss of affordable units. Therefore, we are troubled that this plan is being put forward without a corresponding plan for protection of rent stabilized tenants in contextual districts where new development is being directed. Without new protections, this proposal could unduly put those tenants at risk. The Scope of Work for this environmental review should evaluate the impact of this proposal on rent stabilized buildings in contextual districts.

———————————

1 Furman Center State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods 2013

In Manhattan, contextual districts make up almost half of our neighborhoods. These contextual zones were mapped due to the hard work of community advocates, and were often the result of hard compromises: neighborhoods trading increased density for height limits, or neighborhoods agreeing to large upzonings in one area in exchange for contextual protections in another. By increasing height limits across the board, this administration is undermining these agreements made between previous administrations and neighborhood residents. While it may be true that the constraints of the contextual building envelope are stifling the production of housing, we are not convinced that the proposed adjustments are the perfect solution. It could be that adjusting street wall, setback, rear yard, and court requirements could provide the flexibility this proposal seeks without the need for increasing height limits by up to 15 feet. The environmental review for this proposal should evaluate the impacts and benefits of this alternative. We understand that there may be special consideration given to height limits in some special districts, but at this time we have no way to judge the extent of any exceptions and note that any such exceptions would likely only apply to a small number of contextual districts in special districts. The administration should consider more targeted actions that could keep contextual height limits in place in neighborhoods where they are working, especially in historic districts.

The proposed zoning text change will allow buildings taking advantage of both the voluntary and the new Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program to use a taller height limit. In neighborhoods utilizing the new Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program this makes sense, as these neighborhoods will be rezoned with the new height limits in mind. Furthermore, because the use of Inclusionary Housing will be mandatory in these neighborhoods, the higher limits will be used by all developments, creating a consistent context. In neighborhoods with the voluntary Inclusionary Housing program, some but not all developments will be built to the higher height limits, undermining the entire purpose of contextual districts to create neighborhoods with a cohesive built environment.

This new height limit for projects utilizing the voluntary Inclusionary Housing program is especially troubling given the significant limitations of that program. In effect, this proposal seeks to make inclusionary developments more likely and more profitable, without ensuring that they provide a reasonable amount of affordable housing. This administration is focused on creating the new Mandatory Inclusionary Housing program, but in the meantime the voluntary program, along with the original R10 program, is mapped over 11 of 12 Manhattan Community Districts, and continues to be used to create thousands of market rate units a year. The program needs to be strengthened to ensure the best value and highest amount of affordable housing, and this zoning text change is the perfect time to do it.

The voluntary program should be amended so that the amount of affordable housing reflects the value of the floor area bonus. Currently, the same 20 percent of affordable housing is required regardless of whether the floor area bonus is located in a neighborhood that makes the market value of that bonus astronomical. Further, the program is typically used in conjunction with the 421-a tax abatement. This double dipping allows buildings to use both the zoning bonus and the tax abatement without a requirement to provide any additional units. In areas where the bonus is worth more, and when the program is coupled with other subsidies like 421-a, more affordable units should be required. More and more, the existing Inclusionary Housing program is being used to create so-called “two-door” buildings that segregate low-income tenants into separate building segments. While this administration has said that it intends to fix this problem, it has taken no concrete, long-term measures to do so. The only way to permanently prevent two-door buildings is to amend the zoning text for the Inclusionary Housing program. The existing R10 program in particular allows off-site units to create transferable development rights, but does not prevent those off-site units from being built on sites that previously housed rent stabilized tenants. In some cases the number of new affordable units created by the program is less than the number of affordable units that were on the site before being vacated in order to make way for the new development. As this proposed zoning text amendment advances, it must be altered to include these fixes to the Inclusionary Housing program in order to create balanced benefits to developers and our communities. The Scope of Work should be amended to reflect these changes to the voluntary program.

Despite these real concerns with the proposal, we support the proposals for senior housing and parking. Fourteen percent of Manhattan’s population is seniors, and housing for this population is too expensive and too rare. This proposal seeks to make it easier and more predictable to build senior housing. Also, in the Manhattan Core there are currently no minimum parking requirements for residential developments. So far, this is working well. The proposed text amendment would no longer require parking for affordable housing developments throughout the rest of the borough. If we were to choose between parking spaces and affordable apartments, we would all choose the apartments, and we appreciate that this proposal would make this possible.

To give the public ample opportunity to review and comment on this proposal we request that the text be made available far in advance of the referral of this application to community boards. Furthermore, community boards should have a minimum of 90 days to analyze and respond to this proposal.

We thank you for the opportunity to comment on this proposal at this early stage. For any change of this magnitude, success will depend on the fine print. While the goals of this proposal are shared by all, its specific application to our neighborhoods deserves to be studied in its entirety.

Sincerely,
Gale A. Brewer

Congressman Jerrold Nadler
10th Congressional District (NY)

Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez
7th Congressional District (NY)

NYS Senator Liz Krueger
28th Senate District

NYS Senator Jose Serrano
29th Senate District

NYS Senator Daniel Squadron
26th Senate District

NYS Senator Brad Hoylman
27th Senate District

Congressman Charles Rangel
13th Congressional District (NY)

Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney
12th Congressional District (NY)

NYS Senator Bill Perkins
30th Senate District

Assembly Member Dick Gottfried
75th District

Assembly Member Brian Kavanagh
74th District

Assembly Member Guillermo Linares
72nd District

Assembly Member Rebecca Seawright
76th District

Assembly Member Keith Wright
70th District

Assembly Member Daniel O’Donnell
69th District

Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal
67th District

Assembly Member Deborah Glick
66th District

Council Member Inez Dickens
9th District

Council Member Mark Levine
7th District

Council Member Helen Rosenthal
6th District

Council Member Ben Kallos
5th District

Council Member Corey Johnson
3rd District

Council Member Rosie Mendez
2nd District

Council Member Daniel R. Garodnick
4th District

Council Member Margaret Chin
1st District

Assembly Member Robert Rodriguez
68th District

View the PDF of the letter here

Category: Affordable Housing, Blog · Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Boak & Paris/Boak & Raad: New York Architects- A Book Talk by Annice Alt

Posted by on Monday, March 30, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

annice alt

Boak & Paris/Boak & Raad: New York Architects

A Book Talk by Annice Alt

 

This event is full

 

Thursday, April 9, 2015

6:30 pm

232 East 11th Street

 

 

 

 

At the height of the building boom in the 1920s, two young architects Russell Boak and Hyman Paris broke away from the very-busy Emery Roth firm. While the Crash of 1929 stopped most construction, they were still very active until 1932, the low point of the Depression. Work picked up for them again as they pioneered in the new Art Deco style. Christopher Gray has written that “Together the architects did two remarkable things: they survived and even prospered during the 1930s, when more established architects could not, and they developed an elegant model for the urbane but down-sized apartment building in Depression-era New York.” Boak & Paris also designed the landmarked movie theater, the Metro. Postwar, Russell Boak had a new partner Thomas Raad with whom he designed new apartment buildings in the Midcentury Modern style. Elihu Rose, whose firm Rose Associates gave them many commissions, considers that “Boak was an unsung architect who was incapable of doing a bad drawing, a bad design. No one is comparable. Boak just had taste, he had class.” Annice Alt will speak about the firm’s works, with an emphasis on those that are contributory to New York’s Historic Districts.

 

Category: Blog, Event, lecture · Tags: , , , , , ,

HDC Statement- Zoning for Quality & Affordability Scoping Session

Posted by on Friday, March 27, 2015 · Leave a Comment 

March 25, 2015

Statement of the Historic Districts Council

City Planning Commission

Zoning for Quality & Affordability

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

To view the proposal click here 

 

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

Thanks for Visiting

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

Contact Us

Historic Districts Council
232 East 11th Street
New York NY 10003
tel: 212-614-9107
fax: 212-614-9127
email: hdc@hdc.org

Donate To HDC

Become a Friend of HDC! Consider donating to support our efforts.

Join Our Mailing List