Ask Governor Cuomo to prevent zoning immunity for MTA

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

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

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 

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 second and third Thursdays of each month to get your questions answered!

Call each Councilman’s office directly to reserve your appointment.

Councilmember Ben Kallos

Second Thursday of Every Month • 5 – 6 PM
(2017 Dates: 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

Councilmember Vincent Gentile:

Third Thursday of Every Month • 3 – 4 PM
(2017 Dates: 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


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.

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

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

Bloomberg Business By 

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

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

New York Times By 

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

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

Behind Commission Decision Are Almost 100 Tales of Potential Landmarks

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

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

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

Curbed by Hana R. Alberts

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

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

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

New York Times By MATT A.V. CHABAN

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

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

By Heather Holland

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

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

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

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Independent Engineer Report Supports Dismantling the Harlem Watchtower

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

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

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

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Community plan to unlock south Bronx waterfront recognized by state

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


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.

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

Pardon Me For Asking

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

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

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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.

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Library’s Rose Main Reading Room Closed for Six Months

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

Wall Street Journal By Jennifer Maloney

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

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

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

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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.

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


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

NYTimes BY Matt Chaben

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

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

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

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An economic defense of old buildings

Washington Post By Emily Badger

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

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

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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.

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New Yorkers, Take Back Your City


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

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

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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.

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

New York Magazine By 

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

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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.

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Museum fears plaster disaster from next-door hotel project

The Villager by Sam Spokony

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

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


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.

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Sunset Park Leading Grassroots Effort to Preserve Its History

NY1 by Jeanine Ramirez

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

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

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

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

Click here to read the full article


COOKFOX Wins Award for Front Street; BK Heights Tour

Curbed by Zoe Rosenberg

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

Click here to read the full article


A Landmark Restored, From Mosaic Marble Floor to Grand Dome

Michael Nagle for The New York Times

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

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

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

Click here to read the full article


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

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


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

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

Follow us: @newyorkobserver on Twitter | newyorkobserver on Facebook

Click here to read the full article


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



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

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

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

Click here to read the full article

Cities Mobilize to Help Those Threatened by Gentrification


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

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


Argument Over a Brownstone Neighborhood

The Case for and Against a Bed-Stuy Historic District

By /New York Times

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

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

Click here to read the full article


 Renovation, restoration the trend in Midtown East

By /Real Estate Weekly

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

125 Park Avenue

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

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

Click here to read the full article


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

City Land Profile

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

Click here to read the full article


Potential Historic District Supported by Elected Officials and Community Boards

By: Jesse Denno/City Land

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

Click here to read the full article




Category: Featured · Tags: , , ,

DOB Stymies preservation of Christ Church

Posted by on Thursday, November 3, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

DOB Stymies preservation of Christ Church despite groundswell support of electeds, community


In March 2015, HDC got a phone call from Brian Weber, a concerned resident. He informed HDC that Christ Church, located at 338 West 36th Street, was rapidly being demolished. The 1905 church was built by noted architects Parrish & Schroeder, but does not have landmark status. A quick Department of Buildings (DOB) search turned up a demolition permit, and not much hope. Usually, once an owner of a property has this permit, there is not much anyone can do to save a building.


Despite this, the Historic Districts Council and Mr. Weber teamed up with Community Board 4, representatives from Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, Senator Brad Hoylman, Councilmember Corey Johnson, and Assemblymember Richard Gottfried’s offices to meet with the owner to discuss possible adaptive reuse of the forlorn sacred structure. The owner is prolific Manhattan hotel developer Sam Chang. Chang met with the community, and was open to saving the church and incorporating his hotel tower behind the façade, despite no obligation to. This demolition was allowed as-of-right.


Collectively, the community brought forward renderings of how the tower and church could work together, and Mr. Chang was receptive, noticing that having a unique façade would make his hotel a more marketable destination. The proposal to save the church and construct the high-rise hotel moved forward to the Dept. of Buildings, who initially approved the application to incorporate the church’s façade into the tower, to the elation of the coalition.


At the last minute, the DOB rescinded their approval and rejected the plans to save the church, noting that the historic structure lacked a flush street wall, in violation of the current zoning. Usually, this would be a good thing, as this zoning promotes continuity in midtown street walls as opposed to set-back, open plazas which leave pock marks in the urban fabric. In the iteration to save Christ Church, the street wall’s break is only a matter of feet—there is no detrimental plaza. Despite this, the DOB has been inflexible in its ruling, and the church is at risk of being lost once again, despite an 18 month coalition between the community, Mr. Chang and the elected officials. This is a rare and inspiring story of the community and developer working on the same side, only to be obstructed by city bureaucracy. Now, not even a prayer can save this church from destruction.


Please write to the DOB to make an exception to save this historic building, so that it can have a new life as a beautiful hotel. This is our last chance. We got this far with an active demo permit, please help us to keep pushing the City!





Category: Alert · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for Public Hearing on November 1, 2016

Posted by on Thursday, November 3, 2016 · Leave a Comment 

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

Item 2

137 Hollywood Avenue – Douglaston Historic District


An Arts and Crafts style house built in 1907 and designed by Dorman and Light. Application is to legalize the installation of walls, fencing, a pergola, an awning and security cameras and alterations to front steps without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

Stylistically, this house is considered Arts and Crafts, but the illegal accretions to this large house and its plot have created an unfortunate hodge-podge of varying stylistic choices. The stonework to the front porch, including to the bottom of the columns and used in the pergola area does not relate in color or genre to the Spanish tile roof. The seawave motif chosen for the fencing around the patio is equally perfunctory, and collectively all of these different elements working together draws much attention to this house, coming across as ostentatious. While it is unfortunate so much work has already been completed, much of it is cosmetic and we ask the Commission to require this property to tone down a bit.

LPC determination: Approved w/ modifications

Item 4

16 Manor Road – Douglaston Historic District


A Colonial Revival style house designed by Alfred Busselle and built in 1919. Application is to legalize the rebuilding and altering of the dormers, and the installation of railings at the front walkway and porch all without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

Regarding this from an appropriateness standpoint, HDC could not easily discern the original dormers from the ones constructed illegally. Fortunately, this work is not offensive, but if done incorrectly, could have marred the entire appearance of this house. The Committee found the railings at the front walkway to add visual clutter to the yard, but if there is a need for them there for safety purposes, we ask LPC to evaluate their design in the context of other railings in the Douglaston Historic District.

LPC determination: Approved w/ modifications

Item 6

296 Waverly Avenue – Clinton Hill Historic District


An altered carriage house. Application is to reconstruct the façade and install window guards.

As a general rule, only in extreme circumstances should a building’s façade be completely dismantled and reconstructed. After review, HDC’s consensus was that this façade may be able to be saved with localized repairs using retrofitted brick ties and rebuilding the parapet, sparing the loss of any historic fabric during the proposed large intervention.

LPC determination: Approved

Item 7

70 Thomas Street – TriBeCa South Historic District


An Italianate style store and loft building designed by John J. O’Neil and built in 1870. Application is to construct a rooftop bulkhead and rooftop addition.

While a one-story rooftop addition might be appropriate on top of a five-story loft building, the bulkhead’s placement here is very much detracting to the argument to allow it. The elevator bulkhead is slammed directly to the front of the building, breaking this row of buildings’ intact roofline. This bulk should be lowered and set back, and if this isn’t possible, maybe it isn’t appropriate in this location to allow for this type of bulk.

LPC determination: Approved

Item 9

71 Spring Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Extension Historic District


A Queen Anne style store building designed by Schneider & Herter and built in 1889-90. Application is to establish a master plan governing the future installation of ground floor infill and signage.

While the proposed storefront configuration will regularize this hodge-podge ground floor, we ask the LPC to look closely at the rendering next to the existing conditions. In the existing conditions, there is a variety of planes which give dimension to the façade, and the proposed storefront appears flattened in comparison. HDC suggests pushing the glazing back within the openings for a more dramatic effect, and also choosing another material other then the bright aluminum doors within this dark, painted composition.

LPC determination: Approved w/ modifications

Item 10

14 St. Luke’s Place – Greenwich Village Historic District


A rowhouse built in 1852-53. Application is to construct a rooftop addition.

This property came before LPC in 2012 for rear yard and rooftop additions. It is unclear why the rooftop component was never constructed, but LPC staff comments from that time acknowledged the obvious visibility of the then-proposed bulk from the park across the street. The same circumstances remain true in this current application.  The tall ceiling and overall height of this addition inform HDC that this proposal has not been configured in its current iteration to be minimally visibly impactful.

LPC determination: Approved w/ modifications

Item 13

62 Greene Street – SoHo-Cast Iron Historic District


A stylized Classical style store building designed by Henry Fernbach and built in 1881-82. Application is to request that the Landmarks Preservation Commission issue a report to the City Planning Commission relating to an application for a Modification of Use and Bulk pursuant to Section 74-711 of the Zoning Resolution.

While reviewing this application, HDC noted typical decay on cast-iron in areas that have been neglected because of the fire escape, which obstructed proper maintenance and subsequently led to water infiltration in these areas. We feel strongly that this deterioration should be holistically remedied as part of the 74-711, and also that the applicant consider investigating the presence and restoration of vault lights at the ground floor. Regarding the rear façade, retaining a few six-over-six original wooden windows is futile if the rest of the windows will be replaced with less-durable one-over-one aluminum, and we feel that these windows, while on a secondary façade, should match the originals in material and configuration. This solution is more in the scope of what constitutes a first-class restoration in exchange for the change of use.

LPC determination: Approved

Item 16

97-99 7th Avenue South – Greenwich Village Historic District


An Art Deco style garage building built in 1919. Application is to install storefront infill, awnings, lighting and signage.

HDC prefers that the original, decorative tile work that reads “GARAGE” be left exposed, as there is no need to conceal original features. Alternatively, the name of the business can be printed on the awning, instead of on the building itself.

LPC determination: Approved in part/Denied in part

Item 17

34 West 21st Street – Ladies’ Mile Historic District


A garage built c. 1950.  Application is to demolish the garage and construct a new building.

While HDC found the proposed design to blend into the background, we were disappointed about the lack of a ground floor storefront. First, having a storefront would help this building better conceal its unusual identity as a single-family mansion on a street and district characterized by store and loft buildings with ground floor storefronts.  HDC feels strongly about this, as single-family homes are unprecedented in Ladies’ Mile, and the presence of a ground-floor drive-in garage is inappropriate. Further, it seems that the purported commercial space will actually be private, as it is located in the rear of the building and has no street presence. We ask the LPC to explore what this space actually is, and to think about the storefront issue HDC has raised.

LPC determination: Approved

Item 20

840 West End Avenue – Riverside – West End Extension II Historic District


A Renaissance Revival style apartment building, designed by George F. Pelham and built in 1904. Application is to construct a rooftop addition.

HDC found the proposed rooftop addition to actually be an additional entire story on this modest apartment house, and too visible. This building has an elegant termination, with a large balustrade delineating the roofline. It seems that every apartment building, especially in this area of town, has its original architectural termination obscured by bulk on top. The visible rooftop addition, in its proliferation, is a very New York City issue, but just because it is prolific, does that mean that it is good architecture?  Cumulatively, these additions erode the presence of crisp architectural lines, and instead begins to make the cityscape look cluttered. West End Avenue is a broad street, so additions on to the tops of buildings—even high ones—are very noticeable.

LPC determination: Approved w/ modifications

Item 21

172 East 73rd Street – Individual Landmark Historic District


A neo-Grec style carriage house designed by Frank Wennemer and built in 1889. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and excavate the rear yard.

Item 22

172 East 73rd Street – Individual Landmark Historic District


A neo-Grec style carriage house designed by Frank Wennemer and built in 1889. Application is to request that the Landmarks Preservation Commission issue a report to the City Planning Commission relating to an application for a Modification of Bulk pursuant to Section 74-711 of the Zoning Resolution.

The reason carriage houses are identifiable amidst other buildings along streets is because of their modest size—they aren’t as quite as big as a rowhouse. Keeping this in mind, we ask that the significant bulk that is being added to this building be minimally visible from the street, and over the neighboring carriage houses, to preserve the integrity of this row as a unit. Regarding the preservation proposed in exchange for this bulk, HDC felt that most of it was basic maintenance level work, as opposed to a first class restoration. We urge LPC to examine the proposed restoration program to ensure the longevity and preservation of this modest building for years to come.

LPC determination: Approved

Item 23

332 East 88th Street – Individual Landmark


A French Renaissance style Parsonage building in an ecclesiastical complex designed by Barney & Chapman and built in 1897. Application is to request that the Landmarks Preservation Commission issue a report to the City Planning Commission relating to an application for a Modification of Use and Bulk pursuant to Section 74-711 of the Zoning Resolution.

This is a case where the 74-711 tilts more in favor of the landmarked building, as opposed to being self-serving for a change of bulk or use. The proposed bulk to the non-landmarked building is negligible, yet the proposed restoration will ensure that this building will continue to survive for decades to come. We are all familiar with the detriments of water infiltration to buildings, and this rectory’s current drainage system has water running inside and outside of the building, which has caused significant damage. Over the years, these areas of infiltration have been dealt with in a piecemeal manner, but what is before the Commission today will care for this building’s drainage in a holistic way, which will ensure preservation in the long term. HDC considers this application to be a model of how a 74-711 should work, and we hope that the Commission will remember this property while reviewing future applications.

LPC determination: Approved

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

HDC@LPC – Testimony for Public Hearing on October 25, 2016

Posted by on Monday, October 24, 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

39-88 44th Street – Sunnyside Gardens Historic District


A rowhouse designed by Clarence Stein, Henry Wright, and Frederick Ackerman and built in 1927. Application is to install a fence.

Although fencing has appeared over nearly the past century, originally there were not any fences in this planned community. Sunnyside has evolved to having a proliferation of low-rise, chain link fences, however, HDC found the proposed wooden fence too opaque, high, and reminiscent of a suburban apartment complex rear privacy fence, contrary to the spirit of Sunnyside Gardens, designed by master urban planner and architect Clarence Stein. It was unclear if the examples of other wooden fences were approved by the LPC or were pre-designations, or possible violations.

LPC determination: No Action

Item 2

37-46 & 37-50 82nd Street – Jackson Heights Historic District


Two commercial buildings, with 37-46 designed by Murray Klein and built in 1929 and 37-50 designed by M. A. Cantor and built in 1929, altered in 1986 with modern facades. Application is to alter the front facades.

Some of the world’s premier retail destinations are in NYC historic districts, such as Soho, Madison Avenue, and the Ladies’ Mile. In these districts, the quality of architectural appearance is paramount, with leading designers choosing historic buildings to house their flagship stores. HDC feels that the same standard should be upheld in Queens, and the proposed design is neither here nor there. The applicant decided to work from a historic configuration, but the proposed design is a corporate shortcut to rectifying this altered facade. GFRC is a substandard material, especially on a facade that is pedestrian level. Many details, such as pilasters, capitals and an arched doorway have been eliminated, creating a flattened version of a historic facade. These details should be refined, since it seems like an historic facade is desired here on some level.

LPC determination: Approved w/ modifications

Item 6

25 Jay Street – DUMBO Historic District


A Renaissance Revival style factory building designed by Flemer & Koehler and built in 1892. Application is to modify entry infill installed without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

HDC found this presentation unclear in what the original and present conditions are. That said, every bay in the ground floor of this large building is different and it is difficult to understand why only one bay was altered to appear like another. If and when all of these bays are changed to reflect a more coherent appearance, we ask that a historic condition be consulted.

LPC determination: Approved

Item 7

203 DeKalb Avenue – Fort Greene Historic District


An Italianate style rowhouse built c. 1864. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions.

Unfortunately, because of this house’s situation in a low-scale neighborhood, this bulkhead will be visible from everywhere and HDC suggests making it as small as possible to eliminate this problem. Regarding the rear, it is interesting that the deign reincorporates an historic bay, but we were unable to discern what the proposed materials are for this addition.

**No photo available**

Item 8

109 Halsey Street – Bedford Historic District


A neo-Grec style rowhouse designed by Isaac D. Reynolds and built c. 1880-82. Application is to legalize the construction of a rooftop addition, expansion of the rear parapet, and modifications to the rear faзade without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

This is a bad case of bureaucratic failure. Why DOB issued construction permits prior to LPC approval is seriously unfortunate, and some of the work is inappropriate because of this mistake, which is not the applicant’s fault. We ask the Commission if the high parapet and flat roof bulkhead can be rectified in any way to comply more with LPC standards. The Committee did find the rear facade design sensitive, despite the lack of permits.

LPC determination: Approved w/ modifications

Item 9

436 Macon Street – Bedford Stuyvesant/Expanded Stuyvesant Heights Historic District


A neo-Grec/Queen Anne style rowhouse designed by Amzi Hill and built c. 1884. Application is to legalize the installation of windows without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

HDC has a responsibility and obligation to comment on illegal interventions, because without regulation, historic districts don’t work. This situation includes a mere five windows on the facade, and we feel strongly that an historic appearance be achieved here. The neighbor’s windows, which are used as a comparison, are different windows altogether and also appear pre-designation.

LPC determination: Approved

**No photo available**

Item 11

288 Carroll Street – Carroll Gardens Historic District


A rowhouse built in 1872-73. Application is to amend Certificate of Appropriateness 17-0036 for the construction of a rooftop addition.

HDC initially commented on this application in 2014, and we stated then that because of the large rear yard addition, the rooftop bulk was superfluous and also quite visible. The roof was approved, and now it is back because this applicant is copying the next door neighbor, whose rooftop addition is larger than theirs. This is a perfect example of how precedent works, which we have witnessed many times throughout the decades. HDC cannot support this application, as it has been segmented in a piecemeal fashion to obtain more and more bulk. It is difficult to understand why the already approved iteration isn’t satisfactory, and we ask LPC to uphold their initial decision, or better yet, reduce it to be appropriate to the historic building.

LPC determination: Approved w/ modifications

**No photo available**

Item 14

566 10th Street – Park Slope Extension Historic District


A neo-Grec style rowhouse designed by L. Bouard and built in 1887. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions and replace windows.

This project is adding a lot of bulk to an otherwise pristine row. The rooftop addition is so large that it reads as an entire story, and the only visibility studies provided were from directly across the street. Where are the other views from within low-scale Park Slope? Regarding the rear, the glazing and materials are non-contextual with the historic district, and no examples were provided of some type of precedent for non-traditional rear yard treatments.

LPC determination: Approved w/ modifications

Item 15

8 Perry Street – Greenwich Village Historic District


A rowhouse built in 1849. Application is to construct a stoop, rooftop and rear yard additions.

HDC found the proposed bulk in the rear appropriate, but believes the applicant could achieve the same amount of light by recreating the large windows on the original façade, and this tripartite configuration would be more a harmonious composition.

LPC determination: Approved

Item 16

23 Commerce Street – Greenwich Village Historic District


An apartment house designed by Somerfield & Steckler and built in 1908-09. Application is to legalize the installation of storefront infill, awnings and a bracket sign and modifications to steps without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

HDC found it unacceptable to alter this storefront in Greenwich Village and wonders how the applicant was unaware of this property being in the historic district, a location which likely factored into selecting this property to conduct business. It is deplorable that the divided lights have been lost. Unusual and irregular features like these are what makes the Village, the Village. The awning is inappropriate, as it covers the transom, which is one remaining interesting features of this storefront. The light fixture should also be removed, it in no way relates to the façade but rather is being used to illuminate the blade sign it sits atop of.

LPC determination: Denied

Item 17

327 West 4th Street – Greenwich Village Historic District


A late Federal style rowhouse built in 1827-28. Application is to construct a rooftop addition, excavate the rear yard, alter the rear faзade, replace the front entrance, and paint faзade elements.

It is unfortunate that this drawing set commenced with lauding the late Federal style and highlighted original elements on a neighboring building only to ignore this documentation and move as far away from preservation as possible. As the LPC is aware, this building typology is the rarest and oldest surviving in New York City. These buildings characterize what was the first wave of residential development, and their modest scale is built into this significance.  It is an almost existential question – when a Federal house is proposed to rise five stories to become as tall as its tenement neighbor, is it considered a Federal anymore? This bulk, coupled with excavation, is excessive and perhaps the applicant should have bought a tenement building on West 4th Street and spared this house. For the amount of work proposed to dig out and build on top of this house, HDC was disappointed with the insulting treatment of the door surround. The applicant used 41 Bank Street’s door surround as an example of an intact late Federal entry, yet has chosen to install a hotel room type door and not reconstruct the signature Ionic colonettes. While renovating nearly a two century old building requires compromise in how modern residences function, this simply renders the artifact severely compromised.

LPC determination: No Action

Item 19

46 Carmine Street – Greenwich Village Extension II Historic District


A Federal style rowhouse built in 1827-28. Application is to alter the roof.

HDC does not support this application, as it will further compromise a Federal roofline. While a shed dormer already exists, this shouldn’t set a precedent for more interventions. Further, the drawings were devoid of an axonometric or rending of what this will actually look like, making our Committee err on the side of caution.

LPC determination: No Action

Item 23

900 Broadway – Ladies’ Mile Historic District


A commercial building designed by McKim, Mead and White and built in 1886; and altered by Maynicke & Franke in 1905. Application is to replace windows.

HDC supports the applicant’s choice of an historic configuration, including curved glass on this pivotal Ladies’ Mile landmark. It would be even better if these windows could be made out of wood.

LPC determination: Approved

Category: HDC@LPC · Tags:

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