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

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #163663

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #192130

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #187616

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #191166

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #193191

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #184022

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #190354

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #192806

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #192876

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #183214

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #192378

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #192454

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #193698

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

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