HDC@LPC – Testimony for Public Hearing on October 25, 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 1

39-88 44th Street – Sunnyside Gardens Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #186607

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #183951

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #191519

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #180489

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #186854

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #190876

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #184312

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #191062

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #186439

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #183292

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #185249

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #190092

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

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #192920

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:

Leave A Comment

About Us

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

Contact Us

Historic Districts Council
232 East 11th Street
New York, NY 10003
Tel: (212) 614-9107
Fax: (212) 614-9127
E-mail: hdc@hdc.org

Donate Now

Become a Friend of HDC! Your donation helps preserve, improve, and celebrate the places that make New York great.

Join Our Mailing List

Receive updates on programs, events, action alerts, and our Landmarks Preservation Commission testimony.