Third Times the Charm? Support Shown for Jamaica Savings Bank Designation

From the Queens Chronicle:

Leaders Testify To Designate Jamaica Bank A Landmark
by Theresa Juva, Assistant Editor
05/24/2007

A handful of historians and Southeast Queens residents gathered at the Landmarks Preservation Commission offices in Lower Manhattan last week to urge the historic preservation of the former Jamaica Savings Bank.
Leaders like Gloria Black, chairwoman of Community Board 12, spoke in favor of landmarking the late 19th century Beaux-Arts building, located at 161-02 Jamaica Ave., which exemplifies bank architecture of that era. “The building embraces architectural aesthetic features which are only visible in a few buildings in Queens,” Black testified before the 11-member commision.
Mitchell Grubler, representing the Queens Preservation Council, pointed out the building?s unique details, including its central window, which is decorated with carvings of fruit and grain that symbolize prosperity.
Jeff Gottlieb, president of the Central Queens Historical Association, testified that the bank was integral to the formation of Jamaica as a commercial center in the 1920s and ’30s.
The commission has landmarked the building twice before, in 1974 and 1992, but both times, the designation was rescinded. In 1974, the Board of Estimate rejected the designation; in 1992, it was the City Council that gave it the thumbs-down.
This time around, Black is optimistic that the building will get landmarked, especially with Jamaica’s pending rezoning that she hopes will encourage “the belief that historical landmarks ought to be preserved in the midst of urban renewal and gentrification.”
Black said the bank is one of two dozen other sites in Southeast Queens that deserve consideration for historic preservation.
The commission will examine the bank’s criteria before voting at a public meeting. Lisi de Bourbon, a spokeswoman for the landmarks commission, said no timetable has been set for a decision, but the application has merit.
“Clearly, the commission thinks it is worthy of landmark designation otherwise we wouldn’t be considering it,” she said.

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