HDC Testimony for LPC Hearing on May 23, 2017

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

204 6th Avenue – Park Slope Historic District Extension II

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #Q10029

A Neo-Grec style store and apartment house built in 1879. Application is to alter the storefront.

HDC objects to the placement of the awning over the stained glass transom. Storefronts with stained glass transoms are increasingly rare and we would like to see this unique historical feature accentuated, not obscured. The proposed awning would go on a corner of a block that faces east, eliminating the need for an awning. If the applicant cannot part ways with this awning, however, HDC would like to see the awning placed underneath the transom in order to better highlight the beautiful leaded glass on this historic 19th century apartment house.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 2

416 West 13th Street – Gansevoort Market Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #197201

A neo-Classical style factory building designed by Trowbridge & Livingston and built in 1901- 1902.  Application is to construct a rooftop addition, elevator bulkheads, and a covered walkway at the roof.

HDC does not support this application. The rooftop addition and elevator bulkheads are very visible in relationship to the front façade. Our committee questions the placement of the elevator in its current configuration. Moving it back even three feet might make the difference between a highly visible addition and a less noticeable one. Our committee also wonders if there aren’t any further steps that could be taken to push back the addition or minimize its view from the street. Perhaps the function of the elevator could be switched so that the freight elevator is moved to the front and the passenger elevator to the back, allowing a less noticeable bulkhead at the front of the building. HDC looks forward to seeing a revised application with a rooftop addition that is pushed back and reduced in size.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 3

28 West 12th Street – Greenwich Village Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #Q10008

One in a pair of adjoined Anglo-Italianate style rowhouses built in 1851-1852. Application is to legalize the installation of a cornice in non-compliance with Permit for Minor Work 15-8973.

HDC objects to the proposed legalization in this application. The cornice that has been incorrectly added to this 1851 rowhouse is completely inappropriate. The extra bracket wedged in is not evenly spaced and needs to be positioned correctly. Furthermore, Greenwich Village is a historic district comprised of numerous different architectural styles. The examples of other cornices provided in the application as precedent, however, are not labeled with address or style and have no relation with what they are trying to justify. We ask the Commission to take a firm stand in support of its own regulations requiring property owners in historic districts to seek approval of the LPC prior to working on their building, and to deny the application.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 4

13 Bleecker Street – NoHo East Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #169206

A Federal style residence with Italianate style alterations, built c. 1822-25 and altered several times between 1869 and 1925. Application is to replace the commercial infill.

While 13 Bleecker Street has been altered several times between 1869 and 1925, many of these alterations have added style and character to this charming Federal-style home.  HDC wishes to see these historic changes restored and maintained. The existing attenuated door on the right hand side of the transom is an interesting intermediate historical item that could be replicated or restored and would create an interesting composition. Duplicating this work on the other side of the facade would add symmetry and provide some recollection of the historical state of this nearly two-century -old building. Additionally, if the applicant is removing such a significant portion of historic brick, our committee would like to see at least some of the remnants of the doors and the surrounding buff brick maintained and restored.

LPC determination: Approved 


Item 8

50 East 96th Street – Expanded Carnegie Hill Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #184636

A neo-Renaissance style apartment building designed by George F. Pelham and built in 1905-06. Application is to construct a rooftop addition.

First of all, HDC would like to thank the applicant for sharing this presentation with us. HDC does not support this application. The mock-up of this addition shows it to be highly visible over the primary facades. Allowing its construction will detract from the architectural integrity of this historic 1905 building. The height of the addition is not in keeping with the scale of other additions approved within the district. There are no other LPC-approved additions in the Carnegie Hill Historic District that are so visible. There are other obtrusive additions on other flat buildings nearby on Madison Avenue, but they all pre-date designation and thus are grand-fathered. Our committee also objects to the glass railing which, as the application shows, will be highly visible. Viewed in relationship with the cornice, the railing would detract from this crowning element on the building.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 9

895 Madison Avenue – Upper East Side Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #198480

A neo-Renaissance style apartment building designed by W.L. Rouse and L.A. Goldstone and built in 1916. Application is to legalize the installation of awnings and planters without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).

HDC objects to the proposed legalization in this application. We wonder what confusion the applicant might have had about illegally modifying their property in an area that has been designated as a historic district for 37 years. We ask the Commission to take a firm stand in support of its own regulations requiring property owners in historic districts to seek approval of the LPC prior to working on their building, and to deny the application. To do otherwise is to undermine the Commission’s authority and discretion. Finally, we cannot believe the LPC would allow planters to be attached to a building’s façade in this manner and they should not be allowed post factum.

LPC determination: Approved 


Item 10

600 West 116th Street – Morningside Heights Historic District

CERTIFICATE OF APPROPRIATENESS, Docket #Q09292

A Renaissance Revival style apartment building designed by Gaeton Ajello and built in 1911-12. Application is to install storefront infill and signage.

As much as HDC supports hormone and antibiotic-free hamburgers, our committee objects to the signage proposed in this application. The large Shake Shack sign wrapping the corner of this lovely apartment building is unfortunate and does not allow the corner of the building to land. The corner should be uninterrupted by any signage so that the building’s historic masonry features can be freed up and appreciated. Obstructing the masonry piers of this building with a sign for a hamburger restaurant is an affront to its elegant architectural design. Instead, our committee would like to see signage fit within the storefront bays, even if the signage is obstructed. It is important that the three separate bays of the façade are preserved and defined. Additionally, our committee finds the wood paneling on the sign to be inappropriate for this building. We would like the faux transom currently on the building maintained, perhaps with black or mirrored glass. Finally, while our committee cannot deny the vivacity of the neon green hamburger sign included in this application, we question the appropriateness of its prominent placement on the corner. Perhaps placing this lovely neon burger in a window might be a better solution.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications

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