August 2, 2011


Proposed designation of the Bedford-Stuyvesant/Expanded Stuyvesant Heights Historic District

HDC is thrilled to have the opportunity to speak in support of the Bedford-Stuyvesant/Expanded Stuyvesant Heights Historic District.

The architectural splendor of this remarkable Brooklyn neighborhood speaks for itself. It is one of New York City’s richest and most remarkable collections of 19th-century rowhouses, punctuated with handsome small apartment buildings and  drop-dead gorgeous institutional structures. Looking at Bedford-Stuyvesant, one almost imagines the speculative developers of the Gilded Age sitting down together at a gentleman’s club and deciding that as long as they were going to build houses for a living, they were going to make darned sure those houses were elegant since  – as everyone knows – beauty  sells. They did their job well.

In addition to the obvious architectural merit of the area, the cultural significance of the area is also note-worthy. Bedford-Stuyvesant is a supreme example of the enduring value of historic neighborhoods. Built for an immigrant population of Europeans and New Englanders, it became home to another newly-arriving population during the 20th century, transforming into one of the largest and most well-known Black neighborhoods in America. The African- and Caribbean-American  New Yorkers who have called this neighborhood home for almost a century have grown deep roots in the community, roots which are nurtured by and have helped protect their fantastic built urban environment. This community is truly an example of the lasting value of a historic neighborhood – these buildings have been home to generations of New Yorkers and with the LPC’s oversight, they will remain to become the homes and churches and gathering places for generations to come.

This year, HDC chose the first class of our “Six to Celebrate”, New York City’s only list of preservation priorities selected directly from the communities. Placing Bedford-Stuyvesant on that list was an obvious choice, given the architectural quality of the neighborhood, the significance of its history to New York City and the strength of its community. We have had the pleasure of working closely with a diverse, intelligent and passionate group of volunteers from Bedford Stuyvesant who are devoted to preserving and protecting their neighborhood. It is to a large extent due to their efforts that we have come to today’s hearing. HDC thanks the Landmarks Commission for taking this long-awaited first step in recognizing and preserving Bedford Stuyvesant and we look forward to continuing to work with the agency and all our neighborhood partners in furthering and expanding preservation efforts in the area.


110464- Block 506, lot 16-
30 Charlton Street – Charlton-King-Vandam Historic District
An eclectic Georgian style apartment building in 1927. Application is to legalize façade alterations, and the installation of windows, light fixtures, and intercom boxes, all without LPC permits, and to install through-the-wall air conditioning units.

HDC is opposed to legalization of so many alterations that change the character of this 1927 apartment building.  Details such as the limestone base and stringcourses and the divided light double hung windows helped to give the structure a Georgian appearance, and their loss is certainly noticed.  The addition of lighting that bears no relation to this style as well as a very large intercom system only compounds the problem.  The unsympathetic installations and the removal of historic, decorative details are not things the Commission would have approved if they had come forward as a proposal for new work.  HDC asks that the legalization be rejected and the building be repaired before any consideration is given to air conditioning units.  That way the units’ appropriateness can be judged in the context a properly-maintained building, not an abused one.

LPC determination:  denied


119016- Block 1218, lot 12-
163 West 87th Street – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District
A Romanesque/Renaissance Revival style rowhouse designed by Gilbert A. Schellenger and built in 1889-1890. Application is to construct rooftop and rear yard additions.

While most of the rowhouses in this garden core have  typical utilitarian L-additions which historically housed staircases, bathrooms and such, none have further filled in the space and created a full-width addition.  If additional floor space is needed for the lower stories, HDC recommends moving the bulk of the existing addition by removing the upper floors and/or shaving off some of the depth on all the floorsas has been done in similar projects in this district.

The proposed rooftop addition is full width, creating the impression of a whole other floor.  While it may not be visible from directly in front of the building, we are doubtful the same can be said for other vantage points.  Regardless of visibility, it is too large an addition especially when combined with that in the rear yard.

LPC determination:  approved with modifications


118498- Block 8775, lot 41-
1901 Emmons Avenue – F.W.I.L. Lundy Brothers Restaurant, Individual Landmark
A Spanish Colonial revival style restaurant building designed by Bloch & Hesse and built in 1934. Application is to legalize the installation of mechanical units and a sidewalk without LPC permits, to construct a wall, and install a sidewalk canopy.

HDC finds that the wall with its tile roof detail is a rather nice way to shield mechanical units.  Unfortunately though, as proposed, some units would still be very visible as they sit above it.  We ask that these units be moved or smaller ones installed instead. Although this is a secondary façade, it is important as it is most likely the only one experienced by customers entering through the parking lot.  While this landmark is not as high-style as some, it is one of the few landmarks in this area of Southern Brooklyn and its preservation was the result of a hard-fought community campaign. Many New Yorkers, and former New Yorkers, have a spot for F.W.I.L. Lundy Brothers Restaurant for both its architecture and a special time and place that it evokes.  HDC is happy to see the building has found another life as a market and with a few small small changes to this proposal, the landmark can continue to be used and enjoyed.

LPC determination:  approved


120873- Block 253, lot 27-
6 Grace Court Alley – Brooklyn Heights Historic District
A converted brick carriage house built c. 1920. Application is to alter openings at the front and rear facades and construct a rooftop bulkhead.

HDC finds that plans for the front of the c.1920 carriage house will do much to restore the spirit of the building and Grace Court Alley.  However, we feel that on the rear façade too much historic fabric and character is being removed for the installation of plates of glass too large for such a small structure, and ask that at least the top floor fenestration remain intact.

LPC determination:  approved with modifications

Posted Under: HDC@LPC