HDC Co-Founder Bronson Binger Dies, Judge Rules Against NYU Expansion on Parks

Judge Rules NYU Expansion Plan Builds on Parks!

In an important legal ruling, NYS Supreme Court Judge Donna Mills found that elements of the proposed NYU expansion plan would build on land which has long be used as public parkland, although not officially designated as such. It is possible to build on parkland but the NYS Legislature would need to approve the proposal, which has not happened in this instance. The legal action opposing the expansion which Justice Mills ruled on was brought against the City of New York by a coalition of community groups, neighborhood residents and NYU faculty.

HDC is proud to be a plaintiff on the lawsuit and welcomed the judge’s ruling, equating it with the spirit of community preservation pioneered by the legendary Jane Jacobs. “Jane Jacobs managed to upend Moses’s decision to turn Washington Square Park into a thoroughfare and plow through Lower Manhattan and the judge is honoring her spirit,” said Simeon Bankoff, HDC’s executive director. Henry J. Stern, a former parks commissioner added: “It’s nice when the community wins now and then to put the fear of God into the university so they can’t ignore the legitimate community interest. But if Moses couldn’t break the Village, why shouldn’t they run roughshod over N.Y.U.?”

The City has not yet formal responded to the ruling.

For more information:

The Villager: http://thevillager.com/2014/01/08/judge-says-city-broke-the-law-by-approving-n-y-u-superblocks-plan/

New York Post: http://nypost.com/2014/01/07/judge-says-nyc-broke-the-law-in-nyu-expansion-plan/

New York Times: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/08/nyregion/judge-blocks-part-of-nyus-plan-for-four-towers-in-greenwich-village.html?ref=nyregion

Daily News: http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/education/nyu-expansion-plan-halted-article-1.1569150

Bloomberg News: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/2014-01-07/new-york-university-expansion-plan-blocked-by-judge.html

Crain’s New York: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20140107/REAL_ESTATE/140109910



Bronson Binger, 1930 – 2013


(Left to Right) Bronson Binger & his companion Ann Gaffney receiving HDC’s Grassroots Preservation Award in 2011, with Leo Blackman and Franny Eberhart.

HDC mourns the loss of our friend, colleague and co-founder Bronson Binger. Bronson was a vivacious, articulate and extraordinarily capable advocate for the preservation of New York City’s irreplaceable historic buildings, parks and neighborhoods. As a neighborhood resident, he was active in the drive to preserve the Carnegie Hill neighborhood; as an activist, he helped form HDC as a committee of organizations representing all the historic districts; as an architect, he worked to restore beautiful buildings and parks and as a public servant, he saved some of New York’s greatest treasures. In the 2008 interview with the New York Preservation Archive Project (quoted by David Dunlap in his NYT obituary) Bronson said, “Nobody in 50 years has ever thanked me for saving them money. Which is true, I’m not a great believer in saving money. I’m a great believer in saving buildings.”

Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.



2014 Six to Celebrate!!!

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HDC is thrilled to announce its 2014 Six to Celebrate, an annual listing of historic New York City neighborhoods and institutions that merit preservation attention. This is New York’s only citywide list of preservation priorities coming directly from the neighborhoods.

Launching in conjunction with the 2014 list is also a new website for the Six to Celebrate Program, detailing all of the preservation work done in the chosen neighborhoods since the program’s inception in 2011. The website can be viewed at www.6tocelebrate.org.

The 2014 groups will be formally introduced at the Six to Celebrate Launch Party on Wednesday, January 29, 2014, 6:00-8:00pm at the LGBT Community Center (208 West 13th Street.) To purchase tickets, click here (or just show up at the door).

The six priority areas were chosen from applications submitted by neighborhood groups around the city on the basis of the architectural and historic merit of the area, the level of threat to the neighborhood, strength and willingness of the local advocates, and where HDC’s citywide preservation perspective and assistance could be the most meaningful.  Throughout 2014, HDC will work with these neighborhood partners to set and reach preservation goals through strategic planning, advocacy, outreach, programs and building public awareness.


The 2014 Six to Celebrate are:

On Tuesday, February 11, the proposed Park Avenue Historic District will have a Public Hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission.  The proposed district encompasses the large sections of the iconic boulevard which are unprotected and under threat of inappropriate development. The coalition of local advocates has gathered widespread community and political support and will continue their work to ensure the designation of this historic neighborhood.  HDC Executive Director, Simeon Bankoff says, “We are very excited to take such a major step for one of our Six to Celebrate groups so early in the year. We look forward to using this momentum to achieve preservation victories on Park Avenue and with our other priority groups.”Another exciting development in the program is this year’s inclusion of Public Libraries as a thematic priority. In recent years, as preservation issues surrounding libraries have become part of the public dialogue, including the Central Library Plan and the fight to save New York’s beautiful Carnegie branch libraries, the Historic Districts Council has recognized the need to call explicit attention to these institutions. This choice is not limited to a specific geographic neighborhood, era, or local advocacy group; as HDC will engage communities city-wide. Local libraries serve as community anchors and are sometimes a neighborhoods’ oldest or only surviving architecturally significant building. They serve as landmarks in the truest sense of the word. Throughout 2014, we wish to connect with new audiences and local library lovers in this effort to recognize and preserve these architecturally beautiful and culturally vital institutions. 


Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn A commercial thoroughfare for more than one hundred years, Atlantic Avenue is a diverse and varied boulevard connecting the historic neighborhoods of Boerum Hill, Brooklyn Heights and Cobble Hill. The Atlantic Avenue Business Improvement District seeks to create a shopping and dining district that celebrates its history and architecture. These efforts include educational outreach through lectures, tours and family-oriented programs, and the exploration of preservation methods to protect and enhance the elegant streetscapes that make the Avenue so enticing.
Forest Close, Queens Designed in 1927 in the spirit of the garden city movement, Forest Close is a charming nook of 38 neo-Tudor houses surrounding a shared communal garden. While the Forest Close Association maintains covenants that regulate design and open space elements of the community and advises residents on design guidelines for building projects, they are now exploring other tools to better protect the area’s special character. The Association is working to engage residents and local stakeholders to promote the preservation of this lush neighborhood in Forest Hills.
Historic Cemeteries, Staten Island Dotting Staten Island are 19 historic places of memory and rest. The Friends of Abandoned Cemeteries of Staten Island maintains the physical sites and written records of 11 of these spaces, promotes and assists in their beautification and rehabilitation, and engages local residents through events, programs and clean-ups. Friends is working to secure the resources needed to expand awareness of and participation in preserving these sites which are a vital, if little-known, part of New York City’s early history.
Madison Square North, Manhattan This architecturally diverse neighborhood bordering midtown Manhattan includes pre-Civil War rowhouses, late 19th century hotels, early 20th century loft and commercial structures, and the remaining buildings of Tin Pan Alley. Spurred by several threats to important historic buildings, the 29th Street Neighborhood Association has recently begun a campaign to preserve this area’s rich architectural and cultural history by expanding the limited Madison Square North Historic District to better reflect the actual neighborhood.
Park Avenue, Manhattan Working with a coalition of residents, activists and community groups, Historic Park Avenue, Defenders of the Historic Upper East Side and Carnegie Hill Neighbors seek to landmark the unprotected blocks of New York’s premier historic boulevard. With an important Historic District hearing at the Landmarks Preservation Commission early in 2014, the year is off to an exciting start. This strong push to protect its historical and architectural significance includes the effort to prevent the demolition of the rectory of Park Avenue Christian Church, an architectural jewel in the Avenue’s crown.
New York City’s Public Libraries Each of New York City’s public library branches is a neighborhood anchor, nurturing and educating residents. Crucial to their mission are the physical spaces they occupy. Often a community’s most distinguished building and only gathering place, these institutions have played an important role in the lives of generations of New Yorkers. Working with local advocates and organizations, the Historic Districts Council has chosen libraries as a thematic priority for 2014. HDC seeks to promote and preserve libraries across the five boroughs through education, outreach, advocacy and research. The project will include the completion of the Campaign to Preserve the Carnegie Libraries, a nomination of this thematic resource to the State and National Registers of Historic Places.

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