Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

HDC@LPC – Testimony for LPC Hearing on March 19, 2019

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 2

53 Pearl Street – DUMBO Historic District


An Italianate style factory building built in c. 1880. Application is to construct an addition, alter the front façade, and install a barrier-free access ramp.

HDC asks that the new ground floor windows openings’ stone lintels match those on the upper stories. With regard to the remainder of the proposal, the HDC supports the DUMBO community in asking the Commission to reject this out-of-scale and inappropriate addition. This proposed six-story-plus penthouse addition would dwarf the existing four-story 19th-century factory building, representative of the 19th century industrial architecture for which the district was designated, and one of the buildings that gives DUMBO its special character. The out-sized proportions of the addition do not respect the building that the applicants are proposing to use as a base, nor the architecture of the surrounding district. The relationship of the  colored fins to the former interior use of the Masury paint manufacturers is far too abstract to make the proposal visually comprehensible to passersby, nor do the thin, brightly colored fins fit with the muscular industrial character of DUMBO. This design seeks to excuse inappropriateness with colorful flash, and misses the goal entirely.

Though not present in the application, we ask the Commission to ensure that the work will not result in the loss of any historic Belgian block pavers.

LPC Determination: No Action

Item 3

178 Hicks Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District


A Greek Revival rowhouse built in 1846. Application is to alter window openings at the rear façade.

The Historic Districts Council finds that, even though this work may be only partially visible from public vantages, the two-story window opening on the rear is a substantial intervention in this courtyard of largely intact 19th century houses. The window, in conjunction with the grand back door, constitutes an egregious overreach, and should be restudied.

LPC Determination: Approved

Item 4

77 White Street – TriBeCa East Historic District


A neo-Grec style store and loft building designed by Auguste Namur and built in 1888. Application is to replace a loading platform.

The Historic Districts Council urges the Commission to ask the applicants to go a step further and restore the vault lights as well.  Vault lights are a defining feature of the former manufacturing districts of Tribeca and SoHo, and serve as an important reminder of the industrial past of these upscale residential and shopping areas. Vault lights should not be lightly discarded, and the opportunity to restore them at this site should be seized.

LPC Determination: Approved

Item 5

53 West 119th Sreet – Mount Morris Park Historic District


A neo-Grec style rowhouse designed by J. E. Terhune and built in 1885. Application is to construct rear yard and rooftop additions, modify masonry openings, install railings, and excavate at the rear yard.

The Historic Districts Council strongly objects to this massive full-width rear yard addition into this garden core. This house is in the middle of a row of 11 houses that share an unbroken row of rear facades. This intervention is frankly a block buster. Furthermore, HDC is concerned with the inappropriate removal of the entire rear façade of this historic building, and the replacement of a substantial brick wall with a dismal GFRC curtain wall. The masonry of the district’s rowhouses is a defining feature of Mount Morris Park, and GFRC is not an appropriate cladding material.  This would be the highest rear addition on this block, and should be reduced to bring it in line with LPC-approved additions, and to preserve the legibility of the building’s original envelope and rear cornice line.

LPC Determination: No Action

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