Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

[email protected] – Testimony for LPC Zoom Hearing on November 17, 2020

The Historic Districts Council (HDC) reviews every public proposal affecting New York City’s landmarks and historic districts and provides testimony to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) whenever it is needed.

Please continue reading for our testimony regarding the latest items under consideration by the Commission. We invite you to visit the [email protected] blog for an archive containing all of our past testimony.

PLEASE NOTE: In an effort to curb the spread of COVID-19, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is adjusting its processes and procedures to ensure the agency continues to provide services to the city while protecting the health of its employees and the general public. The agency is currently holding public hearings and meetings through Zoom, and live-streaming them through its YouTube channel. This enables applicants to present their projects to the Commission and the public to watch the presentations live on YouTube. Interested members of the public will also be able to provide live testimony by joining in through the Zoom app or by calling from any telephoneFor information regarding online public participation, visit the LPC’s website here.

Item 2
115 Fenimore Street – Prospect Lefferts Gardens Historic District
A Colonial Revival style house designed by G. A. Schellenger and built in 1896. Application is to legalize the installation of a fence and driveway gate without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s).
Architect: None listed
While HDC would never encourage illegal work within historic districts, our committee found the application for 1860 Bedford Avenue (also in the Prospect Lefferts Gardens Historic District) to be a much more appropriate fence. While there was a severely deteriorated chain link fence subsumed in a bush prior to its replacement with yet another chain link fence, we do not find this to be an appropriate solution. When making changes to historic buildings, especially ones that were previously neglected, HDC encourages an approach that leaves the building or site better than one found it.

Item 3
West Broadway, Reade, Chambers and Hudson Streets – James Bogardus Triangle – Tribeca West Historic District
BINDING REPORT, Docket #2102877
A raised triangular-shaped pedestrian island created c. 1920. Application to install a PDC approved food kiosk.
Applicant: NYC DOT
HDC understands that the proposed kiosk before the Commission is a PDC-approved prototype. In this case, we feel that a one-size-fits-all approach is not appropriate for this location. In historic districts, details count: tactile paving at crosswalks for ADA are employed in natural colors, rather than red; street signs are terra-cotta colored, rather than interstate green; bishop’s crook lampposts may be present rather than cobra heads, and the list goes on. Kiosks are no different than these layers of historic districts. HDC would like to see a kiosk design that has a dialog with the history and materials of its location. This plaza honors the father of cast-iron architecture, James Bogardus, whose iron-fronted buildings characterize much of downtown Manhattan, including the Tribeca historic districts. Regardless of this new structure’s permanence, the LPC’s feedback for this application is binding and we hope that Commissioners will issue a report to the Public Design Commission that encourages a more historic design.
HDC found the signage program excessive–signs should follow the “less is more” rule within historic districts. Finally, HDC has concerns about refuse generated from the vendor. We did not see any garbage or recycling bins in the proposed scheme. As such, we were unable to cumulatively determine possible visual clutter in this plaza.

Item 4
201 Sullivan Street – Sullivan Thompson Historic District 
A stripped Greek Revival style rowhouse built in 1835. Application is to modify a masonry opening and install a barrier free access ramp.
Architect: AZSK Architects
HDC found the solutions proposed in this application to be haphazard in nature and we wondered if there are better options for ADA access. Specifically, can access be accommodated internally or at the primary entrance on Bleecker Street? The treatment of the entrance labeled “Proposed Door 102” requires resolution, as this entry’s breadth is wider than the blind arch above it. HDC notes these arches because they are historic alterations which are present in the tax photograph. On a building categorized as “stripped,” these details should be closely examined to not further degrade the streetscape.

Item 5

40-42 West 84th Street – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District


A neo-Renaissance style apartment building designed by George F. Pelham and built in 1916-17.

Application is to install railings and alter the existing penthouse addition.

Architect: TBD Architecture & Design Studio

Unlike a recent application at the Café des Artistes where the railings were located on the northern side of the building and were minimally visible, these rails face several directions and are visually prominent. Thus, HDC is consistent in our position that an open metal rail should be used, rather than a glass rail.

Item 7
311 East 140th Street – Mott Haven Historic District 
A vernacular style rowhouse built in 1874. Application is to modify the areaway and front façade and install a barrier-free access chair lift.
Architect: MuNYC Architecture
The historic fence suddenly ends at the proposed new stair and lift entry. This cast-iron fence needs a better termination, such as a post in a sympathetic vocabulary.

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