Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

HDC@LPC – Testimony for Public Hearing on March 13, 2018

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

135 Montague Street – Brooklyn Heights Historic District 


A commercial building built in the 1920s. Application is to construct a rooftop addition and alter the rear façade.

HDC finds the proposed addition to be complementary in its design and appreciates the proposed use of quality materials, but we would suggest that the applicant set the addition back a bit more – perhaps three feet or so – to further differentiate the addition and avoid crowding the balustrade at the top of the building.

LPC determination: No action


Item 2

203 Washington Park – Fort Greene Historic District 


An Italianate style house designed by Thanas Skelly and built c. 1865. Application is to construct a rooftop bulkhead, install railings, planters, and benches, and extend a flue and vents.

To avoid visibility from Fort Greene Park, we would suggest that the bulkhead be sloped down and possibly reduced and simplified; as it doesn’t need that much enclosed space for its given function.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 5

52 Thomas Street – TriBeCa South Historic District 


A simplified neo-Classical style store and office building designed by Jardine, Hill and Murdock and built in 1927-1928. Application is to install rooftop mechanical equipment.

HDC finds that the equipment is quite visible, and creates an odd saw-tooth effect when viewed from the street. We would therefore suggest that the equipment be set farther back, screened and/or grouped more closely together in order to mitigate its impact.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 6

622 Broadway – NoHo Historic District 


A neo-Grec style store and loft building designed by Henry Fernbach and built in 1880-82. Application is to install rooftop mechanical equipment and screen.

HDC had a hard time discerning how visible the equipment would be, so we urge the commission to ask for more information regarding mockup photos, specifically taken from the roof in order to have a better understanding of the expected visibility and to ensure that the proposed changes are minimal.

LPC determination: Approved


Item 9

768 Fifth Avenue – Plaza Hotel – Individual Landmark and Interior Landmark 


A French Renaissance style hotel, designed by Henry Janeway Hardenbergh and built in 1905-1907, with an addition designed by Warren & Wetmore and built in 1921. Application is to legalize the installation of light fixtures in the ballroom and exterior heaters, HVAC units and a display box without Landmarks Preservation Commission permit(s); legalize the construction of a penthouse and the installation of a storefront in non-compliance with Certificate of Appropriateness 06-2975; and replace garage doors.

While each of the proposed legalizations may seem small, the cumulative impact of the scheme would cheapen the grandness of this iconic Individual Landmark. It would behoove the present owners to honor the previous LPC approvals for changes to this building, rather than making minor tweaks that do little to rectify the situation. HDC asks the Commission to require that the applicant install the garage doors that were previously approved and to deny the proposed storefront design. The sign band appears too clunky and the proportions are still not quite right. Regarding the heaters on the ground level, we would suggest that the applicant investigate a temporary or seasonal solution, such as standing heaters on the sidewalk, and that the applicant hire a mechanical engineer to find a better solution for the HVAC unit on the roof. The roofline of this building is too important to host accretions such as this, no matter what the paint color.

LPC determination: Approved with modifications


Item 11

2012 Broadway – Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District 


A Beaux-Arts style apartment building designed by Mulliken & Moeller and built in 1904-1905, and altered in the early 20th century with a commercial ground floor. Application is to alter the base and install storefront infill.

HDC questions the proposed materials for this new storefront, and would suggest that the applicant perform a probe to determine if the limestone present elsewhere at the base of the building is extant. If so, the most appropriate scheme would incorporate the existing limestone. If not, new limestone that matches the existing would be a far better approach than the use of ceramic material, which clashes with the story above.

LPC determination: No action


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