Certificate of Appropriateness Testimony

HDC@LPC – October 6, 2009

Hearing Date:  10/6/2009
LPC Docket Number: 102402
Queens, Block: 8027, Lot: 49
21 Beverly Road aka 235-31 Beverly Road – Douglaston Historic District

A free standing Arts and Crafts style home designed by A. Maney and built in 1907. Application is to replace windows at the porch.

HDC Testimony
While the design of these windows will be an improvement over the existing, they should be in wood, not aluminum clad wood.  Unlike many houses in the district, this building is not set back.  This enclosed porch is nearly right at the edge of the sidewalk, making these windows, their material and design extremely noticeable.  HDC recommends that natural materials, important to the design of houses in the Douglaston Historic District, be used in this prominent location.

LPC Determination: Approved with modifications


Hearing Date:  10/6/2009
LPC Docket Number: 098163
Queens, Block: 8058, Lot: 10
234-24 Melrose Lane – Douglaston Historic District
A vacant lot. Application is to built a new house.




HDC Testimony
The proposed house feels very massive compared to its more modest neighbors.  One way to reduce this bulk would be to slope the roof in a similar manner as the neighboring steep, peeked roofs.  The entrance could be made less grand and be lowered.  A double height entrance with a flat roof is not something found anywhere in this district.

Not only the design and scale, but the materials too must match the level of quality for which the Douglaston Historic District is known.  Pressed aluminum is not an appropriate material for the roof.  While stucco is typical in this district, drivet or any other EIF (exterior insallation finish) is not.

In addition to its distinctive historic homes, Douglaston has a number of fine examples of new construction and alterations which work well in the context of the district.  We urge the applicant to work with staff to follow those leads.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

Hearing Date:  10/6/2009
LPC Docket Number: 102525
Brooklyn, Block: 306, Lot: 16
202 Warren Street – Cobble Hill Historic District

An Italianate style house built in 1853-1855 and altered in the mid-20th century. Application is to construct a stoop and altar the faзade and areaway.

HDC Testimony
The 1969 designation report for the Cobble Hill Historic District bemoans 202 Warren Street’s “modernization” as “an object lesson to all those interested in historic preservation.”  It goes on to note, “Had this historic district been in existence when the building was remodeled, the alteration would have been more in harmony with the row.”  With a proposal before the Commission to reinstall the stoop and alter the faзade, there is now a chance that that can happen.

Knowing that 202 was built along with 190-200 and 204 Warren Street in 1853-1855 for William W. Petit and Edmund B. Shotwell, it only makes sense to return its proportions and details to that of the row.  While we applaud the return of the stoop, we are concerned about a number of design details and materials proposed.  The door and windows should be at the same level as others in the row as should the cornice.  Steel and glass do not seem appropriate for a row of brick with brownstone trim houses, and stucco is not the right material for a cornice. The bay, while an interesting concept and one that is found in the neighborhood, never existed here or elsewhere in this row.  With this in mind, the proposed seems like a front yard addition, something the commission has never approved, and we would recommend the applicant consider applying for a rear yard addition instead.

The proposed seems to be crying out “look at me,” when instead this row of Italianate houses should be saying together “look at us.”  HDC urges the commission to require, if not a restoration of 202 Warren Street, at least alterations that are sympathetic and in keeping with its sister houses.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

Hearing Date:  10/6/2009
LPC Docket Number: 102317
Brooklyn, Block: 1961, Lot: 23
405 Clinton Avenue – Clinton Hill Historic District

A Romanesque Revival/Queen Anne style house designed by William Tubby and built in 1889. Application is to demolish a rear yard addition

HDC Testimony
At first we were pleased to read on the calendar a proposal to demolish a rear yard addition, as HDC spends much time reviewing and testifying against the construction of inappropriate additions.  This proposal though proves you can’t judge an item by its description.  Although these are additions, they are rather old, historic ones and very visible pieces of this once beautiful mansion.  With all the time, effort and money that will be spent tearing them down and making the building whole, we ask, why not stabilize or even restore them instead?  It seems to go against the grain of preservation to demolish things when they have fallen into disrepair.  HDC is uncomfortable with the amount of historic fabric proposed to be removed, and we encourage retaining as much as possible.

LPC Determination: Approved

Hearing Date:  10/6/2009
LPC Docket Number: 098921
Manhattan, Block: 47, Lot: 7501
120 Broadway – Equitable Building, Individual Landmark

A Beaux-Arts style office building designed by E.R. Graham and built in 1913-1915. Application is to legalize the installation of rooftop mechanical equipment without LPC permits.

HDC Testimony
The iconic Equitable Building is known to many as the “Zoning Building” as opposition to its construction spurred the 1916 Zoning Resolution.  While the building is unquestionably large, the rooftop mechanical equipment installed without LPC permits is visible from a number of locations.  HDC urges staff to work with the applicant to find another location, possibly on the lower roof, behind the parapet.  The Equitable Building is an important piece of lower Manhattan’s skyline from whatever vantage point it is viewed, and efforts should be made to maintain the original form.

LPC Determination: Denied

Hearing Date:  10/6/2009
LPC Docket Number: 101925
Manhattan, Block: 621, Lot: 69
67 Charles Street – Greenwich Village Historic District

A French Second Empire style rowhouse built c. 1867 Application is to construct a rooftop bulkhead and a rear-yard addition, and to excavate at the cellar and the rear yard.

HDC Testimony
HDC finds this proposal to be another example of trying to make a mid-19th century rowhouse something it is not.  We are concerned about the amount of glass in both the rooftop bulkhead and the rear yard addition, but primarily we worry about the extent of the full-width, full-length excavation (including under the existing  building) proposed.  We have been through too many experiences lately of excavations gone wrong.  While many alterations can be done to designated properties, particularly in rear yards, it might not be the best idea to excavate, when such action is not needed, in a district of 19th-century rowhouses standing on rather sandy soil.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

Hearing Date:  10/6/2009
LPC Docket Number: 097363
Manhattan, Block: 609, Lot: 71
151 West 13th Street – Greenwich Village Historic District
A Greek Revival style house built in 1847-48. Application is to excavate and construct rear yard and rooftop additions.

HDC Testimony
As in an earlier proposal, there is a lot being added to this little house.  While the rooftop addition appears to be appropriate, HDC finds the rear yard addition too large and too glassy.  In particular, we are opposed to altering the top floor fenestration of this rowhouse by changing windows to doors.  This sort of proposal is something the commission has not allowed in the past and we ask that it again be denied here.  HDC, as we have said in similar cases, is also opposed to such extensive excavation.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

Hearing Date:  10/6/2009
LPC Docket Number: 100949
Manhattan, Block: 545, Lot: 26
4-8, 8-10 Astor Place – NoHo Historic District

A Romanesque Renaissance Revival style loft building designed by Francis H. Kimball and built in 1891; and a neo-Grec style factory and printing office designed by Griffith Thomas and built in 1875-76. Application is to install signage.



HDC Testimony
HDC is opposed to this application for signage.  Illuminated signage of this size, even with the relatively transparent design, is not appropriate as it obscures important design details of this Romanesque/Renaissance Revival style loft building.  The individual letters will be 5-foot, 6-inches tall.  I am 5 foot 6 and while I do not consider myself tall, I do think I would make a rather large illuminated letter.  This is an impressive building on a prominent corner, and there are many other options for signage.  HDC urges that they be explored and utilized instead.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

Hearing Date:  10/6/2009
LPC Docket Number: 101307
Manhattan, Block: 738, Lot: 33
81 8th Avenue – (former) New York Savings Bank, Individual Landmark, Interior Landmark

A Classical Revival style bank and banking hall designed by R.H. Roberston, constructed in 1896-97 and altered in 1930. Application is to renovate the banking hall and to install signage at the exterior.

HDC Testimony
HDC is disappointed that this is a proposal to simply drop in a standardized plan for signage and store furniture that would be found in any chain drug store anywhere in the country into one of New York City’s individual, exterior and interior landmark.

The signage plan on the exterior – seven pieces in all, some of it illuminated – is far too excessive.  We particularly object to covering over the building’s title in the entablature with the CVS logo (especially if it means bolting into the stone eight o nine times).  If illumination is needed to see a sign this high up on a building, maybe it is not an ideal location for signage to begin with.  While this is a large building, it is its own best advertisement situated on a prominent corner and does not need so much signage.

Interior landmarks are rare gems in New York City and provide a chance to create something special.  The proposed renovations feel very solid, very pre-fabricated.  We ask that the pharmacy be moved into the nondesignated section of the space in order to allow the landmarked area to remain as open as possible.  It sounds like this might be a challenge, but certainly one that can be worked out.  The Commission recently required Arby’s to do the extra work to create an interior that is worthy of the landmarked Gage and Tolner’s.  HDC encourages that similar care and attention be paid here to the former New York Savings Bank.

LPC Determination: Incomplete

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