Landmarks Commission does 30!

Following the recent designation of the East Village Historic District and the major expansion to the existing Upper West Side Historic District, the current Landmarks Preservation Commission – or LPC – has approved a total of 30 historic districts and 8 historic district expansions – the most approved by any administration since the LPC’s was founded in 1965.

It is fair to note that a good chuck of Manhattan is now landmark-protected – including many of the Boroughs most desirable and “hot” neighborhoods (e.g., the meatpacking district).  From SoHo to the Upper East Side, from Harlem to the Ladies Mile and from Chelsea to Fulton Ferry, a diverse array of landmark districts governs ALL development and ANY façade alterations for thousands of Manhattan properties.   In quiet, deliberative fashion – often without much publicity or notice – the LPC has dramatically expanded its jurisdiction.  And, since we’ve never un-done (repealed) a historic district once adopted, this authority is likely with us forever.

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Landmarks Considers a New Historic District for Brooklyn

This week, the Landmarks Preservation Commission proposed a new historic district in Downtown Brooklyn.  Referred to by Landmarks as the “Skyscraper District,” it differs from other recently landmarked brownstone Brooklyn areas in that most of the buildings within its boundaries are multi-story office buildings, if not skyscrapers.  Also included within the district’s proposed boundaries in Brooklyn’s Borough Hall. Continue reading

Landmarks Begins Process of Expanding Park Slope Historic District

map via

Continuing its pattern of protecting Brooklyn’s brownstone neighborhoods, yesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission began the process of extending the Park Slope Historic District.  The proposed extension to the district, which already covers about 34 blocks, would expand the district significantly.  Judging from the map of the existing and proposed districts, a number of properties that are proposed to be included this time around were purposefully excluded from the original district.  Was this because the Landmarks Commissioners at the time didn’t deem these properties to be architecturally significant?  If that was the case, then why is the district being expanded to include them now? Continue reading

The Scope of LPC’s Power

Yesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (“LPC”) voted down the landmarking of 45-47 Park Place – because they did not believe the building was of sufficient architectural and historic merit to warrant a landmark designation.  This otherwise routine decision not to designate received much press coverage because the proposed use is an Islamic cultural center near the World Trade Center site.  Of course, the LPC does not focus on a building’s intended use – but its aesthetic and architectural design.

Lost in the political rhetoric of the past several days is a question that has begun to come up with more and more frequency in recent years: Does the LPC go beyond the intended scope of its power and use landmark designation as an anti-development tool? Continue reading

A Little Off the Top? – “Illegal” Addition to be Removed

Image Courtesy of Landmark West!

Image Courtesy of Landmark West!

As reported this week in the Wall Street Journal, an Upper West Side townhouse will have to demolish a top-floor addition (see shaded portion in above image) due to a lack of approval from the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

In 2005, the owners (at that time) of the townhouse, 12-14 W. 68th St.,  received a permit from the Department of Buildings (DOB) to construct a 6th-floor penthouse addition.  15 years earlier, however, the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District was created.  The Historic District covers this portion of West 68th St.  Being in a Historic District, of course, requires approval from the LPC for any alterations to the façade of the building.  No such approval was obtained from the LPC. Continue reading