Preacher to Speak Against Bed Stuy Landmarking


A preacher whose church is located in the part of Bed Stuy next up for landmarking is speaking out against the plan, The New York Daily News reported — he even compared it to a hurricane. “It feels like Sandy — it’s just gonna hit us and there’s no way to prepare against it,” said the Reverend Johnny Ray Youngblood of Mount Pisgah Baptist Church. His argument: Homeowners on tight budgets — especially seniors and the unemployed — can’t afford higher exterior repair costs that landmarking brings. “When you’ve worked all your life to own a home, landmarking becomes an undeserved burden, especially in a bad economic climate like this,” he continued. “No matter how you look at it, it spells dollars and cents.” However, there is strong support in the neighborhood among homeowners for the landmarking, who have showed up in droves at past meetings. “We’ve gone door-to-door — and hundreds of homeowners have told us they support landmarking,” the New York Daily News quoted Claudette Brady of the Bedford-Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation as saying. Last year there was  “overwhelming support” for landmarking the proposed Bedford Historic District area, which is one of the most architecturally rich neighborhoods in Brooklyn, featuring elaborate 19th-century homes by some of Brooklyn’s most famed architects, including Montrose Morris, Magnus Dahlander, and Amzi Hill. In the past six months or so, developers have been buying these homes for low prices, then turning around and selling them for twice as much. Youngblood, who plans to speak out against the plan at the hearing scheduled for Tuesday, pointed out that the timing of the hearing makes it impossible for working people to attend, and objected to the date, which falls on Martin Luther King’s birthday. The article also quoted one of the founders of Brownstoners of Bedford-Stuyvesant, Reggie Shell, as an opponent of landmarking. “Landmarking is part of gentrification,” he said. “It pushes middle-income people out of our market.” Personally, we find this article depressing. Landmarking does not compel homeowners to spend money to restore their houses. Even in the most extreme case, which is usually windows, Landmarks will allow non-historic replacement windows, if they were present before landmarking. If they weren’t, it’s cheaper in the long run to restore the originals. At least, that’s been our experience. But when developers see new interest in old neighborhoods, landmarking does at least prevent them from ruining the streetscape, which is to no one’s advantage, to paraphrase Bed Stuy resident and preservationist Reno Dakota.
Bed Stuy Landmarking Draws Protest [NY Daily News]
Mark Your Calendars for the Bedford HD Public Hearing [Brownstoner]
LPC Looks to Landmark Bed Stuy Bedford District [Brownstoner]