Ditmas Residents Push for Landmarks Extension

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Council Member Jumaane Williams and others want to expand the Ditmas Park historic district to include an additional 1,150 houses, The New York Daily News reported. The area just south of Prospect Park is known for its sprawling, standalone late 19th and early 20th century houses — definitely an unusual sight in a borough made up mostly of row houses. Neighborhood groups and the Flatbush Development Corp. submitted an application to Landmarks in March. The proposed addition to the 1978 landmarking would include Beverly Square West, Beverly Square East, Caton Park, Ditmas Park West, West Midwood and South Midwood. Those in favor said they want to preserve the historic character of the neighborhood. Predictably, the Daily News found a few residents who said they were concerned that landmarking will push up housing prices out of reach of the middle class or that homeowners will not be able to afford to maintain the houses in accordance with Landmarks rules. What’s your take?
Brooklyn Leaders Push to Landmark 1,150 Ditmas Park Houses [NY Daily News]
Photo by RalphSelitzer

10 Comment

  • I spent a lovely afternoon touring these beautiful historic homes on the Victorian Flatbush House Tour. They are architectural treasures worthy of preservation. I hope these homes receive the attention they so rightly deserve.

  • It may be predictable, but isn’t it true that Landmarking can make fixing things more expensive for homeowners without the funds to do so? I love landmarked neighborhoods, and am all for it. But doesn’t it all come down to what one values more – the preservation of the neighborhood, or the preservation of the less well-offs’ budgets? I support landmarking, but that doesn’t mean I dismiss the hardship it will cause some homeowners. Yes, their property values will improved, but that isn’t cash until they sell or take a cash-out mortgage, which not all can afford to do.

  • Jumaane’s assistance is much appreciated. Even though Victorian Flatbush in only a very small part of his district he has been a strong supporter of the landmark effort.

    To the few opponents like Mr Weakland who are not homeowners, this designation will in now way impact them. Gentrification has already come and priced out the kind of middle class families that stabilized the area in the 1970′s and 1980′s. Most of the older owners want the Landmark status to preserve this area which has the largest concentration of Victorian homes in the region.

    • I am a homeowner in Ditmas Park. Shows what you know behind your little anonymous curtain. I also want to buy a larger home and fix it up/return it to its former glory. After seeing what that would cost in PPS vs. in DPW, I don’t want to have to deal with it.

      -Andrew Weakland

  • Being in a landmarked neighborhood, is more trouble than it’s worth. Good luck with doing any necessary work on the front of your house.

    http://www.condosearchnyc.com/

  • The “push up of housing prices” is a boat that already sailed. And landmarking had nothing to do with it. These neighborhoods should be landmarked. They are beautiful, great architecture, and unique parts of the fabric of Brooklyn. Landmarking is the only way we have to prevent people from totally wrecking the houses with inappropriate and usually hideous changes, or just wrecking them, period, and building something new and awful.

    That affects the property values of the entire neighborhood, and if someone thinks that keeping the housing stock cheap by building fugly buildings all around it will work, I’m afraid that that is not a sound strategy.

    • If they applied it to the houses that actually deserved it and not just blanketed the entire hood I would agree 100%! Only about half of the houses in the actually deserved to be landmarked. Many are ALREADY defaced as you say, and land marking would make it a huge lift to un-deface them! This is very different from a brownstone neighborhood, where details are made of stone and brick. These houses require much much more exterior maintenance – which is why so many now lack historic detail. Dealing with siding/porches/exposed roofs etc. under landmark restrictions is incredibly difficult! Just ask local contractors who have done work in PPS! Ditmas needs landmarks laws that match the unique character of the neighborhood – not blanket restrictions that will make it impossible to maintain or upgrade properties. It seems a lot of the pro-blanket-landmarks-no-matter-what people are either just looking to cash out ASAP or haven’t fully come to grips with what this means in terms of their own budgets.

      • You make some very valid points. Unfortunately, we don’t have any other option, it’s either landmark protection or a total free for all.

        Can we agree that there is room for an expansion of the district? Or new smaller districts, as per neighborhood? Because there is a lot of really great architecture and entire blocks and neighborhoods that have not been touched by “progress”, and should be landmarked.

      • Also, with these huge Queen Anne’s and other large suburban houses, there’s not much that doesn’t already cost an arm and a leg to fix and repair. Take the house above in the photograph. Whether landmarked or not, upkeep on this puppy is going to be expensive. Sadly for middle income people, it’s beyond their reach already. That’s why I’m a renter again.