Mayor Picks Urban Planner, Architect to Head Landmarks Commission

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The Mayor plans to nominate an urban planner to head the Landmarks Preservation Commission, a move that is seen as friendly to developers and the mayor’s pro-development agenda, according to a story in the Wall Street Journal. Architect Meenakshi Srinivasan has been chairwoman of the New York City Board of Standards and Appeals for about a decade, where she oversaw a department that grants exemptions in zoning.

Under her watch, the agency ruled to allow the oversize building at 1882 East 12th Street in Homecrest to stand. (The Department of Buildings subsequently ordered it torn down, and the architect is no longer permitted to self-certify.) Srinivasan, who is from India, also worked at the Department of City Planning for 14 years.

The Real Estate Board of New York, an industry association that has blamed landmarking for high real estate costs in New York City, said it was pleased with de Blasio’s choice. REBNY President Steven Spinola also said the landmarking process “has no structure” and “lacks transparency,” the Journal said.

The nomination will be announced today. It is not a done deal but requires approval from the City Council.

What do you think of the Mayor’s choice?

Mayor to Appoint Head of Landmarks [WSJ]

19 Comment

  • FWIW the Historic Districts Council doesn’t seem to b opposed to this nominee. Here’s an email they sent out this morning:

    “This morning the Mayor’s choice for Landmarks Preservation Commission Chair was announced – architect and urban planner Meenakshi Srinivasan.

    Ms. Srinivasan, a native of India, has a bachelor’s degree in architecture from New Delhi’s School of Planning and Architecture and a master’s degree in city planning, urban design, and architecture from the University of Pennsylvania. In 1990 she began work at the Department of City Planning, and in 2000 was named deputy director of Planning’s Manhattan office where she led the Special Midtown District Theater Subdistrict rezoning, the Sixth Avenue rezoning, and the Hudson Yards Master Plan.

    Ms. Srinivasan has been the Chair of the Board of Standards and Appeals for the past decade where she strove to increase transparency of the review process and to ensure that decisions were consistent, thorough, and legally defensible. In her Chair’s greeting on the BSA website, Ms. Srinivasan writes, ‘Sound growth and development, and preservation of neighborhoods are paramount to the well being of the City and its future.’”

  • Doesn’t look promising for us folk who would like to be landmarked and who are also close to the Broadway corridor. Seem like a nod to the build up, pack ‘em in.

  • A disaster for brownstone brooklyn. The mayor is a real let down.

    • I’m in total agreement with you on that. This so-called “progressive” mayor is looking and sounding like a hyper-development, anti-neighborhood preservation, REBNYcheerleader for sure. Bummer.

      • His former constituents tried to warn you but no one would listen. De Blasio was originally opposed to the Atlantic Yards but then changed his tune once he was assured that the project would include affordable housing. Affordability is the excuse he uses to support developers. Bruce Ratner hosted de Blasio’s 50th birthday party, the VP of Toll hosted a fundraiser.
        Affordable housing is his platform but when he had the opportunity to ensure affordable units were included in the 4th Avenue rezoning he remained silent. Maybe that would have been too close to home…

  • I will reserve judgement until I know more. I know absolutely nothing about her, and want to get more info.

    .

    For what it’s worth, when Robert Tierney was appointed, some people thought it was the end of the universe, as he was a totally political appointee without a background in preservation, or even architecture. He ended up presiding over the creation of some of the largest historic districts in the city’s history. His record in Manhattan is a little different, but the pressure in Manhattan to let developers do whatever they want is much stronger than here. I wouldn’t want the job. I think his commitment to landmarking in Brooklyn was best represented by getting the Skyscraper district designated. That was impressive, as the big guns were brought out to stop that from happening. They lost.

    I sincerely hope Ms Srinivasan is of hardy stock, and good resolve. There is much to do, and it’s going to be an even more difficult task than Mr. Tierney faced.

  • I can’t understand why anyone would be upset about appointing an urban planner to an urban planning position…

  • This person will at least understands design and architecture. Start calling now and let the new person know how we care about our area. Don’t sit back and wait until they make mistakes, help them prevent the mistakes. Oh yeah, Saratoga Square Park needs improvements. It will be getting its war memorial back though this summer.

  • Not sure why it’s relevant at all that she’s from India, unless the post is attempting to insinuate something (not even sure what).

  • these are the things I like:
    She is an architect
    she has run a city agency
    she is youngish
    she is an immigrant (the LPC is not the DAR thank heavens)

    these are the things I do not like:
    Steve Spinola seems thrilled with her nomination
    the agency she headed was the BSA, which is probably the most obtuse, least transparent, most politically prearranged organization in the city.

    • Of importance, from article above, is:
      “Under her watch, the agency ruled to allow the oversize building at 1882 East 12th Street in Homecrest to stand. (The Department of Buildings subsequently ordered it torn down, and the architect is no longer permitted to self-certify.)”
      Sadly this isn’t the only eyesore approved by her BSA.
      My worry is not that development won’t occur; it’s that overdevelopment will bloom at the expense of historic designation, where appropriate.
      Ab.so.lut.ely agree with Minard’s like/not thrilled list. My fingers are crossed on this appointment…

    • Of importance, from article above, is:
      “Under her watch, the agency ruled to allow the oversize building at 1882 East 12th Street in Homecrest to stand. (The Department of Buildings subsequently ordered it torn down, and the architect is no longer permitted to self-certify.)”
      Sadly this isn’t the only eyesore approved by her BSA.
      My worry is not that development won’t occur; it’s that overdevelopment will bloom at the expense of historic designation, where appropriate.
      Ab.so.lut.ely agree with Minard’s like/not thrilled list. My fingers are crossed on this appointment…

  • Let’s hope that she understands and appreciates neighborhood context and how preservation affects community quality of life — an inherently subjective interpretation, but “you know it when you see it.” That doesn’t mean frozen in time, but means retaining the sense of history, culture and fabric that makes a community livable.