landmarks-bill

The clock is ticking for more than one proposed landmark. A bill setting time limits on how long the Landmarks Preservations Commission can take to consider landmarking a proposed site is coming up for a City Council vote Wednesday, September 9.

The American Institute of Architects, New York Landmarks Conservancy, Municipal Art Society, Historic Districts Council and more than 60 preservation groups recently voiced their opposition to the bill, known as Intro. 775, with memos and letters addressed to the City Council. And today the Times had a story looking at various sides of the issue.

What the Bill’s Backers Want

The review period for a proposed individual landmark could not exceed 360 days. A hearing would be required within 180 days. Historic districts — much more complex — would require a hearing within a year and a decision within two years. (more…)

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Does historic preservation create “special rich people neighborhoods”? Not according to Brownstoner commenter fiordiligi, who shared his experience in Tuesday’s post about preservation and elitism. We thought his comment had an interesting perspective and is worth a closer look:

Homeowners in landmarked neighborhoods are not by definition “rich.” For example, I own a house in a landmarked neighborhood. I bought it in 1988 when there was almost no market for houses in this area despite the fact that it was landmarked. I bought it because after saving up for a down payment for many years, it was what I could afford; because I thought the neighborhood was beautiful; and because it had decent access to public transportation. I wasn’t rich then, and I’m not now — aside from the fact that the building has appreciated considerably. But I certainly never expected it to do so. And the building’s value means little to me at this point aside from the fact that I couldn’t afford to live in NYC if I hadn’t bought it when I did. And I am just as entitled as rich people to enjoy historic architecture — as are my tenants. My mortgage is paid off, and for me, this house IS affordable housing. Besides, the percentage of landmarked areas in NYC is too small to impact affordable housing in any case; and developers’ efforts to blame landmarking for their own greed in failing to build more affordable housing is nothing but laughable. Did they want to build in landmarked areas before rents and condo prices went through the roof? No, they cared nothing about landmarking. But now, suddenly, landmarking is a villain? Give me a break. Preservation of historic architecture is just as important as preservation of historic artwork — and that’s not an elitist statement. Human life is too short not to enable new generations to learn about, and appreciate, the history of architecture.

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Left to right: Panelists Fedak, Powell Harris, Lodhi and Brady

Is historic preservation elitist? It depends who you ask. Six experts and a very well informed audience — many of them professional or grassroots preservationists — convened Monday night at the Museum of the City of New York to ponder the question. Here are the answers:

Sometimes. But the bigger problem is it doesn’t help housing.
Even the two pro-development speakers didn’t exactly argue that preservation is elitist. Nikolai Fedak, founder of pro-development website New York YIMBY (it stands for “yes in my backyard”), blamed zoning restrictions for the affordable housing crisis.

The nut of his argument is that if restrictions were eased, and developers could build higher and more densely throughout New York City, we would have enough units to meet demand, and prices would fall.

Nope. But it should be used sparingly.
Real estate trade association Real Estate Board of New York favors landmarking but in moderation. Only worthy buildings should be designated, said REBNY Vice President for Urban Planning Paimaan Lodhi, who was previously a district manager for a community board in Manhattan.

Irresponsible landmarking — such as of empty lots and gas stations — restricts development, he said. (REBNY has supported recent designations, including Chester Court in Prospect Lefferts Gardens.) (more…)

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As part of the Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks exhibit, the Museum of the City of New York is hosting several panel discussions that will run through the summer. The first panel talk, Preserving the Fabric of Our Neighborhoods, takes place this evening and examines the relationship between historic preservation and affordable housing. The panelists include Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer and Ingrid Gould Ellen, the director of the urban planning program at NYU Wagner.

Is Preservation Elitist? will examine the question of not just how to preserve buildings but how to preserve a “culturally distinctive” place. Tia Powell Harris, the arts director for the Weeksville Heritage Center; Nikolai Fedak, founder of New York YIMBY; Claudette Brady of the Bedford Stuyvesant Society for Historic Preservation, and others will examine the question of how to preserve more than just buildings in the city’s rapidly changing neighborhoods. (more…)

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The Brooklyn Chamber of Commerce last week announced the winners of its 2015 Building Brooklyn Awards. The annual event honors recently completed construction projects that improve Brooklyn in 13 categories.

“The borough of Brooklyn is truly an innovation hub, where builders and designers can put their craft to use and enhance the city that surrounds them,” said Chamber President and CEO Carlo Scissura in a prepared statement. “These projects represent the creative influence and inventive culture that inhabit our borough.”

The judging committee includes architects, city planners, economic development experts, business leaders — including Brownstoner’s publisher, Kael Goodman — and government officials. It meets every spring to select the winners.

A celebration and ceremony will take place July 21 at the Kings Theatre. Guests of honor will be CEO of Industry City Andrew Kimball and NYC Department of City Planning Executive Director Purnima Kapur.

The winners are:

Green-Wood Cemetery won in the Arts and Culture category for its Green-Wood Cemetery Chapel Extension.

Brookland Captial won in the Adaptive Reuse catogory for its renovation and restoration of 156 Broadway. The long-neglected and crumbling former cabinet factory was made over into eight loft-like condos. The exterior of the building was restored on the upper floors, and a new retail space created on the ground floor. You can read more about it here. (more…)

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Fifty years ago last month the city passed the Landmarks Law — and if it hadn’t we’d be living in a very different place today.

That’s the premise behind “Saving Place: 50 Years of New York City Landmarks,” an exhibition currently running at the Museum of the City of New York. The exhibit, which opened last month, looks at the growth of the preservation movement, the roots of the pioneering law, its evolution and its impact on the city.

There’s plenty there relating to Brooklyn, including a section on the role of Brooklyn Heights in creating the law. (more…)

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Brownstoner columnist Suzanne Spellen, who writes under the name Montrose Morris, has been chosen by the Historic Districts Council as one of the recipients of its Annual Grassroots Preservation Awards. The nonprofit group advocates for historic preservation, and helps local community organizations in their work to preserve and improve their neighborhoods.

“We’re thrilled to be honoring Suzanne,” Historic Districts Council Executive Director Simeon Bankoff told us. “Through her columns, she’s introduced readers to the interesting histories of the buildings they pass every day and, hopefully, made people go out of their way to see these buildings for themselves. More than that, through her research, her writing, her tours and her work with the Crown Heights North Association and more, she’s become a steady, solid force for preservation in Brooklyn.” (more…)

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The New York Landmarks Conservancy has announced the winners of its 25th annual Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards. And Brooklyn is well represented. Five buildings in the borough that have recently gone through meticulous restorations have been chosen to receive the organization’s highest honors for outstanding preservation.

In Brooklyn, King’s Theatre in Flatbush (pictured above) will be receiving the award, as will the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph in Prospect Heights, the Conrad B. Duberstein U.S. Bankruptcy Courthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, Grace Church in Brooklyn Heights, and 1000 Dean Street and Berg’n. Congratulations to all of those involved in each of these projects.

The awards will take place on April 30 at 6:30 pm at the Co-Cathedral of St. Joseph at 856 Pacific Street. Tickets are $50 and can be purchased here.

Click through for photos of each of these remarkable buildings.

Photo above by Matt Lambros
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Big news: The original cement facade of the Coignet Building, not been seen in decades, is now visible at the corner of 3rd Avenue and 3rd Street. The uppermost story of netting that has shrouded the landmark at 360 3rd Avenue in Gowanus for about a year as it undergoes restoration came down sometime in the last few days. We snapped these photos yesterday as we were passing through the area.

The red brick veneer applied sometime in the mid-20th century has been removed, per the restoration plans. It looks to us as though the restorers are planning to add a top coat of cement to finish and seal the exterior. Perhaps this explains why some of the netting has been removed.

The historic restoration of this landmark is certainly not finished, as more photos below reveal. The front stoop has greatly deteriorated in the last year, since the scaffolding went up — perhaps a result of this unusually snowy winter.

Whole Foods, which is handling the restoration as part of a deal to build its adjacent store, is also stabilizing the interior. Click through to see behind the fence.

Coignet Building Coverage [Brownstoner]

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The restored facade of the long-suffering wood frame house at 580 Carlton Avenue, one of the oldest in the Prospect Heights, can now be seen above the construction fence. “580 Carlton has a new facade! And dare I say, it looks pretty nice!” said Cara Greenberg of CasaCARA, who sent us this photo.

Longtime readers may recall the ups and downs at this landmarked property, whose renovation caused the partial collapse of the landmarked twin house next door. By the end of 2012, No. 580 had been reduced to merely a facade, like a movie set. At some point, architect Rachel Frankel, known her ability to create historically correct looking new buildings, got on board, and is now handling the Landmarks-approved restoration of both properties.

Way back when 580 Carlton was for sale in 2011, Cara toured the open house, and had to sign a waiver before entering. It had beautiful mantels and original windows and doors. You can see all the details on her blog here. Let’s hope the owners were able to salvage something to use in the rebuild.

How do you like the way the facade is looking so far?

580 Carlton Avenue Coverage [Brownstoner]
Photo by Cara Greenberg

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Fabian Friedland, the owner of Crow Hill Development and the Nassau Brewing Company at 945 Bergen Street in Crown Heights, just let us know the site has been listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and so his company will be using federal and state historic incentives to restore and adapt the historic property.

The new rendering, above, shows how it will look when it is transformed into a 50,000 square foot mixed-use complex. There will be apartments on the upper floors, retail on the ground, and he is considering a restaurant in the brewery’s historic 1860s underground lager aging vaults. Crow Hill will also restore the building’s now-missing Nassau Brewing Company signage, as you can see in the rendering. (Click through to see how the building looks today.)

“The historic nature of the old brewery buildings first attracted me to the site,” Friedland said in a prepared statement. “After a long wait, I’m truly thrilled to bring these buildings back to life. The Franklin Avenue corridor of Crown Heights is a vibrant place to be right now. And it’s exciting to have our project reinforce the existing architecture and character of the neighborhood.”

Brooklyn-based Formactiv is the architect. New York City-based Crow Hill Development specializes in the adaptive reuse of historic buildings, and develops property in the Northeast.

Here’s a little historic background on the brewery from Crow Hill:

The Nassau Brewing Company operated at the site from the 1860s until 1916, when it was forced out of business due to competition from larger New York breweries including Schaeffer and Rheingold. The brewery was originally known as the Bedford Brewery until 1884, when its name was changed to the Budweiser Brewing of Company of Brooklyn. In 1898, Anheuser-Busch sued the brewery for trademark infringement, forcing it to change its name to the Nassau Brewing Company, an identity the restored complex will adopt and retain. The brewery produced lager beers under the colorful names Rialto, Frankenbrau, Private Stock, and Extra Bohemian. The surviving buildings represent the most significant structures that were once part of a sprawling complex covering the entire block. Below are massive underground brick vaults originally constructed for the aging of lager beer at near freezing temperatures. The tallest portion of the building contained a gravity cooling system using natural ice harvested from the Arctic, and was topped, according to the Brooklyn Eagle, by a “small lake” of beer.

We’re excited about this project and think the rendering looks great. What do you think?

Nassau Brewery Coverage [Brownstoner] GMAP
Rendering via Crow Hill Development

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