Conservancy Speaks at Charter Revision Forum

 Should the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) be required to have at least one member with a background in preservation? That was one question at an expert forum held by the 2019 Charter Revision Commission this past Monday.

Yes! We testified that when the Landmarks Commission was created, preservation was a relatively new academic discipline. It’s established now. The Law requires that the Commission include a real estate expert, landscape architect and a historian, for instance. It’s time to add a professional preservationist to the mix. ( read full testimony )

We had other suggestions: Landmarks Commissioners should be paid something for all the time required to serve. The Commission should remain an independent agency. It should not be enlarged through appointments by other City officials. LPC should have the power to insist that other agencies maintain City-owned landmarks in their care.

Erasmus Hall Academy in Brooklyn and Frederick Law Olmsted’s home on Staten Island are prime examples of important landmarks that suffered substantial deterioration under the neglect of agencies responsible for them.

Conservancy President Peg Breen joined former LPC Chairs Meenakshi Srinivasan and Robert Tierney, former Commissioner Margery Perlmutter, and Mark Silberman and Lisa Kersavage, LPC senior staff members on a panel. The Charter Revision Commission looked at a number of City agencies and current City Council powers and will have proposals on the ballot this November.   
Conservancy Supports Zoning Amendment to Limit Voids

The Conservancy testified in support of a proposed zoning amendment that would limit excessively high mechanical rooms, or “voids,” used to boost building heights in residential buildings. But we told a City Planning Commission (CPC) hearing on March 13 that they needed to do more. ( read our testimony )

The amendment would cap “free” mechanical space at 25 feet and allow additional mechanical spaces 75 feet apart. Anything above 25 feet would count against the allowable building size. The amendment only covers parts of Manhattan—though not 57th Street where "supertalls" are being built—and limited areas in Queens and the Bronx.

We testified that the cap should be 12 feet, with 200 feet between additional mechanical spaces. We urged CPC to cover commercial buildings; make the limits citywide; and restrict the other loopholes developers use. Our testimony tracked that of Manhattan Borough President Gail Brewer and many colleague groups.

The Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) and several engineers argued for a 35-foot cap. They said CPC ignored current energy and carbon reduction codes which require more equipment. Commission discussion of the testimony this week suggested that the engineers were persuasive.  The CPC could vote as early as next week. Whatever the outcome, we will continue to press them to action against other zoning loopholes that allow buildings out of scale with their surroundings.

Brooklyn Heights
City to Rethink Promenade Plans After Opposition

City transportation officials have gone back to the drawing board to figure out how to repair the Brooklyn Queens Expressway . Their about face occurred after widespread opposition to an initial plan only Robert Moses could love. Now three separate alternatives have been proposed that leave the Brooklyn Heights Promenade in place.

The Department of Transportation’s (DOT) initial plan called for replacing the Promenade Park with a “temporary” six-lane highway putting rumbling cars and trucks next to landmark 19th century homes. The Conservancy joined community groups and preservation and planning colleagues in opposition.

Among the alternatives is a plan proposed by the Brooklyn Heights Association and local architect Marc Wouters that calls for sending expressway traffic on a temporary two-tiered roadway alongside the current highway. NYC Comptroller Scott Stringer’s plan calls for more parkland over the highway, rebuilding it lane by lane and allowing only truck traffic during the rebuilding. An attractive third plan submitted by Mark Baker calls for extending Brooklyn Bridge Park over the new highway built on grade alongside the park.

DOT officials told community leaders that they will hold a public hearing to review a new plan, perhaps in six months. This all is a far cry from the earlier plan that the Mayor prematurely endorsed. 
Bronx International High School
Education Partnership Promotes Preservation Careers

The Conservancy has been sponsoring interns from the Bronx International High School for the past five years. Students Getmary Perez and Madeline Vasquez are with us currently.  The partnership is meant to expose juniors and seniors in their Preservation Technology Program to the profession of historic preservation and the various career paths in the building conservation and restoration fields.
The Conservancy hosts two students each semester and during the summer. Students are paid by the New York City Department of Education.
If you are interested in hosting Bronx International interns for office or construction work, please contact Scott Leurquin at (212) 995-5260 or .
Jackson Heights, Queens
Conservancy Joins Community Town Halls on Preservation

Conservancy staff joined Council Member Daniel Dromm and the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for a presentation on Historic Preservation in Jackson Heights, Queens on March 15. It was great to see a large turnout from the neighborhood for the event which focused on the permit process, enforcement, and financial assistance to property owners. 

This was the latest in a series of presentations the Conservancy has given with staff from the LPC to educate New York City residents about what to expect when you own a property in a Historic District. Other presentations have been given in West Harlem and Central Harlem in Manhattan and in Ridgewood, Queens. Conservancy staff also joined a presentation by the New York State Office of Historic Preservation in East Harlem informing local residents of the proposed National and State Register East Harlem Historic District. 
The Plaza - April 23
Come Celebrate the Lucy G. Moses Preservation Awards

The Moses Awards are the Conservancy’s highest honors for preservation. This year we honor   Barnett Shepherd , Staten Island historian and preservationist, as well as the owners and stewards of historic buildings across the City, who completed outstanding restoration and reuse projects in 2018.

Preservation Project Awards
2 Park Avenue
39 Clifton Place
202 Guernsey Street
462 Broadway
George B. and Susan Elkins House
Ford Foundation Center for Social Justice
Freehand Hotel
George Westinghouse Career and Technical Education High School
The Hispanic Society of America
Knickerbocker Club
Lewis H. Latimer House Museum
Prospect Park Wellhouse
Starrett Lehigh Building
Tenement Museum

WHEN:   Tuesday, April 23, 2019 
Doors open at 5:45 p.m.
Ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m.

WHERE:   The Plaza - Fifth Avenue at Central Park South (Business Attire)


RSVP by April 19
Info: Alissa Catalano at 212.995.5260 or

Metropolitan Club - June 5
Save the Date - Chairman's Award Luncheon

Eric Adams, Brooklyn Borough President - For his leadership in restoring Erasmus Hall Academy, the State’s first secondary school and an important 18th-century landmark.

Walter B. Melvin Architects  - For their dedication to the preservation of historic detail and authentic workmanship of older buildings and historic structures.

Jennifer Raab, President, Hunter College - Under Raab’s leadership, the Roosevelt House underwent an extensive renovation and is now the Roosevelt House Public Policy Institute, a state-of-the-art facility and living memorial to Eleanor and Franklin Roosevelt.

The Shubert Organization - A leader in American theater since the beginning of the 20th century, operating 17 Broadway theaters, many landmarked and lovingly restored.

WHEN: June 5, 2019
12:00 pm Reception
12:30 – 2:00 Luncheon

1 East 60th Street at Fifth Avenue
Business attire (jacket and tie for men)


Tourist In Your Own Town
Visit the 1784 Dyckman Farmhouse Museum

The Dyckman Farmhouse Museum in the Inwood neighborhood of Upper Manhattan was designated a New York City landmark in 1967. The Dutch Colonial style house constructed of fieldstone, brick, and wood is the oldest remaining farmhouse in Manhattan.

Built in 1784, the house stayed in the Dyckman family for 84 years until it was sold in 1868. Dyckman descendants bought it back in 1915, restored it, and gave it to the City a year later. It has operated as a museum since 1916 and part of the Historic House Trust.

Plan Your Visit
Broadway at West 204th Street
Dyckman Farmhouse keeps a lively schedule of crafts, exhibitions, music, and tavern nights.

For hours and directions, visit
Mystery Landmark
Did You Identify This Mystery Landmark?

It's the  Alice Austen House Museum  at 2 Hylan Boulevard (at Edgewater Street) in the Rosebank section of Staten Island.

Alice Austen (1866-1952) was one of America's first women photographers. She was an outstanding and prolific shutterbug, often working outside the confines of a studio, where over the course of her life she captured over 8,000 images.

Her Staten Island home, also known as "Clear Comfort" was built in 1690 as a one-room Dutch farmhouse. The restored house successfully gained status as a City and a National Historic Landmark and now operates as a museum commemorating Alice's great work. It offers rotating exhibits, lawn festivals and children's photography classes.

The building was correctly identified by Janet Gottleib and her favorite landmark is the Hall of Fame for Great Americans at the former NYU campus, now Bronx Community College.

This month’s Landmark News is sponsored by   Stribling and Associates
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