Tell City Planning to Limit All Zoning Loopholes

Void the Voids!
The City Planning Commission will hold a hearing March 13 on its proposal to limit excessive mechanical voids in residential buildings. We are asking you to reach out to City Planning prior to the hearing. Ask them to put real teeth in the proposal and limit the “loopholes” that developers use to bypass zoning regulations and boost building heights.  

Here’s how:  Tell them to cap allowable mechanical space at 12 feet tall and require mechanical spaces to be at least 200 feet apart. Tell them to eliminate the other ways developers game the zoning laws, such as stilts and large outdoor spaces that are only adding height on top of what can be built legally. Tell them to include commercial buildings. And tell them to make their proposal citywide.

The proposal has been going before Community Boards as part of the public review process. Several individual Boards have voted yes, but asked for amendments. The Conservancy made the same plea at a meeting of Manhattan Community Boards on February 21. ( read statement ) City Planning staff in attendance said they are reviewing the proposed amendments. 

The current proposal is addressing just one way developers use “loopholes” to get higher buildings. ( proposal ) It’s a welcome first step. But City Planning must do more. 

In response to constituent concerns about buildings out of context with neighborhoods, some City Council Members and State Assemblypersons are introducing bills to eliminate “loopholes.” We welcome the scrutiny this issue is receiving. New Yorkers deserve certainty and predictability in zoning.  

Strand Bookstore
We Love Books & Preservation - Designating 826 Broadway

The Conservancy showed its love of books and preservation again, testifying at a second, heated Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) hearing on designating 826 Broadway, home of the Strand Bookstore . The owner of the building and the bookstore has been staunchly against the designation, and has made many unfounded statements in the press and on the store’s website.  Our testimony at the February 19 hearing responded to some of those statements.

Strand: We are in a threatening retail and book environment, and we are fighting to compete with Amazon.
Bookstores and many retail outlets in New York have been under siege by changes in consumer habits and rising rents. Not by landmark designation.

Strand: This designation would greatly limit our opportunities to survive as a tourist destination, host of author discussions, put books in the hands of readers…
Designation saved SoHo and the Ladies Mile Historic District. Some of the most-visited attractions in New York are landmarks. 

Strand: Wouldn’t it be ironic if by landmarking The Strand, … you put it in peril?
Yes, it would, but there is absolutely no evidence that will happen.

826 Broadway clearly merits designation for its architecture. The distinguished building is one of a group of seven along Broadway that the LPC heard for designation last year, which well represents the history and architecture of Manhattan just south of Union Square.  

The Commission has not set a date for its vote on this designation.
135th Street
Conservancy Emergency Grant Goes to Harlem Stage Gatehouse

Harlem Stage has received a $17,500 Emergency Preservation Grant for urgent repairs to the roof of its historic home—the Croton Aqueduct Gatehouse at Convent Avenue and 135th Street.

The gatehouse, built between 1884-1890 has housed the Harlem Stage Gatehouse, a magnificent and popular performance space, since 2006. The building was originally constructed to regulate the flow of water coming from the main aqueduct to pipes leading to the Central Park reservoir and to other localities in northern Manhattan. The gatehouse was vacant for many years until it was taken over by Harlem Stage and converted to a performance venue with the help of the City’s Department of Cultural Affairs. The exterior and interior were restored as part of the adaptive reuse and the work received a Lucy Moses preservation award

Today, the theater is booked with music, dance and theater events but its interiors are threatened by several roof leaks from broken roof slates and damaged gutter flashing. Fixing the leaks will address this dangerous situation. Work is to commence immediately.

Harlem Stage is a vital part of the cultural and artistic life of the city. We are pleased to be able to help them make these urgent repairs while they await funding for a much larger project to upgrade mechanicals and other building systems.
Midtown Manhattan
Conservancy Testifies In Favor of Public Library Plans

The Conservancy supported a plan from the New York Public Library to improve outdoor spaces at the main branch on Fifth Avenue. All of the alterations will be along 40th Street.  

We found that each aspect of the proposal will improve the public’s ability to use and enjoy this building, without significant changes. Plans to reset and regrade a section of the existing Fifth Avenue plaza will reuse existing materials and enhance accessibility. The design of a new terrace takes inspiration from the landmark building in configuration, materials, and detailing, yet is fully contemporary and does not copy the historic structure or pretend that it is from the early 20th century. Improvements to the loading dock will ease entry and limit potential damage caused by trucks navigating the existing narrow opening. Even the dock’s mundane doors will see a respectful upgrade. 

The New York Public Library is one of the City’s and perhaps the country’s most significant landmarks. Therefore, any alteration, no matter the scope, is to be taken with extreme care and caution. We believe that this proposal accepts that responsibility and bears it well. 

The Commissioners asked the project team to come back to a hearing with some revisions to the design. The date has not been set. 
March 27 - Binghamton, NY
Conservancy C0-Hosting "Fundraising How-To" Workshop

Capital Campaigns for Small Congregations
The Conservancy is co-hosting a fundraising workshop for Southern Tier religious institutions in Binghamton on March 27th. This is the latest in our periodic Sacred Sites workshops focusing on financial literacy. 

Participants will learn the basics of effective fundraising and launching a capital campaign. There will be a brief case-study presented of the successful capital campaign at First Presbyterian Church in Ithaca. Representatives from the church will attend to discuss the campaign and answer questions. The evening will be led by fundraising consultant Margaret Fredrickson.  

The workshop, to be held at Binghamton’s United Presbyterian Church, is co-sponsored by the Preservation Association of the Southern Tier and Graham-Pelton Fundraising Consultants and funded by the Gerry Charitable Trust.
The Plaza - April 23
Save the Date - 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.

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

Mystery Landmark
Did You Identify This Mystery Landmark?

It's the historic Forest Park Carousel located in  Woodhaven , Queens . It was built in 1903 by the Muller brothers and moved to its present site in 1972 from  Dracut, Massachusetts , after the previous carousel was destroyed by fire in 1966. The carousel is housed in a one-story, octagonal, open wood-frame  pavilion  (1988) within Forest Park. The carousel contains 52 figures, including 36 jumpers, 13 standers, three  menagerie  figures, two chariots, and it also has its original band organ.
It was listed on the  National Register of Historic Places  in 2004 and was designated a New York City Landmark in 2013 .

The Photo was submitted by Steve Fisher.

The building was correctly identified by John Weed and his favorite landmark is the Church of St. Ignatius Loyola .
This month’s Landmark News is sponsored by   Stribling and Associates
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