Landmarks Vote Could Nix Two Upper East Side Towers

A unanimous vote on Tuesday by the Landmarks Preservation Commission may stymie development of two glass towers on the Upper East Side. The commission voted to include two 1915 buildings at 429 East 64th Street and 430 East 65th Street as part of the already-landmarked City and Suburban Homes Company’s First Avenue Estate.

The full-block complex includes 13 other buildings, all constructed nearly 100 years ago as alternatives to tenements farther downtown. The 13 buildings were designated landmarks in 1990.

Stahl Real Estate, which owns the complex, wants to build glass towers on the sites of the two six-story buildings that the commission voted to landmark. The commission’s decision may throw the brakes into those plans, but the City Council has the final say.

The release from the Landmarks Preservation Commission after the jump.

- Tom Acitelli

LANDMARKS PRESERVATION COMMISSION RESTORES LANDMARK STATUS TO TWO MODERN TENEMENTS ON MANHATTAN’S UPPER EAST SIDE

Twin Buildings Are Part of the City and Suburban Homes Company’s First Avenue Complex, an Individual New York City Landmark and the Nation’s Largest Remaining Example of Housing Constructed for the Working Poor at the Turn of the 20th Century

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission today voted unanimously to amend the designation of the City and Suburban Homes Company’s First Avenue Estate to include 429 East 64th St. and 430 East 65th St. Both six-story buildings, completed in 1915, were the last two light-court tenements to be constructed for the full-block development, which includes 13 other buildings of similar style and scale. The former Board of Estimate reversed the tenements’ landmark status in 1990, four months after the rest of the complex had been designated as an official New York City landmark.

“I believe that these buildings are as worthy today as when they were first designated 16 years ago,” said Commission Chairman Robert B. Tierney. “The entire complex was a visionary model for decent, affordable housing in this City, and deserves to remain intact.”

Built between 1898 and 1915 on a parcel that stretches to York Avenue, the First Avenue Estate is the oldest surviving urban complex by City and Suburban, one of the most successful of the privately financed, limited-dividend companies that was formed to address the housing problems of the nation’s working poor in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. City and Suburban was created in 1896 and backed by Cornelius Vanderbilt and other prominent New Yorkers who agreed to limit their profits to provide low-income residents with comfortable, safe and hygienic housing. The company sought to establish what its president called a “middle ground between pure philanthropy and pure business,” and encouraged others to invest in high-quality housing.

Comprised of 1,059 units with abundant air and light, the buildings offered residents amenities like running water, private toilets and steam heat. Thirteen of the buildings were designed by James E. Ware, while 429 East 64th St. and 430 East 65th St. were designed by Philip Ohm, the head of City and Suburban’s architectural department.

The New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission is the largest municipal preservation agency in the United States. Since its creation in 1965, the Commission has designated nearly 23,000 buildings in all five boroughs, including 1,147 individual landmarks, 107 interior landmarks, nine scenic landmarks and 85 historic districts.