Plot Twist

ALL OF THIS HAS put considerable pressure on the LPC and its chairman, Robert Tierney, a onetime counsel to Mayor Ed Koch. Mr. Tierney and his agency have been under pressure to be more responsive to preservation concerns from advocacy groups and, perhaps more significantly, from The New York Times. Late last year, the paper ran a series of articles, sandwiched by two scornful editorials, that highlighted the arbitrary nature of many LPC actions and the commission’s tendency to side with developers on many issues. (The Times also ran a story, in November 2008, apart from the series that focused on the two B. F. Goodrich buildings, noting that they were slated for demolition. At the start of 2009, the LPC informed Extell it was planning on landmarking the buildings; it had also notified the previous owner around 2002 that it was considering designation.)

Indeed, Mr. Tierney and the broader 11-member LPC have found themselves in an awkward spot, given that the agency has effectively endorsed landmarking both buildings (during Mr. Tierney’s tenure, the LPC has almost exclusively calendared buildings that it wants to see designated as landmarks, and it is very rare to de-calendar a building). If the full LPC is to accede to Extell’s wishes, it would open itself to the charge that it backed down in the face of pressure from a powerful developer, and if it designates the building, it risks alienating Extell and its allies.

Further, if LPC were to go ahead with the designation of both properties, it would punt to the council the final decision making—and any accompanying political fallout—as that body has the power to veto a landmark designation (though that, too, is very rare).

A spokesman for Extell declined to comment.

Mr. Garodnick and Ms. Lappin did not respond to multiple requests for comment, and Ms. Quinn and Ms. Katz declined to comment beyond their letter.

ebrown@observer.com