The Air Up There
During the 1970s fiscal crisis, the city acquired significant quantities of property by way of owner abandonment and tax foreclosure, which it used in subsequent decades to subsidize affordable housing development. Virtually none of that land remains available today, however, and as we recently noted, the now-stratospheric cost of privately held land poses myriad obstacles to new affordable housing production, particularly in neighborhoods with good public schools, ready access to transportation and employment centers.
Missing the Landmark
Landmarks are a vital part of New York City’s legacy and an essential part of its identity. Rockefeller Center, the Empire State Building, Greenwich Village, the Grand Concourse and Brooklyn Heights are each irreplaceable and distinctive elements that make up the fabric of our city. The members of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY) proudly own and impeccably maintain some of New York’s great landmark buildings, and our office is in the magnificent landmark G.E. building.
Are you a developer facing community opposition to your glassy new condo tower? Worse yet, have you been censured by the Landmarks Preservation Commission for a contextually insensitive design? Well, rather than tinkering with rooflines and pediments, setbacks and heights, why not replace all those walls of glass with walls of brick?
DDG, the developers and designers of a 10-unit condo building at 100 Franklin Street, did just that after the Landmarks Preservation Commission panned their Tribeca East Historic District design in November, accusing it of being “attention-calling,” “muddled,” and “trying to do a lot of things.” Fortunately for DDG, the brick swap was met with great enthusiasm—the LPC loved the changes, Curbed reports, and gave the development its stamp of approval. “I think this is extraordinary and exhilarating,” one member even gushed.
New Yorkers are eagerly awaiting the outcome of the mayoral election that will write the city’s next (hopefully bright) chapter of political history, but today, the Landmarks Preservation Commission revisited one of its most infamous—bestowing a landmark designation on the former home of Tammany Hall.
Despite strong community opposition, including that of the local community board, this afternoon the Landmarks Preservation Commission approved Extell’s request to cantilever its 1,424-foot skyscraper over the Art Students League.
The vote was six to one in favor of the application, which will allow Extell to cantilever its Smith + Gordon Gill-designed tower at 217 West 57th Street over the comparatively diminutive French Renaissance building next door. In their discussion before the vote, the LPC cited the minimal impact of the cantilever—which is some 290 feet high and not visible from all vantage points—on the experience of the landmark, as well as the building’s contextually-sensitive cladding.
Two weeks ago, the Landmarks Preservation Commission reviewed five buildings in Midtown East for landmark consideration in what was another chapter in the debate between the real estate industry and preservationists over the area’s historic real estate assets.
Seen as a roadblock in the Midtown East rezoning plan by many real estate professionals and a vital step in historic preservation by preservationists, the debate has raged on for months—even some of the buildings’ owners oppose preservation status.
Spearheaded by the Municipal Art Society, the preservation process began with the submission of a list of 17 candidate buildings. Four of the five buildings reviewed by LPC were on that preliminary list, and all five have been pinpointed below by The Commercial Observer.
The proposal to bring the historic Aluminaire House to an empty lot in Sunnyside Gardens is headed to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, as Queens Brownstoner reported earlier today—a move that seems likely to cause more than a little consternation an confusion among preservationists.
Moving the house, the first all-metal prefabricated dwelling, which was designed by Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey and debuted at a 1931 architectural exhibit, from its current site—the closed-down Central Islip campus of the New York Institute of Technology—would preserve a notable piece of architecture. But it would also mean disturbing another historic artifact—the landmarked Sunnyside Gardens.
Bring up the Bodies
Earlier this year Steinway Musical Instruments announced that its grand pianos would soon play their final notes at the legendary Steinway Hall after years of actively seeking a buyer pulled in a $46 million bid.
JDS Development Group and its partners in the transaction have now paid $131.5 million for the land underneath it, city Read More
East Village preservation groups made little headway in their battle to save a local church after the Landmarks Preservation Commission said it could not order an archeological survey to determine if a graveyard exists on the site.
Developer Doug Steiner bought the property at 181 Avenue A last year for $41 million and has plans for a 140-unit rental apartment building on the grounds of Mary Help of Christians. Preservationists hoping to spare the former church, which opened in 1917, thought the revelation that a cemetery was once located at the site could stop the wrecking ball.
This afternoon, the Landmarks Preservation Commission will hold its first and only hearing on the second phase of the proposed South Village Historic District—the formerly working-class section of Greenwich Village that local activists and preservationists say is now under intense development pressure in the aftermath of the Hudson Square rezoning.
While many in the local community have long agitated for landmarking, and the first phase of the process was approved in 2010, the hearing for the second phase hearing remained unscheduled until the Landmarks Commission agreed to hold a vote before the end of this year as a condition of the Hudson Square rezoning, though only on the section north of Houston Street.