BIG VOTE SET FOR WEST END AVENUE HISTORIC DISTRICT

After years of planning sessions, three public hearings, and hundreds of letters sent to elected officials, the Landmarks Preservation Commission has set a date to vote on whether West End Avenue — or at least one portion of it — should become its own historic district. The vote is set for Tuesday, June 26 on the 9th floor of 1 Centre Street. The time hasn’t been announced yet.

Preservationists want the entire stretch of West End Avenue from 70th Street to 107th Street — about 800 buildings — to be designated as a historic district. Parts of the avenue are already encompassed in historic districts, including 74th to 78th and 87th to 94th. But the extensions now being considered would protect a much larger part of the neighborhood. The West End Preservation Society, formed in 2007 to stop the demolition of four West End Avenue buildings, has been leading the fight, along with Landmark West.

The vote this month is just for the area from 79th to 87th Streets (image below and full PDF here). The LPC is expected to hold two more votes to determine whether to designate the rest of the district, but the dates for those votes haven’t been set.

The designation is controversial, in part because it would limit development in such a huge area — opponents argue that the district would include buildings that may not be worthy of historic designation, and that the neighborhood needs to be allowed to “grow and change,” as a REBNY offical told the Observer in 2009. We covered one of the hearings about the proposal here.

Much of West End Avenue was built up from the 1880’s to the 1920’s in the period “that transformed the West End section of the Upper West Side from a rural landscape into a dense urban enclave of speculatively built single-family dwellings and grand high-rise apartment buildings,” as the LPC puts it.

Whichever way it goes, it will be a big deal for the Upper West Side. As Erika Petersen of the preservation society wrote to us: “It should be pretty exciting — or a terrible letdown — but whatever it is, it will be dramatic and newsworthy!”

A PDF of the historic district is linked below. The district being voted on this month is in an image below that.

West End Avenue study area

Top photo by Andrew Kaplan. Middle photo by Sarah Ackerman. For more photos of West End Avenue from Landmark West, click here.

    1. B.Weiser says:

      As one who has a building on Broadway that would be affected by this new zoning, I think that if commercial buildings are included in what is supposed to be a residential preservation effort, then all significant commercial buildings in that area should be included. Strangely, the block with the Barnes and Noble owned by the Zabars and the Zabar store itself were excluded. This exclusion was brought up by several people at the hearing,but politics prevailed.

      • Cato says:

        Wait — you mean there’s a commercial building on the Upper West Side that’s NOT owned by the Zabars??

        How did that happen?

        Maybe you ought to add your building’s address to your post so they’ll show up tomorrow morning with an offer.

    2. Terence Smallwood says:

      Landmarking entire areas has been shown in economic studies to time and time again to disadvantage minorities. It worsens the already tight supply/demand for apartments, which drives up rents. This in turn harms minorities who cannot afford to live in the expensive areas. One need look no farther than the massive “historic district” that is the UES, where rents are sky high, cultural diversity is low, and you can track the “expulsion” of the minority community from the UES through Census data perfectly timed to the landmarking. The UES is primarily white. All this will do is drive minorities out of the UWS and make it just as “exclusive” as the UES. We “brown people” are pushed to Bronx and Brooklyn, just like they like it. Pure evil.