LARGE UWS HISTORIC DISTRICT GETS REDRAWN AHEAD OF TUESDAY MEETING; PRESERVATIONISTS ARE LIVID

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Looking down West End Avenue from 100th Street in November 1930. From NYC municipal archives.

A new historic district that could change development rules for dozens of buildings on three avenues is set to be examined by the Landmarks Preservation Commission on Tuesday, and preservationists say the commission has amended the district in a way that could allow much more new development than they’d anticipated.

The new district, which is the third section of the Riverside-West End Historic District, stretches from 90th street to 109th street, and includes sections of Riverside, West End and Broadway. But finding out what the new historic district map looks like has been very difficult, even for people whose job it is to track this stuff. (We covered the first and second sections of the district, which have already been approved.)

For a public commission, the LPC has been remarkably quiet about the changes it is considering making. We reached out to the commission multiple times in the past week to get more answers, but no one returned emails or phone calls to the main line or press line. A member of the West End Preservation Society got to look at a map of the new district but wasn’t able to take or publish a copy. An LPC hearing agenda initially did not even list the West End district.

The agenda now describes the new boundaries, but offers no map. And it’s expected to be discussed for all of 15 minutes, followed by a likely vote. The district boundaries were initially hashed out at a hearing four years ago, and local leaders had expected they would stay the same.

Local preservationists and elected officials are up in arms. Last week, Landmark West sent around an email with a map of the proposed historic district, adding skulls and bones over blocks that they say will be axed from the new boundaries. We’ve posted that map below, as well as letters from some local politicians.

“Specifically (although a map of the changes has not been publicly distributed) we understand that the boundaries of the new district extension will exclude buildings along the west side of Broadway, West 109th Street, and the entire block from 95th to 96th Street, between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue (the site of P.S. 75 and its playground),” Landmark West President Kate Wood wrote in a letter to LPC Chair Meenakshi Srinivasan.

Wood adds that “a number of the buildings along Broadway were designed by the same architects – Neville & Bagge, George & Edward Blum, etc. – in the same era as many of the buildings elsewhere in the rest of the proposed district extension.”

The West End Preservation Society put together more info on the changes and how to get involved here.

The public meeting will take place on the 9th floor of 1 Centre Street starting at 9:30 a.m., Tuesday, June 23.

district skulls

Helen Rosenthal Letter to Chair Srinivasan by LW25

Brewer to de Blasio re: WEA HD II by LW25

O’Donnell to Srinivasan re: WEA HD Ext II by LW25

HISTORY, NEWS, REAL ESTATE | 47 comments | permalink
    1. Mary Jones says:

      I have spent 45 minutes looking at the maps, googling etc. I am at WEA/88 st. I don’t see us on any map, I guess we aren’t in any historic district.

    2. Brian says:

      Very sad that they have decided not to protect historic buildings like the Sabrina, between 97th and 98th. With it’s magnificent marble lobby, it is one of the iconic UWS buildings.

      We can only assume that the committee has bowed to pressure from developers to allow more huge, modern condominium towers to be built all along the west side of Broadway.

      • Steen says:

        I’m honestly conflicted on landmarking. They make it so ridiculously hard to work on a home, that I’m not sure it would be in the Sabrina’s residents best interests to be landmarked. We lived there for many years, and the landlords did nothing in terms of infrastructure upgrades. Honestly, that building needs so much work, that jumping through the additional requirements of the landmarks commission for items such as water tanks, window replacement, and facade repair might make it financially disastrous to own there.

        I can only speak to the experience of friends who tried to renovate their house on “Doctor’s Row.” They almost threw their hands up and gave up a few times. It was as if the commission WANTED them to keep in the shoddy, illegal work the prior owner had done. Perfect example: they were completely respectful of the neighborhood, but they wanted security gates windows on their street level windows and the commission said ‘no’, because they weren’t part of the original “intent” of the houses. Completely crazy, as all the other homes on the block have security barred windows, they just happened to be installed before landmarking.

    3. Jeremy says:

      That map is bizarre. Kudos to Landmark West on mastering MS-Paint, but maybe usability could be a focus the next time.

    4. Scott says:

      My building is within the red boundaries but it also has a skull on it. So am I in or out?

      • Michael says:

        Scott: Looks like you used to be in, but the new chair of the landmarks commission Meenakshi Srinivasan got involved, and now you’re out.

        According to the commission’s website, Ms. Srinivasan “led some of the agency’s highest profile projects, from the Theatre Subdistrict Rezoning in midtown to the contextual rezonings of East and Central Harlem.” You have much to look forward to!

    5. drg says:

      I never knew the westside had so many toxic landfill sites!!

      • ScooterStan says:

        Whew! Thanks for explaining that those skulls do NOT indicate pirate hide-aways!

        In a way, though, a tad sad…no chance to chat-up Captain Hook !

    6. Eric says:

      The plain fact is that while lots of people advocate ‘maintaining the character of the neighborhood’, many of these same apartment owners do not want their buildings to be landmarked because of the restrictions and obligations such status imposes.

      I have spoken with many people who loved the idea of being part of a historic district but whose own coop boards opposed having their building landmarked. You can’t have it both ways.

      • dannyboy says:

        The Landmark Preservation Commission designates Landmarks. Not apartment investments. There are already lots of parties ensuring apartment investments.

        • Eric says:

          My point was that if people want their buildings to be included in a historic district then they should take steps to ensure that their co-owners and board members do not try to thwart the process.

    7. Paul RL says:

      And here I was concerned about the homeless and crazies taking over the neighborhood. It’s the PIRATES we need to worry about!

      • Cato says:

        There you go again. Why are discriminating against Pirates as a group? There are Pirates who are perfectly respectful and law-abiding, yet everyone complains about Pirates doing this and Pirates doing that.

        Besides, the statistics show conclusively that there are fewer episodes of moderate-level violence by Pirates on Thursdays in the first third of this calendar year than at comparable levels since the statistics were first moderated to produce partially objective results.

        Can’t we have an adult conversation, with everyone agreeing with me, rather than sounding alarmist viewpoints about people who have been unfairly stigmatized as a group because of the unfair income distribution that has made them what they are, but not really?

        • ScooterStan says:

          Congratulations, Cato!

          Not just the funniest comment on this site in ages, but also the most pointed SKEWERING of the twisted Talmud-like logic used by a certain portion of the commentariat!

          Great job!

        • Paul RL says:

          Good thing I didn’t say that pirate ships are failed experiments in human warehousing, isolating and concentrating one-eyed bearded men in a dangerous environment and making them prone not only to devastating social alienation, but scurvy. Oops. I did say it. Aaaargh.

    8. Lisa says:

      Really depressing.

      Opens up the UWS to go the way of the East Village where growing numbers of classic, graceful buildings are being torn down (after being emptied of tenants!) and replaced by glass luxury buildings that are at best inconsistent with the architecture of the neighborhood and at worst, crass nihilistic buildings that would be at home in Las Vegas.

      • 92nd street says:

        Well said Lisa!

        Alas this is the future of NYC, we will be generic and common soon enough

      • The reality on the UWS is that there is very little construction actually going on in comparison to the number of properties. Tenants are not being evicted in large numbers due to new construction. There has been little need to landmark in order to prevent development on West End Avenue and Riverside Drive. The biggest threats are high rents, conversion of rentals to private ownership, condominiums, cooperative apartments and single family townhouses. There is no construction for moderate incomes and no desire to allow any sort of construction to occur to meet the demand of moderate income housing.

        http://www.nycissues.org/Development.aspx

        • dannyboy says:

          nycissues,

          Again, the issue at hand is covered up by trotting out The General Trends and Averages Map.

          At Issue is “the entire block from 95th to 96th Street, between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue (the site of P.S. 75 and its playground),”. Please familiarize yourself with the development projects being planned, not with how little development there has been in the more expensive streets nearby.

          • At present PS 75 is not a development site. In the future it may be needed by the Department of Education for a new school building and will probably not be given landmark status.

            • dannyboy says:

              development has gone on adjacent to PS 75 and will continue:

              some shitty, skinny building replaced a coupla’ brownstones on WEA, across from PS75.

              the Bodega Building across from PS 75 is to be killed. I guess they’ll murder the garage. 2 with one bullet.

              the building-on-top-of-a-building is planned across from PS 75.

              The friggin’ Williams, for ___’s sake, plans to lock-out our elders.

              Ya see, when the Columbia went up I said “there goes the neighborhood”. Now the Paris is busy kicken’ out our neighbors.

              They’ll need to bring guns, if they wanna come for me.

              “First they came for the Elders…”

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              how did they empty out the building on NW corner of 96 and West End (former bodega site)? i thought it was rent stabilized? Is it currently empty?

        • Lisa says:

          Respectfully I would not agree with the assessment by nyissues.

          Perhaps worthwhile for people to go down to the East Village and take a look. Reminder that it is “affordable” apartments that are lost and moderate and middle income residents who are displaced when buildings are “emptied” for these luxury real estate transactions. (In the East Village the new luxury development aimed at a specific and transient demographic: NYU students and affluent/new to NYC 20-30 year olds, many of whom are financially assisted by their parents. Check out blog EV Grieve)

          Or take a longer trip out to Flushing and see what happened to the beautiful old houses, many of which were torn down and replaced by cheap apartment buildings. And the commercial are of Main Street completely destroyed IMO.

          • Those displaced from other parts of NYC wouldn’t find housing on the UWS either. Creating new buildings specifically designed to provide moderately priced housing is the only way to increase the supply. Landmarking and anti-development initiatives of the UWS are in direct conflict with plans to increase the number of affordable units in NYC.

        • Bruce Bernstein says:

          just fyi, NYCissues recently broached the subject of tearing down PS 75 while discussing how we needed many new buildings on the UWS.

          I think people ARE being evicted. Obviously the WIlliams seniors are being evicted. and the proposed development across the street from PS 75, at 711 W End Ave (building on top of existing building), has increased the pressure from the landlord on the existing rent stabilized tenants.

          • Jeremy says:

            Are the Williams residents being “evicted” or just not renewed? You’ve said they’re being evicted, but I’m not sure that’s even accurate, let alone “obvious.”

            • dannyboy says:

              sort of like the “relocation” of American Indians”.

              first they came for the Indians…
              …then they came for the Elders
              …then the folks who were pushed out by greedy landlords…
              then…

            • Jeremy says:

              Hey dannyboy!

              Hyperbole is usually a terrible idea. Very often people who use it think it makes a stronger point, but fundamentally the reader simply isn’t an idiot. Hyperbole targets tend not to be persuaded and hyperbole users come across as underinformed, deceptive and not very relatable.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              the Williams residents are being forced out of their homes, where til the sale they thought (and had every reason to believe) they would spend the rest of their retirement years. if you want to use a euphemism and not call that “evicted”, that is your right. i call it evicted and i don’t believe i am being hyperbolic. I think the Williams tenants would agree with me.

            • dannyboy says:

              Hey Jeremy,

              Don’t point that exclamation point at me unless you plan to use it!!!!!!!!!!!!

              And don’t tell me what style you’d like to to Comment in!!!!!!!!!!!!

              dannyboy from nyc

          • The conversion of existing buildings containing rental apartments into condominiums is a more significant threat to rent stabilized housing than new construction. The new development projects we are seeing have significant components and forces that make them financially feasible. For a long time, developers will be making more money selling apartments in existing pre WW2 buildings than building new ones.

            • Bruce Bernstein says:

              interesting web site, NYCissues… but why don’t you say who you are on the site? why the anonymity?

      • ScooterStan says:

        Re: “…where growing numbers of classic, graceful buildings are being torn down (after being emptied of tenants!”

        Oh, AFTER being emptied of tenants! Wotta relief! See, landlords aren’t all THAT bad after all!

        Re: “…glass luxury buildings …inconsistent with the architecture of the neighborhood … that would be at home in Las Vegas.”

        Yes, let’s instead build MORE five-storey walk-up tenements, and, to be truly AUTHENTIC, let’s put the bathtubs in the kitchens, install noisy old free-standing radiators, and bring back dumb-waiters (no, NOT the 20-something who brought you the wrong entré last night)!

    9. Barbara Weiser says:

      As one who had owned a building on Broadway, I lost all respect for the way these districts were drawn. Our building was made part of a West End Residential area although it was neither on West End or residential. Of course losing several million dollars of air rights impacted us greatly although the building in question, 2307 Broadway,has historical significance and certainly deserves preservation ( although it still may have been possible to add on to it). What was particularly disturbing is that the Zabar’s managed to have not only their store excluded from the district, but the whole.block they own where the Brnes and Nobles is situated. If one cares about preserving a district all buildings should be included. Now Landmarks are carving out buildings on the west side of Broadway for the new district which will permit more large buildings out of proportion to the rest of the neighborhood. Are we still a neighborhood or are we just becoming a district of ghastly oversized condos and chain stores? As one who grew up here I am very sad that the neighborhood has lost the character that once distinguished it.

    10. Paul RL says:

      Regarding the block that PS75 sits on, wouldn’t the school and its playground only be in danger only if the City decides to sell it? Is that likely to happen? Also, I think the buildings on the south side of 96th Street between WEA and Riverside Drive (west of the school) are condos, so I’m not certain those would be in danger either. Opinions anyone?

      • Jeremy says:

        And, honestly, shouldn’t development and landmarking be two separate determinations? PS 75 (and the white building next to it) is ugly as sin, architecturally insignificant and relatively new – why *should* it be landmarked?

        • manhattan mark says:

          The westside block of WEA between 95th and 96th street was
          in the 1940’s a tennis court in the summertime and an ice
          skating rink in the wintertime. the school and the other
          building that are there now were post war and not looked at
          as historic. and not included.

          • manhattan mark says:

            I left out the name, sorry, it was Rip’s.

          • Paul RL says:

            That’s interesting history, I love that stuff.

            But strangely enough, the proposed new map was to exclude the entire block, including, presumably, the grand old buildings on the north side of 95th Street, west of the school. However, it looks like now that designation will change again – according to Rosenthal’s office, PS 75 is now included. Not sure about the rest of the block. Still confused!

      • PS 75 is not threatened in any way. Most likely, if the city were to decide to build a new school, it would definitely aggregate all of its air rights on the block and buy the adjoining buildings air rights. The resulting building would be at least as tall as the surrounding buildings.

        • dannyboy says:

          you workin’ on a scheme to jack the children to get MORE f_k_n’ money to developers?

          nice

          • Bruce Bernstein says:

            nycissues seems to be someone from the real estate industry. And thank you NYCissues for contributing. you do provide a lot of facts.

            Previously he was advocating getting rid of PS 75 for “another use” (presumably residential). I’m glad to see he has apparently backed off from that.

      • dannyboy says:

        Mayors love to sell schools. Another opportunity for bribes.