With the impending rezoning of downtown Jamaica to include 10 to 30-story buildings, much of the low-rise feel of the area is in jepoardy. Of particular interest are the Electus B. Litchfield Rowhouses on 146th Street, just west of Sutphin Boulevard between Hillside and Jamaica avenues. Litchfield, a railroad magnate and developer who created neighborhoods that were serviced by his rail lines, constructed this rowhouse block in 1912-1913.
These romantically- designed houses, with eclectic finishes including oriel windows, gabled attic dormers and Federal Revival-style detailing, have seen better days; much of downtown Jamaica went through a period of severe disinvestment 40 years ago that it still has not recovered from. Still, the buildings have more or less survived, many with much of their original detailing intact. And then.....BAM! Recently, on the west side of the street, a four-story apartment house that neither respects the setback or height of the rowhouses was built. A lack of landmarking; lack of contextual zoning; and lack of political will created this monster and damaged this block. A similar situation happened on 36th Street in Astoria not too many years ago - and it will happen again and again until we as voters put a stop to it. Wake up, borough of homes - it's time to save things that mean something.