Friday, June 22, 2007

Endangered rowhouses need your help

Letter Campaign To Preserve Oldest Forest Hills Rowhouses & Most Endangered (Please help)

June 21, 2007

I am Michael Perlman, Chairman of the "Rego-Forest Preservation Council," which advocates for the preservation of potential individual landmarks & potential historic districts, throughout Forest Hills & Rego Park, and proudly supports the efforts of other Queens neighborhoods. I would like to inform you of an effort that Jeff Gottlieb (Pres of Central Queens Historical Assoc.) & I are working on. We would appreciate your assistance by composing a letter of support to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC).

We are hoping to spare an extremely significant piece of Forest Hills history; the unique "Manhattan-style" rowhouses that are on the west side of 72nd Ave between Austin St & Queens Blvd (108-11, 15, 17, 19, 21 72nd Ave). They are Forest Hills' oldest buildings & the only remaining rowhouses of its type. They were erected in 1906 by Cord Meyer, on the first street to be cut through, Roman Ave (now 72nd Ave). They are also synonymous with the naming of Forest Hills by Cord Meyer. They were dedicated in 1991 by the Central Queens Historical Association, and re-dedicated in Aug 2006 in honor of the 100th anniversary of the rowhouses and Forest Hills' 100th. A plaque notes their significance.

Sadly, the rowhouses on the east side of the street have been completely demolished over the last few years. Out of the 5 remaining rowhouses on the west side, 2 are imminently endangered. They're presently for sale, and being pitched as "a perfect site for developers &/or investors."

Current & vintage photos are as follows: [Click here to view them.]

My proposal to the LPC is here: [Click here to view the text of the letter.] Please feel free to reference any facts, and send your version of the letter to the following addresses:
• Chairman Robert Tierney (rtierney@lpc.nyc.gov & comments@lpc.nyc.gov), and
• Dir. of Research Mary Beth Betts (mbetts@lpc.nyc.gov)
and carbon copy:
• Michael Perlman (unlockthevault@hotmail.com) &
• Jeff Gottlieb (jeffgottlieb@hotmail.com).

Also, please encourage other potential supporters to take out a few moments, and do their share. It is important that we unite in solidarity for noteworthy causes in our neighborhood(s).

Thank you for your support!

Michael Perlman
unlockthevault@hotmail.com

15 comments:

Anonymous said...

You've got to be joking. Rowhouses like these are a dime a dozen in NYC. These aren't even good examples of rowhouses from that time period.

Landmark the unique and much more endangered victorian houses/mansions in Astoria, Richmond Hill, and Flushing first, please.

Forest Hills 72 said...

They're not a dime a dozen, they're $4 million for one. At least that's what the broker is asking for land and air rights.

These last remaining townhouses are unique to the increasingly cluttered Forest Hills business district and we feel they need protection.

Anonymous said...

But they aren't anything special. There are thousands (yes, thousands) of duplicates of those around Brooklyn and parts of Queens. Plus, the ones in Forest Hills are detoriated, and the ground floor of one has been altered beyond landmark capabilities.

Sorry, lost cause. Meanwhile we're losing victorian houses daily. Focus on that.

rego-forest preservation council said...

To anonymous (1st & 3rd posting):

You are taking on the attitude of a defeatist preservationist. There are no duplicates of those rowhouses in Forest Hills or neighboring vicinities of Queens.

The facades have unique low-rise stoops, and a variation of cornice & lintel detail, amongst other features. No two rowhouses are alike on that block. They are uniform in terms of their style, but original in terms of their gradual shift in design elements, according to the original plans. Most architectural features are present today, to merit landmarking. The block is NOT altered beyond recognition.

Lastly, the row is synonymous with the naming of Forest Hills, and portray the evolution of our neighborhood from its humble beginnings to the present day urban mecca with the small town feel. Why wreck a property that has withstood the test of time, and is one of a kind with a diverse history? And why are you comparing Forest Hills with Astoria, Richmond Hill, & Flushing? For example, Richmond Hill might be known for Victorian, whereas Forest Hills is known for Tudor, Arts & Craft, Georgian Colonial, & Art Deco. The rowhouses are distinct within themselves, and particularly for Forest Hills. It would be an ideal adaptive reuse case. Would you rather have a blase stucco or glass box as its replacement? Would that be classier than an old world townhouse?

Factor the above into your assessment. A person who doesn't take pride in their community's history & culture, is not welcomed.

Anonymous said...

Please, you twits....writing letters is like shooting blanks at the enemy in an active war zone !

Is that the best that you can muster ? !!!

They'll be gone before anyone opens their correspondence !

Anonymous said...

They're boring unimpressive poor examples !

Go to Park Slope and you can see expansive rows of better looking landmark worthy row houses !

C-mon fellas.....stop wasting your bullets....or peoples' time and get on to something more critical !

rego-forest preservation council said...

Would you do yourself a favor, & stop comparing gems in one borough to gems in another? Every community has a distinctive building style, that's a representation of the neighborhood.

These are a rarity for Forest Hills, they predate the Forest Hills Gardens, marking them as the earliest developments, and they directly coincide with the name change of Whitepot to Forest Hills. Nevermind a few alterations here & there. Enough is present for landmarking. The craftsmanship can barely if ever be matched today due to developers who are unconcerned. The contractors get less compensation as a result.

And, if you don't have anything nice to say, why say anything? How's about a shoddy McMansion or McOffice as a replacement for something historical? Shame on you, since it sounds as if you prefer the gentrification & homogenization of Forest Hills!

maxine said...

Mr. Cord Meyer would be rolling in his grave if these were lost at the sake of progress (Regression rather?) What will it teach our society?..... That some people of today are lazy and stubborn to respect and restore a historic treasure.

Anonymous said...

Well....."Rego/Forest".....you'd better up your game if you wanna save' those "gems" or they're gonna go like the Trylon !

Oh....but I see now that our savior Mr. Gottlieb of the Central Queens Historical Assn. has joined the fight.....it'll be a cinch !!!

Anonymous said...

I said the ground floor of two of them has an unattractive glass box protruding from them. That alone will prevent landmark status. Why didn't you try to save them when you could, like when the first one was torn down?

Too little, too late. You don't even care about the history, you just don't want to see new buildings, like all so called "preservationists"

Queens Crapper said...

"I said the ground floor of two of them has an unattractive glass box protruding from them. That alone will prevent landmark status."

That's not true. Buildings can be designated in any condition, altered or unaltered. There have been cases where buildings were completely rebuilt from scratch, nothing more than a pile of ruins or had aluminum siding on them that were designated. Of course, all of these were in Manhattan... They always use the "altered beyond recognition" excuse when they don't want to designate something in Queens.

rego-forest preservation council said...

Thank you, Queens Crapper, for backing us up on this! In regard to the previous anonymous' posting... The glass box protruding from the rowhouse was constructed over a decade ago, and NOT when the rowhouses on the opposite side were undergoing demolition, which was over the last few years. The foyer add-on is only a minor alteration in retrospect to the entire west side of 72nd Ave.

Nothing in the Landmarks Law states that a property can't be designated with an alteration. In the rowhouses case, it's minor. Consider Fraunces Tavern that was completely rebuilt from scratch & received a designation. Check the designation records for properties in other boroughs, particularly in Manhattan, prior to making a judgement.

In response to your second judgement, "Rego-Forest Preservation Council doesn't care about history," we advise you to drop the attitude. React afterwards, rather than pointing fingers and making faulty predictions.

Many newer buildings are shoddy in terms of construction, and employ the "finish it by Thursday" technique. The replacements are simply out of context, not recognizable architecturally, and not charming when considering the history & cohesiveness of parts of Forest Hills and Rego Park. Our mission is to defend the neighborhood's architectural & cultural history for the residents who do care, and leave something for our future generations to cherish. However, you proved a point that you are not one of those residents.

rego-forest preservation council said...

I forgot to add that myself & Mr. Gottlieb of the Central Queens Historical Association, are both equally qualified as preservationists, to defend the character of Forest Hills &/or Rego Park.

Anonymous said...

"I think that somebody is in need of a long vacation or the procurement of a good job instead of wasting time on this one "! (This is how your critics might perceive you ) !

Please.....let's all try to gain some realistic perspectives and learn to prioritize and set a sound preservation agenda (and practical battle plan) for Queens !

The "weak-kneed" preservation community is already seen as laughing stock among politicos and developers at their closed door meetings !

For all the talk of the Cord Meyer pedigree of these buildings, for instance, has anyone contacted them to see if they'd support landmark designation ? !

Maybe it's worth trying ! Good luck.....anyway !!!

Anonymous said...

I doubt that Mr. Gottlieb is a qualified preservationist..... if you judge him by his rather unsuccessful track record of actual buildings that he's saved.....or PRESERVED..... in the past!

For years he worked for the all powerful Morty Povman and even from that lofty pinnacle he couldn't accomplish squat beyond giving lectures, tours and the usual lip service !

I ask you....WHAT, in particular, has he been responsible for preserving ? !!!!!