Thursday, January 14, 2010

LPC's rules - what the heck are they?

From the NY Post:

A long-running battle between an Upper West Side church and its neighbors ended yesterday when West Park Presbyterian Church was designated a city landmark, quashing plans to use part of the historic property to build a condo tower.

The unanimous vote by the Landmarks Preservation Commission was hailed as a victory by neighbors and local preservationists who want the 116-year- old red sandstone church to remain as is.

But church members and their pastor, the Rev. Robert Brashear, insisted that the church doesn't have the money to fix the crumbling structure at the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street, which can no longer be used for services.

Interesting. When it's in Queens, you can count on one or more of the following excuses for not landmarking a house of worship:

- The congregation/owner is opposed to it/can't afford it.
- We need more housing (a million people coming, etc.)
- Separation of church and state.
- It's been "altered beyond recognition".

Or, my personal favorite... No answer from LPC at all.

So this decision for a Manhattan church is very interesting.


Patrick Sweeney said...

I don't there are any good answers. With all the people who live in that neighborhood, there are not enough Presbyterians to support it as a Presbyterian parish church for worship. It is a religiously indifferent area for the most part. However, there were just enough other people with clout in government and the LPC to stop the owners from selling it for its fair market value without landmark status. It's ironic that the heart of the church is discarded and the part that's landmarked is the facade. As a landmark it will be phony for as long as it stands.

Theater Ghost said...

In Queens most of our elected officials...starting with the Borough President...are beholding to the real estate/building industry for the political campaign contributions they've received from that sector.


So it comes as surprise that they don't support the preservation of our important historic structures...although they feign to care when publicly quizzed.


Claire Shulman:
"I care about the Keith's" (RKO Flushing).

Right-o...that's why you lobbied against the full interior designation for your boss Donald Manes at the Board of Estimate hearing in 1984 and continued to stonewall all efforts by the community to protect the theater.

I look forward to dealing with you in the afterlife.

Anonymous said...

These hundred, hundred fifty year old churches are immensely expensive to maintain. They are all over Manhattan, and very few would want to see them disappear to become high-rises. Unfortuately, that is how they will ultimately all go, as no one goes to church anymore.

Anonymous said...

No, if they're landmarked, the local pol can designate millions of dollars for their upkeep as cultural centers, which will be bid out to developers. In Queens, they just cut out the middle man.

Anonymous said...

These hundred, hundred fifty year old churches are immensely expensive to maintain. They are all over Manhattan, and very few would want to see them disappear to become high-rises. Unfortuately, that is how they will ultimately all go, as no one goes to church anymore.


Not true. Almost unique among developed nations, religion is vibrant and strong in this country.

The problem is the message that certain denominations preach - the public doesn not buy it.

As the land was donated or paid for by donated funds for a religous purpose, it should stay that way.

Churches should be forced to sell to other religous institutions. The big roadblock is the church administration, in this case, called the Presbytery, which sits around, does little, and draws a big salary.

If this was a business, they would be out on their ass. Why should we suffer?

The politicans and their developer buddies are using this as an excuse to exploit these properties.

Anonymous said...

The community tried to save the Astoria Presbyterian Church.

They reached out to the Sacred Sites folks who met with the church (but not the community - surprise) and gave the green light to a tear down and buidling for a 12 story monster on a busy street of 3 story buildings - a fact thrown into the face of the community repeatedly by the church.

Great to have friends like that, eh?

Add to this sorry ass tale the study drumbeat of a prodevelpment press that hounded and belittled those trying to save the structure

(while making the full salary, full benefit, full retirement, free parsonage pastor - who preaches to a few dozen each Sunday - a hero)

And to complete this little tableau we must always add the local polticans

- who not only stood idly by while the community was getting beat up

- but channeled huge sums of tax payer moneys (dwarfing by at least a factor of ten sums given to community groups that actually try to help the neighborhood) to subsidize the project.

stinky said...

Manhattan is special!! We are not, unless when it comes to tax collection time, then we become special!

Anonymous said...

Onorato? check.
Maloney? check.
Astoria Federal? check.
HANAC? check.

The prize - note the columes saved from the old church!!! Pretty, eh?

Meanwhile, another Presbyterian Church that is growing is around the corner ... meeting in a synagogue.

Anonymous said...

That sucks.

Anonymous said...

This building has no historical significance except for the people who attended services there. I personally feel no need to save it, or the church in Astoria that was mentioned earlier, or the RKO Keiths.

Queens Crapper said...

Historical significance is actually not the only criteria.

"A landmark is a building, property, or object that has been designated by the Landmarks Preservation Commission because it has a special character or special historical or aesthetic interest or value as part of the development, heritage, or cultural characteristics of the city, state, or nation."

So you're a moron.

Anonymous said...

How about the 1828 Astoria Institute, the namesake of the community, legacy of J J Astor, and another location that became a senior warehouse.

Public moneys went into that baby. And yes, the usual, DMico, Vallone, Maloney, etc.

LPC claimed it did not fit the criteria.... which is ok because outside of the community, no one in the broader preservation community gave a shit.... remember that when they want dues.

Babs said...

Anonymous said: "Unfortuately, that is how they will ultimately all go, as no one goes to church anymore."

The churches can be used for educational purposes. ALL colleges - private and public - are running out of space. These old churches are IDEAL for teaching.

Art exhibititions, charity functions - there is a wealth of opportunities really for the city . . .

Babs said...

Anonymous said "LPC claimed it did not fit the "criteria.... "

They said the same thing about Flessels in College Point - there wasn't a dry eye in the Point the day that beauty came crashing down. Aside from being a restaurant / bar, it served as a rooming house for our soldiers since the Spanish American War.

Of course they put up the usual multi-family crap in its place.

If places like these cannot get landmark status - then it's time the LPS loosened their requirements.

Patrick Sweeney said...

Some examples of facades of historical buildings converted to new use in Jamaica.

Anonymous said...

If places like these cannot get landmark status - then it's time the LPS loosened their requirements.

Its time for a new law.

Snake Plissskin said...

People always blame the LPC, but it seems that the LPC is a creature of its envirnment.

The press, the politicans, and above all, the preservation community.

The developers have the least blame - after all, they are the only ones doing their job well.

Queens Crapper said...


Pointing to St. Monica's as an example of preservation is kind of a joke, which is exactly what Queens preservation is.

Anonymous said...

"Churches should be forced to sell to other religous [sic] institutions."

I think this is a resurrection of the "Forced Sale of Churches, to other Churches, and only other Churches", proposed amendment to the Constitution. Unfortunately it failed.

Patrick Sweeney said...

The story of St. Monica Church 1857 to 1990

After 1990 there was no effort made to preserve or sell this landmark and the building to continue to deteriorate and be vandalized. Eventually the roof was breached and later the roof collapsed along with some of the walls. They removed the rubble so that only the front facade was standing up by itself like a Hollywood backlot for 10 years. I agree with QC is was a joke to call this preservation.