Wednesday, May 5, 2010

City to landmark owner: "Tear down the top floor!"

From the Wall Street Journal:

A Manhattan townhouse owner is being forced to do something few, if any, New York homeowners have ever done before: tear down a top-floor addition to a building to comply with city landmark regulations.

The townhouse at 12-14 W. 68th St. seen before (above) and after (below) a sixth floor was added.

The Landmark Preservation Commission decided in March that a sixth-floor addition to the building at 12-13 West 68th St. was in violation of landmark rules. The building's owner has begun taking steps to remove the entire floor, according to a commission official.

How that new floor ever got approved and constructed in the first place is just one of the many disputes surrounding this $10 million property that is causing a ruckus on the West Side by the neighborhood's preservation advocates.

The demolition of the townhouse's sixth-floor addition could be the first time the city forced a building owner to destroy part of the property for what amounts primarily to aesthetic considerations.

"This is the biggest nightmare for a homeowner," says Ross Sandler, a professor at New York Law School. "An addition is built without the proper authority. The owner has a big headache."

Arthur Minerof, the building's owner, declined to comment.

The case offers a revealing look inside the preservation movement, which began to become better organized and more aggressive during the property-market boom.

The preservation movement in Manhattan, maybe. The preservation movement in Queens is still a joke.

And how did the DOB give permission for this with the property being flagged as a landmark? Or was it?

(Amazingly, it actually looks better now than it did before...)


Anonymous said...

It sure does look better, but the owner should not have proceeded with the construction and should be punished and have the addition demolished.

Anonymous said...

The DOB permit is only for "MINOR INTERIOR DEMOLITION, REMOVE AND CAP KITCHEN SINK AND GAS RANGE". It doesn't show any verticle extension of another floor. The owner's got a big trouble now.

Babs said...

There are major financial perks for the owners of buildings with landmark status - inclusive of 50% real estate tax cut.

I would think that those who purchase these old homes are interested in maintaining the integrity of the building and of the community - BUT, I guess that is not always the case.

Queens Crapper said...

Nope, this is the DOB permit:

2005 permit

It says it's not a landmark on the permit, yet the main page says it is. So someone at the DOB has a lot of explaining to do.

Anonymous said...

You are right - it looks better. A typical landmarks mistake adding fuel to the position that landmarks makes stupid choices and restricts property owners.

Since landmarks is now an out of control agency and is now getting a reputation that they don't know what the hell they are doing we know that to be true.

Anonymous said...

They don't have a penny to help most poorer communities (relying on a research plan pioneers in ....places like Broolyn Height$) yet they can waste time and attention on this chickenshit.

Yes, indeed, this looks like an agency that has seriously lost their bearings.

Mary Beth Betts said...

All they need to do is call 311.

Mary Beth Betts.

Anonymous said...

But since desigation is determined by politics and not community preservation, well, you know.

Perhaps some donar to a local pol had a wife who didn't fancy this, so a few calls were made.

Landmarks does know how to use its limited resources wisely though. Fortunately, since so few pols buy into the concept, it only needs a few million.