From the NY Post:
In their frenzy to derail the decades-overdue rezoning of the Grand Central district, three esteemed preservationist groups are making utter fools of themselves.
Altogether, The Municipal Art Society, the New York Landmarks Conservancy and the Historic District Council are asking the city’s Landmarks Preservation Commission to prohibit four dozen East Midtown buildings from ever being demolished or altered.
Worse, the groups can’t agree on which properties are worth immortalizing. In fact, their most recent wish-lists are laughably at odds.
“Save the masterpieces from the bulldozers!” is the rallying cry. We’re told that allowing larger new office buildings in the 78-block area will mean wholesale demolition of supposedly architecturally distinguished structures — or even, God forbid, cast shadows over them.
But the incoherence of the wish-lists exposes the truth: This campaign is really about thwarting zoning changes needed to reverse the Grand Central district’s slide into obsolescence. (Buildings there average 60-plus years old and are increasingly unsuited to modern office use).
The preservationist hysteria is a just handy tool to spook the City Council into voting down the rezoning later this year. That’s clear when you examine the three groups’ recommendations.
Together, they call for 48 total buildings to be landmarked. But of the “inviolable” 48, the organizations agree on just six — that’s how many show up on all three lists.
Sure, we all have our favorites, but wouldn’t you expect somewhat more of a consensus? Landmarking even a single site has profound, permanent consequences and shouldn’t be taken lightly — which is why the Landmarks Commission sometimes takes years to act.
In fact, the all-over-the-map choices illustrate how treacherously subjective landmark-worthiness can be.