The defensive shield that protects historic buildings from the whims of real estate developers grew significantly Tuesday, after the city designated seven new landmarks, including a former pencil factory in Greenpoint, Lord & Taylor on Fifth Avenue, and the former apartment tower home of Grace Kelly and Benny Goodman on East 66th Street.
In a city famous for a teardown mentality fostered by soaring real estate values, the idea of preservation may itself seem endangered. But it is the very speed of development that may have sparked the current wave of landmarking activity.
Landmarking booms as developers loom
In fiscal year 2005, only 46 buildings were landmarked. In fiscal year 2007, 1,158 buildings received protection, the highest number since 1990. The commission has also been aggressively landmarking in other boroughs, such as Queens and Staten Island.
"There is a lot of very aggressive activity going on here in support of historic designation," said commission chairman Robert B. Tierney Tuesday. "We have the support of the mayor, and that makes it easier."
Apparently Mr. Tierney got cut off. He surely must have said that if you are in a tweeded redlined area then you have a snowball's chance in hell of getting a landmark in your 'hood. And he forgot the part about focusing landmarking efforts in areas that either are already wealthy or where the city is leading gentrification efforts.