Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Have landmarking advocates gone too far?

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.


Anonymous said...

Too bad that the Historic Districts Council, isn't much interested in Queens.

Anonymous said...

Too bad that most of Queens' historic preservation groups aren't interested in anything beyond their own turf.

Then you have the so-called borough wide umbrella group, the Queens Hysterical Society. They're the laughing stock of NYC, and most ineffective.

Even their website hasn't changed for ages!

Anonymous said...

The landmarks law needs to be overturned.

Anonymous said...

The problem with this article is that what's going on here is an attempt to keep Bloomberg and his minions from increasing property density in the Grand Central area to ridiculous levels. The person who wrote this is primarily an advocate for Manhattan real estate developers.

Anonymous said...

Overturn the landmarks law on what basis, dummy?

The Supreme Court of the United States of America
has deemed the law Constitutional.

Hire a lawyer instead of mouthing off on line and start your class action rolling.

You'll find out that it's an ASS ACTION very shortly!

Anonymous said...

a law can be contested on many different points - the one by the court declared it constitutional but another part of the law can be looked at and found wanting.

its clear that the landmarks law, a public program supported by public funds, is not being applied fairly and equitably across the city.

the only reason it has not be challenged by this is that a small group of elites that run this city are petty much the primary beneficiaries of the law.

Anonymous said...


You've been talking this game to me privately for at least 5 years!

Nah...relax...sit in your armchair and read your feeble posts to yourself.

That's about the only thing you appear to be good for.

Anonymous said...

Yeah...put up or shut up.

I agree with that poster who said "hire a lawyer" to turn over the landmarks law.

Jerry Rotondi said...

None of these commissions, organizations or groups, appear to have worked very well--let alone have worked very well with each other.

They're clearly out of synch and out of touch.

What we have in NYC is a multiplicity of do-gooder "preservation" groups that haven't done very much for our borough--Queens.

Now, I'm sure to catch hell from a few of them for my plain speaking.