Wednesday, October 31, 2007

West-Park Presbyterian Church 11/1 Meeting: Speak Up and Sign On!

Come Support Landmark Protection of West-Park Presbyterian Church!

SHOW UP…

On Thursday, November 1, at 7:00 PM, Community Board 7’s Parks and Preservation Committee will consider passing a resolution calling on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold an official landmark designation hearing for the imperiled West-Park Presbyterian Church
(that glorious, 1890s, red-sandstone building anchoring the northeast corner of 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue - see below for information on the building's architectural and historical significance; to view photos and other information, go to
www.landmarkwest.org/westpark).

The location of the meeting will be B'nai Jeshurun, 257 West 88th Street (between Broadway and West End Avenue). (See
www.cb7.org “Calendar of Events” for the most up-to-date scheduling information)

SPEAK UP!

You are encouraged to speak out on this urgent issue.
Beyond a doubt, West-Park Presbyterian Church deserves formal landmark protection. And landmark designation may well be the only way to save this beautiful and rare part of our city's history!

The agenda for the November 1 CB7 meeting will include a presentation by Mosette Broderick (Director of the Urban Design and Architectural History Program at NYU) and colleagues on the building’s design by renowned architects Leopold Eidlitz and Henry Kilburn.

SIGN ON!

Show the Landmarks Preservation Commission, Community Board 7 and public officials that you support a landmarks hearing for West-Park by going to
http://www.petitiononline.com/westpark/petition.html for an online petition. Send it to your friends and neighbors. Information about writing letters to elected officials is available through www.landmarkwest.org/westpark.

The Case for Designating West-Park As An Official NYC Landmark:


Art historian Barry Bergdoll (Columbia professor and Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA) called West-Park "one of the architecturally most distinguished and historically most important of Manhattan's surviving Nineteenth century churches...West Park Presbyterian Church is one of the very finest examples of this vital moment in American architectural history still standing in New York, and the fact that it stands in a place so important to the architctural order of the city makes it a crossroads both of a neighborhood and of a key chapter in American architectural development" (letter dated 2004).

In a 2003 letter to the Landmarks Commission, Andrew S. Dolkart (architectural historian, writer and the James Marston Fitch Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University) stated: "The West-Park Presbyterian Church is unquestionably one of the most beautiful religious structures on the Upper West Side. The bold massing of this Romanesque Revival style building, the soaring tower anchoring the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street, and the extraordinary deep red sandstone cladding combine to create a building of singular power."
Please call LANDMARK WEST! at (212) 496-8110 for additional information.

Friday, October 26, 2007

Help Preserve West-Park Presbyterian Church!

Come Support Landmark Protection of West-Park Presbyterian Church!

Mark your calendar for Thursday, November 1, at 7:00 PM when Community Board 7's Parks and Preservation Committee will consider passing a resolution calling on the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission to hold an official landmark designation hearing on the imperiled West-Park Presbyterian Church (that glorious, 1890s, red-sandstone building anchoring the northeast corner of 86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue - see below for information on the building's architectural and historical significance).

The location of the meeting will be B'nai Jeshurun, 257 West 88th Street (between Broadway and West End Avenue).

All concerned members of the public - YOU! - are encouraged to speak out on this urgent issue. Beyond a doubt, West-Park Presbyterian Church deserves formal landmark protection. And landmark designation may well be the only way to save this beautiful and rare part of our city's history!

The agenda for the November 1 CB7 meeting will include a presentation by Mosette Broderick (Director of the Urban Design and Architectural History Program at NYU) and colleagues on the building’s design by renowned architects Leopold Eidlitz and Henry Kilburn. Click here for photo of West-Park.

The Case for Designating West-Park As An Official NYC Landmark:

Art historian Barry Bergdoll (Columbia professor and Chief Curator of Architecture and Design at MoMA) called West-Park "one of the architecturally most distinguished and historically most important of Manhattan's surviving Nineteenth century churches...West Park Presbyterian Church is one of the very finest examples of this vital moment in American architectural history still standing in New York, and the fact that it stands in a place so important to the architctural order of the city makes it a crossroads both of a neighborhood and of a key chapter in American architectural development" (letter dated 2004).

In a 2003 letter to the Landmarks Commission, Andrew S. Dolkart (architectural historian, writer and the James Marston Fitch Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University) stated: "The West-Park Presbyterian Church is unquestionably one of the most beautiful religious structures on the Upper West Side. The bold massing of this Romanesque Revival style building, the soaring tower anchoring the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street, and the extraordinary deep red sandstone cladding combine to create a building of singular power."

Please call LANDMARK WEST! at (212) 496-8110 for additional information.

Friday, October 19, 2007

Report from the Front: Congregation Shearith Israel

No Action, But Many Questions at Community Meeting on Congregation Shearith Israel's Development Plans

Community Board 7 (CB7) did not vote at last night's "informational" meeting, a misnomer since more questions than answers emerged about Congregation Shearith Israel's (CSI's) plans to build a 105'-tall building, including five floors of luxury condos stacked on top of a new community house, on the low-rise, brownstone-scale midblock of West 70th Street.

No one but CSI's attorney and architect spoke in favor of the development project. But West Siders showed up in force to express concerns about the impact this particular project would have on our neighborhood. In addition, participants included residents and homeowners keenly aware of the precedent CSI's building would set for other would-be developer-institutions including the New-York Historical Society, West-Park Presbyterian Church, Congregation Rodeph Sholom, the Jewish Home & Hospital and the Ramaz School on the East Side.

This was the first of at least two meetings of CB7's Land Use Committee (future dates tba) on CSI's as-yet incomplete application to the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) for 7 zoning variances, needed since the proposed building would violate the area's low-rise, contextual R8-B zoning designed to protect the character of brownstone blocks. CSI has so far failed to complete its application in response to BSA's 48+ objections to the original submission (made back in April 2007). CB7 committee members clearly recognized the shortcomings of the current proposal and put CSI on the hot seat with their probing questions.

LANDMARK WEST! brought in a court reporter to document the proceedings. A full transcript will be available at http://www.landmarkwest.org/advocacy/70st.html and www.protectwest70.org soon. Stay tuned for information about upcoming meetings and opportunities for public input.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

TOMORROW NIGHT: Major Hearing on Congregation Shearith Israel

**IMPORTANT COMMUNITY MEETING**Wednesday, October 17, 7 PM (details below)

Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI) wants to erect a 105’-tall luxury condo building behind its Landmark synagogue on West 70th Street, in the heart of the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District. The proposed building is more than twice the height of the brownstones that define this historic block. Such an out-of-place building requires at least 7 special variances from the City’s Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA).

This site is one of New York’s most important Landmarks. But much more is at stake. Approval of CSI’s plan would fuel the juggernaut of non-profit institutions attempting to exploit their Landmarks as “development opportunities.” The ultimate impact on our city’s most beautiful neighborhoods will be devastating.

When: Wednesday, October 17, 7:00 p.m.
Where: Congregation Rodeph Sholom
7 West 83rd Street (between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue)
Why: The West Side has fought long and hard to preserve our community against inappropriate development that, block by block, will erode the architectural character that makes this area special.

Your presence (even if you don't plan to speak) is vital! Have questions? Call LANDMARK WEST! at 212.496.8110Go to www.landmarkwest.org/advocacy/70st.html and www.protectwest70.org.

Thursday, October 11, 2007

General Society Lecture Series: Charles Lockwood Lecture, Tuesday October 16

The General Society of Mechanics and Tradesman Announces 2007-2008 Lecture Series

Join The General Society for its landmark lecture series At Home In New York City

NEW YORK BROWNSTONES: ICONS OF A GREAT CITY
Tuesday, October 16th at 6:00 pm

Architectural Historian Charles Lockwood, author of the seminal Bricks and Brownstone: The New York Row House 1783-1929 kicks things off by exploring the architectural, social, and cultural history of the brownstone, Lockwood’s lecture promises to reveal this ubiquitous—and fundamental—component of New York City’s architectural identity.

CAPITALIST CASTLES
Tuesday January 22nd at 6:00 pm

Join Upper West Sider Mosette Broderick for her lecture, an exploration of the gilded glory of New York City’s residential castles. The Director of NYU’s Architecture and Urban Design Program, Broderick offers an intimate glimpse at this storied aspect of New York’s architectural heritage.

THE SUBURBAN OPTION: GARDEN APARTMENTS IN TWENTIETH CENTURY NEW YORK CITY
Tuesday February 19th at 6:00 pm.

Dr. Jeffrey Kroessler, Associate Professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, will explore the urban architectural answers sought by New York City’s middle class. The lecture will present the array of housing styles that under-gird New York City’s architectural ensemble.

NEW YORK CITY HOUSING FUTURES
Tuesday March 11th at 6:00 pm.

Shampa Chanda, Assistant Commissioner for Planning at NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, will focus upon the challenges, opportunities, and issues as New York City houses the twenty-first century.

Admission: $15 for the general public, $10 for members, and $5 for students. For more information or to register visit www.generalsociety.org/events or call 212.921.1767


The General Society is a New York City Landmark located at 20 West 44th Street
Designed by Lamb and Rich and expanded by Ralph S. Townsend in 1903, the building is a striking example of monumental Beaux-Arts classicism.

Monday, October 8, 2007

Dolkart 10/9 Lecture on Garment District Vernacular Architecture

Building Capitol: The Vernacular Architecture of the Garment District
October 9th, 6:30 p.m. - Recital Hall

CUNY Graduate Center, 365 Fifth Avenue @ 34th Street

FREE. Seating is limited.
Admittance will be on a first come, first served basis,
no reservations.
For more information:
visit www.gothamcenter.org or call 212.817.8474.

The Garment District is one of the most famous neighborhoods of New York City. This is an area well known to labor historians, but virtually unknown to historians of the city's built environment. Andrew Dolkart, the James Marston Fitch Associate Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University's School of Architecture, Planning and Preservation, and author of the award-winning Morningside Heights: A History of its Architecture and Development, will give an illustrated lecture on the vernacular architecture of the Garment District, examining the forces that resulted in the extraordinary rapidity of development of showrooms, factories, and lofts.

Co-sponsored with the Leon Levy Foundation as part of its "Garment Industry History Initiative."

All Hands On Deck for West-Park Presbyterian Landmarks Consideration

On Thursday evening, October 11, Community Board 7 Parks and Preservation Committee members will meet for a presentation on West-Park Presbyterian Church and may consider a resolution supporting a NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission public hearing for the beloved building.

Citing its beauty and architectural significance, LANDMARK WEST! first petitioned the Landmarks Commission in 1985 to designate West-Park Presbyterian, which has graced the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street for over a century. The agenda for the October 11 CB7 meeting will include a presentation by Mosette Broderick (Director of the Urban Design and Architectural History Program at NYU) and colleagues on the building’s design by renowned architects Leopold Eidlitz and Henry Kilburn. Showing up and speaking up at the October 11 meeting is a great opportunity to voice your support and get the ball rolling toward landmark designation. (Click here for additional details and photos of the building. Read on for an architectural description of the building.)

Plan to attend the Thursday, October 11 evening meeting (schedule updates: http://www.cb7.org/commagendas.html). A CB7 resolution calling for a public hearing to consider designation of the building will show the landmarks commission that Upper West Side neighbors support landmark status for the church building.

Next step after October 11: If a resolution comes out of the October 11 CB7 Parks and Preservation committee meeting, a vote will follow at the full CB7 board meeting on Wednesday, November 7 (location TBA).

Architectural Significance:

In his 2003 letter to the Landmarks Commission, Andrew S. Dolkart (architectural historian, writer and the James Marston Fitch Professor of Historic Preservation at Columbia University) stated:

"The West-Park Presbyterian Church is unquestionably one of the most beautiful religious structures on the Upper West Side. The bold massing of this Romanesque Revival style building, the soaring tower anchoring the corner of Amsterdam Avenue and West 86th Street, and the extraordinary deep red sandstone cladding combine to create a building of singular power."

The West-Park Presbyterian Church was designed to stand out in the Upper West Side community. Its dramatic bell tower is a beacon to worshipers, and its red sandstone fa├žade kept pace with the highest fashion of the day. Indeed, West-Park may be the only example of a Richardsonian Revival-style church to survive in Manhattan.

Doesn’t this beautiful structure at least deserve a landmarks hearing?

Please call LANDMARK WEST! at (212) 496-8110 for additional information.

Friday, October 5, 2007

Yellow Alert for Shearith Israel: Upcoming CB7 Land Use Meeting

After more than a year of watching and waiting, Congregation Shearith Israel (CSI) is back with its controversial plan to develop 5 stories of luxury condos on top of a new community house at 8 West 70th Street. Community Board 7's Land Use Committee will hold a public meeting to discuss (and possibly vote on) this application on Wednesday, October 17 (starting after 7 PM, more specific time tba). The location is Congregation Rodeph Sholom, 7 West 83rd Street (between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue).

Between the New-York Historical Society on the West Side, Mt. Sinai Hospital, Congregation Kehilath Jeshurun and Ramaz School on the East Side, uptown and downtown (and, as the old song goes, all around the town), the issue of tax-exempt nonprofit institutions exploiting their sites as "development opportunities" is more timely than ever. That's why YOUR participation in CB7's October 17 meeting is absolutely essential! This is about more than one institution's attempt to develop its real estate on the back of the surrounding community. This is about breaking down the West Side's historically strong resistance to inappropriate development that, block by block, will erode the architectural character and integrity of our city's historic districts.

Discrepancies in the BSA Application: On June 15, 2007, the Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) issued its notice of objections to the CSI application, identifying 48 discrepancies, misrepresentations and failures on the part of the applicant to provide information necessary to enable the Board to evaluate the proposed new building for a variance. On September 10, 2007 (nearly one month past the 60-day dismissal deadline required by the Board), CSI submitted its revised application. Based on evaluation of the latest application, it continues its failures to respond to the BSA objections and to provide clear information on crucial issues which are significant to any determination of hardship excusing the applicant from compliance with the zoning regulations governing sound development. As resubmitted, CSI’s application remains egregiously incomplete. For documentation of the application and planning analysis by Barnacle Planning Studio, click here and visit http://www.protectwest70.org/.

While CSI could construct an appropriate, 6-story community house facility "as of right" (i.e., following groundrules for sound development), it needs no fewer than 8 special variances from the BSA to build a 105'-tall structure, including condos, more than twice as high as the brownstones that define this historic mid-block of West 70th Street, protected as part of an R8-B contextual zoning district AND as part of the Upper West Side/Central Park West Historic District, both created decades ago to preserve the low-rise, human-scale character of our neighborhood's mid-blocks. The site is also immediately adjacent to one of New York's most important Individual Landmarks, Congregation Shearith Israel, aka the Spanish & Portuguese Synagogue (Brunner & Tryon, 1897), one of the handful of low-rise, Classical-style institutional buildings that play a key role in the Central Park West skyline.
Don't let Congregation Shearith Israel be yet another domino to fall! Join us at Community Board 7 on October 17!

Monday, October 1, 2007

LW! Walking Tour for Kids

LANDMARK WEST! teams up with openhousenewyork to
bring you two FREE family walking tours!


As advertised in today’s New York Times openhousenewyork supplement, on Sunday, October 7 LANDMARK WEST! will lead two Upper West Side walking tours geared for children ages 7-10. Tours will last one hour. The tours are part of LANDMARK WEST’s youth education program, “Keeping the Past for the Future.”**

Space is limited so advanced registration is required.
Email elysenewman@landmarkwest.org or call 212-496-1714 to register

Tour 1: Sunday, October 7 at 11:00am
“Horse Trails to Subway Rails”
Discover how the Upper West Side formed 100 years ago,
from horse stables and mansions to the construction of the subway and more.
Meet at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument,
Riverside Drive at 89th Street

Tour 2: Sunday, October 7 at 12:30pm
“Farmhouses to Townhouses”
Learn about the Upper West Side’s transformation from farmland to cityscape,
and how the subway’s construction played a part.
Meet at the south east corner of 81st Street
and Columbus Avenue


Check out the openhousenewyork website for additional events taking place during the weekend of October 6th and 7th: www.ohny.org or look in the Friday, September 28 New York Times for the openhousenewyork guide.

**Spread the word about “Keeping the Past for the Future” to your friends and neighbors who have children in Upper West Side schools! For additional information about KPF and to find out how your child’s school can participate in LW’s program, contact:

Elyse Newman
Director of Education
LANDMARK WEST!
elysenewman@landmarkwest.org
t: 212-496-8110