Wednesday, January 30, 2008

*New* West-Park Presbyterian Church Update

Council Member Gale Brewer has just called to inform us that tonight's 7:00PM meeting regarding Upper West Side development plans is "private."

To show your support for preserving West-Park Presbyterian, write to CM Brewer today!

Hon. Gale A. Brewer
New York City Council Member
563 Columbus Avenue, NYC 10024
Tel.: 212 873 0282 Fax: 212-873-0279

MEETING TONIGHT: West-Park Presbyterian Church Update

BIG THANKS to those 1000+ of you who have written to Robert Tierney, Chair of the Landmarks Preservation Commission, calling for urgent action to protect West-Park Presbyterian Church (86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue). Demolition permits are in the works. The time to "calendar" this building for landmark consideration is now. Otherwise, it will be too late. What more will it take? Reinforce the message to those with the power to save this treasure:

*TONIGHT* - Attend Council Member Gale Brewer's Community Meeting on Upper West Side development plans (meeting time & location: 7 p.m. at 720 West EndAvenue at 95th Street ; more details below)!

*ASAP* - Write to Council Member Gale Brewer (see contact info below)! West-Park is in CM Brewer's district. You've spoken up, and so should she.

To contact other elected officials and sign an online petition to save West-Park, visit

Friends of West-Park

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

Thanks to your support, we hear that the Landmarks Preservation Commissionhas received over 1000 letters and emails in support of landmarking West-Park Presbyterian Church. You are terrific - please pass this on to the many supporters and friends who have written and emailed - THANK YOU.

Unfortunately, we are not there yet. Two out of three of the developer's initial permit applications to the DOB were not approved - we don't know why- but they will re-file, and if the building is not on the calendar for Landmarking - i.e., simply on the agenda of the Landmarks Preservation Commission for POSSIBLE designation as a Landmark -- then once the permit isapproved there is no way to stop demolition.

In spite of this, WPPC has not been calendared. We need to put pressure onRobert Tierney and the LPC. How do we do that?

A) Our local city council representative, Gale Brewer, can speak up on our behalf. LET HER KNOW WHAT YOU THINK:

Tonight, Wednesday, January 30th 2006, Councilwoman Gale Brewer will hold a community meeting at the Williams Home at 720 West End Avenue (at 95thStreet) beginning at 7pm. The building attendant will direct you to the room where the meeting is being held. The purpose of this meeting is to answer questions and address concerns regarding the various plans for development on the Upper West Side.

This is an opportunity for Councilwoman Brewer's constituents to make their voices heard. The meeting was arranged by another group of neighbors who are battling development on West End Ave.

We realize that this is short notice, but if you possibly can, please come to this meeting and either voice your opposition to the Richman plan for a condo high rise over half of West-Park Presbyterian Church, or ask the following important questions, or both:

1) Why is so little effort being made to preserve the century old buildings of our neighborhood, which uniquely define the history of the Upper West Side? Why are our elected representatives making so little effort made to preserve the beautiful low rise streetscape of our community?

2) West-Park Presbyterian Church is indisputably landmark-worthy. Why is it so hard to even get it calendared for landmarking? Calendaring would prevent the present developer from filing demolition permits and proceeding with the outrageous and irresponsible destruction of one of the few remaining historic buildings on the West Side.

3) What is happening with the affordable housing component of the Richman? There will no longer be affordable housing on the church / luxury condo property. Where will it be? (Rumors are that it is to be in the neighborhood, but where? Friends of West Park has not yet been able to obtain details.)

4) What is the benefit to our community if we lose our light and air, if we lose our sense of neighborhood, if we lose the unique qualities of our century-old buildings - only to be replaced by glass and steel, greater density of people, more stress on our school system, and fewer services for everyone?


Honorable Gale A. Brewer
New York City Council Member
563 Columbus Avenue, NYC 10024
Tel.: 212 873 0282
Fax: 212-873-0279

One more thing...

B) The influential Landmarks Conservancy, led by Peg Breen, carries weight with Robert Tierney. THEY NEED TO HEAR FROM OUR COMMUNITY.

PLEASE CALL / EMAIL / FAX PEG BREEN AT THE LANDMARKS CONSERVANCY and tellher that the high-rise plan for WPPC is unacceptable:

Peg Breen, President
The New York Landmarks Conservancy
One Whitehall Street
New York, NY 10004
Tel.: 212 996-5260
Fax: 212 995-5268

We need your support to push back unfettered development which threatens to change the Upper West Side forever. Please try to attend the meeting tonight and make the above phone calls --

Thank you.

Friends of West Park

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

SAVE THE DATE: April 29 Unsung Heroes Awards Reception

On Tuesday, April 29th, LANDMARK WEST! will give the unsung heroes of the
Upper West Side the recognition they deserve for keeping our community’s
architectural heritage alive and well.

Join us in celebrating these heroes at the awards reception in their honor, from
7:00 – 9:00 pm at LA PALESTRA, Center For Preventative Medicine, 11 West 67th Street, the former ballroom of the Hotel Des Artistes.*

Invitation to follow. For more information, please contact:
LANDMARK WEST! at 212-496-8110,

* The Hotel Des Artistes, designed by George Mort Pollard in 1917, is an anchor of the West 67th Street Artists’ Colony Historic District, an ensemble recognized for its architectural excellence in 1985 when it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It is also part of the Upper West Side-Central Park West Historic District, designated by the NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission in 1990. Once a haven for working artists, West 67th Street off Central Park West is characterized by high-rise studio buildings featuring Gothic, Northern Renaissance and Tudor details that were constructed between 1900 and World War I.
LANDMARK WEST! is a non-profit award-winning community group working since 1985 to preserve the best of the Upper West Side’s architectural heritage from 59th to 110th Street between Central Park West and Riverside Drive. Owing in large part to our community’s advocacy, there are nearly 2,700 designated landmarks in this area (up from only 337 in 1985).

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Eldridge Street Synagogue Roundtable Discussion

Roundtable Discussion on Synagogue Restoration

The use and preservation of historic religious structures is a hot topic these days. So, we thought friends of LANDMARK WEST! would be interested in the following event spotlighting one of America's great success stories - proof of the important role historic preservation can play in the ongoing life of a congregation:


Preservationist and author Roberta Brandes Gratz moderates a roundtable discussion on the restoration of the 1887 Eldridge Street Synagogue, a National Historic Landmark

Sunday, January 27 at 3 PM

Preservationist and author Roberta Brandes Gratz and other architectural principals of the Eldridge Street Synagogue restoration will provide an insider's guide to the monumental 20-year, $20 million dollar restoration of the National Historic Landmark synagogue. Along with unique aspects of the restoration work, the panel will discuss historic preservation in the broadest sense as a catalyst for local economic strength, the first step in sustainable development and the opportunity it offers for building green.The Eldridge Street Synagogue restoration was completed in December 2007. The magnificent sanctuary, described as "gasp inducing" by The New York Times, is home to the Museum at Eldridge Street and a small congregation.

Preservationist and author Roberta Brandes Gratz will moderate a roundtable discussion with the project architects and artisans: Jill Gotthelf and Walter Sedovic of Walter Sedovic Architects; construction manager Terry Higgins; and preservation specialists Tom Garcia of The Gil Studio (stained glass); Jeff Greene of Evergreene Painting Studios (decorative paint); and Dawn Ladd of Aurora Lampworks (lighting). Roberta Brandes Gratz is the founder of the Eldridge Street Project (now the Museum at Eldridge Street), a member of the Landmarks Preservation commission, and author of the urbanjournalism classics Cities Back from the Edge and The Living City.

The conversation will focus on the Eldridge Street Synagogue restoration as well as important preservation issues:

* Preservation as an important engine for the local economy and the first step in sustainable development

* Authenticity in historic preservation projects

* Preserving a 19th-century structure while accommodating modern expectations for safety, accessibility and comfort

* Creating a dynamic, dual-use space that is home to both a museum and continuing congregation

Rescuing the Eldridge Street Synagogue, a preservation conversation, is a free event. For more information, call the Museum at 212.219.0888 or visit

WHAT: Rescuing the Eldridge Street Synagogue, a preservation conversation presented by the Museum at Eldridge Street

WHEN: Sunday, January 27 at 3 PM

WHERE: Museum at Eldridge Street

12 Eldridge Street, between Canal and Division Streets

By subway: F to East Broadway; B or D to Grand Street

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Important Meeting on Zoning Changes - January 23 at 6:30pm

Do not miss this opportunity to learn about major zoning changes that, if approved, will significantly alter the character of New York's neighborhoods!

WHAT: Informational Community Meeting on Proposal to Amend Zoning Text for Contextual Zoning Districts

WHEN: Wednesday, January 23, 6:30 PM

WHERE: General Society for Mechanics & Tradesmen, 20 W. 44th Street.(Located in third floor classrooms of The Institute of Classical Architecture & Classical America)

The Historic Districts Council (HDC) is helping to put together this important public meeting to make sure residents and property owners who have worked to preserve the traditional scale and humane qualities of their communities in all five boroughs (in neighborhoods like the Upper West Side, Park Slope, Bayside, Greenwich Village, etc.) have access to information about the ramifications of the zoning changes proposed by the NY Chapter of the American Institute of Architects (the full proposal is available at:

The proposal was quietly introduced by letter to the city's community boards in October 2007 (which did not allow for Community Board meetings to be scheduled until December), and the AIA has reported the amendments are scheduled for a public hearing at the City Planning Commission in February. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz has asked for this hearing to be postponed until the public can thoroughly review the proposal and get the full story. Where do your elected officials stand on this?

Neighborhood activists throughout the city have raised concerns that these changes would undermine decades of community-led efforts (including the recent 96-110th Street rezoning) to ensure balanced development that sustains the best features of New York's neighborhoods, including:

* Existing limits on building base heights to preserve light and air on our city's sidewalks and other public spaces

* Existing limits on the size of rooftop bulkheads (i.e., HVAC equipment, elevator equipment, etc.)

* Preservation of open space, light and air in buildings' rear and side yards

Change is inevitable in a city like ours, but it's only desirable when it's for the better, not the worse. The limited amount of public review and information released raised concerns that the amendments may contain "booby traps" that the public has not had adequate time to evaluate. The question stands: are the amendments in the public's interest? Or a developer-driven (i.e. profit-driven) strategy to maximize the building envelope?

Get informed! Get involved! RSVP for the January 23 meeting today! You can also get information on the proposal by attending Manhattan CommunityBoard 7's Land Use Committee meeting on Wednesday, January 16, starting at7:00 PM at 250 W. 87th Street (entrance just west of Broadway, 2nd Floor) and by visiting

Thursday, January 10, 2008

Preserving New York: Free Lecture at Green-Wood Cemetery

RSVP NOW for a discussion of

Preserving New York
at the historic chapel at Green-Wood Cemetery

Saturday, January 12, 2008 at 1:00 P.M.

"'Tony is something of a conscience for the preservation community,” said Roberta Brandes Gratz, who founded the Eldridge Street Project and sits on the Landmarks Preservation Commission. “He really understands what is right, what is wrong, what is missing, what is there.'" To read more about Anthony C. Wood's book, Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect a City's Landmarks, read
this article from The New York Times City Room Blog.

As part of the New York Times Arts & Leisure Weekend, The Green-Wood Historic Fund and the New York Preservation Archive Project are pleased to present a conversation with Anthony C. Wood, author of the new book Preserving New York: Winning the Right to Protect a City’s Landmarks. Moderated by Joseph Bresnan, FAIA, and former executive director of the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission. Admission is free but space is limited (suggested $5 donation at the door). Call for reservations 718.768.7300. A national historic landmark—Green-Wood Cemetery's main entrance is located at 500 25th Street (on 5th Avenue) in Brooklyn. Via subway, take the R to the 25th Street station. For more info, call 718.768.7300 or visit Green-Wood on-line at

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

West-Park Presbyterian and Brownstone Midblocks Make Endangered List

Brownstone Midblocks and West-Park Presbyterian Church Join the "Race to Save City's Urban Heritage" (amNY, Dec. 21-23, 2007)

Millions of subway riders rely on amNew York for news and entertainment while riding the rails. The weekly newspaper makes a point of covering the issues nearest and dearest to New Yorkers, including (for the second year in a row) a list of the "most endangered" historic sites in the city.

This year's list of "Buildings whose loss lessens NYC" highlights "Sacred Buildings" and "Residential Blocks Under Attack By High-Rises," in the company of the old Hotel Pennsylvania, Underground Railroad sites on Duffield Street in Brooklyn, and the Brooklyn waterfront. Specific examples cited by amNY are West-Park Presbyterian Church (86th Street and Amsterdam Avenue) and "Congregation Shearith Israel's plan to build a nine-story luxury condo on the brownstone block of West 70th Street." For the complete article, go to <,0,6213239.story.

For more information on HOW YOU CAN HELP protect sites like these and get updates on last year's most endangered list including First Baptist Church (79th Street and Broadway, on our landmark designation Wish List) and the former Horn & Hardart Automat at 104th Street and Broadway (on our Wish List, designated a landmark in January 2007!), please visit <, < and < To sign an online petition for landmark designation for West-Park Presbyterian, go to <

We want to hear from you. Which Upper West Side buildings do you consider irreplaceable? Let us know by responding to this email or calling (212) 496-8110.

The fight to preserve the soul of New York continues...Happy 2008!