Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Preservation in action :: LW! testifies at design review public hearing

As reported by Mei Tuggle, LW! intern and NYU student

Yesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) reviewed 150 West 77th Street’s application to construct a rear yard addition and to alter its basement entrance.  LANDMARK WEST!’s Certificate of Appropriateness (C of A) Committee not only found the proposal to construct a double-door entrance historically inappropriate, but also found the entire application to alter one of architect Gilbert Schellenger’s Renaissance Revival rowhouses excessively confusing and incomplete. And so did the LPC!

After hearing testimony from LANDMARK WEST!, the Historic Districts Council and neighbors, the LPC directed questions to the applicant.  Significant information was lacking in the presentation, and the LPC needed some answers: regarding the rear yard extension, did the applicant propose reconstructing the existing bay window, or mere replication?  What material was proposed? To what extent would original historic fabric be reused, if at all?

In addition, LW! testimony pointed out that "sacrificing an entire façade of historic building fabric for the sake of three feet of interior space" is wasteful and inappropriate.  Further, our C of A committee called for a renewed review by Community Board 7, noting that "the context of the proposed rear yard addition as presented to the community and as voted on by both the Community Board 7 (CB7) Parks & Preservation Committee and its Full Board was inaccurate. The appropriateness of the proposal was being evaluated in relation to a building façade that does not, in fact, exist."  This seemed to resonate strongly with the Commissioners, as they concurred that such a case rendered CB7’s decision inaccurate.

In the end, the LPC took no action (just as LW! recommended!).The applicant was instructed to supply the LPC with renderings of the proposed rear yard addition.

PHOTOS: Top: Rear facade of 150 West 77th Street as presented to CB7; Bottom: Rear facade as presented to the LPC.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Community Board verdict on Riverside South

In a session that continued on into the wee hours last night, Community Board 7 adopted a resolution calling on developer Extell to modify its proposal to build "Riverside Center," the last piece of the Riverside South megadevelopment. 

What does CB7 urge be incorporated?  A public school, traffic controls and a quality streetscape that enhances options for preserve the former IRT Powerhouse on West 59th Street, to name just a few key elements.

For more information on the IRT Powerhouse, visit the LW! Wish List!

For more details on the discussion, check out these news sources:
West Side Spirit: "Community Board Rejects Riverside Center Plan"
"Community Board Issues List of Demands for Riverside Center"
The New York Observer:
"Community Board Approves Its Disapproval of Riverside Center"
"Riverside Center Gets Official Community Board Thumbs Down"


Thursday, July 22, 2010

LW! gets social: Friend us, follow us, bookmark us!

If you're reading this blog post, you're three-fourths of the way there!

Blogging is just one of the ways that you can keep up with LANDMARK WEST! and our Upper West Side advocacy initiatives.

We're on Facebook.  FRIEND US!

We're on Twitter.  FOLLOW US!

We're on Flickr.  BOOKMARK US!

Don't forget out the LANDMARK WEST! website.

And for those times when you need a little human contact, give us a call (212) 496-8110.

Monday, July 19, 2010

NYC Park Throwdown: Central Park or Prospect Park, who earns top accolades?

Let the debate begin!

In the Sunday, July 11, New York Times' Metro Section, two writers take on the challenge (or is it the pleasure?) of going to bat for the park land they covet. 

For a Manhattanite, Central Park as a fulfillment of landscape architect Frederick Law Olmsted's idea that "great numbers of people from different backgrounds and economic classes commingle outdoors amid the 'harmonizing and refining influence' ... of trees, grass and water."  Writing from her perch in Brooklyn, Prospect Park stands as Olmsted and Calvert Vaux's "true masterpiece."  When it comes to brass tacks, how do the two compare*?

Central Park:
       - Harmonious hobnobbing of New Yorkers and visitors alike
       - Home to the Mall, a singular formal element in this Olmsted and Vaux design
       - World class collection of American Elm trees

Prospect Park:
       - A haven for "locals" versus tourists, unlike Central Park
       - Olmsted and Vaux naturalistic design uncorrupted by formal elements
       - Native soil, literally (New Jersey soil trucked in to Central Park)

The debate continues!  Read the article and log your opinion in the comments.

*According to authors of the New York Times article Park vs. Park.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Agency ruling: No sliver building for 86th Street

The Board of Standards and Appeals (BSA) ruled yesterday that in fact no, there will not be a sliver building rising at 330 West 86th Street anytime soon.  As reported in the West Side Independent, the BSA stops a 17-story building from being erected on a 20 foot-wide lot, tightly squeezed between two existing--and equally tall--apartment buildings.

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) is actively considering the boundaries for a proposed Historic District centering on West End Avenue.  Until this critical BSA ruling, the rowhouse residence at 330 West 86th Street (between Riverside Drive and West End Avenue) has been a hot-button site, threatened by demolition that would have opened the door for an inappropriate "sliver building" to rise in its wake.  The possibility of such destruction is symptomatic of the shocking lack of protection for this landmark-worthy neighborhood.

This is one for the "win" column, but the ultimate goal historic district designation for West End Avenue remains.  To find out more about how you can become involved, call LANDMARK WEST! at (212) 496-8110 or email  Or visit the West End Preservation Society online.

PHOTO: Left, the existing rowhouse at 330 West 86th Street. Right, the proposed "sliver building."  Photo by West Side Independent.