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First Avenue Estate Hardship Case

CitySub-Banner-2Since 2012, advocates have been fighting the hardship application filed on behalf of two landmarked buildings, part of the designated City and Suburban Homes’ First Avenue Estate. The complex was originally designated in April 1990. Later that year, 429 East 64th Street and 430 East 65th Street were dedesignated by the Board of Estimate.  However, in 2006, they were redesignated by the Landmarks Commission despite the owner’s objectives. The owners applied to the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) for hardship, arguing the buildings could not provide a reasonable return. City and Suburban Homes’ 1898-1915 First Avenue Estate was designated for its cultural significance. It is one of the oldest privately funded urban projects that addressed the housing problems among the nation’s working poor. City and Suburban Homes constructed model, light-court tenements that experimented with varying widths and placements of courts, stairs and halls and apartment configurations to maximize light and air. In early June, the LPC held the second of its two public hearings. FRIENDS of the Upper East Side mounted its second strong defense of the Landmarks Law, once again engaging James Lima and HR&A Advisors. MAS testified both times to support the buildings’ preservation. MAS’s testimony focused on the real estate issues such as the comparables, pointing out they differed too greatly from First Avenue Estate. Other speakers included representatives from New York Landmarks Conservancy, the Historic Districts Council, and the Society for the Architecture of the City, as well as tenants of First Avenue Estate. Many refuted the owner’s statements that the size and location of the units were undesirable. A decision is tentatively due in the fall. MAS thanks FRIENDS of the Upper East Side in leading the campaign to preserve City and Suburban Homes’ First Avenue Estate, a significant piece of New York City’s still vibrant housing history. Follow their campaign here.