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Landmarks Approves Brooklyn’s Skyscraper District

Borough Hall SkyscraperThis week, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) recognized the historic and architectural significance of Downtown Brooklyn by designating the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District. The downtown district that once rivaled Lower Manhattan’s includes an exceptional concentration of late nineteenth and twentieth century commercial skyscrapers ranging from Romanesque to Gothic. These buildings, which include the 22-story Colonial Revival style building at 32 Court St and Brooklyn’s 1926 Municipal Building, illustrate Brooklyn’s contribution to New York City’s commercial history and stand out as the jewels of the borough’s iconic skyline. While the LPC did hear some arguments that the designation could hinder future development, MAS and others argued that those concerns haven’t been realized in the city’s 105 historic districts. In fact, historic district designation is often the lynchpin for a neighborhood’s revitalization and increase in property values. At the time the Ladies’ Mile Historic District was designated in 1989, it was virtually a no man’s land of forgotten former department stores and commercial buildings. Since its designation it has become one of the city’s most vibrant shopping and commercial districts commanding high rents and demonstrating the positive impact historic designations can have on economic development. MAS in conjunction with the Brooklyn Heights Association and the New York Landmarks Conservancy proposed the Downtown Brooklyn historic district in 2006. BHA and local organizations spent years advocating for the district’s designation, which has the support of Councilmember Stephen Levin. His support will be important when the district goes for final approval at City Council. Click here to read our 2010 testimony in support of this designation.