MAS Applauds Prospect Heights Historic District Designation
June 23rd, 2009, 5:46 pm
Today, the Landmarks Preservation Commission designated the Prospect Heights Historic District. At 850 buildings, it is the largest historic district designated in two decades. “MAS applauds the Landmarks Preservation Commission for moving to protect this very special neighborhood,” said Lisa Kersavage, senior director of advocacy and policy for the Municipal Art Society. “This is an important act that will protect one of Brooklyn’s finest and well-preserved historic neighborhoods. Designation will protect the neighborhood from pressure from the Atlantic Yards project and other developments.” Prospect Heights is rich in historic architecture, with blocks of beautiful Italianate and neo-Grec rowhouses, interspersed with churches, small commercial and apartment buildings. Located just north of Prospect Park, the neighborhood has seen few changes since it was first developed in the late-19th century. Today, it is threatened by the Atlantic Yards project, a proposal by the developer Forest City Ratner to build 16 towers and a sports arena on a 22-acre site adjacent to the neighborhood. This announcement marks a significant milestone for an innovative civic partnership between the Municipal Art Society of New York (MAS) and the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Council (PHNDC). The two groups teamed up in 2006 to advocate for historic district designation. Beginning in 2006, MAS provided a basic training program for neighborhood residents on historic building survey techniques. Over 20 local volunteers took to the streets to catalog and photograph roughly 1,100 buildings. MAS staff converted this information into a map using its in-house Geographic Information Systems (GIS) technology. In early 2007, the two groups submitted a comprehensive report to the Landmarks Preservation Commission, including the database, photographs and a proposal for a historic district.