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October 2008
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Archive for October, 2008

Preserving Industrial Heritage has “tangible economic and environmental benefits”

red hook graving dock floorAn MAS panel last Wednesday night spoke to the multitude of merits of preserving industrial heritage, says the New York Times.  In addition to the social significance of industrial factories and work life in American history, the panel pointed out the economic and environmental benefits of preserving industrial buildings and infrastructure, such as providing critical blue collar jobs and reducing construction waste.  Watch a video summary of the panel here. In other news, studies on the impacts of parks on proximate residential property values are sparking interest in directing property taxes toward parks. The Friends of Hudson River Park is examining models, such as Business Improvement Districts, that could tap into increased property values and get residents and businesses to act as stewards for their neighboring parks. Continue Reading>>

Demolition=Wasteful; Reuse=Green

Joining founder of the Waterfront Preservation Alliance of Greenpoint and Williamsburg Ward Dennis were: moderator and president of the Society for Industrial Archaeology Mary Habstritt; MAS director of advocacy and policy Lisa Kersavage; president & chief operating officer of the Brooklyn Navy Yard Andrew Kimball; and preservation consultant to the Austin, Nichols, warehouse rehabilitation Robert Powers. Continue Reading>>

Catholic Church & Paint Factory New City Landmarks

The Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) had a full day yesterday in which it first ruled on the St. Vincent’s hardship case, then focused its attention on increasing the number of designated landmarks in the City. As a result, New York City now has two new individual landmarks — St. Stephen’s Roman Catholic Church on East 28th Street in Murray Hill, and the Devoe Paint Factory, 110 Horatio Street, in the Far West Village. As announced on this site on Monday, the Commission also held a public hearing on the proposed Prospect Heights Historic District, a district in the shadows of the Atlantic Yards Development and widely supported by the neighborhood. See photos below. Continue Reading>>

MAS Encourages LPC to Search for Alternative Locations for St. Vincent’s Hospital

st vincents building exterior overbiteYesterday, the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) voted to approve St. Vincent Hospital’s hardship case, clearing the path for the demolition of the O’Toole Building.  While there are further approvals that must be garnered before the building can be demolished, MAS President Kent Barwick reminded the New York Times that the Landmarks Preservation Commission still has it within their purview to search for an alternative site for the hospital. In other news, the Landmarks Preservation Commission also designated two new landmarks in Manhattan – St. Stephen’s Church and the F. W. Devoe & Company Factory. Continue Reading>>

MAS to Hold CLE Course on Eminent Domain

For the lawyers out there: on Monday, November 3 at 8:30 am, the Municipal Art Society is holding a Continuing Legal Education (CLE) course, titled “Public Use After Kelo: The Continuing Debate Over 5th Amendment Takings Jurisprudence.” This course will discuss the evolution of the public use clause of the 5th Amendment, tracing its evolution up through the Supreme Court’s now famous 2005 decision in Kelo v. City of New London. Panelists include Matthew Brickerhoff, who argued for the plantiffs in Goldstein vs. Pataki, the eminent domain case dealing with the Altantic Yards development. The panel will revisit Kelo, as well as the implications of Justice Stevens’ reminder that “nothing in [the Court’s] opinion precludes any State from placing further restrictions on its exercise of the takings power.” Panelists will discuss legislative responses to the Supreme Court’s ruling, as well as recent public use litigation in state and lower federal courts. The program will conclude with a discussion of what changes, if any, should be made to New York’s own law of eminent domain. Details after the jump. Faculty:
  • Lisa Bova-Hiatt, Esq., Deputy Chief, Tax & Bankruptcy Litigation Division, New York City Law Department
  • Matthew Brinckerhoff, Esq., Partner, Emery Celli Brinckerhoff & Abady LLP
  • William Heinzen, Esq., Deputy Counselor to the Mayor of New York City
  • David Schnakenberg, Ralph C. Menapace Jr. Fellow in Urban Land Use Law, Municipal Art Society
CLE Credit: 2 Hours in Areas of Professional Practice, All Attorneys. *Accreditation application pending

Split Vote in St. Vincent’s Hardship Decision

st vincents hospital redevelopment project new york cityThe Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) today determined in a vote of 6 to 4 that retaining the 1960s O”Toole building does impose a hardship for the hospital. The  St. Vincent’s hardship application is the most complicated project that has come before the Landmarks Preservation Commission in recent decades, and the Commissioners’ varied views and the split vote reflects the difficult decision they had to make. Some Commissioners had very serious concerns about voting for the hardship determination, and had explored alternatives that they thought could be viable. This decision though, can be the beginning rather than the end of the discussion of alternatives to St. Vincent’s proposed demolition of the O’Toole building, as the hardship provision of the Landmarks Law provides a second step after the preliminary determination of hardship. This second step allows the LPC to act as advocates for the O’Toole building and seek ways to meet the hospital’s needs while saving this modern icon. In many past hardship cases, the LPC has taken this second step and has protected valuable historic resources. In light of the concerns of some of the Commissioners, we think this is a step the LPC must take. Learn more about MAS advocacy on the proposed St. Vincent’s Hospital expansion here.

Top Designers Stir Up New Ideas with MAS for Vision for Coney Island

coney island carousel astroland partialMAS launched Imagine Coney yesterday at Brooklyn Borough Hall; New York 1 report. A dream team of architects, landscape architects, entertainment programmers, designers, and engineers, were briefed by Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, local Councilmember Dominic Recchia, Brooklyn Community Board 13, Coney Island USA, Creative Time, and several other local stakeholders on the current conditions at Coney Island and their aspirations for the future of the area. The Imagine Coney team will reconvene in Brooklyn in November for a charrette – an intense design workshop – during which New Yorker’s ideas will combine with their creativity to develop new ideas for a revitalized Coney Island. Learn more about Imagine Coney and the international call for ideas here. MAS’ extensive efforts in 2006 to survey the historic resources of Prospect Heights and advocate for its designation as an historic district is finally paying off, says the Brooklyn Daily Eagle. The Landmarks Preservation Commission is holding its first public hearing on the proposed historic district today. MAS also weighed in on the preservation issues surrounding the Tin Building at the South Street Seaport New York 1 reports. Learn more about the future of the seaport and the General Growth Properties plan here. In other news, the Landmarks Preservation Commission just approved the demolition of the O’Toole Building in the make way for St. Vincent’s new hospital and housing complex. Continue Reading>>

Growing Greener Cities – Tomorrow Night

growing greener cities pamphletAt tomorrow night’s book program and panel discussion Growing Greener Cities – Urban Sustainability in the 21st Century, Alexander Garvin of Alexander Garvin & Associates, will join book editors Eugenie L. Birch and Susan Wachter, to talk about the urban green movement. The speakers will discuss concrete methods of addressing some of the most challenging issues facing cities today, ranging from public transit and infrastructure improvement, to aquifer protection and urban agriculture. Editors Eugenie L. Birch and Susan Wachter will be available to sign copies of their new book during the reception that follows the program. Growing Greener Cities – Urban Sustainability in the 21st Century, University of Pennsylvania Press, 2008. Growing Greener Cities – Urban Sustainability in the 21st Century Tuesday, October 28, 6:30 – 8:00 p.m. $12 MAS members/students, $15 non-members. Purchase tickets online or call 212-935-2075.

Q: What Can You Sit On, Lock Your Bike To and Prevents Floods?

bike rack subway grate prototypeA: The new MTA bike rack. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority (MTA) has installed its new prototype bike rack (see left) at 151 West Broadway between Chambers and Leonard streets in Manhattan. Raised above street level this bike rack and bench seating street furniture is also a vent for the subway that has been specially designed to reduce flooding into the underground system. Following its current testing period, this prototype will be replicated at 15 locations in the same vicinity. Following the large storm of August 8, 2007, in which service on significant portions of the New York City transit system were severely disrupted by flooding, the MTA embarked on several initiatives to prevent similar disruption in the future. Designed by Grimshaw Billings Jackson with Systra/HNTB, these stormwater-flood reducing vents are among the first such measures to be implemented. Continue Reading>>

Harlem Town Hall Meeting on Housing Thursday

This Thursday, October 30, the Harlem Tenants Council and the Delano Village Tenants Association are sponsoring an event titled People’s Town Hall Meeting on Housing: The Audacity of Struggle/Holding Harlem Politicians Accountable. From their announcement: “Tenants are being evicted and harassed by landlords every day in Harlem. From small buildings to large developments such as the Delano Village, Lenox Terrace and the Riverton tenants are being harassed and hauled into court by landlords who want to move their apartments from rent stabilization to market rent. There is no end in sight and clearly Bloomberg is not our friend.” Local elected officials have been invited to hear the neighborhood’s demands for real low income housing.
Thursday, October 30, 2008
Mt. Olivet Church
201 Lenox Ave. at 120th St. – 6 to 8 PM
Pictured: Nellie Hester Bailey, Harlem Tenants Council

Accountable Development Working Group Meeting: Oct. 29th

The Accountable Development Working Group, which is organized by Task Force Member organization Fifth Avenue Committee and focuses on development issues facing south Brooklyn, meets again this week: Wednesday, October 29th from 6-8pm at Fifth Avenue Committee, 621 DeGraw near 4th Avenue (R train to Union). Discussion will cover future workshops, the Gowanus residential building survey and other future activities. Contact Dave Powell at (718) 237-2017 ext 148 or DPowell(at) for more information.

Show the Love at Tomorrow’s LPC Prospect Heights Hearing

prospect heights historic row houses italianate brooklyn new york architectureNow is your chance to tell the Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC) that you support the designation of the Prospect Heights Historic District. The LPC will hold a public hearing on Tuesday, October 28, 1:30 – 3:30 p.m. at the Municipal Building. This hearing is the second step in protecting one of Brooklyn’s finest – and most endangered – historic neighborhoods. Prospect Heights 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 that abuts the boundaries of the proposed historic district. Encompassing roughly 870 properties, the proposed Prospect Heights Historic District 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. Click here to read more about the history. MAS has worked in partnership with the Prospect Heights Neighborhood Development Corporation (PHNDC) in advocating for the designation of this neighborhood since 2006 Continue Reading>>