March 2009
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Archive for March, 2009

MAS Responds to Rumors of Admiral’s Row Compromise

rendering admirals row navy yard option 2

There has been news coverage today on a reported compromise between the Navy Yard and the National Guard regarding the Admiral’s Row buildings in Brooklyn. Purportedly, only two of the eleven buildings will be retained.

Lisa Kersavage, MAS Director of Advocacy and Policy said in a public release, “If the reported compromise on the future of the Admiral’s Row buildings is true we are deeply disappointed because the majority of these buildings could and should be saved. We will continue fighting to save these important structures.”

It is not necessary to demolish the buildings in order to build on the site. MAS developed 11 alternative plans that that meet the Navy Yard’s program for a grocery store and retail (see rendering above left) and industrial space while allowing for the restoration and reuse of the historic buildings. Kersavage added, “If there is to be a compromise, it should be with the size of the 356-car parking lot, and not come at the expense of preserving these significant American treasures.”

The buildings are in the midst of a federally-mandated Section 106 process, which provides the public with the opportunity to comment on the buildings’ demolition and to suggest alternatives that could prevent or mitigate the demolition of the historic structures.

Southern District Court Upholds City’s Restrictions on Arterial Advertising

outdoor advertising long island expressway

MAS has been involved with signage regulations since the turn of the 20th century, when the New York Times noted that one of the City’s famed retail districts had become a “frightful spectacle, made so more by the wilderness of discordant and shrieking signs.”  MAS even introduced a revision of the building code in 1908 that would regulate billboards for the first time. The problem of signage pollution continues to impact New York’s streetscapes, but recent litigation has affirmed the City’s right to regulate outdoor advertising in favor of traffic safety and aesthetics.

The Southern District of New York held today that New York City may enforce its arterial highway advertising ban, regulate the registration and permitting of existing outdoor arterial signs, and restrict the locations of internally illuminated signs throughout the City.

A number of New York City’s signage regulations were challenged by Plaintiffs Clear Channel Outdoor, Inc., Atlantic Outdoor Advertising, Inc., Scenic Outdoor, Inc., Troystar City Outdoor, Inc., Willow Media, LLC (together, the “Clear Channel Plaintiffs”) and Metro Fuel, LLC.

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MAS Conducts Survey of Gowanus Canal Historic Resources

In light of the City’s plan to rezone 25 blocks of the Gowanus Canal corridor, MAS is conducting an investigation of the area’s historic resources, including the canal itself. See slideshow below. Although the Gowanus Canal is sometimes better known for the pollutants from decades of heavy manufacturing and industrial use which earned it the nickname “Lavender Lake,” the canal should also be considered a historic industrial landscape. In fact, the waterway has been officially recognized as eligible for inclusion on the State and National Registers of Historic Places.  MAS recently completed a historic resources survey of the Gowanus Canal rezoning area, and will expand the study to include the other blocks along the canal and adjacent to the rezoning area that may be affected by the rezoning.

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Tonight at MAS: New York’s Main Street

There are still a few tickets left for tonight’s lecture by architectural historian Francis Morrone on the architecture and history of New York’s main street, Broadway. This program will be illustrated with photographs from different periods in the life of this unique urban thoroughfare, from Bowling Green to the Harlem River.

Though a fascinating subject in its own right, tonight’s focus is to provide context for the current photographic exhibition By Way of Broadway: New York Photographs by Cervin Robinson, on display at MAS through Thursday, May 7.

Tickets for tonight’s lecture are $15, $10 MAS members.

The La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, A Place That Matters

The La MaMa Experimental Theatre Club, located in the East Village of Manhattan, was nominated to the Census of Places that Matter for introducing new culture to an old setting.

In 1873, the Aschenbroedel Verein building was constructed to house the “Cinderella Society,” a German-American cultural association. When the group moved to Yorkville in 1892, another German organization, the Gesang Verein Schiller Bund, took over the space. As the large German population of Kleindeutschland began to migrate uptown, most of the East Village’s German institutions moved with them.

Though founded in 1961, it wasn’t until 1969 that the La Mama Experimental Theater Club converted the former Aschenbroedel Verein building into its off-off Broadway theatre. Led by Ellen Stewart, the world-renowned La MaMa has “passionately pursued its original mission to develop, nurture, support, produce and present new and original performance work by artists of all nations and cultures,” according to their website.

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