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Positive Response from NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission

Last week, MAS received an official response from the Landmarks Preservation Commission about our Requests for Evaluation of 17 buildings within the East Midtown rezoning area. Of the 17, the agency believes that 12 “may merit designation and will be further considered in the context of the criteria for designation contained in the Landmarks Law and the Commission’s overall priorities for the city.” These buildings are:

  • 18-20 E. 50th Street (former Grand Rapids Furniture Company; Rouse & Goldstone, 1915)
  • 445 Park Avenue (Kahn & Jacobs, 1947)
  • 661 Lexington Avenue (former Babies’ Hospital; York & Sawyer, 1902)
  • Graybar Building (Sloan & Robertson, 1927)
  • Hotel Lexington (Schultze & Weaver, 1929)
  • One Grand Central Place (former Lincoln Building; J. E. R. Carpenter; Dwight P. Robinson, 1929)
  • Center for Fiction (former Mercantile Library; Henry Otis Chapman, 1932)
  • Pershing Square Building (John Sloan of York & Sawyer, 1923)
  • Postum Building (Cross & Cross, 1924)
  • Marriott East Side (former Shelton Hotel; Arthur Loomis Harmon, 1923)
  • 270 Park Avenue (former Union Carbide Building; Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, 1960)
  • Yale Club (James Gamble Rogers, 1915)

Two additional buildings from our list of 17 were identified by the LPC as buildings which may merit listing on the National Register of Historic Places:

  • Vanderbilt Concourse Building (Warren & Wetmore, 1916)
  • Swedish Seamen’s Church (former New York Bible Society; Wilfred Edward Anthony, 1920)

We are delighted that despite all of the carping from certain elements of the press, the LPC has been able to take a serious look at East Midtown’s historic fabric. The details of our submission are outlined in the MAS report East Midtown: A Bold Vision for the Future, the result of months of careful research, surveys and numerous meetings with stakeholders and other interested parties.

Our East Midtown report advises that maintaining the area as a premier business address requires following a set of core principles:  A Re-Invigorated Public Realm, A Connected Midtown, A Vibrant Mix, and Design for the Next Century. Historic preservation is an important tool that should be used to ensure a vibrant, diverse mix of workers, office, hotel and other uses. MAS has said repeatedly on New York 1, in the New York Times, and in Crain’s New York Business that preservation is an essential component of the East Midtown picture.The variety of high-quality buildings in East Midtown tells a story of New York and spice up some very dull streetscapes. The final say lies with the Landmarks Commission to determine which of the buildings proposed by MAS, the Landmarks Conservancy, Historic Districts Council and Docomomo deserve to be recognized, preserved, and modified when needed under LPC’s jurisdiction.

While there is much more to preservation than formal designation, including increasing the flexibility of landmark development rights transfers, LPC’s response is an excellent first step.