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August 31, 2015

Bill Would Automatically Reject Landmarking
If 'Do-or'Die' Deadlines Are Unmet,
Blocking Action for Five Years &
Allowing Demolition of Buildlings

Dear friend,                 

Your help is needed to respond to one of the most troubling pieces of anti-preservation legislation in our city in years. Intro. 775 (text here), introduced by the City Council’s Land Use and Landmarks Chairs, would gut our landmarks law by imposing strict “Do or Die” deadlines for landmark designations, automatically deeming historic sites unworthy of landmark designation if rigid timeframes are unmet, and prohibiting further consideration for five years, during which time demolition can proceed.  

If Intro. 775’s provision had been in effect since the adoption of the landmarks law in 1965, more than half of our city’s landmarks would not have been designated. In our area, this includes the entire Greenwich Village Historic District, MacDougal Sullivan Gardens, the St. Mark’s Historic District, SoHo, and Westbeth, as well as districts as diverse as Bedford-Stuyvesant and the Grand Concourse, Jackson Heights and Park Slope.  Without landmark designation, many of these sites and neighborhoods might have been lost.

The Real Estate industry is firmly behind Intro. 775, which would greatly benefit demolition-minded developers. Under the guise of promoting efficiency and timeliness, Intro. 775 would actually encourage powerful real estate interests to obstruct the process and run out the clock in order to avoid possible landmark designation.  The bill would also place a chilling effect upon the consideration of landmarks and historic districts which might be deemed too controversial or complicated to get done in the proscribed timeframes.

The bill claims to seek to avoid the “landmarks backlog” which developed over the years, whereby less than 100 of the more than 35,000 buildings which have been considered for landmark designation over the last fifty years remained without a final vote after more than five years (the Landmarks Preservation Commission has now agreed to remove that entire backlog, with some considerable input from preservationists).  In purporting to solve this already-solved problem, affecting less than 0.3% of all building ever considered for landmark designation in New York City, the bill would impose deadlines which would have prevented more than 17,000 buildings worthy historic structures from being landmarked – a problem 170 times greater than the one the bill alleges to address!

Making matters worse, the bill provides no additional resources to the Landmarks Preservation Commission to ensure it is able to meet the strict deadlines it would impose, in spite of the Commission having the smallest budget of any city agency.  The LPC is charged with the considerable mandate of overseeing more than 30,000 landmarked buildings and evaluating the historic resources of the entire city.

Read the letter from GVSHP and fellow preservation organizations to City Councilmembers about Intro. 775 here.



Andrew Berman
Executive Director

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