LESPI's Letter re landmarking 2 Oliver Street

October 28, 2015

Meenakshi Srinivasan, Chair
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor North
New York, NY 10007

re: Landmark Designation of 2 Oliver Street

Dear Chair Srinivasan:

I am writing to strongly support the designation of 2 Oliver Street in Manhattan's Lower East Side as an Individual Landmark. Our city's Federal era structures are amongst our most prized historic buildings, serving as reminders when, in the late 18th and early 19th century, New York was a young and growing port on the verge of becoming the world renowned city it remains to this day.

Constructed in 1822, No. 2 Oliver Street retains most of the essential characteristics of the Federal style - particularly its simple yet elegant design, Flemish bond brickwork, and incised lintels. Its 3rd story addition is a common and for its time respectful alteration to the original 2-1/2 story design.

The building - occupied by, amongst others, James O’Donnell (born 1774), an Irish immigrant who became an accomplished New York architect; and Dr. Antonio Pisani (ca. 1873-1954), whose work greatly benefited New York’s Italian American community - reflects the importance of immigration to the city from its earliest days to the present. Although the Lower East Side is most commonly associated with the more ornate tenement construction that occurred during the late 19th and early 20th century, the early 19th century Federal houses show the more architecturally restrained beginnings of our common history as New Yorkers.

We respectfully ask that the Landmarks Preservation Commission vote to designate 2 Oliver Street, which was first calendared in 1966, as soon as possible. Without landmark protection this important building will almost certainly fall prey to the neighborhood’s intense development pressures. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

cc: Hon. Margaret Chin, NY City Council
Community Board 3 Manhattan

 

LESPI's Letter re landmarking 138 Second Avenue

October 28, 2015

Meenakshi Srinivasan, Chair
NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor North
New York, NY 10007

re: Landmark Designation of 138 Second Avenue

Dear Chair Srinivasan:

I am writing to strongly support the designation of 138 Second Avenue in Manhattan's East Village / Lower East Side as an Individual Landmark.

In 1832, when this grand residential building was constructed, 138 Second Avenue was one of many such homes that once lined this part of Second Avenue. The building retains most of its Federal characteristics. The simple yet elegant design - including Flemish bond brickwork, and most notably its Gibbsian entrance surround - clearly show the building’s origins in this early period of the East Village’s development.

The 4th story addition, built in the late 19th century over the original 3-1/2 story design, physically embodies the neighborhood's transition from exclusive, wealthy enclave to German immigrant community. Significant to the history of both the building and the neighborhood, in 1874 the building was converted to The Association for Befriending Children and Young Girls, and then in 1916 became the headquarters for the League of Foreign-Born Citizens. During this period the entire Lower East Side - including Kleindeutschland - became the most important center for immigration in the country.

We respectfully ask that the Landmarks Preservation Commission vote to designate 138 Second Avenue as soon as possible. Without landmark protection this important building will almost certainly fall prey to the neighborhood’s intense development pressures. Thank you.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

cc: Hon. Rosie Mendez, NY City Council
Community Board 3 Manhattan

 

LESPI's Letter re NYC Council Legislation Intro 775

September 3, 2015

The Honorable Rosie Mendez
NY City Council
237 1st Avenue, # 504
New York, NY 10003

Dear Councilmember Mendez:

I am writing on behalf of the Lower East Side Preservation Initiative to express our strong opposition to NY City Council Intro 775, which establishes strict time limits on NYC Landmarks Preservation Commission landmarking procedures.

Landmark designation requires formidable amounts of historical research and political and community outreach. Our city’s political environment is increasingly complicated, and corporate real estate interests are pushing back harder than ever against historic preservation using their immense wealth and influence. New Yorkers looking to save their historic buildings and streetscapes face greater challenges than ever, and the LPC must navigate these shoals with the limited resources of a small government agency.

As shown in the August 25 letter prepared by the Historic Districts Council et al (of which LESPI is a signator), many of the city’s most cherished historic districts would likely not have been designated under this legislation’s deadlines, including the St. Mark’s Historic District and Extension within the historic East Village / Lower East Side, as well as such “superstars” as Soho-Cast Iron and Greenwich Village Historic Districts. Going forward, this legislation will certainly deprive our communities with the new landmark buildings and districts residents want and deserve.

We support providing LPC with additional funding to expedite the process of historical research. And we are not opposed to establishing target time frames for designation, but any targets must be generous and flexible, to allow for districts with particularly challenging circumstances to move forward. Furthermore, there should not be any moratorium on reintroducing districts that do not pass, to allow for changing circumstances and political climates. Finally, any new legislation addressing the landmarking process should not only respond to the LPC’s input, but to the input of preservation and community advocacy groups, who understand the process of landmarking in NYC and the need for policies to facilitate rather than obstruct the process of protecting our future landmarks.

We respectfully urge the Council not to enact this legislation. Thank you,

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

cc: The Hon. Melissa Mark-Viverito, NY City Council

[NOTE: identical letter sent to
Councilmember Margaret Chin]

 

LESPI's Letter to CB3 re NYC Rezoning Proposal

June 9, 2015

Gigi Li, Chair
Community Board 3, Manhattan
59 East 4th Street
New York, NY  10003

re: NYC DCP’s Proposed “Zoning for Quality and Affordability”

Dear Ms. Li:

Lower East Side Preservation Initiative is writing to ask Community Board 3 to oppose the NYC Department of City Planning’s proposed “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” text amendments. Our concerns focus on the city’s historic neighborhoods, some but not all of which are NYC historic districts, particularly within the traditional Lower East Side which extends from East 14th Street to south of Chinatown.

Our primary objection to this proposal is that, despite recent modifications to the plan, the rezoning treats the city with too broad a brush. Certain areas of the city may be suitable for this kind of upzoning. But many areas are not, including those where:

* Their special character is defined by low rise buildings, where light and open space predominate. This includes many historic neighborhoods both landmarked and not landmarked.

* The area has been built to a density where light and air have become limited, and severe wind tunnel effects have become more commonplace. Much of Manhattan as well as certain neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens fall within this group.

* Increased development pressure will result in further loss of the area’s existing low and moderate income residents and small businesses, which contribute significantly to neighborhood character and are often its “heart and soul.” A lot of new development results in the loss of these groups.

Although we are very supportive of income diversity and affordable housing for New Yorkers, we believe that this proposal’s broad brush approach to zoning disempowers communities, and relies on one-size-fits-all solutions which will necessarily show poor results.

We respectfully request that Community Board 3 request that the DCP review potential rezonings on a community-by-community basis.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

cc: Bruce Monroe, Lower East Side Preservation Initiative

 

LESPI's Letter re NYC Rezoning Proposal

May 26, 2015

Carl Weisbrod, Director
NYC Department of City Planning
22 Reade Street
New York, NY 10007

re: Proposed “Zoning for Quality and Affordability”

Dear Mr. Weisbrod:

Lower East Side Preservation Initiative is writing to protest the NYC Department of City Planning’s “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” text amendments. Our concerns focus on the city’s historic neighborhoods, some but not all of which are NYC historic districts.

Our primary objection to this proposal is that, despite recent modifications to the plan, the rezoning treats the city with too broad a brush. Certain areas of the city may be suitable for this kind of upzoning. But many areas are not, including those where:

* Their special character is defined by low rise buildings, where light and open space predominate. This includes many historic neighborhoods both landmarked and not landmarked.

* The area has been built to a density where light and air have become limited, and severe wind tunnel effects have become more commonplace. Much of Manhattan as well as certain neighborhoods of Brooklyn and Queens fall within this group.

* Increased development pressure will result in further loss of the area’s existing low and moderate income residents and small businesses, which contribute significantly to neighborhood character and are often its “heart and soul.” A lot of new development results in the loss of these groups.

Although we appreciate the idea of involving community boards in the rezoning process, we are not confident that the voice of the Boards and local residents will be heard in the city’s rush to accommodate deep-pocketed real estate development interests.

We respectfully request that DCP withdraw this broad brush proposal and instead review potential rezonings on a community-by-community basis.

Sincerely,

Richard D. Moses
President

cc: Hon. Melissa Mark-Viverito, NYC Council
Hon. Rosie Mendez, NYC Council
Hon. Margaret Chin, NYC Council

 

LESPI's Letter re De-calendaring - followup

April 30, 2015

Meenakshi Srinivasan, Chair
New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission
1 Centre Street, 9th Floor
New York, NY 10007

Dear Chair Srinivasan:

Regarding the Landmarks Preservation Commission's upcoming plan to act on properties that have been calendared for public hearing for five years or more, Lower East Side Preservation Initiative supports the action plan formulated by the Historic Districts Council and Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer to give each of the historic sites a fair hearing in an expeditious manner.

The Commission's original plan to remove all these varied buildings from consideration at once, with no public input and with no consideration for their individual merits, simply to clear an administrative backlog, would be an inappropriate sidestepping of the Commission's duty to evaluate the potential landmarks of New York City. Instead, the Commission should respect the time and effort that countless citizens spent in bringing these buildings forward for consideration, expecting, in good faith, that these buildings be given the same due process that other proposed landmarks have received. These buildings should be evaluated on their merits in public hearings as potential New York City landmarks with the same opportunity for open comment as buildings which were calendared more recently.

Because of the large number of buildings on this list, LESPI supports the plan suggested by HDC and the Manhattan Borough President for the buildings to be heard in geographically clustered groups. This will allow local advocates and stakeholders to speak about all the calendared buildings in their neighborhoods or Community Board districts while reasonably conserving the time it will take for all the buildings to be individually heard.

LESPI also respectfully urges the Commission to take reasonable steps to ensure that calendared buildings, from now on, are given their public hearings within a reasonable time to help prevent a backlog of calendared buildings from accumulating again.

We thank the Commission for its consideration in this matter.

Sincerely,

Britton Baine
Treasurer

cc: Richard D. Moses, Lower East Side Preservation Initiative

 

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The Lower East Side Preservation Initiative is dedicated to preserving the historic streetscapes of the Lower East Side, including the East Village, Lower East Side below Houston Street, Bowery, Chinatown and Little Italy