Real estate and business groups opposed creating new historic district in downtown Brooklyn. On September 13, 2011, Landmarks unanimously approved the creation of the Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District in downtown Brooklyn. The district comprises twenty one buildings along Court Street, bounded to the north and south by Montague and Livingston Streets. The area was developed primarily in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and became Brooklyn’s commercial core. Notable buildings in the district include Brooklyn Borough Hall, the Temple Bar Building, and a 22-story building at 32 Court Street considered to be Brooklyn’s first true skyscraper.
At Landmarks’ December 2010 public hearing, representatives from the Court-Livingston- Schermerhorn BID and the Real Estate Board of New York opposed the district. Elected officials including local Council Member Steven Levin supported the district, but requested that Landmarks remove a co-op building at 75 Livingston Street from the district. Brooklyn Law School also opposed the inclusion of one of its properties in the district. Brooklyn Community Board 2 and preservation groups supported designation. 8 CityLand 11 (Feb. 15, 2011).
When Landmarks met in September, the Commissioners praised the proposed district. Commissioner Fred Bland said the cohesive collection of buildings told a story about the history of Brooklyn. Bland believed that Landmarks had a long history of working with owners to preserve and enhance their properties and did not understand why the proposed district had been controversial. Commissioner Michael Devonshire theorized that the controversy was due in part to a “misunderstanding of the benefits” of Landmarks protection, noting that some people mistakenly believed they would need Landmarks’ approval to renovate a bathroom. Commissioner Margery Perlmutter compared the district to downtown Manhattan’s municipal civic center.
LPC: Borough Hall Skyscraper Historic District, Brooklyn (LP-2449) (Sept. 13, 2011).