First of Series of Hearings on Backlogged Items to be Held on Thursday, October 8

Landmarks Preservation Commission. Credit:

Landmarks Preservation Commission. Credit: LPC.

Items originally proposed for designation in recent years often faced significant opposition. The Landmarks Preservation Commission will begin the process of addressing the 95 items calendared for potential designation before 2010, but that have never been brought before the Commission for a final vote. Landmarks will hold public hearings on groupings of the items at special Thursday meetings on October 8, October 22, November 5, and November 12 of 2015. The groups, which will consist of up to 12 items each, will be clustered by borough and community board. An initial plan to eliminate the backlog by de-calendaring the items without holding public hearings was withdrawn after the idea drew heavy opposition from preservationists and elected officials. The existence of the backlog has drawn attention to Landmarks’ procedures, and is part of the impetus for potential legislation that would impose ULURP-like timelines on Landmarks’ designation process.

The backlogged items date back as far as the 1960s, and the vast majority antedate CityLand coverage. Those which fall under CityLand’s coverage though, often show that the items faced significant opposition from either the owners or the community.

Then-Council Member Tony Avella, at the 2008 hearing on Douglaston Historic District Extension, stated that the proposed designation had ignited a “real civil war” in the community. Avella added that no matter how Landmarks disposed of the item, ill will would remain in the community long after the issue was settled. The 22-property Queens extension will be brought back before the Commission on October 8.

When Landmarks held a hearing on the potential designation of the Interborough Rapid Transit Powerhouse on July 14, 2009, representatives of Consolidated Edison, which owns the property, strongly objected to designation. Con Ed’s representatives stated that the 1904 Beaux-Arts building was crucial to the City’s steam system, and its operation needed to be unhindered by Landmarks regulation. The McKim, Mead & White-designed, West Side powerhouse was initially heard as a possible individual landmark in 1979, and again in 1990. Landmarks will again consider the item on November 5.

In April of 2007, Landmarks heard testimony on the potential individual landmark designation of the 5466 Arthur Kill Road House in Staten Island. The building’s owner, Douglas Ford, stated that he didn’t want “big government telling me my rights as a homeowner,” and decried “preservationist perverts” trespassing on his property since his house had been calendared. At the same hearing, the owner of the 1840s farmhouse at 3833 Amboy Road said he never would have purchased the property if thought Landmarks would possibly designate it. Landmarks will consider both houses, as well as one of Staten Island’s oldest buildings, the Lakeman House, originally heard in 2010, at its meeting on October 22.

Anyone who wishes to testify on these or any other of the backlogged items is requested to notify Landmarks in advance at

By: Jesse Denno (Jesse is a full-time staff writer at the Center for NYC Law)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.