Landmarks considers historic district in DUMBO

Residents, preservationists, and elected officials testify for designation. On October 30, 2007, Landmarks held a public hearing on a proposed historic district in the area known as Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, or DUMBO. The area is already on the National and State Registries of Historic Places, and featured in the National Trust’s list of “America’s 11 Most Endangered Historic Places.” The district would include a unique mix of buildings, including some of the country’s oldest large-scale reinforced-concrete factories, and be roughly bounded by John, Main, Bridge, and York Streets. 4 CityLand 107 (Aug. 15, 2007).

At the hearing, Council Member David Yassky testified in support of designation, while urging Landmarks to approve affected property owners’ requests to convert their spaces for retail use. Council Member Yassky also noted that the area is subject to a proposed rezoning, and asked Landmarks to work closely with the Planning Commission so that the designation and rezoning occur concurrently. A representative from U.S. Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez supported designation as well, claiming that it would spur economic benefits for the area from film and other creative industries. Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz also testified, praising Landmarks for its timely response to the community’s concerns.

Municipal Art Society President Kent Barwick testified that his support for designation stretched back to his years with the City’s Art Commission, where he worked to save the area’s Belgian-block streets and “uniquely preserved integrity.” The Historic Districts Council’s Simeon Bankoff, as well as numerous local residents, supported designation, seeing it as a way to tame development pressures that would otherwise compromise the area’s gritty, urban beauty.

A representative from the DUMBO Improvement District however, asked Landmarks to allow adaptive reuse and investment, if the City designated the area, so as to not hinder its economic upturn.

Landmarks did not set a date for a vote on designation.

LPC: Hearing on DUMBO Hist. Dist. (LP-2264) (Oct. 30, 2007).

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