Landmarks devotes meeting to potential designations

Landmarks provides forum for accord and controversy during numerous hearings. On June 24, 2008, Landmarks heard testimony on eight potential City landmarks, as well as one historic district extension. According to spokesperson Lisi de Bourbon, Landmarks grouped the designation hearings on one day to demonstrate certain themes and priorities like post-war architecture, public libraries, and the Commission’s recent review of architecture in the West Village.

The proposed extension of Queens’ Douglaston Historic to encompass 22 more buildings proved controversial, with some area property owners vigorously opposing the plan. Council Member Tony Avella, who represents the district, testified that he supports designation, but stated that the proposal had generated “a real civil war” in the neighborhood and that ill will would remain long after the issue had been settled. In contrast, Midtown Manhattan’s 275 Madison Avenue building, a 1930s Art-Deco skyscraper designed by Kenneth Franzheim, received support from both its owners and preservationists.

The F. W. Devoe & Company Factory, built in 1882 by the firm of Kimball & Wisedale, exemplifies 19th Century industrial design. Currently in residential use , the building occupies a site in the far West Village close to the Hudson River and the former Gansevoort Market. In Harlem, the George Bruce and 125th Street Branches of the New York Public Library were both funded by Andrew Carnegie and designed by Carrere and Hastings and McKim, Mead & White, respectively. The Municipal Art Society endorsed the libraries’ designation and urged Landmarks to look at other buildings along the 125th Street corridor.

Abram and Ann Dissoway Cole House, a 1840s residence, adamantly opposed landmarking, claiming it amounted to condemnation by eminent domain without compensation. The owner’s attorney, Philip Rampulla, testified that the building’s original fabric had been extensively damaged in a 1999 fire, and a representative of Council Member Vincent Ignizio testified that while many buildings in southern Staten Island deserve designation “this is not one of them.” The owner intends to sell the property to a developer aspiring to build a mall at the site, lending urgency to preservationists’ calls for landmarking.

Landmarks has not yet set a date to vote on designations.

LPC: Douglaston Historic District Extension, Queens (LP-2301); 275 Madison Avenue Building, Manhattan (LP-2286); F.W. Devoe & Company Factory Building, 110 Horatio St., Manhattan (LP-2308); N.Y. Public Library, George Bruce Branch, 518 W. 125th St., Manhattan (LP-2304); N.Y. Public Library, 125th Street Branch, 224 E. 125th St., Manhattan (LP-2305); Dissoway Cole House, 4927 Arthur Kill Rd., Staten Island (LP-2310) (June 24, 2008).

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