The proposed designation received support from South Bronx residents and preservation advocates. On May 12, 2020, the Landmarks Preservation Commission held a public hearing on a proposal to designate the Manida Street Historic District in Hunts Point, Bronx. The proposed historic district will be located on Manida Street between Garrison and Lafayette Avenues and would consist of 42 semi-detached, two-story brick houses on both sides of the street. The houses on the block all have a consistent Renaissance Revival style which includes mirror image facades, rounded projecting bays, and ornamentation around the door and windows. The proposed historic district represents a period in the early-20th Century when rapid development occurred in the South Bronx. For CityLand’s prior coverage on the Manida Street Historic District designation process, click here.
At the public hearing, Landmarks heard overwhelming testimony in support of designation. Council Member Rafael Salamanca Jr., the local council member, testified that the proposed historic district represents the growth of Hunts Point and the block has maintained its strong historic context. He noted that he supports designation because he wants to protect the block from any future development.
Maria Torres, a Manida Street resident and one of the lead organizers of the Manida Street historic designation proposal, noted the resiliency that the block represents. She stated that the homeowners have spent decades preserving and maintaining the historic character of the homes on the block. Torres noted that the condition of the homes persisted even throughout the economic decline of the South Bronx in the late 20th century. She mentioned that designation is needed to ensure the block remains intact for the future.
Simeon Bankoff and Kelly Carroll of the Historic Districts Council testified in support of the designation. Carroll stated that HDC believes the houses on Manida Street have retained its historic character and significance and represents the pride and resilience of the homeowners on the block. Carroll also noted that HDC is pleased that Landmarks is taking more initiative to increase their preservation efforts in the Bronx, a borough that has been underserved by the Commission.
Most of the homeowners on Manida Street and South Bronx residents who testified were in favor of designation, emphasizing the well-maintained and preserved houses on the block, its distinct historic character, and the need to protect the block from future development. Samuel Brooks, resident of the South Bronx and president of the Mott Haven Historic Districts Society, stated that Landmarks has to go beyond Manida Street’s designation and look to preserve more historic spaces in the Bronx.
Despite the overwhelming support, Roy Rebio, a homeowner on Manida Street, testified in opposition of the designation. Rebio stated that the designation could negatively impact future homeowners and their decisions on what to do with their homes. He also had concerns that the designation of Manida Street would affect the cost of buying a home on the block and cost of homeowner’s insurance. In response to this testimony, Chair Sarah Carroll stated that Landmarks will work with Rebio and other homeowners to address any concerns they have about designation.
The vote on the Manida Street Historic District designation is expected to be scheduled for June.
By: May Vutrapongvatana (May is the CityLaw Fellow and New York Law School Graduate, Class of 2019).