Landmarks Withdraws Planned Removal of Multiple Designation Items from Calendar

Landmarks had originally scheduled removal of 94 potential individual landmarks and two historic districts from its calendar for December 9th. On December 5, 2014, the Landmarks Preservation Commission rescinded plans to remove 96 items from its calendar without bringing the items to a vote of designation. The items planned to be removed included 94 items calendared as potential individual City landmarks, and two potential historic districts. The action, called a decalendaring, was scheduled to take place at its public meeting on December 9, 2015.

Items that would be removed from the Commission’s calendar included Manhattan’s IRT Powerhouse and the Douglaston Historic District Extension. Other items have been on the commission’s calendar for decades without a vote on designation, including Union Square Park, calendared in 1977, Saint Augustine Roman Catholic Church and Rectory, calendared in 1966, and the Bergdorf Goodman department store, calendared in 1970.

The decalendaring was strongly opposed by preservation groups. The Historic Districts Council released a statement arguing that the decalendaring would jeopardize any future efforts to designate the properties, and that a series of public discussions evaluating their merits would be a “more considered, fair and transparent approach.” The Society for the Architecture of the City argued that that the decalendaring would “sacrifice the work of generations of preservation advocates.” In a press release, the Greenwich Village Society for Historic Preservation noted that, once removed from Landmarks calendar, the properties could be “altered or demolished at will.”

Elected officials also expressed concern, including Assembly Member Linda Rosenthal and State Senator Tony Avella. Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer asked Landmarks to delay any action until the list had been made public, and to give a 30-day public notice before holding a meeting.

In response to the withdrawal of plans for decalendaring, Senator Avella released a statement saying “it is vital that the public have a say in protecting our history,” and that the items slated for removal “in many way represent the foundation of New York City.”

The Historic Districts Council expressed gratification that the decalendaring had been withdrawn and said it would work with Landmarks to find solution to eliminate the “backlog” in a “transparent, appropriate, and equitable way.”

Landmarks Preservation Commission, Decalendaring Proposal Withdrawal. December 9, 2014

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