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Thread: The Landmarks Preservation Commission

  1. #631
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    Oh boy, appropriate landmarking in reverse.


    A Bid to Make the Park Lane Hotel a Landmark, but Not by the Usual Suspects

    By MATT A. V CHABAN


    The Park Lane Hotel at 36 Central Park South.
    Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times


    The masterpieces of Central Park South are myriad: The Plaza, the St. Moritz, the Gainsborough Studios and the Essex House all come to mind.One property that barely registers is the Park Lane Hotel. Built in 1971 by Harry B. Helmsley, the hotel has stood since then as the tallest building on the three-block stretch — which is about its only distinguishing feature.

    And yet a quiet campaign is in the works to secure landmark protection for the 46-story limestone and glass tower. It is not being led by the usual suspects, like preservationists, community groups or politicians. The charge, what little of it there is, is spearheaded by a TriBeCa architect who works mostly on downtown loft buildings; a real estate lawyer from Montclair, N.J.; and a former State Senate candidate from Queens who worked in the Giuliani administration.

    Those following the effort are fairly certain that it has a particular purpose: halting plans to replace the hotel with yet another cloud-buster overlooking Central Park. But what remains a mystery is whether the three men are campaigning alone, or in concert with some as-yet-unknown party, perhaps a rival developer or wealthy condominium owner trying to protect his or her own valuable views of the park.


    The 46-story tower, built in 1971, is not considered special even by its architect, Richard Roth Jr.
    Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times


    There are few words that will make a New York property owner cringe more than “landmark.” But this time, one might just be using it as a weapon against another.

    “I’m astonished by this whole thing,” said Steven C. Witkoff, the developer who, with Harry B. Macklowe, bought the hotel last year for $660 million with plans to replace it eventually with an 850-foot tower. “I’m amazed anyone would think to stoop this low.”

    The Park Lane was the flagship of the Helmsley hotel empire when it opened, a popular haunt for Led Zeppelin and Farrah Fawcett. But its architect, Richard Roth Jr., said in an interview that Mr. Helmsley was also after what everyone of a certain stripe now wants — a penthouse with stunning park views. He was hoping to impress his girlfriend, the future Leona Helmsley, then a broker at Douglas Elliman, who would go on to be known as the Queen of Mean.

    Mr. Roth’s work, along with the chandeliers, marble and velvet installed by the decorator Tom Lee, are among the reasons outlined in a report arguing for the preservation of the property: “The Park Lane Hotel, a substantial building by a major midcentury architect working with a prominent developer in direct response to changes in zoning and architectural design, is clearly, substantially, qualitatively different than many of the typical contributing buildings.”

    The report was prepared by a preservation consulting firm for John Furth Peachy, the TriBeCa architect, who submitted it to the Landmarks Preservation Commission on March 31. The commission rejected the request with a one-line response the next month: “After a careful evaluation, the Commission determined that 36 Central Park South does not rise to the level of an individual landmark, based on its lack of architectural significance.”

    Even Mr. Roth, who was a third-generation partner of the noted firm Emery Roth & Sons, agreed it was not worth saving.

    “I certainly would have picked other Emery Roth buildings first,” said Mr. Roth, 81. “It’s not even a particularly great building.”

    After the landmarks commission setback, Juan Reyes, a former lawyer in the Giuliani administration who is now in private practice, began reaching out to various politicians and civic groups. Councilman Daniel R. Garodnick’s office said that until Community Board 5 supported the campaign, the councilman would withhold judgment.

    Still, Mr. Reyes continued to reach out to Mr. Garodnick’s office, while also talking with the community board, Gale Brewer, the Manhattan borough president, and others. At times, he would suggest to one party that he had another’s support, only for the parties to find that that was not the case, according to numerous officials contacted by Mr. Reyes.

    The community board was hesitant to give the preservation request a public hearing, since it had already approved Mr. Witkoff’s plans in February.

    This month, Mr. Reyes did meet with a few board members, according to two people who were present. They said he brought along Mr. Peachy and William I. Kaplan, another real estate lawyer, who showed photos of his historic home in Montclair as proof of his passion for preservation.

    According to the two people who were present, Mr. Kaplan said his love of the hotel came from time spent in Manhattan caring for his sick father, when he often walked in the park and gazed at the hotel.

    “None of it made sense,” said one board member, who insisted on anonymity because the meeting was supposed to be private. “We assumed they were working for someone, but it was all so clumsy.”

    Mr. Reyes has also reached out to numerous civic groups for support, but has won over none. Tara Kelly, director of Friends of the Upper East Side, did send a letter to the landmarks commission requesting a public hearing, but she said it was mostly just a courtesy to Mr. Reyes. “I don’t know if the Park Lane is on anybody’s to-do list,” she said.

    Neither Mr. Reyes, who was in the news in 2012 when a flier from his campaign for the State Senate accused his Republican primary opponent of being “gay-friendly” (Mr. Reyes, who apologized for the mailing, lost), nor Mr. Kaplan responded to several phone calls and emails seeking comment.

    Mr. Peachy, the architect, is starting what he calls a “grass-roots campaign” called Save the Park Lane. He said in an interview in his TriBeCa studio that the hotel was not only a historic building, but one of the few left for the average New Yorker on the park.

    “You can get a room or a meal for a fair price, and the views from the restaurant there on the second floor are some of the best,” he said.

    But he had never set foot in the hotel, he acknowledged, until this year, when he started working on the campaign, for which he is being paid his standard fee by Mr. Kaplan.

    And yet their efforts might just succeed, if not in stopping the project, then in drawing opposition to it. The community board has acceded to Mr. Reyes’s request and agreed to hold a public hearing on the matter Oct. 6.

    When it comes to landmarks, “the personal or selfish interests, those always play a role,” Mr. Peachy said. “But that doesn’t mean our goals can’t align.”

    http://www.nytimes.com/2014/09/30/ny...l?ref=nyregion

  2. #632
    Forum Veteran TREPYE's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBMW View Post
    There's a good argument that preventing an owner from modifying or tearing down a building that he owns, on property that he owns, constitutes a taking under the fifth amendment. So far the courts have not been to sympathetic to that argument.

    Another argument that, AFAIK, has not been attempted, would be based on the First Amendment. It would be that architecture should be considered a protected form of expression, and for the government to prevent an owner from having their property look the way the owner wants violates their freedom of expression. However, if an owner wanted to pursue this argument, they'd need to either pick the perfect test case, where appearance is the only item at issue, or manufacture such a situation and force the point.
    Again, why cant they just go some place else to develop where destruction is not necessary??

  3. #633
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    Quote Originally Posted by TREPYE View Post
    Again, why cant they just go some place else to develop where destruction is not necessary??
    The best stuff remains in the best places. Hell, sometimes it's even a statement. Let us not forget that there was plentiful land no one would have missed when the ESB was proposed and built, except the Waldorf Astoria was torn down anyway. I'm not saying we shouldn't now be smarter than this, but the problem isn't new, either.

  4. #634

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    Because the demand for the space that would be created is here.

    Quote Originally Posted by TREPYE View Post
    Again, why cant they just go some place else to develop where destruction is not necessary??

  5. #635
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    Why is the demand here and not there BBMW?

  6. #636

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    It's not a question about if the demand is in this place or in that place.

    There's nothing special about the location compared to countless others. It's that a particular property owner wants in on the action, and is upset that he's missing out. This always happens when the real estate market heats up.

  7. #637

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    We're talking about Manhattan south of 96th street in general, and the City and Suburban building (if I have the name right) in particular. Pretty much any buildable lot in Manhattan south of 96 is hugely valuable. A building that could be torn down and replaced easily is much more valuable than one that's landmarked (assuming both have the same amount of unused development rights.) And, of course, they own this property.

    Then again, I'm not sure exactly where your referring to as "there".

    Quote Originally Posted by TREPYE View Post
    Why is the demand here and not there BBMW?

  8. #638
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    Default Almost 20 brownstones to be massacred on a Park Slope block



    Get a good look at New York Methodist Hospital's historic buildings before the wrecking ball swings


    Click image for larger version. 

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    By Lore Croghan
    Brooklyn Daily Eagle

    The wrecking ball awaits.

    Before they're gone, gone, gone, take a moment to appreciate the buildings New York Methodist Hospital has targeted for demolition.

    The hospital, which has owned the handsome properties for decades, plans to tear them down and construct the Center for Community Health, a 486,000-square-foot building that would be 150 feet high.

    Get a good look — while there's still time — at these stately Park Slope rowhouses and small apartment buildings of limestone, brick and brownstone on 5th and 6th streets and Eighth Avenue. They're part of the historic fabric of a storied Brooklyn neighborhood that's “not only a New York treasure, but a national treasure of a preserved, human-scale place,” architectural historian Francis Morrone said in an affidavit for a lawsuit challenging the development.

    http://www.brooklyneagle.com/article...-wrecking-ball

    List of the doomed buildings here:

    http://www.brooklyneagle.com/article...omed-buildings

  9. #639
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    ^ Also posted with more pics in the Park Slope Development thread.

    This will be a great loss.

  10. #640
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    Quote Originally Posted by TREPYE View Post
    Why is the demand here and not there BBMW?
    Quote Originally Posted by BBMW View Post

    Then again, I'm not sure exactly where your referring to as "there".
    .....
    Quote Originally Posted by TREPYE View Post
    Like I said their funds would have been better off trying to develop in White Plains and New Rochelle instead of changing the laws of NYC to accomodate their interests.

  11. #641

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    ^
    Yeah, because someone who wants to live in NYC is going to buy something in New Rochelle or White Plains. They're completely different markets.

  12. #642
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    Quote Originally Posted by BBMW View Post
    ^
    Yeah, because someone who wants to live in NYC is going to buy something in New Rochelle or White Plains. They're completely different markets.
    Oh, you mean to tell me that there is something to NYC (what could one of those things be?) that makes it a "completely different" market than those 2?? So to supply the demand you destroy the fabric of this city that gives it its market status.... Historical backdrop/architectural heritage. You demolish enough of these you endup devaluing the steetscape aesthetics and the value associated with it.

    You capitalist radicals/extremists should try to control some of your inpatience-induced myopia and you may actually see that in the long run, everybody could win.

  13. #643

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    Sorry, this is utter nonsense. The value of NY is that it's the commercial, financial, media, and cultural capital of the world. If every landmarked building in NYC were torn down and replaced, that would not change. In point of fact, if the replacements were functionally better (which would be highly possible), and had good current (not necessarily modern) architecture, it would likely increase the value of the city as a whole.

    Quote Originally Posted by TREPYE View Post
    Oh, you mean to tell me that there is something to NYC (what could one of those things be?) that makes it a "completely different" market than those 2?? So to supply the demand you destroy the fabric of this city that gives it its market status.... Historical backdrop/architectural heritage. You demolish enough of these you endup devaluing the steetscape aesthetics and the value associated with it.

    You capitalist radicals/extremists should try to control some of your inpatience-induced myopia and you may actually see that in the long run, everybody could win.

  14. #644

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    Quote Originally Posted by TREPYE View Post
    Oh, you mean to tell me that there is something to NYC (what could one of those things be?) that makes it a "completely different" market than those 2?? S
    Yes. I thought this was glaringly obvious.

    People are seriously debating whether real estate is location-location-location? Really?

    You might as well build in White Plains, because, hey, it's the same as SoHo, right??

  15. #645

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    Quote Originally Posted by BBMW View Post
    Sorry, this is utter nonsense. The value of NY is that it's the commercial, financial, media, and cultural capital of the world. If every landmarked building in NYC were torn down and replaced, that would not change. In point of fact, if the replacements were functionally better (which would be highly possible), and had good current (not necessarily modern) architecture, it would likely increase the value of the city as a whole.
    If you really believe that all there is to life is measured on a monetary scale, then that is truly sad.

    Ironically, it's a bankrupt philosophy.

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