It was with amazement last week that I read a letter by the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY), the Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, the New York Building Congress and other organizations to the New York City Landmarks Preservation Commission (LPC), calling for the LPC to delay its long-awaited first vote on the proposed extensions to the Riverside-West End Historic District.
Despite a transparent, public process that spanned months, REBNY and its cohorts argued that the LPC’s process lacked sufficient notice and information for property owners. This bold statement came even though REBNY’s testimony at the first public hearing mentions LPC’s community meeting with property owners six months before its first hearing—a step taken to ensure that owners were made fully aware of the proposal and the nature of landmark designation as early in the process as possible.
Despite the public meeting, the hearings, the countless community meetings by preservation advocates and community organizations, numerous articles on the proposed district and even articles in REBNY’s own newsletter, owners allegedly still do not know what landmarking means or are unaware that they are included in the proposed district?
While these assertions are incredible, REBNY’s position at this juncture is anything but surprising. This is simply a last-ditch attempt to derail a critical designation that has been years in the making.
I certainly did not take the enormous amount of public testimony on both sides of the issue that I heard during each of the three hearings held by LPC last year on the proposed extensions as an indication that the owners did not have enough information or that insufficient notice about the hearings was given to allow everyone to weigh in with their opinions.
Notice about the proposed historic district and all of the meetings and hearings on the proposal has been given to every block in the proposed district more than enough times by LPC, local residents, news media, community groups and offices like mine. Demanding that the draft designation report, draft guidelines or other information be released before a vote is unnecessary; I find it extremely doubtful that any property owner concerned by his or her building’s inclusion in the proposed district has missed the deluge of information or could not find the maps of the proposed districts or regulations governing historic districts on LPC’s website.
Owners have had ample time to process the detailed information provided by LPC and more than ample opportunity to give their views. Numerous buildings opposed to being landmarked have asked to be carved out of the district, and owners throughout the district have testified both for and against the proposal.
The landmark designation process is the furthest thing from broken, and I hope to see the LPC approve the first historic district extension on June 26.
Linda Rosenthal is a state Assembly member who represents the Upper West Side.
Tags: Landmarks Preservation Commission, Linda Rosenthal, Manhattan Chamber of Commerce, New York Building Congress, Real Estate Board of New York, Riverside-West End Historic District, Upper West Side
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