Last week, the Landmarks Preservation Commission heard testimony concerning the protection of the 104-year-old powerhouse-turned-steam station on West 58th Street and 11th Avenue.
Preservation groups have long urged the city to protect the Beaux Arts-style building, which provided electricity to the city’s subway system in the early 20th century. In 1959, Con Edison bought the powerhouse. Today, the building is maintained as a steam station that serves Manhattan from Battery Park City to West 96th Street.
“This building is a vestige of the city’s industrial waterfront and recalls an age in which a building’s design sought to elevate the character of its neighborhood,” said an aide to State Sen. Tom Duane, reading his testimony to the commission.
Council Member Gale Brewer suggested future uses for the building that could have a public benefit, such as an art museum or event space in the increasingly residential area.
“Please designate the IRT powerhouse as a landmark and ensure that this great monument will remain a fixture in New York for generations to come,” Brewer told the commission during testimony.
Con Edison opposes landmarking the building because of the tough regulations and restrictions the measure would impose.
“Landmark designation will unnecessarily make it more difficult, restrictive and costly to operate, maintain, modify and enhance the station now and in the future,” said James Stanzione, the plant manager at the steam station, in testimony to the commission.
An architect for Con Edison, Michael Corcoran, testified that the building has undergone massive changes that have removed much of the historically significant detail, such as cornices, Spanish tile roof and several arches.
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